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Looking Back

March 1942

Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in March 1942. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.

For more information about these theaters, see Cinema Treasures or Water Winter Wonderland.


The 1,500-seat State Theater in Ann Arbor opened on Wednesday, March 18, with a showing of the Paramount musical The Fleet's In, starring Dorothy Lamour, William Holden, Eddie Bracken, and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Also showing was the Merrie Melodies cartoon Rhapsody in Rivets and a newsreel.

"New Local Theater Most Modern Found in Michigan," read a headline in The Ann Arbor News on March 17, 1942. The article noted that the State was completely air-conditioned; thoroughly fire-proofed, with no wood except for trim; equipped with seats that sprung up when not in use and shaped to cushion the underside of knees; and the first theater in Ann Arbor built specifically for movies.

The State was owned by the W.S. Butterfields Theater company, which also owned the other movie theaters in Ann Arbor. Work on the theater started before the United States entered World War II in December 1941, so theater construction wasn't affected by the wartime restriction on materials.

Also screening in Ann Arbor on March 18 was Son of Fury (Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney) and a Mickey Mouse cartoon at the Michigan; A Date with the Falcon (George Sanders, Wendy Barrie) and Man from Headquarters (Frank Albertson, Joan Woodbury) at the Whitney; Unfinished Business (Irene Dunne, Robert Montgomery) and The Chocolate Soldier (Nelson Eddy, Risë Stevens) at the Wuerth; and Earthbound (Warner Baxter, Andrea Leeds) and The Smiling Ghost (Wayne Morris, Brenda Marshall) at the Orpheum.

Downtown Detroit movies on March 18 included The Shanghai Gesture (Gene Tierney, Victor Mature) and the Andrews Sisters in person at the Michigan; Ball of Fire (Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck) and Castle in the Desert (Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan) at the Fox; and Woman of the Year (Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn) and Joe Smith, American (Robert Young, Marsha Hunt) at the United Artists.

Also in downtown Detroit on March 18 were Son of Fury (Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney) and Shut My Big Mouth (Joe E. Brown) at the Adams; The Fleet's In (Dorothy Lamour, William Holden, Eddie Bracken, and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra) at the Palms State; It Started with Eve (Deanna Durbin, Charles Laughton) and Playmates (Kay Kyser) at the Broadway-Capitol); and Man's Castle (1933, Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young) and Rose of Washington Square (1939, Alice Faye, Don Ameche) at the Madison.

The Telenews newsreel theater at 1540 Woodward showed a one-hour program of news and short subjects, including the "last films from blazing Singapore!" The Tower at Grand River and Meyers screened a March of Time presentation of The Far East Command, about "the United Nations counterattack in the Pacific!"

The art film Cinema theater across from the Fox was screening the "Adults Only" The Love Wanga (1936), along with a "Chaplin Parade" and Virgins of Bali (1932).

The Redford was showing a double feature of South of Tahiti (Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford) and Highway West (Brenda Marshall, William Lundigan). The Senate featured a twin bill of A Tragedy at Midnight (John Howard) and Freckles Comes Home (Johnny Downs), and also gave free to all lady patrons "Fire King" flame-blue oven glass.

Also in Detroit on March 18 was Count Basie and his orchestra at the Paradise ("formerly Orchestra Hall"), along with the movie Treat 'Em Rough.


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This website is not affiliated with the Detroit Film Theatre, the Michigan Theater, or the Redford Theatre.

Website copyright © 2017 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

Launched November 25, 2005.

Last updated October 22, 2017.

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