The First Calderón Theaters

Teatro Alcázar

In 1922, the Calderón brothers Rafael and Juan, along with Juan Salas Porras, opened the original Alcázar in a space once occupied by the Cine Anahuac in 1922. They constructed an entirely new Teatro Alcázar in 1927, and celebrated the grand opening with a screening of Ben Hur (Fred Niblo, 1925), which starred Mexican actor Ramón Novarro (Serna 2009). The Alcázar was the Calderón-Salas Porras flagship theater in Ciudad Juárez after which the binational Calderón/Salas Porras Circuito Alcázar exhibition chain was eventually named. In Juárez, the chain also included the Apollo, the Ideal, and the Estrella. The Teatro Alcázar would continue screening Mexican cinema for next several decades while also hosting variety shows and tours of famous Mexican film and recording stars. By the 1970s, the theater was screening exploitation and horror films geared toward a teenage audience.

Teatro Colón

The Colón Theater in El Paso opened by Silvio Lacoma 1919 and offered a broad range of entertainment to the city’s Mexican population, including theatrical performances by actress and silent film pioneer Mimí Derba, appearances by the orchestra of Lerdo de Tejada, and the landmark film El automovil gris. The theater was taken over by Rafael Calderón, Rubén Calderón, and Juan Salas Porras by the mid-1920s (Serna 2009). They transformed the theater into a showcase for early Spanish-language films produced by Hollywood (García Besné and Tremps, 2019). In the decades to come, the Colón would be the central showcase for Mexican cinema in downtown El Paso, and also regularly featured live appearances by major Mexican stars and musicians. The Colón would eventually become the second-longest continually operating theater catering to the Latino population of the United States before it ceased operation in 1976 (Romo 2005: 271). The building currently houses a retail establishment.

Dorado Romo, D. (2005), Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juárez, 1893-1923, El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press.

García Besné, V. and Tremps, A. (2019), ‘Please sing to me: The immigrant nostalgia that sparked the Mexican film industry’, in C. Gunckel, J. Horak and L. Jarvinen (eds.), Cinema between Latin America and Los Angeles, Origins to 1960, Newark, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 64–79.

Serna, L.I. (2009), ‘Cinema on the U.S.-Mexico border: American motion pictures and Mexican audiences, 1896-1930’, in A. McCrossen (ed.), Land of Necessity: Consumer Culture in the United States-Mexico Borderlands, Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 143-167.