The Revue Theatre at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue was constructed between the years 1911 and 1912, its owner at the time being Jacob Smith of Toronto. During the First World War, silent films screened at the Revue helped to take people’s minds off the tragedies of battle. In the 1920s, a prosperous decade in the city’s history, people flocked to the the theatre to view the latest films. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Revue remained highly popular as people sought to escape the grim economic times of the decade, movies being one of the few entertainment venues that remained affordable. The Revue remained an important feature of the Roncesvalles neighbourhood during the Second World War, when many of the films attempted to lift the morale of the people, since the daily news from the front lines in Europe, and later the Pacific, was extremely depressing. The Revue has now been an important part of Toronto’s movie scene for almost a century. It is amazing that the theatre has survived. This was accomplished through the support of the neighbourhood that surrounds it, which rallied to keep it open as a functioning movie house.
The Revue is located on the west side of Roncesvalles, a short distance south of Howard Park Avenue. The 543 seats in the theatre were originally covered with Fabricord, which was replaced in 1945 by the Canadian Theatre Chair Company. In the same year, the number of seats was reduced to 524. The theatre possessed two aisles, which is the same today. In 1955, the two back rows of seats were removed to allow a candy counter to be installed. At one time, the theatre was owned by the “Associated Group,” which later became “20th Century Fox.”
During a severe snow storm, one of the sets of lights on the marque fell to the street. It remains in storage behind the screen of the theatre. Eventually, the entire marquee was removed as similar to other old movie houses, it was too expensive to maintain. However, except for the loss of its marquee, the facade of the theatre remains unchanged since it was constructed.
In the City of Toronto Archives, there is a notation in the file of the Revue Theatre that states that in 1959, an inspector discovered that a 16-year-old had entered the theatre, at a time when the legal age was 18. The teenager was ejected and his money refunded.
The Revue Theatre in 1935, its impressive marquee a delight to behold during the darkness of the night.
This photo was taken about the years 1941 or 1942.
The theatre auditorium in the 1930s or 1940s. In these decades, the rows contained more seats than today.
The auditorium in May of 2013, during “Doors Open Toronto.” The seats are now wider than in earlier decades.
The auditorium from the rear of the theatre, near the lobby.
The sign that fell from the marquee, which is now stored behind the stage.
The candy bar in the Revue in 2013.
The Revue Theatre about the year 1935
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To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new
The Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre at Bloor and Bay
The “Bloor Hot Docs Cinema” on Bloor Street West
The Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue
Toronto’s first movie screening and its first movie theatre
The ultra-modern Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets
Cineplex Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets
The Ed Mirvish Theatre (the Pantages, Imperial and Cannon)
The Downtown Theatre (now demolished) at Yonge and Dundas
The Orpheum Theatre on Queen St., west of Bathurst
The Bellevue Theatre on College Street that became the Lux Burlesque Theatre
Old movie houses of Toronto
The Odeon Carlton theatre on Carlton St., east of Yonge St.
The Victory burlesque and movie theatre on Spadina at Dundas:
The Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre on Bay St. near Queen
Attending a matinee in the old movie houses of Toronto during the “golden age of cinema”
The University Theatre on Bloor St., west of Bay Street.
Archival photos of the Imperial and Downtown Theatres on Yonge Street
The Elgin/Winter/Garden Theatres on Yonge Street
The now vanished Avon Theatre at 1092 Queen Street West