Comments from HowardBHaas

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HowardBHaas commented about AMC Loews Uptown 1 on Mar 27, 2006 at 8:02 pm

I met Steve at the Uptown when he was showing The Aviator and the platter had arrived. I’m sorry he’s gone.

I don’t disagree that the Uptown is great for 70 mm, but those of us who love this theater do enjoy 35 mm and especially Scope films there.

Steve is correct in that there seem to be fewer movies worthy of adult patronage in movie theaters. It almost seemed that Hollywood issued better movies in 70 mm 6 track, and when a decade ago that format died when DTS arrived, Hollywood stopped trying. There arestill some worthwhile films, but fewer.

70 mm classics have often returned over the years, so I hope the current exhibitor (AMC) presents more 70 mm classic films. Hollywood doesn’t seem to be issuing any new movies in 70 mm or blowups from 35 mm, but classics look & sound great on the Uptown!

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Mar 27, 2006 at 3:07 pm

I’m guessing they did NOT remove the second platter. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that for classics, a platter should never be used? The prints are rare & the studios & archives don’t want theaters to use platters for the rare prints, right? When we retrieved film equipment from the closed Boyd in Philadelphia (to reinstall later in the upstairs original booth), we retrieved the two 35-70 mm movie projectors (and an extra one from an adjoining auditorium) and told management to toss the platter!

I wasn’t at Lawrence, but agree that it was unacceptable to run the sound out of sync with the visuals. The paid projectionist should have known how to put the film back on track after it burned, but since he didn’t, I see nothing wrong with audience members who were
evidently projectionists helping out. Those of us who aren’t projectionists wouldn’t have volunteered.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a collector’s original 1956 print of The Ten Commandments at the Loew’s Jersey in Jersey City. There are comments at that site as to how impressed everybody was. As much as I love the Ziegfeld, it is an even greater experience walking into the Grand Lobby, Auditorium, and other public areas of one of the grandest neoclassic 1920’s movie palaces ever built. The Loews doesn’t have a working curtain, or side and back sound, so we should appreciate those features even more at the Ziegfeld.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Mar 21, 2006 at 8:14 am

Hal, I’d love to see 70 mm film festivals, and that includes some of the recent Ziegfeld classics that weren’t presented in 70 mm but were issued that way.

As to new releases, there’s another problem. 70 mm presentations are expensive, as you know. They was more of an effeciency of scale when they were presented in single screen flagship houses in the cities. One 70 mm print was shown in an auditorium that ranged from 500 seats (such as the Paris) to 1000+ seats. Unfortunately, there’s very few such screens left! The blockbuster movie is often presented in a multiplex every half hour, requiring several prints, and at the same time throughout the city & suburbs since there’s no more downtown exclusive for maintream movies. The cost of making, shipping, and showing all those 70 mm prints would be high.

No doubt the old days were better: 70 mm 6 track on giant screens in single screen moviehouses!

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Mar 20, 2006 at 12:50 pm

Thanks, Dennis, and Mike.
“Philadelphia” had its premiere in the historic Boyd, then known as the Sameric, but its actual run was at Sam’s Place I and II, where I saw it.

HowardBHaas commented about Mastbaum Theatre on Mar 16, 2006 at 2:07 pm

The Milgram family, owner of Fox, Milgram, and assuming the Stage Door was the auditorium created from the Fox stage, sold. I don’t know if PNB was the developer or merely the tenant, but if not them, somebody else would have leased the office building that arose in its place.

The late Willard Rouse was the developer of Liberty Place. From what I hear, the Duke and Duchess were no great loss. The Regency wasn’t a single screen past half a decade. I was in it as a twin, and in that capacity, it, too, was no great loss.

I believe that it was in 1953 that the original Stanley Warner company, which belonged to Warner Bros, was divested from Warner Bros due to antitrust law. So, it wasn’t the Hollywood studio that demolished the Mastbaum, which was a “white elephant” from the start. The Mastbaum was closed more often than opened, and cost more to keep it closed than to open it. It was too huge, and too costly to staff, heat, etc. Regardless, it was one of the greatest movie palaces ever built, and those who recall it speak of it with awe, a “cathedral” or “opera house” setting that was glorious.

