When “A Christmas Story” First Played in Albany

The Times Union blogging meet-up tonight – a viewing of “A Christmas Story,” with a post-movie get-together across the street at the Albany Brown Derby – should be a lot of fun.  I’ve seen the list of bloggers and readers who will attend the event, and I think it will be a great time.

Now I could just post that and say, hey enjoy the event, hope to see you there.

Yeah, I could do that.

And you know dang well that if it’s coming out of my blog page, you’re going to get something more than just an invitation.  That’s just me.

See, on November 18, 1983, “A Christmas Story” made its Capital District debut at various area theaters.  It appeared on two of the United Artists-branded movie palaces – the UA Center 1-2 at Colonie Center, and the UA Plaza 1-2 at Rotterdam Mall.  And did you know that matinee prices at those theaters were just two dollars a show?  Wow…

Since both theaters were twin-screens, patrons had a choice of watching “A Christmas Story” or Michael Keaton in “Mr. Mom” at the UA Plaza 1-2; if you didn’t want to see “A Christmas Story” at the UA Center 1-2, you could watch Chevy Chase in “Deal of the Century” on the other screen.

The other UA theaters in the area had popular films of the day – the UA Hellman 1-2 on Washington Avenue Extension offered Sean Connery in “Never Say Never Again,” as well as the NASA flight drama “The Right Stuff.”  The UA Towne 1-2 in Latham had Tommy Lee Jones in “Nate and Hayes,” as well as “Amityville 3-D.”

Oh, and I should mention that the UA Center 1-2, on Friday and Saturday nights, offered “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the Led Zeppelin concert  film “The Song Remains the Same” as midnight movies.

Up the street from the UA Center 1-2, the Fox Colonie 1-2 on Wolf Road had an exclusive engagement of the film “A Night in Heaven.”  Yeah, I don’t remember much about that film, but it did spawn the Bryan Adams hit “Heaven.”  So we can curse thank the film for that, at least.  The other screen at the Fox Colonie gave us “The Osterman Weekend.”

“A Christmas Story” was also playing at Cinema 4 in Amsterdam, and if you clipped the advertisement out of the newspaper, you could get $1.00 off the ticket price of seeing either “A Christmas Story,” “Amityville 3-D,” “A Night in Heaven” or “The Big Chill.,” all of which were viewable that weekend.

You could also watch “A Christmas Story” at Pyramid Mall, as the Saratoga 6 cinema had that film – as well as “Deal of the Century,” “Amityville 3-D,” “Nate and Hayes,” “A Night in Heaven” and “The Big Chill.”

“The Big Chill” and “Nate and Hayes” were on the screens at the Cine  1-2-3-4-5-6 in Northway Mall, as were “Stephen King’s Dead Zone,” “Amityville 3-D,” “The Golden Seal,” “Fanny and Alexander,” “Educating Rita” and “Richard Pryor Here and Now.”  That’s right, eight films in a six-screen cinema.  And the film “Terms of Endearment” was scheduled to premiere at Cine 1-2-3-4-5-6 one week later.  Think about that when you go to Crossgates and you see seven films in what is advertised as an 18-screen cinema.

The Scotia Cinema not only presented “Mr. Mom” on their screen, they also offered the film for $1.50 for afternoon and evening showings – and, since this was the weekend before Thanksgiving, several lucky patrons won 15-pound turkeys before each screening.

If you went to the Spectrum, you could watch the Australian film “Lonely Hearts,” which was entering its final week of engagement at the Delaware Avenue single-screen cinema.  Two shows a night at the Spectrum, closed on Mondays.  That place has come a long way since then…

Attending Cinema 7 in Latham gave you a chance to see Timothy Hutton in the film “Daniel,” the story of the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

And if you wanted some live entertainment, there was a touring performance of “Sesame Street Live” at the RPI Fieldhouse that weekend.  And if you went to your local Price Chopper, you could snag a coupon for $1.00 off the ticket price to attend the event.

So there you have it.  That’s what was playing in the Capital District – both “A Christmas Story” and other films – the weekend of November 18, 1983.

And I’ll see you tonight at the blogging event at the Palace!!