The Stretch of “Theater Row” They Never Talk About

by Paula Bosse

leo-theater
The “other end” of Film Row

by Paula Bosse

It’s April, 1952, and you’ve got a hot date Friday. Movies are good for date night. What to see? Why not catch a bold, frank, and true “adult” double-bill at the Leo? In the early-’50s, the Leo Theater, at 1510 Elm Street, was at the other end of “Theater Row” — on the metaphorical “other side of the tracks” from the classy Majestic and Palace — and it was one of those places that your mother probably wouldn’t approve of.

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The ad above shows a typical Leo double-feature: “Pin-Down Girl” (aka “Racket Girls”) from 1951, a searing look at lady wrestlers and prostitution (the trailer below has a moment that’s actually pretty shocking, and you’ll laugh at yourself immediately afterward for having been shocked), and “Honky Tonk Girl” (aka “Hitchhike to Hell”) from 1941 about teenagers and, well, prostitution. There were at least two exploitation movies titled “Honky Tonk Girl,” so I’m not sure which is the correct poster for the particular cinematic treasure on the Leo bill, but I really love the artwork of this one, so in it goes.

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Here’s the trailer for “Pin-Down Girl” (which is handy, because it gives you about all you really need to satisfy a piqued curiosity without wasting a lot of your time):

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Ad from The Dallas Morning News, April 5, 1952.

A little background on the Leo Theater (1948-1953), originally the Queen (1913-1948), can be found in the comments section here.

But if you want to know just what was going on in these not-quite-but-fast-approaching seedy Dallas theaters, you owe it to yourself to read a great passage from Troy Sherrod’s Historic Dallas Theatres (Arcadia Press, 2014), here (scroll down to the caption).

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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