HowardBHaas commented about Capital Theatre on Mar 9, 2006 at 9:19 pm

Movie theaters did indeed change with the times, and they have indeed evolved- into multiplex theaters.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Mar 8, 2006 at 7:26 pm

The Randolph page says 2001 played there. So, the local premiere was at the Boyd, but the run was at the Randolph? Do you have a date for the premiere being at the Boyd? We are working to document the Boyd’s history.

HowardBHaas commented about Capital Theatre on Mar 8, 2006 at 7:23 pm

That’s a big difference.
It is possible that the Capital Theatre’s box office was redone by that firm. Many theaters had exterior remodels in whole or part.

HowardBHaas commented about Capital Theatre on Mar 7, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Despite what the PAB site says, this theater opened in 1913, not 1933. Despite what Glazer lists, Thalheimer and Weitz weren’t the architects- except maybe for a remodel. And, from the PAB photo, it looks nothing like the Devon.

HowardBHaas commented about Castor Theatre on Mar 7, 2006 at 7:34 pm

Unfortunately, architect name isn’t in Glazer’s books on theaters. My W.H. Lee file doesn’t include the Castor in the list of theaters he designed (Note: the list says it may not include them all), so probably not by him. There were at least several architects at the time in Philadelphia well designing Art Deco movie theaters. If & when I see more information, I will share here.

Go visit & photo exterior? and the Tyson, too, Theaterbuff1?

HowardBHaas commented about 13,000 Theaters and Counting ... on Mar 7, 2006 at 11:56 am

Congratulations, and THANK YOU Ross, Patrick et all for YOUR great work. This site is a wonderful resource of information for so many purposes, including all of us who want to visit theaters in other cities.

HowardBHaas commented about Castor Theatre on Mar 5, 2006 at 2:26 pm

Castor Theatre:

View link

Tyson Theatre:

View link

HowardBHaas commented about Castor Theatre on Mar 5, 2006 at 2:24 pm

THIS page is for the Castor theater, not the Tyson, which was a separate theater at a different address. Why don’t you go visit & see, TheaterBuff1?

HowardBHaas commented about Holiday Art Theatre on Mar 5, 2006 at 5:39 am

More references here, including that interior redecoration was in 1938, and an exterior photo. It would be neat to see a photo of the interior as redone in 1938. And, it would be nice to have photos of the exterior from now linked to this site. I wander if any interior decoration is still visible? Anybody want to pretend to be a pervert & buy a ticket just to see?

View link

HowardBHaas commented about Holiday Art Theatre on Mar 5, 2006 at 5:35 am

The late Irvin R. Glazer in his out of print hardback
“Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z” (1986) has the following entry:

ACE THEATRE (Windsor, Holiday), 4204 Kensington Avenue, capacity 920. The Ace Theatre is a two story plain red brick structure with a large multi-colored marquee. It was built in the early 1920’s as the Windsor, a silent movie house. It was entirely re-decorated in the moderne style by theater architect W. H. Lee after it became the Ace. In the ‘70’s, it became the Holiday, a porno house. Most of the exterior decoration is hidden by the city transit authority’s elevated railway structure."

HowardBHaas commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Mar 5, 2006 at 5:29 am

I agree with what Theaterbuff1 says in the first paragraph above, especially the “remote possibility” that things will change. It certainly isn’t impossible that a theater building could again be reused as a theater in the future. At this point in time, most theaters have a greater chance of being reused for live performance or church than for daily single screen cinema.

We have found photos of the Boyd over time to be invaluable for its restoration, as well as documentation of its history, and our public relations campaign. We are still seeking and obtain such photos.

You will find Art Holiday on this site, but search under Holiday Art, and you can issue your comments on that page. I found it by google “Art Holiday Philadelphia cinema treasures” and found its title in this website.

