Comments from Al Alvarez

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Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Coronet 1 & 2 on Aug 19, 2006 at 2:07 am

Ed, Cineplex Odeon was concerned that their Chelsea nineplex was easily outgrossing the triple down the street. In an effort to equate the two in everyone’s eyes they decided to combine two of the screens at the triplex and make that location as good or better than the nineplex. They renamed it Chelsea West in the process and it has since hosted several films premieres including Woody Allen films.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Aug 19, 2006 at 2:00 am

The recommended industry sound level is FAR too loud for most multiplexes causing customer complaints and sound bleed to other screens. It is not uncommon for managers and projectionists to lower sound levels once the run gets going as a result. In some cases low dialogue scenes get lost in order to avoid clearing the house everytime the music swells to idiotic levels or something explodes on screen. A recent example of this bad mixing is SUPERMAN RETURNS, which goes back and forth for no apparent reason since the dramatic fluctuations cannot justify the dialogue spoken nor action scenes, though it does keep one awake when there is no real plot unfolding and no has anything interesting to say. The thing is better watched in mono. You may experience the same thing at home on DVD on some films where you keep having to raise and lower the sound.

A footnote on the now legendary BACKDRAFT story, reel change misses were daily events at the Ziegfeld. Only BACKDRAFT made international news because the wrong reel went on and Billy Baldwin had a fit in front of the press.

If you do a professional sound check, tie the curtain up, put in a new lamp and run a platter built-up show through on a dry run, chances are you will not get embarrassed by an incompetent projectionist or gremlins at a premiere. That (and my little story above) is how the Ziegfeld ended showing movies the way it does.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Aug 16, 2006 at 12:11 pm

One upon a time there was a rare and lonely female projectionist at an imaginary Manhattan cinema with a bad back. She had trouble lifting the reels and demanded that the cinema install a platter so she could build the film up once and never ever have to pick up a reel again.

The boys at home office cried “poppy cock”!. The boys at the Union said “nonsence and stuff!”.

The rare and lonely female projectionist went to her lawyer and made sure that “reel to reel” was banished from the land forever and that the bad boys never again made it impossible to earn a living as long as technology was available and disability laws were there to protect her job.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about IFC Center on Aug 16, 2006 at 11:56 am

The Waverly closed for twinning in mid September 1981 after HEAVY METAL and re-opened on October 30, 1981 with BODY HEAT and MOMMIE DEAREST plus a weekend midnight show of ERASERHEAD plus ASPARAGUS.

I would be Trainspotting if I didn’t have a job.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Aug 16, 2006 at 8:26 am

Ed, they had the 34th St East and, of course, the Baronet.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Criterion Theatre on Aug 16, 2006 at 7:54 am

Ed, I show the Criterion was closed for about three weeks between the two runs.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Criterion Theatre on Aug 16, 2006 at 7:53 am

Ed, I show the Criterion was closed for about three weeks between the two runs.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Boulevard Drive-In on Aug 14, 2006 at 10:28 pm

Louis, Wometco was careful to only screen soft porn at the Boulevard Drive-In and Town (downtown) as their company charter did not allow any other. The films the Boulevard Drive-In showed in its last days would be rated R today and in some cases PG. They often promised more than they delivered. (Think Russ Meyer and nudist camp nudies). The theatres attracted straight couples, not lone males as XXX did.

The Boulevard screen faced the Interama swamp land so exposure to Biscayne Boulevard was not a problem. Other drive-ins had to install special screens where the inage faded with distance so as not to cause accidents on the expressways.

The handi-wipe, alas, was not urban legend. I remember how funny we thought it was when we got one, for the buttered popcorn, I presume.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 12, 2006 at 11:19 pm

The Paramount I remember had a huge screen and no columns in the auditorium so if that photo above is the same theatre it must have been extensively remodelled by the sixties.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about RKO Keith's Theatre on Aug 10, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Hmmm. Hello, Tom.

You have a good heart.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Aug 8, 2006 at 10:06 pm

Considering TALLADEGA NIGHTS is one of the biggest hits of the year I am sure Pacific is not even considering resorting to “classics” yet. I wish the Ziegfeld did not have to resort to bringing back TRON, but bless them for trying something.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about 170th Street Cinema on Aug 8, 2006 at 6:33 am

One slight correction to the excellent post above. The General Cinema take over of Loews did not include the 167th Street Twin nor Bay Harbor, as those leases had a partner. The 163rd Street was a Wometco house at the time.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Coronet 1 & 2 on Aug 7, 2006 at 10:09 pm

