The closure of the Crossroads movie theater has left me feeling a bit nostalgic. Mainly because that triplex opened in 1980, when I was a fledgling movie critic for the Deseret News, and I remember reviewing the first films that played in that comfy new triplex with its delightful soft rocking chairs.

The three movies that opened the Crossroads were "Can't Stop the Music," "The Blues Brothers" and "Fame."

"Can't Stop the Music" starred the Village People, Steve Guttenberg and Valerie Perrine — who have all moved on to some kind of weird camp status now . . . fueled to some degree by their participation in that film. (My review at the time began: " 'Can't Stop the Music' is being advertised as 'The Movie Musical Event of the '80s.' . . . The advertising is premature, the movie is immature and most of the acting is Victor Mature." But in retrospect, I think I was too hard on Victor Mature.)

"The Blues Brothers" is, of course, the still-popular "Saturday Night Live" skit flick with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, which paved the way for many more, decidedly inferior "Saturday Night Live" skit flicks. ("It's Pat!" anyone?)

And "Fame" was enormously popular at the time, with a hit theme song and a subsequent television series. So whatever happened to Irene Cara?

Come to think of it, all three were musicals! Whatever happened to musicals?

Ahh, those were the days.

For those of us who liked to catch a movie downtown after work, it was an embarrassment of riches.

There were the two Utah Theater auditoriums on the west side of Main Street. And the single-screen Utah 3 just across the way. And the big ol' Centre Theater on State Street, where I reviewed "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," among many others.

And for a shorter while, there were the Midtown (a single-screen theater) and the Elks (two screens).

And just west of State Street on Third South, there was the Broadway Theater. Not the Broadway sixplex that is east of State Street now but an older, rundown subrun movie house where they showed martial arts movies and a spate of mid-'70s films. (Remember that this was in the early '80s, before VCRs had become as common as TVs, and the old Broadway was a great place to catch up with missed opportunities — from classics to loony kung fu.)

But these days, all that's left downtown is Loews Broadway Centre. Not that that's a bad thing — I find myself there from time to time, mainly for independent or foreign-language pictures.

Nothing else is within walking distance from downtown anymore. The nearest now are Trolley Corners and Trolley Square . . . and frankly, both have seen better days. (If, as Jeff Vice reports on this page, Loews has no plans to shut those theaters down, can't they at least be repaired . . . or at the very least, cleaned up?)

And, for art films, it's the Tower at Ninth and Ninth. (Which has been repaired and cleaned up; the seats are more comfortable and the projection and sound systems much improved.)

How sad that the Crossroads auditoriums were allowed to simply go bad. During the past couple of years it had become impossible to find a comfortable seat. There was a time when the Crossroads theaters were a showcase for Plitt, then Cineplex Odeon, then Loews Cineplex. But they were allowed to deteriorate to such a degree that going there had become a chore.

You could have a seat with springs that made you feel like you were on a very old mattress. Or you could have a chair that rocked back so far your head might be in the lap of the person sitting behind you. . . . Except that, lately, there was seldom anyone sitting behind you.

It didn't have to be that way.

While Loews obviously had decided not to refurbish or spruce up this complex, it's hard to imagine that no other movie-theater chain is interested in having a presence in the Crossroads Mall. (And before anyone corrects me, I know its formal title is the Crossroads Plaza . . . but does anyone call it that? I'm sorry; it's the Crossroads Mall!)

Let's hope Cinemark works out its money troubles and gets in there soon.

Or that someone else realizes that downtown Salt Lake City is alive again, and some of us would like to walk to the movies after work.


E-MAIL: hicks@desnews.com