My wife and I have unusual taste in movies and, while the library and Netflix often fulfill our movie craving, sometimes we want to see the action on a big screen, in Dolby Surround Sound and maybe with a pint and a pizza. Sure, I can do the pint and the pizza at home, but our little place in Cedar Hills doesn’t allow much room for a giant big screen. Plus, there are the kids too. They have a tendency to chat and ask questions during the film. With the kind of indie films that we like to watch, this can make it quite difficult to follow the action.
Enter the Hollywood Theater.
Portland, Oregon may be young compared to cities like Boston, Chicago, New York and even Portland, Maine—but this does not mean that we are without our own unique and interesting historical landmarks. One such landmark is the famed Hollywood Theater in the Hollywood District of Portland.
The Hollywood Theater was originally used as a venue for silent movies and Vaudeville shows. Like other theaters, the Hollywood now screens motion pictures, though, most of the pictures shown here will not be found in conventional theaters, making the Hollywood Theater a unique cinematic experience. From independent and local films, to animation, to the classics, to documentaries, to second run blockbuster films, and even to non-mainstream genres such as grind house and documentaries—with many programs featured in 50 mm — the Hollywood is a diverse and entertaining film going experience. The theater itself is divided into four sections: the main theater, the lounge and two smaller upstairs auditoriums.
Now preserved as a Historical landmark, the Hollywood Theater is located at 42nd and Sandy in the Historic Hollywood neighborhood in Northeast Portland, Oregon. This fabulous neighborhood contains a cornucopia of terrific restaurants, Hollywood Bowl, numerous grocery stores and abundant bars and concert venues—mere minutes from downtown Portland. The Hollywood Theater is the crown jewel of this neighborhood.
The Theatre was commissioned in 1926 and architects John Virginius Bennes and Harry A. Herzog designed the facade of the building after the Baths of Caracalla . While the theater has undergone a series of renovations since it’s doors opened (including new seats installed in 2011) it remains the stately image that the architects intended nearly a century ago.
The drive in from Cedar Hills was fantastic as we enjoyed the unique architecture and stupendous natural beauty of Portland, Oregon and the Hollywood District. Tall trees, charming homes with large yards and sloping roofs, plenty of bicyclists and friendly neighbors greeted us as we made our way to the theater. We purchased our tickets and some grub, and took our seats. As the house lights dimmed and the screen glowed to life, I felt my wife’s hands wrap around my arm. This was going to be a good night.