23 Amherst Street
Manchester, NH 03101
- The was the first Theatre built and managed by Descoteaux. The Empire and Globe were managed by him, but (as far as I know) originally built by other parties.
- A promotional ad for the Rex’s opening told readers to “Watch for the opening date of the Rex Theatre. Manchester newest, most up to date motion picture house.” interestingly, at the end of this ad in small text was printed “Under the Personal Management of Mr. Lucien Descoteaux”. It is interesting that this was advertised. Perhaps it was because Mr. Descoteaux was a well known figure in the world of Manchester film exhibition? I am most curious about the inclusion of the word ‘personal’. Could this perhaps signal that he was going to run this theatre the way he wanted to run it, unencumbered by other owners (like the other theatres he managed). This is purely speculation on my part, but it has cast the Rex’s opening in an interesting light. The Globe was closed only three years later, and it makes me wonder, did Descoteaux open the Rex to purposefully steal business from the other 2nd/3rd run theatres (even the ones he himself managed but did not own)? By the time of the Rex’s opening in 1940, Manchester already had 10 theatres, and had an estimated population of 80,000. The Globe and Empire occasionally were advertised under the banner of being “Neighborhood Theatres”. This could have some bearing as to why the Globe was closed and why the Rex was opened. One could hypothesize that because of the relatively close location of the Rex and the Globe that the Rex was built as a replacement. The Globe dated back to atleast 1915, so it was certainly getting on in its years. That area didn’t necessarily need another second run theatre at the time, yet Descoteaux built the Rex AND managed the Globe simultaneously. The notion that Descoteaux would build a theatre to essentially compete with himself certainly seems odd, but it might have made sense from a business perspective. He was allegedly only a manager at the Globe, whereas he owned the Rex. A much higher percentage of profit would go directly into his pocket if the Rex was successful. Until I can confirm that a third party owned the Globe, or that Descoteaux was at odds with the owners of the Globe this is all conjecture, but it certainly paints the opening of the Rex in a different light.
- Opened May 30, 1940 at noon. The first pictures shown were “His Girl Friday”, and “The Amazing Mr. Williams”.
- Billed as “Manchester’s Newest, Most Up To Date Picture House”
Seated 550 People
Allegedly Manchester’s first Air Conditioned Theatre
“Rust colored seats are of leather with rubber cushions while the back is of mohair and fitted with springs.”
- Had “two of the latest projection machines devised by the industry”. The special features of this machine include a “type of lighting on the screen that provides maximum illumination with a minimum of eye strain.”
“The specially designed screen is designed to absorb infra-red rays which are harmful to the eyes.”
- 12 seats were set aside for the hard of hearing, with attachments (headphones?) to amplify the sound.
- Was built in what used to be called the Sun building.
- Closed initially on November 15, 1958. Its last shows during this time were “Imitation General” and “Tarzan’s Fight For Life”. It is unknown why Descoteaux closed the theatre in 1958, but a Union Leader article from April 19, 1961 said that the theatre was going to reopen soon. Descoteaux’s reasoning for reopening the theatre was that it was “a good time to reopen” since studios were “making more pictures than before”. During this interim period the Rex also allegedly received some sprucing up, with some repairs and repainting done
- The Rex was reopened again as of May 24, 1961. It is unknown how long it stayed open after this point. The latest date that I found that had advertisements for the theatre was February 10, 1962.
- Allegedly closed by Descoteaux in 1962. Lucien was supposed to have retired some time before his death in 1968.
The Rex Theatre as it appears in December 2006. Now known as ‘Club Liquid’
Well the Rex was in operation during the late 60’s and I ushered there and at the Strand in 1970-71, Managed by Mr. Hickey & Mr. Hayes. I think it closed in the late 70s.
I saw a double feature there, a children’s matinee, of “Captain Nemo and the Underwater City” improbably paired with “The Five Man Army”, a violent spaghetti Western starting Peter “Mission Impossible” Graves. It was the first time I ever saw nudity, as a sadistic Mexican offier tore the blouse off a Mexican girl (revealing her charms) before being decapitated by a mute Mexican improbably equipped with a sumaurai sword. The boys in the theater, all about the age of 10 to 12, went wild and rioted. I remember the face of a father who had brought his young daughter (we were up in the balcony, my brother and I and this father and his kid)…the pained look. And he said clearly, “This isn’t a movie for kids.” My brother and I joined the crowd pelting the kids below with popcorn boxes and anything handy. The ushers down below were dragging kids out and throwing them out the door. The kids…all pre-teens…would go limp and have to be dragged. They must have seen this technique on TV during the Chicago Democratic Convention Riots. It was about 1970.
I wonder if Mike Becker remembers “The Five Man Army” riot!
Just saw the May 7, 1943 ad for the Rex (at the Globe page), that they were showing the film noir masterpiece “The Glass Key.” My father & my Uncle Chester (he was married to my father’s older distant cousin who was our “Aunt” Ruth and lived a block over from us all our lives) went to see “The Glass Key” the day before Chester went off to the Army in WWII. Uncle Chester was at the Battle of the Bulge, where he was wounded grievously. (My then-teenaged future father went into the Navy the next year, in ’44.) Ironically, the very same brother I saw “The Five Many Army With” at the Rex — well, we spent the last night before *he* went into the Air Force at The Rex (I think it was called “The Movies” then) watching that Clint Eastwood masterpiece “Any Which Way But Loose.”
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