From what I can tell, theatres that spent a signficant life as anything other than cinemas will often not get listed. Hence the Ambassador, for example, a major Broadway foreign film house in the thirties, but now a playhouse, won’t rate. The Lunt-Fontaine does. Go figure!
I was also unable to place the Grove Cinema in Miami, a true treasure for anyone who lived there in the seventies.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Aug 5, 2006 at 12:11 am

You will find discussions on both those subjects elsewhere on this site but it looks like there were two Embassy 49’s, and the Frisco was the DEEP THROAT/MISS JONES record holder.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Coronet 1 & 2 on Aug 4, 2006 at 4:18 am

Look for him spelled “Kieth Kiehl”. I found several listings but I am not sure if they are him. There are also some articles regarding drive-ins in the Tacoma area dated as recent as 2004.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cine 42 on Aug 3, 2006 at 6:54 am

Hmmm. Shame that the X-rated swashbuckler genre didn’t take hold. ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS might have had competition.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Lido East on Aug 3, 2006 at 6:49 am

Ed, I will try and collect some more for information this. I was a theatre manager in Miami during this period and we certainly weren’t above showing the combo above at the twin while making sure the kiddies didn’t screen hop.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Forum Theatre on Aug 2, 2006 at 2:13 am

LOL. We are listening Ed! I have nothing to contribute except that it is gratifying to see such a wide and organised release of Spanish language films. I don’t that happens much today unless it is a crossover film from Almodovar or starring Gael Garcia Bernal.

I think we need some New Yoricans to help us out with the Bronx.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jul 31, 2006 at 10:40 pm

Twin Two was called the Penthouse from 1968 to 1976, Cinerama ll from 1976-1982 and Warner ll after that. The Orleans was splintered off into porn ghetto oblivion when the name changed in 1976.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Coronet 1 & 2 on Jul 30, 2006 at 9:59 pm

Greg and Keith moved back together (I was part of the packing commitee in LeFrak)and Keith was living in and running a Drive-In in Tacoma, the last time we spoke around 1998.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Coronet 1 & 2 on Jul 30, 2006 at 10:53 am

It was the location that made them highly coveted. As theatres they were never special but did have good 70mm presentations. It is amazing how many little Manhattan houses had 70mm capabilities.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Coronet 1 & 2 on Jul 30, 2006 at 12:37 am

The Baronet/Coronet never ran roadshows but often ran exclusive engagements in 70mm. It was used to establish films as important rather than as a showcase for pre-sold expensive films. This was where you discovered MIDNIGHT COWBOY and M.A.S.H, not HELLO, DOLLY!.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about AMC Broadens Scope to Independent Films on Jul 28, 2006 at 3:31 am

Thanks for this Joe, I agree that this is aggravating and important. I have recently seen AMC alter this subject to say “the first purpose built twin theatre in a suburban shopping center” which is a dubious honor, but could be true.

In my book, the rooftop gardens and annex houses open in the 1910’s in Manhattan were the first twins.

By the way, I believe both Stan Durwood (AMC) and Henry Plitt (PLITT) were the first American paratrooper to land in Europe during WWII. I guess they used the same PR agency.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Rivoli Theatre on Jul 27, 2006 at 10:26 am

It was not coincidence but it was not the cause either. All the major chains were in financial crisis and up for sale. Cineplex Odeon had a cash infusion from Universal Pictures as that studio had faith that Garth Drabinsky’s multiplex concept would help save the business. Through their financial backing to took over RKO and Walter Reade within months.

Most of the Times Square properties, including the RKO Warner Twin were already sold. Cineplex Odeon actually saved several theatres that were on the verge of being demolished and extended their lives.

Cineplex Odeon added real butter, fixed structures, added faux- marble to every flat surface, added art-deco touches, raised all prices to record highs and made everything first-run. New Yorkers bitched and moaned as they made those old houses some of the highest grossing in history and Garth a folk hero in Hollywood. Loews scrabbled behind trying to keep up until Sony did the same for them. City Cinemas, made up of left over Cineplex disposal sites, was hardly registering.

It took ten years for everyone to notice that the profits just weren’t there since the leases were so bad.

That “porn theatre” you mention is listed here as the Rialto.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Soho Playhouse on Jul 27, 2006 at 8:05 am

Irv, you have mentioned two of my all-time favorite films!

LAST SUMMER was a big hit in the late 60’s when almost every film was bombing, and Hollywood’s only menage a trois featuring John-Boy. Allegedly Barbara Hershey realised during the production that she was the reincarnation of a seagull and after much soul searching temporarily changed her name to Barbara Seagull. Ah, the 60’s!

THE SWIMMER is still the ultimate male menopause movie. Ok, not a very competitive genre, I know, but a great film nonetheless.