Punch and Judy Theatre - Grosse Pointe Farms MI

Address: 21 Kercheval Ave
City: Grosse Pointe Farms
State: MI
Zip: 48236
County: Wayne
Open: 1930
Capacity: 714
Owner History:
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 13903

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

Source: Cinema Treasures

The Punch and Judy, opened in 1930, was designed by Robert O. Derrick in Colonial Revival style, looking more like a Virginia country manor than a movie house. The theater sat around 740 and contained an organ, a balcony (which originally had a higher ticket price than the orchestra seats). After it was closed as a movie theater in 1977, the Punch and Judy was almost purchased by a church, which ended up being turned down by the city due to zoning laws.

Later the same year, plans were made to turn the old movie house into a venue for live stage shows and concerts, but in December of that year, the city threatened to cancel a concert at the theater due to supposed safety code violations, then made the new owners sign an "anti-smut" agreement in early 1978. That same year, the Punch and Judy turned to repertory films, but still the city continued to squelch the theater's operation by banning "ticket lines of 50 or more persons" outside the front entrance. In 1988, the beloved theater was gutted and converted into offices, though its quaint Colonial American exterior remains relatively unaltered.

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Info Updates:
6/18/2018 - Jaime
OMG, the memories! I always walked past the P&J's movie poster walking home from Richard Elementary to see what was playing that weekend. I saw Dr. Doolittle, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Rumpelstiltskin, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. many others. It was always the high point of the weekend for me! Back then (late 1960s), the matinee was 75¢. Our mothers would give us each $1. We could get a decent-sized bag of candy at Farms Drugs for 25¢ and then head over to P&J. (I'm amazed the theater allowed that, but they did. ) I remember Play Misty for Me was showing for MONTHS, much to my disappointment. As a child, I was too young to watch such a movie and had no interest in it. But I did see my first PG rated movie at the P&J. The Poseidon Adventure. Saw it with my best friend, Jocelyn. (I was 11 years old. ) The movie blew me away and had me on the edge of my seat. I'd never known anything but Disney-styled movies until then. Such innocent times. So long ago. I loved the P&J. It was part of my life many weekends when the world was younger.
4/10/2013 - Chris
I grew up on Radnor Circle and our house also had a view of the theater. went there every weekend for matinee as a child. 1961, and continued taking my little brothers well into 1975. my biggest disappointment was my parents wouldnt let me see GOLDfinger, when it was showing. lots of great kids movies and cartoons though. 25cents. loved sitting up in the Loge and isnt it amazing that people could smoke during movies right in the theater.
11/17/2012 - Doug Hansen
I went to the Punch & Judy as a child in GP. Lived a few blocks away on McMillan and Charlevoix from 1957 to 1965. I think a quarter covered it all in those days. $. 15 admission to the Saturday matinee and $. 10 for two nickel candies. Movies we saw there included classics like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Rio Bravo, Run Silent, Run Deep, The Pit and the Pendulum and Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Scary scenes in the last two sent me running out of there like I had a firecracker in my pants. The banshee in DOG had me sleeping with my head under the covers for months. You see, my bedroom window faced in the direction of the P&J.
5/19/2012 - Tyler Ingolia
My Mother Would take me & my peers from Roeper, The School For Gifted Children , at age, like 12, 13 on 2 hour road trips for Midnite shows, on a School Night, to The Punch & Judy Theater, magical Film rep-house & alt Performance, Music venue (Devo, Pat Benatar, the Talking Heads & others) where I experienced my Mother's favorite film, Eraserhead, A Clockwork Orange, all of John Waters' early films, for the 1st time. She wanted expose us to something beyond heinous Strip- Malls, Denny's, and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in Michigan's Arsenal.
9/16/2011 - DOC SHEPHERD
My Uncle Frank, Frank Krueger, was the manager at the P & J for many many years. Used to love taking the bus down from St Clair Shores to see Uncle Frank and a free movie. I can tell you that he loved this place greatly. Used to love exploring the building as a kid. There was so much more to it than just a movie theater. One of the classiest entertainment venues in Michigan.
8/13/2011 - Ray Hooton
What a great little venue I saw the following concerts there: George Thorogood and The Destroyers 2-13-79 Taj Mahal with Elizabeth Cotton 3-21-79 Steve Forbert 2-1-80.
3/27/2011 - Tim Burdock
I also worked at the Punch and Judy. This was in the early to mid 1980s. So, I too can attest that it did not close in the 1970s. I have both vivid and blurry memories. I was a young teenager when I started there and how I got that job is a story in itself. One day after school, me and a few friends noticed the fire door to the alley behind the theater was cracked open. To us this meant one thing – Free movie! Our plan backfired when the then manager (then, Tom Shaker) greeted us while we were trying to enter the fire exit just as he was going to close it. Busted! I don’t remember the exact conversation, but somehow we managed to strike a deal whereby we would help clean the theater, if we got to see the movie for free. Thus begins my career at The Punch and Judy. I worked there for years and held several positions. The theater had (still has?) a cavernous basement that spans the entire city block. It was one of the first theaters to have air conditioning and there was an bedroom sized metal room in the basement with an automotive style radiator as one whole wall. All of the air for the theater was pushed through that room. You could go in there when the AC was on and it was like an icy wind tunnel. This basement also contained the furnace for the entire block and one of my jobs was to turn the furnace (an enormous multi-room affair) on in the morning, on my way to high school. This meant unlocking the door in the alley, and walking down a truly scary set of stares into a basement that in some places was simply cave-like. I had to walk a maze of hallways alone in the dark until I was in the room that housed the breaker box. This was right next to the huge pulleys and belts that spun the enormous fans that pushed air. Starting it caused the belts to screech which sounded like a car laying rubber. This too was scary! Random memories: There were stuffed chairs in the balcony (loge) and they had to be moved to clean. There were ash trays as well. Yes, you could smoke in the balcony. The projectionist job was a union affair and the theater used tungsten rod projectors. We used snow shovels to collect debris after Rocky Horror. It took several people hours and filled many, many trash bags per showing. The organ was not just an organ. It had a complete room of instruments that could be played from multiple stacked keyboards. I played that organ for hours when I was alone in the theater. Often there would be a matinee of some cartoon move like The Aristocats during the day and Rocky Horror at midnight. This made for strange days at work. At one point, we had an orange house cat that roamed the entire theater at will. I met and worked with famous people. John Candy and The Second City. Pat Benatar, Molly Hatchet, DEVO, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Timothy Leary… Many, many more I don’t remember.
11/2/2010 - Alan Harvard
Going to the Punch was s special adventure for me. The balcony and its isolation was the most romantic setting a teenager in 1955-56 could ever hope for. If I remember correctly you could actually smoke there also. It was a distance for me,Garland & Warren Sts. but well worth the trip. I think it was a favorite of many of my classmates from Austin Catholic High School.
10/13/2009 - Preston Nevins
Since it was right across the street from Grosse Pointe South High School, my friends and I used to go to the Punch religiously from about '81 to '84 to see an endless selection of movies. Around then IIRC they'd change their movies basically daily (?) so it was a continuous challenge to make sure we saw all the good ones! I definitely saw Blade Runner and Road Warrior there in 1982 soon after their initial releases had ended, but we also saw a bunch of subtitles European films that were seriously mind expanding... I remember thinking it was highly surreal that they had an actual organ player playing live before some of the films as late as the early '80s.
10/24/2008 - Mark Michel
I also worked at the punch and judy theatre. It was back in 1979-80. I used to work with scott michaels cleaning up after the rockey horror. we used to find all kinds of things the day after. mostly we found dope, money etc... we used comercial vacumes with long long hoses to vacume up all the rice. yes tis is when chris jasik owned the place. I first saw the movie airplane in that theatre. I remember the bathrooms were down in the basement. I was there for about 2 years. I miss the place.
1/29/2008 - JerryD
While the Punch was in operation of exhibition of movies during the 40s, 50s & 60s, it was owned and operated by Community Theatres (the Goldberg twins). Mr. Kruger was the manager there for over 40 years, always a class operation. The Goldberg's
closed their operation in the early 70s, the new owner/management was a independent operator who's last name started with a K. When he started showing "Rocky Horror" with the audience participating, it started the nation wide trend.
1/28/2008 - Steve Mazur
I grew up on the east side of Detroit. We went to a lot of concerts back then,Eastown Theatre,Michigan Palace ect. But I did manage to see four really great shows at the Punch: UK on 7-18-78, Phil Collins and Brand X on 11-12-78.

