Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 14, 2014 at 10:10 am

And since no one really wanted to see The Master it would have been a lot of work for very few eyeballs.

RobertEndres on February 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

According to IMDb “The Great Race” was a Panavision blow-up to 70mm. As rcd55b points out there was only one aperture plate cut for most 70mm presentation, but there were a variety of aspect ratios in the 70mm format. 1:85:1 blow-ups (Days of Heaven, Roger Rabbit, etc.) were “hard-matted” by the labs to fit into the 2.21:1 70mm projected frame. In the case of the Music Hall where we had a downward angle we covered the keystone by adjusting the masking rather than cut a new plate as we would have for 35mm.

We also had an interesting test reel from “Ben-Hur” which was shot in “Camera 65” MGM’s proprietary 70mm process. The image had a slight anamorphic squeeze resulting in an aspect ratio of 2.76:1. (Without the custom anamorphic lens Heston and the cast looked as if they’d dropped a few pounds.)

One other note: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” was shot on 65mm film, which may have created some complications as 65mm cameras were also designed to shoot full-frame images. Anderson wanted 1.85 as an aspect ratio, and in most cases the lab would just hard matte the printed image, but for some reason, the image on the film was wider than 1.85 but less than 2.21:1, thus exposing things the director didn’t want seen at the edges of the picture (with 35mm if you pull the 1.85 plate in the projector you’re liable to see microphone booms and lights at the top of the set if the image hasn’t been hard-matted.) Thus theatres that ran “The Master” had to cut new 70mm plates. We wanted to do it my room, but no one makes 70mm parts which would have required going to a machine shop to get the plates cut. Just one more complication for anyone wanting to make a 70mm picture today.

rcdt55b on February 12, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Both. It is the film stock size. Everyone refers to seeing it in 70MM because there was really only one plate to cut for 70MM. 35MM had many different aspect ratios so many different plates were cut depending on the aspect ratio.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Doesn’t 70mm refer to the actual size of the film stock and not to the particular dimensions of its aspect ratio?

DavidM on February 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Bob, I remember The Fabulous Four and certainly, Airport. Airport was the first time I recall seeing the title of the movie above the marquee. It was on the building in lights, to the left of the spandrel. Was The Great Race shot in 70mm or was it a blow-up print? On every home video I’ve seen, the aspect ratio is 2:35 or 2:55 to 1.

RobertEndres on February 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm

David, I’m not sure about “The Great Race”. I saw it in70mm in Illinois and it had an intermission, but the Hall didn’t install 70mm until 1970, and given their reluctance to deviate from the stanard stage show/movie policy, I doubt it.

We did do three films with intermissions when I started there in 1974. They were re-issues of what MGM called the “Fabulous Four” which included “2001”, “Dr. Zhivago” and “Gone With The Wind”. We substituted “Singing In the Rain” for “Ryan’s Daughter”. I had come from theatres in Illinois which ran shows in the roadshow format, so I recall several discussions about how to do it at the Hall. The three we did were all in 70mm and designed to lead up to the 70mm presentation of “The Wind and The Lion”. Overtures were a little tricky. We wanted to precede the first show of the day of “The Slipper & The Rose” in 1976 with the supplied overture, although there wasn’t time for it in later screenings in a day. The projection crew agreed to play the overture even though it would have meant starting before the offical shift start time, but the musician’s union wouldn’t allow it unless we did it for every show, since it would look like we were substituting “canned” music for the live organist who didn’t play before the first feature. With the roadshows, I think we did get the overtures in, and we played the entr'acte music before the 2nd half. (We were able to convince management that it was “call-in” music and the organist shouldn’t play during that break.) We also did the 50th Anniversary presentation of “Gone With The Wind” with intermision music, but lost the battle over the organist who played before the intermission music started on film.

As far as I know those were the only times during the movie/stage show policy that an intermission was done. My predecessor didn’t want 70mm in the Hall, and used the fact that most 70mm pictures at that time had intermissions and were too long for the movie/stage format. He lost the fight when the house was four-walled for “Airport” and Ross Hunter insisted on 70mm. It was short enough that it didn’t require an intermission.

rcdt55b on February 12, 2014 at 1:26 pm

The curtain will be used.

DavidM on February 12, 2014 at 11:20 am

Let me echo Bob Endres' sentiment about the 1964-65 Hall adverts. My Grandpa Joe took me to the Hall for the first time in the summer of 1964. I was four years old. The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Follies ‘64 was the first show I saw there. It was the first of 11 visits with him, days that transcended special. It changed and defined my life. We were always among the first 50 people to enter the Hall for the day’s first show. We sat house left of the lighting console, Joe in the seat now designated as BB 413. Mine was the lone seat in Row AA, long since removed. I still consider it as “my seat”. I remember being so small and the Hall so big that when the bandcar rose, I did not know if they were rising or the building was sinking. For almost 50 years, I have cherished every moment I spend at RCMH. I know that OSHA regulations have changed the illusion somewhat. I hope someday they figure out how to leave the bandcar out of sight until showtime without anyone falling into the pit.

Bob, I know the Hall did not present films in “roadshow” format though I recall seeing at least one with an intermission. Could it have been The Great Race in 1965?

Vito on February 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

So I am watching this ad on TV for the new spring show and there is a still shot of the stage completely covered by some sort of hideous set. The curtain cannot be seen at all Is that the look for that show and will the curtain not be used?

