Loew's Oriental Theatre

1832 86th Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11214

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Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 24, 2004 at 9:38 pm

It was twinned in 1976, and triplexed in 1983, at the very start of Saturday Night Fever, when the B Train zooms off, you can see the Loew’s Oriental Building and writting in faded paint Loew’s Oriental. Does anyone remember the upstairs theatres with the orange seats?

YMike
YMike on June 24, 2004 at 9:18 pm

It is the Benson Marquee. I have lived in the neighborhood all my life and you can not see the Oriental Marquee from 20th ave. I believe the Oriental does appear later in the film. Its like the chase scene from the “French Connection” (Also filmed in this neighborhood) If you watch closely they pass Lafayette High School several times during the chase. Sometimes the train is on the center track, sometimes its on a different track. By the way, what year was the Oriental twinned? If it was in the late 1970’s then they could not have shown Rocky and Network in 1976. The last film I saw at the Oriental was Dick Tracy in the main (downstairs) theatre. Untill its demise the entire orchestra section was intact as one theatre. Several rows of seats were missing here and there so you had great leg room in many of the rows. It really is a shame it had to close.

HomegaMan
HomegaMan on June 24, 2004 at 8:10 pm

You are wrong!!!
But you are right!
Think about it….

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 24, 2004 at 7:19 pm

I am not wrong Carl, I grew up two blocks away from the Benson and I know the area. In the movie Tony buys two slices at Lenny’s Pizza, then goes into Shirtown on the corner of 86th St. and 20th Avenue, how is it possible that you can see the marquee of the Oriental if it’s actually two Avenues over from 20th Ave? Trust me it’s the Benson Marquee that you see in the movie. The Oriental did not even have a stainless steel marquee like the one shown in the movie.

HomegaMan
HomegaMan on June 24, 2004 at 7:01 pm

You are wrong Theaterfan. I lived in that neighborhood all my life and I was there. But you discuss it with the rest…

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 24, 2004 at 6:59 pm

In Saturday Night Fever, Tony (John Travolta) runs under the marquee of the Benson Twin Theatre, not the Oriental. You can see the Chase Bank and the 20th Avenue subway entrance clearly in the backround.

HomegaMan
HomegaMan on June 22, 2004 at 5:31 pm

Alot of you guys failed to mention that John Travolta as Tony Manero in “Saturday Night Fever” (the quintisential Brooklyn film) is walking down 86th street after he buys his pizza and the Oriental is in the background showing “Rocky” and “Network”. This is a great scene in a great film and great theater. the last film I saw there was “Mr. Mom” in 1984.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on May 17, 2004 at 7:41 pm

Thank you, ErwinM, for your diligent work ! It’s indeed a pleasure working with you on this site !

EMarkisch
EMarkisch on May 17, 2004 at 7:35 pm

Referring to Peter K’s May 12th posting of the el train photo containing part of the marquee for Loew’s Oriental, I think I have deciphered the titles of what was playing that day. The first two lines read “RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK” and the bottom title, of which only one word is visible, should be “ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE”. This time the date of the photo (August 2, 1981) appears to be correct, which was not the case when I figured out the Loew’s Hillside marquee. That one was only slightly more legible. In any event, according to the microfilm of the New York Times for 8/2/81, these were the two features that were playing at the Oriental, which had already been twinned by that time. If you zoom, enlarge the photo and stare a bit, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” does seem to fit.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 17, 2004 at 2:53 pm

Many theatres just let those signs remain because it was too expensive to hire rigging and have them painted over. Many of the signs eventually faded away with the passage of time.

YMike
YMike on May 17, 2004 at 1:08 pm

I believe there was also a faded sign on the 46st mentioning Vaudeville shows.

MikeRadio
MikeRadio on May 17, 2004 at 6:03 am

Nevertheless, the sign in faded paint always said VAUDEVILLE SHOWS

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 16, 2004 at 5:35 pm

I don’t think that vaudeville lasted too long at the Oriental, which was situated in an area that wasn’t heavily populated at the time. Not too far away was the Universal, which opened a week earlier in October, 1927, and also had vaudeville. When Loew’s later took over the Universal and re-named it the 46th Street, it kept vaudeville there and phased it out from the Oriental.

YMike
YMike on May 16, 2004 at 4:24 pm

I have heard from old-timers that they did have some Vaudville shows there in the early 1930’s. Al Jolson made a personal appearance and performed at this theatre before a screening of “Jolson Sings Again” He toured several Loews theatres on the same day in the New York area.

MikeRadio
MikeRadio on May 15, 2004 at 2:45 am

What you cabnt see is that on the lefthand side under the painted LOEWS ORIENTAL there wasa VERY faded painting of the words

VAUDVILLE
SHOWS

How incredible is that!!

MikeRadio
MikeRadio on May 15, 2004 at 2:45 am

What you cabnt see is that on the lefthand side under the painted LOEWS ORIENTAL there wasa VERY faded painting of the words

VAUDVILLE
SHOWS

How incredible is that!!

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on May 14, 2004 at 9:32 pm

An outside wall of the Oriental, with “ORIENTAL” on it in large capital letters, appears in the upper left of this image of the West End elevated line :

http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?5432

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on May 12, 2004 at 9:30 pm

Sorry, I meant right edge of aforesaid image.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on May 12, 2004 at 9:28 pm

The Oriental is visible in the background in this image :

http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?5262

As you can see from the apartment bldgs. at the left edge of the image, the side wall alone is seven stories high, with the roof peaking several stories above that. The high, nearly block-long brick side wall, the zigzagging exterior fire escape metal staircase, and individual water tower above the roof, are all dead giveaways of older,larger theaters in NYC.

The marquee is visible in this image, but I do not know, and cannot read, what was playing then. Perhaps some cinema buffs can figure it out from the date of the photo, and from their knowledge of films, as was done for that image I posted the link to for the Loew’s Hillside Theater in Jamaica, Queens. Thanks.

RobertR
RobertR on April 22, 2004 at 10:00 pm

There was no reason for this theatre to close, too bad another company did not take it over.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on April 22, 2004 at 9:55 pm

The one and only film I ever saw at Loew’s Oriental was “Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home” the last Sunday in February 1987. It was a triplex at the time. Even divided into three cinemas, each cinema was huge, given the total size of the theater. The Moorish architecture of arches and tiles was beautiful. One of my friends thought it had been a mosque before it was a theater. I and my other friends had to explain to her the grandiose architecture and interior decor of some of NYC’s older theaters.

YMike
YMike on April 19, 2004 at 9:49 pm

Several years after the Oriental closed NBC filmed several scenes of a made for TV movie outside the theatre. They even put phony movie titles on the marque. You can also see the Oriental during the chase scene from “The French Connection.”

ERD
ERD on March 31, 2004 at 6:19 am

This was the last theatre near the West End elevated “B” train line.
It was very convienant to take the train & not have to use the car.
The area also had good restaurants and a large variety of retail stores. In its prime, the Loew’s Oriental theatre was attractive & comfortable.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on March 10, 2004 at 10:29 pm

There was talk in the early 90’s of modernizing this theatre into a true multiplex, unfortunately it never happened because of parking. In the film “Angie” with Gena Davis there is a brief shot of this theatre at the start of the movie. The marquee lit up at night is visible in this scene.

MikeRadio
MikeRadio on February 19, 2004 at 7:15 pm

In the later years, most seats were broken or missing.

There was also a ladder present in the downstairs auditorium.

Mike