Salvation at Six Corners

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Salvation at Six Corners

Long-timers may recall that after Susan Puma ana­grammed Ron & Ruth Rawson's Hampton Star Theater into the Hampton Arts Cinema in the late '50s, as an inde­pend­ent exhibitor in the land of the Prudential chain of movie houses, product availability was limited.

They kept the doors open in the Summer season with "art films" like "Elvira Madigan," "Romeo and Julliet" and "Putney Swope," and the rest of the year, drawing on the sizeable concentrated population at the air base, with soft-core (R and X-rated) double features.

In the early '70s, with the Air Force gone, Mrs. Puma's son, Richie Westley, had to get creative, and with a fondness for "events," found some off-beat movies that worked as either regular features or midnight movies, titles like "Reefer Madness," "Night of the Living Dead," "The Harder They Come" and even the first commercially released xxx flick ever exhibited in Eastern Suffolk, "The Devil in Miss Jones."

Then came late 1974 and the big slate of Christmas releases: "The Man with the Golden Gun," "Towering Inferno" and "Young Frankenstein," all committed to the UA theaters on the East End.

This presented a problem for Paramount, which had no established first run movie screen available on the East End which to exhibit its own "Murder on the Orient Express," an all-star extravaganza.

Up stepped Richie Westley, and the distributor, otherwise faced with the Shirley Twin as the closest venue to the Hamptons, decided to give the Hampton Arts a shot.

The movie immediately packed audiences in and played for six (6!) weeks. New York film bookers took notice and put the Hampton Arts on a regular first run track, and it was goodbye to the low rent blaxploitation and skin flicks.

The film fare wasn't the only thing that underwent an upgrade... Richie overhauled the facility as well, installing all new seats in the auditorium, purchasing new lenses for the projectors, and a new sound system.

But the most dramatic improvement happened when a sound engineer was engaged, resulting in the walls being refinished with special acoustic burlap.

Et voila! Now Six Corners sported a first run venue that was actually worthy of first run movies.

And it was all due, as with the most celebrated Christmas story of them all when there was no room at the inne, there was no room on the United Artists screens.

I relate this tale now because the big budget remake, "Murder on the Orient Express," of that landmark 1974 film, opens this weekend.

2017 Title Art

Fittingly, this too opens Friday at Six Corners.

I also add my personal caveat: for the greatest part, I ex­ecrate remakes, and see no reason for them.


1. Beth Flanagan said...

We were going to see it Saturday, but there was no heat in the theater....

Kinda reminds me of the ol' days!

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