The Delphi Filmpalast was opened in 1929 and became home to many well-known dance orchestras like Teddy Stauffer, Heinz Wehner and Ben Berlin -the constant din of music coming from the building gained it the nickname “swing mecca on Kantstrasse”.
Even during the the day – tea dances took place in its beautiful natural garden.
During the war, the venue was handed over to military events and concerts. In 1942, the Belgian orchestra Fud Candrix played there for Wehrmacht soldiers on leave.
However, this enterprise had to be stopped due to wartime bombing raids, which severely damaged the entire structure. The roof collapsed and only the lower part of the room remained a shell. Every morning, Ernst Reuter, on his way to the mayor’s office on Fasanenstrasse, passed the ruins of the former dance palace, and was keen to see it back in business.
It was rebuilt in 1947, under the direction of its original creator Walter Jonigkeit, who installed the largest screen, 1000 seats and the most modern technical equipment in Berlin.
The movie Lord Nelson’s Last Love starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien was shown at the grand-reopening, with representatives of the British occupying forces present.
Indeed, so well regarded was the cinema, it was chosen as the venue for the 1952 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), but in 1957, the then newly built Zoo Palast became its permanent home (and still is). The year 1952 also marked an important event in German cinema history, when the first full-length 3D movie was shown at the theatre, two-years later, Cinemascope was installed.
In 1954, William Holden and James Stewart were the main guests at the Berlinale, their presence drew huge crowds along the Kantstarsse.
As the sixties arrived, new cinemas cut into business, along with the growing popularity of television.
From 1972, there were various plans for the venue (including for a casino or a hotel) – but, luckily, it remains a film house and continues to show the latest, along with an eclectic back catalogue of classic films.
The cinema was partially renovated in 1987. It sits across the road from the Hotel Bristol and is a beautiful reminder of a Berlin long forgotten.
Die offizielle Homepage des Delphi Filmpalast in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
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