RobertEndres on February 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Stephen, thanks for posting the ads for the 1964-5 season at the Hall. The “Mary Poppins” ad has particular signifcance for me as I was in New York for the first time on my own after getting out of college and had come to attend a convention of the Society of Motion-picture and Television Engineers. I wrote to the Ben Olevsky, Head Projectioist at the Hall to ask if I could see the booth during my visit and got an invitation from Ben to call him. On my first night before I had a chance to call I stumbled on the Hall and bought a ticket to see “Mary Poppins”. A few days later Ben gave me an extensive tour of not only the booth but the whole facility. I was awed to actually be able to walk into the booth that I had been curious about for so long.

It was almost exactly ten years later I was again awed to walk into that booth — this time as the newly hired Head Projectionist. The “Poppins” ad brings back a lot of memories as it marked the start of something that continued for 35 years.

robboehm on February 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

Remembering Shirley Temple. The Little Colonel opened at RCMH on March 21, 1935. See photo section.

Stephen Paley
Stephen Paley on February 1, 2014 at 5:55 pm

In anyone is interested, I have posted ads for all nine of the program changes at RCMH in1964. This was first year of the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65 (hard to believe it was 50 years ago) from April into October. You can find the ads in the RCMH photos section.

Vito on January 29, 2014 at 4:00 am

As to Heart & Lights just knowing the Rockettes are dancing to Fosse will put my butt in a seat.

robboehm on January 28, 2014 at 1:34 pm

January 26th marked the 75 anniversary of the premiere of Gunga Din. See photo section.

NewYorker64 on January 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

rcdt55b: Anything you can/want to share about Heart & Lights?

rcdt55b on January 19, 2014 at 11:02 am

I forgot to add that one of the main things that helped that was the change to 7000 watt lamps. Add in all many, many minor changes and adjustments the last few years and the 3-D effect works very well.

rcdt55b on January 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

During various morning tests last year, I walked around the entire house to look at the 3-D effect. There are really no bad seats anymore. Obviously, the more centered you are, the better the effect. However, even in the seats way off to the side, the 3-D effect was VERY apparent.

michaelkaplan on January 4, 2014 at 6:56 pm

On the subject of 3D, I recall that in 1954 (or was it 1953?) the Music Hall decided not to show Kiss Me, Kate in 3D, opting for the flat version for various technical reasons. One was that so many seats in the huge hall were located off-axis and there was significant loss of light when wearing glasses (typical of 3D projection even today). Wonder if that has been resolved in some way …

moviebuff82 on January 4, 2014 at 6:18 pm

markp on January 3, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Local news station WABC7 in New York is reporting that there is an electrical fire burning in the basement of the hall and the building is full of smoke.

moviebuff82 on December 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Guess my New York Giants will be 12th ranked in the NFL Draft when it returns to this venue this April.

NewYorker64 on December 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I’ve really enjoyed these comments, and I’ve got another dimension for everyone to consider: the surmise of film is likely part of a larger loss… that of the tradition of spectacular theater, as opposed to just “entertainment.”

I, too, saw the Spectacular this year and observed the continuation of a trend that brings a bit of sadness. While there are clearly so many talented and dedicated people working on this show, it is becoming sub-standard when measured against what the Hall is actually capable of doing. The magic and surprise of transitioning sets are gone, the numbers no longer crescendo and build, one of the world’s most technically proficient and unique stages is more or less static, the organ at best is used as a sweetener for the soundtrack. When new technology is introduced, it comes off as weak gimmick. (Those who saw the “snowflake” number understand what I’m talking about all too well… did anyone at all watch the stage or did we all just look up, wonder and worry about the weirdo orbs?)

No doubt there is a very real need for contemporizing the show for younger audiences – we don’t want to end up where we were in the mid-seventies with an irrelevant format putting the theater in danger of extinction. As a theater-goer, I’m first likely to hang the director, who admittedly has done wonderful things to restore the proficiency of the Rockettes (though while putting them through the paces of the most sophomoric choreography –- what’s with all the incessant pointing?!).

I think this is a three-pronged problem… art vs. commerce vs. talent. The first two are a necessary evil and will forever co-exist. The third, well, that’s just a shame — a lack of imagination and understanding of spectacle in the middle of an embarrassment of riches that is The Showplace of the Nation.

I’m not giving up. My fingers are crossed for Hearts & Lights. Pensively.

markp on December 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Thank you so much. I would really enjoy that.

rcdt55b on December 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm

We are fairly certain that the 3-D film will still be used for next year. It just works too well and is still an important feature in the show. They still had some problems with the LED 3-D wall this year so it would be risky putting it on that. In the 7 years or so that I’ve been here, we lost the film for a show only 2 times.

The surround speakers that were put in actually are used for the entire show, not just film. They are also used in a lot of the events during the year.

Thanks for your comments Mark but the legend here is Bob Endres. Also, few people know that the man that worked with Bob here, is retired but still works about 10 days doing the Christmas Show with us. Andy plans on being here next year too. Remind early in the show next year and I will give you a tour of the booth.

Vito on December 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

So the plan for next year as of now is to include the 70mm 3-D opening sequence? it may not be much but at least I can hold off holding a wake for film at RCMH A while back a ton of new surround speakers were installed in the theatre you can see the boxes just about everywhere on the walls and mounted in front of the mezzanines my question is are they used for anything other than film sound and with movies basically finished will the speakers be removed as well or used for other purposes