HowardBHaas commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Mar 4, 2006 at 5:50 am

I would add that Theaterbuff1’s photos of current exteriors of Mayfair and Holmes theaters adds to our history and documentation of our theaters, and of our changing neighborhoods. I would encourage him to continue to photograph those theaters as their uses change, and other theaters, too and post such photos online (linking to this website) and provide copies of those photos to places like the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the Central Library of Free Library of Philadelphia’s Theatre Collection, and the Theatre Historical Society of America (by print, CD, etc.). Future generations should know what happenned to each theater, and see photos of any surviving original features such as marquee, poster cases,etc. That service is invaluable.

HowardBHaas commented about Curtain May Fall on Mann National on Mar 3, 2006 at 1:49 pm

Ross is right. The National’s clean, contemporary design makes for great moviegoing, and too few such houses remain from its 1970’s era.

On vacation twice in 1998 in LA, I enjoyed two movies at the National: “Fallen”, and Costner’s “The Postman”. With its huge movie screen, terrific sound system, and huge seating capacity, in my opinion, the National has the MOST impressive auditorium in all of Los Angeles!

Although I know The Postman wasn’t very popular, it looked and sounded like a fantastic epic movie on that giant screen!

In the last couple years, we’ve sadly lost some of the best of our other post-WW2 huge single screen moviehouses: the Coronet in San Francisco, the ex-KB Cinema in Washington, D.C, and the Astor Plaza in Manhattan. Few survive, such as the Ziegfeld in Manhattan. The National provided a better movie going experience than any of them!

Does the rent from film premieres not pay the bills? Are real estate values so high now in Westwood Village that the National will be demolished to make way for a new building? Will the Fox Village, Bruin, and Crest next be at threat?

There are more historic and more ornate movie houses in Los Angeles, but let’s hope a movie operator picks up this lease! And, maybe studios can shift a few premieres from the theaters they have on studio lots to this real movie theater.

HowardBHaas commented about Theater Tuschinski on Mar 1, 2006 at 7:51 pm

I’d vote for Best in Europe!

HowardBHaas commented about Mayfair Theatre on Mar 1, 2006 at 4:21 pm

The book “Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City (1984) includes the Mayfair Theatre with this description:

Streamlining was a favorite mode of design in the 1930’s. It was an important aspect of the Art Deco style and reflected America’s growing preoccupation with speed and transportation machines. Streamlining had little impact on building design in Philadelphia, but even in conservative cities movie theaters were often designed in this popular style.

The Mayfair was the first movie theater in the city designed in a streamlined manner. Supowitz, the city’s outstanding theater designer of the 1930’s, transferred the building into a giant sign. The horizontal bands of the curved marquee are repeated in decorative horizontal bands on the wall below, broken by circular display windows. To achieve a sleek appearance, Supowitz used modern materials, including porcelain, structural glass and stainless steel. The Mayfair influenced the design of many subsequent theaters in the city.

Howard Haas note: “structural glass” was often Vitrolite or Carrara glass, brand names.

HowardBHaas commented about Mayfair Theatre on Mar 1, 2006 at 4:10 pm

The late Irvin R. Glazer, in his hardback book Philadelphia Theatres A-Z wrote the following:
MAYFAIR THEATRE, 7300 Frankford Avenue; Capacity 1009, Architect David Supowitz

The entrance area of the Mayfair Theatre is on a triangular lot with the adjoining auditorium built on a rectangular lot giving the 90 by 200 feet theatre access to three streets. A very wide white plastic and neon marquee fronts the cut-off end of the triangle with a deep recess leading into the mirror and chrome decorated foyer. A very ample standing room area behind the seating section was designed so that 300 seats could be added if needed. The walls have an impressionistic mural on each side framed by panels of horizontal colorings. Birch and walnut veneer panels cover the base areas. The floor is steeply pitched towards the wide stage assuring good sight lines.

The theater opened in the fall of 1937 with subsequent run feature pictures and stage shows. By 1940, the Mayfair was showing only moving pictures and by 1950 the policy was double features. The theatre now alternates between single and double features showing the best product available.
(The Mayfair Theatre closed in November, 1985).

in the intro text of the book, Glazer wrote “Big one story art deco styled houses continued to be built, with the President in 1936 and the Frankford-area Mayfair and South Philadelphia Savoia in 1937.”

