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Nile Theatre


Photo from the Scott Neff collection
1721 19th St
Bakersfield CA

Closed
Record #11044  
 Opened: 1938
 Closed: Yes (date unknown)
 Current Use: Night Club
 Demolished:
Capacity:
Architect(s):
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:
 Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by Paul Linfesty.

The Nile Theatre opened in May, 1938. At a cost of $125,000, the theatre replaced an earlier Nile Theatre that was razed in January, 1938. Initial plans to extensively remodel the former opera house (b:1909) were scuttled in favor of a cinema with no balconies and sound absorbant material for better accoustics. The auditorium featured four art-deco chandeliers and two 35- by 20-foot murals. The Bakersfield Californian described these as being "suggestive of modern cities and industry while the forgrounds are replete with fantastic foilage and decorative forms. There are several human figures in the compositions representing (although still only in vague and symbolic manner) music, dance, love and grace."

The Fox West Coast-operated theatre opened with I'll Give a Million with Warner Baxter, Army Girl and a Mickey Mouse-Donald Duck cartoon, The Fox Hunt. Admission prices were 40 cents Evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, with weekday matinees 30 cents. Children under 12 were 10 cents.

Before the 1950s, Fox West Coast was no longer managing the theatre, but the Nile remained a top first-run theatre. Cinemascope and 4-track magnetic stereo were installed in early 1954. Many big films played here, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Doctor Zhivago, My Fair Lady, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Music Man, West Side Story, Judgement at Nuremburg, Tom Jones, and The Exorcist. In the single screen era in Bakersfield, the Nile held the record for a local first-run film: 13 weeks for Deliverance.

The theatre's last attraction as a single theatre was a double feature of The Sunshine Boys, and Kotch. The theatre closed on February 24, 1976 and re-opened on March 24, 1976 with two 350 seat auditoriums, showing Barry Lyndon on one side and I Will, I Will ... for Now on the other. The Nile installed Dolby Stereo on one side for Star Trek, the Motion Picture in December, 1979. The theatre, an independent, seemed to rely on Paramount for most of its bookings, but the theatre fell on hard times and became a subrun theatre in the early 1980s. Several different owners came and went, including one who renamed the theatre the USA Cinemas with an art-house policy (Ran, My Beautiful Laundrette). No operator seemed to have much success, though, and the theatre sits vacant today.

 Photos
 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

June 2006 photos from the Carol Patterson collection.


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July 1999 photos from the Scott Neff collection.


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1979 photos from the Jack Tillmany collection.


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1938 photos from the Jack Tillmany collection.


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1938 photos from The Bakersfield Californian collection.


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December 1937 photos from The Bakersfield Californian collection.


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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 3/7/2010.

 
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