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Plaza Theatre, Atlanta’s oldest moviehouse, turns 70

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The Plaza Theatre celebrated its 70th anniversary on Jan. 15, 2010. AJC photos by Jamie Gumbrecht

I was greeted at the door of the Plaza Theatre last night by Scarlett and Rhett. Dorothy and Toto showed up later, and Glinda and the Wicked Witch were hawking raffle tickets somewhere nearby.

What do they have in common? 1939, the year all of them debuted. (Check out more of its history in this week’s Access Point.)

The Plaza celebrated its 70th anniversary last night with a screening of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” another 1939 delight, and a party/raffle/silent auction to kick off its fund-raising campaign. The Plaza recently became a non-profit, and now wants to be sure it will stay open for years to come. Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne was there, surrounded by police groups of movie geeks who wanted a photo with him.

Here are photos from last night’s celebration. There are a lot more opportunities to celebrate, with the series of 1939 films they’re showing for the next few weeks.

The night was a sell-out. No surprise: there’s not much in Atlanta that’s operating in the same space and with the same purpose it had 70 years ago.

“And people know it,” Glinda explained, waving her wand around the packed theater.

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Plaza Theatre Gayle Rej in the lobby at the Plaza Theatre.

Want to go? The Plaza Theatre’s 1939 Film Festival will screen films like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind” Jan. 16-17, 22-24 and 30. $10 per film, $6.50 for people ages 12 and younger. 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., Atlanta. 404-873-1939, www.plazaatlanta.com

7 comments Add your comment

[...] The Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon turned 70 this year, and it was a big time — all history and celebration. [...]

[...] Movies: Buck Rogers’ “Planet Outlaws” completes the 1939 Film Festival, 1 p.m. and 10 p.m., Plaza Theatre, Atlanta. Read more. [...]

Byron Mathison Kerr

January 21st, 2010
4:30 pm

The first time I ever saw The Women (1939) was when the Plaza Theatre reopened in 1983. It will always be one of my favorite films.

I never knew until reading the above link “this week’s Access Point” that the theatre had been an adult-porn theatre for most of the 1970s.

Barry Blakely

January 17th, 2010
8:34 am

I love to take my grandkids there the last Saturday of every month when they host the Spook Show. They have great oldie science fiction or horror movies, plus a great live skit with a full cast of great characters. Add in the fact that kids 12 and under are free for the afternoon show, it’s the best entertainment value in the entire metro area. My 11 year old loved an original Godzilla movie in Japanese, with English subtitles…said it was the first time that the mouth movements and the sound track actually matched! I would recommend every fan sign up for their newsletter on their website.

pete

January 17th, 2010
7:58 am

Happy birthday Plaza.Spent every Saturday at the Plaza or Highland theater in 50’s and early 60’s.
My uncle would take us to the movies on the last day of school.Thanks for preserving this Atlanta
Icon.

Chuck

January 17th, 2010
12:02 am

I’ve moved away from Atlanta but always loved going to the Plaza. The movies were good and they even had functioning Ms. Pac Man and Galaga machines!

Dan Lynn

January 16th, 2010
11:33 pm

Happy Birthday, Plaza Theater. I saw many movies there when I was a kid. We must keep this treasure alive forever.