What’s Playing at the Palace? — 1950s

by Paula Bosse

elm-street_ten-commandments_1957_flickr_coltera.JPGFilm Row: Elm & Ervay, looking west… (click for large image)

by Paula Bosse

In the 1950s, the two prestige movie theaters in Dallas were the Majestic and the Palace, mainstays of “Theater Row” and just a few blocks apart on Elm Street. The Palace Theater (at Elm and Ervay, across from the Wilson Building) is seen in the two postcards featured here. The one above shows Elm Street looking west. “The Ten Commandments” is playing, placing the date that photo was taken sometime between February and May, 1957. The postcard below shows an eastward-looking view with “The Caine Mutiny” on the marquee, dating that photo to the latter half of July, 1954.

elm-street_looking_east_palace_night_flickr_coltera

“The Ten Commandments” was a huge, huge hit and ran for 11 weeks — no movie had ever run that long in the history of Dallas theaters. (Click article to see a larger image.)

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Dallas Morning News, April 24, 1957

It was also one of the longest movies to ever play in Dallas. We’re talking a running time of almost 4 hours (with an intermission), something which not only tested the endurance of audiences but also severely limited the number of showings per day. It was an “event” picture, and, accordingly, prices were higher and reserved seats were offered.

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad_det_reserved-seatsDMN, Feb. 14, 1957

The number of people in Dallas who saw that movie at the Palace is staggering: over 100,000!

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DMN, April 26, 1957

Even after its run at the Palace ended, it continued to draw crowds when it moved down the street to the Tower.

The ad for the movie, which appeared in the newspaper on opening day, Feb. 14, 1957:

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad
DMN, Feb. 14, 1957

There were a couple of things I found interesting about this ad. One was that it had a blurb by First Baptist Church of Dallas’ chief Baptist,  W. A. Criswell.

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad_det_criswell

The second was that patrons could park behind the theater — on Pacific — at the Dunlap-Swain station. (Parking downtown for large crowds in those days must have been challenging —  not everyone took streetcars or, later, buses.)

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad_det_parking

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caine-mutiny_palace_dmn_071654_opening-nightDMN, July 16, 1954

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Both postcards found on Flickr, posted by the unstoppable Coltera: the top one here, the bottom one here.

“The Ten Commandments” ran at the Palace Theater from Feb. 14, 1957 to May 2, 1957. The film that followed was “Boy On a Dolphin,” which featured the debut of Sophia Loren in a U.S. movie. Which is an interesting counterpoint.

“The Caine Mutiny” ran from July 16, 1954 to July 29, 1954.

A previous post about the Palace — “Next-Door Neighbors: The Palace Theater and Lone Star Seed & Floral — 1926” — can be found here.

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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