Rialto Theatre

1481 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 1 - 25 of 118 comments

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on November 5, 2015 at 10:44 am

How odd that the Rialto is listed here as “closed,” and not “demolished”.

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on November 5, 2015 at 10:37 am

“Cat People” played to packed houses at the Rialto in 1942, and was held over for many weeks. The Rialto audiences were considered “the most savvy movie-goers in the world”.

DavidZornig on October 21, 2015 at 9:37 pm

1970 photo added courtesy of Al Ponte’s Time Machine – New York Facebook page.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

rivoli157 on November 18, 2011 at 7:31 am

I believe this theatre had legit fare in the late 70s ,early 80s. “Musical Chairs”,“Marlowe” and a revival of the musical version of “Canterbury Tales”

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Times Square porn theatres circa summer 1970.


KingBiscuits on March 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm

The Cineplex Odeon run lasted from 6/12/1987 (opening with Predator) to 7/5/1990 (closing with The Hunt for Red October).

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 26, 2010 at 8:26 am

Can you post the ad that you got that info from, Tinseltoes?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 19, 2010 at 5:33 am

Woody, I think that photo may have been just after the opening as the Warner. By the time it closed the 42nd Street marquee was long gone.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 16, 2010 at 10:13 am

Sinatra and Abbott & Costello on the same bill. Now that’s entertainment, folks.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

From the post above, the Dead End Kids fit the policy:

42nd Street Memories * Jerry Kovar on Aug 15, 2006 at 5:52am

  • Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

“The Rialto opened for Christmas of 1935 with Frank Buck’s ‘'Fang and Claw.’‘ The theater’s manager, Arthur Mayer, saw the Rialto as distinctly masculine in tone. Most theaters, he said in a newspaper interview after the opening, were ’‘rococo, luxurious palaces for the uxorious,’‘ both in styling and choice of films. His theater, both in styling and presentations, sought to satisfy the ’‘ancient and unquenchable male thirst for mystery, menace and manslaughter.’‘ He was soon called the ’‘merchant of menace.’”

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

Excerpt from the New York Times' review of a Dead End Kids picture “Call A Messenger”

“To say that "Call a Messenger” fits in with the policy of the Rialto, which is to improve on any time-tested formula for shock by the simple expedient of doubling the dose, is to say everything. It doubles the dose, and although this method, on a few unfortunate occasions, has been known to prove fatal, it ought rather to be good for a minute portion of amusement in the present case."

number71 on February 27, 2010 at 8:31 am

On the TV show “Fame”, in an episode called “Street Kid” (episode # 18 2/25/1982), you can see the marquee in the background while the character of Doris talks to some streetwalkers.

William on September 1, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I would agree with mendoza’s post to. “Rambo: First Blood Part 2” was released 1985 and the second feature “Runaway” was from 1984.

korgsman on September 1, 2009 at 11:50 am

ken mc, given the show at the Lyric, this looks to be circa 1985 not 1979.

jflundy on July 1, 2009 at 10:54 am

Photo link, 23 November 1939, courtesy of Warren. This is a very interesting one:
View link

kencmcintyre on June 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Here is a November 1979 photo from the NY Daily News:

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 3, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Excerpt from NY Times review of “I Walked with a Zombie” (1943)

“Horror” pictures are enjoying a peculiar popularity the country over at the moment, according to box-office statistics, so it seems reasonable to assume that RKO has a safe bet in “I Walked With a Zombie,” which opened yesterday to a packed house at the Rialto and, at one point, drew a horrified scream from a woman patron. It’s just like the days of old when “The Bat” and “The Gorilla” were scaring audiences out of their wits, and “Frankenstein’s Monster” was making the night hideous for children and the more impressionable oldsters.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on November 5, 2008 at 5:44 am

Well said, Ed. I couldn’t agree more.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 4, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Just wanted to chime in on a brief thread from back around October 8th – Times Square and 42nd Street certainly did have character back in those days and was a convenient little slice of NYC where one could indulge in a variety of cheap thrills. I miss the carny atmosphere and the honky tonk… The way those theatres would try to lure you in with over-the-top billboards and advertising… The come-ons from the sidewalk barkers hawking for the adult shows and peeps. Plus the Square wasn’t so over-developed and crowded. There was a sense of space… low slung buildings mixed with a few mid- and hi-rise towers. It didn’t crowd in on you with one imposing glass tower after another as it does now.

The crime? Who misses the crime? But crime in NYC was rampant in the ‘70’s and '80’s… nothing unique to this section of town there.

I often wonder what would have become of the area had it been allowed to change organically as the crime rate dropped and the economy boomed in the ‘90’s. I suppose that without the promise of eminent domain and a comprehensive City-backed redevelopment plan, we’d have never seen the New Amsterdam and Victory Theatres renovated as magnificently as they’ve been. And while many of the grindhouses were still drawing significant crowds on weekend nights into the late 1980’s, the rising popularity home video and proliferation of specialty cable networks (Showtime Beyond, IFC, ActionMax, HBO Zone, etc) have rendered the good old grimy grindhouse obsolete. Most of the types of films that would have made either the top or bottom half of the typical bill on 42nd Street now go direct to cable or DVD. And the porn industry exists almost entirely on video and the web. Time would most definitely have passed the grindhouse by and left it at the mercy of landlords looking to turn a profit.

I’m happy that the City’s plans did provide for the preservation and restoration of several theaters along the block… I just wonder why it was necessary to rush in the bulldozers on so many of the great palaces that once lined Broadway. It’s more than just regrettalbe that the rich history of motion picture exhibition in Times Square was given such short shrift – it’s downright criminal.