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FLICKS FILM AND VIDEO FILE : Screen Test Ends : Ventura's Mayfair Theater closes after finding little success showing cult, art and classic movies.

January 17, 1991|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After less than two months as a revival house, the Mayfair Theater has once again shut down.

Formerly owned by the Pussycat theater chain and operated as an X-rated movie house, and more recently home to Spanish-language films, the Ventura theater found little success showing cult, art and classic films beginning in November.

"The people who were in there last just weren't making any money, so they closed it up," said Ethel Edwards of Walnut Properties, the Los Angeles company that owns and leases the property at 793 E. Santa Clara St. "We're now trying to lease it out as either a Spanish house or a regular-run house. It's either for lease or for sale."

The theater actually had a pretty productive life before being purchased by the Pussycat chain. In the 1950s and '60s the building was leased by the family of Ventura resident Trudy Clark.

"That was long before the drive-ins and the proliferation of theaters. There were only the two theaters in downtown Ventura . . . in all of Ventura," Clark said. "The Mayfair was a regular first-run theater."

Clark isn't surprised that the Mayfair failed as a revival theater and questions its future as a movie house.

"I didn't see how it could do very well. You can see old movies on television . . . regular television, not even cable," she said. "The theater is a single-screen theater and all the theaters that have been built in the last 15 years are multiple screen. And I don't see how there would be room to expand."

In fact, Clark thinks the Mayfair would make a good home for local theater groups.

One theater that is still operating these days is the Ojai Playhouse, which will show the recently released film "The Long Walk Home" Jan. 20 as part of the Ojai Film Society's weekly series.

Thanks to Hal and Sally Janover, the film society directors, Richard Pearce, the movie's director, will be in attendance.

Set in Montgomery, Ala., at the time of the bus boycott of 1955, "The Long Walk Home" stars Sissy Spacek as a distinguished matriarch and Whoopi Goldberg as her maid. It takes a close look at the relationship between the two women during a tumultuous time and also at the relationship of each woman to the members of her family.

Show time is 4:30 p.m.

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