Also saw jazz great percussionist Lenny White there on12-17-78. Then on 1-28-79 we saw Mitch Ryder there debuing his "come back" album How I Spent My Vacation with local band Honey Boy opening for him. It was a great small intimate setting for a concert. To bad it ultimately was forced it to close down...
10/24/2006 - Scott Michaels
I worked at the Punch during the post Chris Jasczak reign, for Mark Etter and then a destructive manager named Tom Shaker. Loved the Punch. It took 4 of us 6 hours to clean up after each showing of Rocky Horror. Saw tons of great bands. Pat Benatar, the Ramones, The Undertones, The Kingbees, Steve Forbert, and even saw a lecture by Timothy Leary there.
12/9/2004 - Robert Kubat
This theater did not close in 1977. I remember seeing two live shows there, Talking Heads & Devo, and a screening of The Clashs movie Rude Boy; this would've definitely been at least 1978, possibly 1979. I lived around the corner on Muir, my house was demolished to make way for Cottage Hospitals parking structure.
9/11/2004 - Johnny Vanneste
My wife and I used to work at the Punch and Judy Theatre, she would take tickets, and I was the head usher. Mr Krueger was the manager, and the Punch and Judy had a valet that would, open the door,and park ypur car. The Punch and Judy sold only hard candy because popcorn,cotton candy, and drinks were just too messy. The loge, the upper floor cost one dollar more, and had big plush seats that saw the likes of the Fords, Bill Kennedy, Jack-Lalane, and many other Detroit area celebrities. The Punch and Judy was a great place to work, and one of the most prestigious theatres in Grosse Pointe.
Punch and Judy Theatre - From American Classic Images
From American Classic Images
Punch and Judy Theatre - Owners Lou Bitonti And Larry Lyman From Wayne State Library
Owners Lou Bitonti And Larry Lyman From Wayne State Library
Punch and Judy Theatre - Old Photo From Detroityes
Old Photo From Detroityes
Punch and Judy Theatre - Old Photo From Detroityes
Old Photo From Detroityes
Punch and Judy Theatre - Old Photo From Detroityes
Old Photo From Detroityes
Punch and Judy Theatre - Old Photo From Detroityes
Old Photo From Detroityes
Punch and Judy Theatre - Recent Pic
Recent Pic
Punch and Judy Theatre - Historical Photo
Historical Photo
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