Subterranean Silver Spring holds many surprises. One treasure buried under an office building on Fenton Street is the Capri Theater
. Today, we are taking a look back at a brief era in its late history, when it was one of several around the country to become a weekly haunt for fans of martial arts movies. The Capri opened at 8630 Fenton Street on January 19, 1972, according to the Cinema Treasures website
. Filmgoers who descended the escalator to the lobby that night would have seen the Otto Preminger dramedy, Such Good Friends
|Escalator from street level down|
to the former Capri Theater
But under the later ownership of Feifei Chan in February 1981, the Capri was rechristened the China Capri Theater
, specializing in martial arts films. The 1970s kung fu craze is most associated with the legendary Bruce Lee. At the China Capri, though, many of the films were the more violent, authentic product directly from Taiwan and Hong Kong, rather than the edited fare found on Saturday television screens by the 1980s. "These show more blood," a teenage Silver Spring resident emerging from the Capri told The Washington Post
in July of 1981.
According to Chan's son, Steve Chan, the concessions stand was stocked with products from the family's Chinese grocery business. A growing Asian population in the region fueled demand and filled seats at the China Capri, and at the other kung fu palace in Montgomery County at the time, Roth's Manor theater in Rockville.
As a fan of martial arts movies myself, it sounds like the China Capri would have been a tremendously fun place to go, Alas, the one-screen theater closed in 1982, which ironically was one of the greatest years in cinema. It lies dormant in the dark today, waiting for a smart and wealthy businessperson to reopen it once again.