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Last of the Independents 

Wednesday, Nov 6 1996
The Roxie Cinema, says programmer Elliot Lavine, is the oldest continuously running theater in town, having opened as the Poppy Theater in 1912. The group of film devotees who transformed the Roxie into one of the Bay Area's best places to see repertory cinema in 1976 included Peter Moore, Robert Evans, Tom Mayer, and Richard Gaikowski; Bill Banning has owned the venue since 1984, and Lavine has been programming the Roxie's eclectic schedule since 1990. The programming over the next month is typical: a day of four recent Irish films, a salute to Dean Martin, a new film from Japan, two obscure Robert Altman works from the '70s, a Good Vibrations-sponsored "Sex Toys on Screen" night, an all-8mm evening, and five days of films on and by the beats.

The Roxie is a clean, reasonably priced cinema, with tiny bathrooms, excellent coffee, and good projection. When the Surf Theater, far away by the ocean in the Outer Sunset, shut down in the late 1980s, the Roxie replaced its old, uncomfortable seats with new ones from that legendary rep house; eight years later they're still comfortable. If rep houses survive to 2012 it'll be in theaters like the Roxie, maybe even still on the Surf's old seats.

-- Gregg Rickman

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Gregg Rickman


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