This book was published in 1986 and is out of print. The “theatre” should have been “theater” except when part of actual name, i.e. Mayfair Theatre. I’d also put in caps Art Deco. Although he says the murals were “impressionistic” I think I’ve read him do that elsewhere where the term “Art Deco” might have been best used. He wasn’t always accurate in all details that he wrote about theaters, but we owe him so much for writing on all our theaters and collecting tons of historic photos and documents, now at the Athenaeum.

HowardBHaas commented about Los Angeles Theatre on Mar 1, 2006 at 10:04 am

The “perfect setting for French opera” is NOT hype! I’ve been twice inside, both for Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats, Thief of Bagdad with orchestra, and From Here to Eternity. This restored theater is one of the most beautiful neoclassic movie palaces ever built. Its opulent design is indeed perfect for opera. If I was living in LA, I’d love to attend. The auditorium looks like it was indeed designed for opera, the Grand Lobby is unforgettable, and the lower lounge neat, too.

This should have become LA’s main venue for opera, and other neoclassic movie palaces in other cities should have been saved for opera, too, rather than building new performing arts centers, such as in Manhattan, Washington, D.C. etc.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Mar 1, 2006 at 4:58 am

Oh! So, I really missed the original 70 mm 6 track version that was shown moviegoers! Well, Spielberg is still at the top of his game, and it will have digital sound, so I will try to attend. I’m going to email you, Peter, at the email you provide on this site, for more particulars as to the differences. I wouldn’t want to spoil the film for anyone, and there may also be more discussion on particular films than this site would seem to set up for.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Feb 28, 2006 at 7:41 pm

Because of limited availability, until March 6, 2006 only, Friends of the Boyd are offering you original CHAIR BACKS from 1928 from the Boyd!

These original chairs are from the Balcony since the chairs from the orchestra floor were replaced in 1953. These are the BACKS only, which are WOOD in the back with UPHOLSTERY in the front, NOT THE ORNATE ENDS or sides or armrests.
The WOOD on the back has what realtors call “character.” The top layer of UPHOLSTERY is RED, interwoven with BLACK, and we think it dates from the 1953 Cinerama remodel. View link If you strip that away, there’s a layer of ORANGE upholstery. Finally, there’s the original Opening Day 1928 ART DECO upholstery as seen in our Auditorium photo gallery.
View link
Naturally, the original upholstery doesn’t look new, and is darker than the photo, but on some or all the chairs, there’s a little bit of original upholstery at the sides that’s brand new looking. Of course, you don’t need to strip to the original upholstery. You could leave the red upholstery in place. You might want two chairs, strip one, and then decide to display one or both.
There’s also a bit of METAL at the sides of each chair back, which is how they connected to the rest of the chairs.

Since they are only backs, they aren’t for sitting on. They are SOUVENIRS of the historic Boyd Theatre! They can be displayed, on the floor, or on a big shelf. We convey these chairs “as is” with no guarantees.

$25 DONATION to Friends of the Boyd FOR EACH chair, in advance or at the time of pickup of chairs, and you need pick them up from a Center City Philadelphia location that we will specify (not the Boyd).
The tax deductible donations will be used for our mission of a comprehensive Art Deco restoration of the Boyd, and a program of film, organ, tours, and exhibits of the Boyd’s history.

New chairs in the Boyd will again look like 1928 chairs, including new Art Deco upholstery. New chairs may be wider since people are bigger, and for many such reasons, these backs won’t be used again. The surviving ornate ends will be reused.

If you want one or more chair back, then email us SOON. Email address is at the very bottom of our website,
Remember, we can only make this offer until March 6.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Feb 28, 2006 at 5:33 pm

Thanks, Peter. Unless you know that those are the only prints available, we have to hope the Ziegfeld actually is sent those newer (digital sound) prints rather than older 35 mm prints. This sounds like a cool surround sound experience.
I miss 70 mm, 6 track.