Comments from AlAlvarez

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AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Strand Theatre on Jul 14, 2005 at 5:50 am

“Mediterranean Holiday” was a Walter Reade attempt to cash in on the Cinerama craze. It was indeed a travelogue flop which may explain the continuous showings.

Cineplex Odeon expected to go back into this site with a new sixplex as per their contract but settled out of court after the World Wide deal was signed.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Kenmore Theatre on Jul 8, 2005 at 1:22 pm

Thanks Warren.

Your photo has thrown me into time travel mode like no sci-fi movie ever could. Having “dealt” with Kenmore for many years in the nasty eighties I knew it had a grand past but one single image and the eighties are now gone. This one familiar, yet foreign, image means all the world to me. Thank you and Cinema Treasures for bringing this bullet holed crackhouse back to life. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about IFC Center on Jul 7, 2005 at 2:01 pm

Anyone who has worked in the New York film industry can tell you that theatre managers have little control over the Union Projectionists. Diligent, hardworking and proud are words I can associate with many projectionists I have met around the world. Those words do not apply in New York where only a handful would qualify. The majority of New York projectionists behave like civil servants with jobs for life.

Perhaps the kid behind the counter can bring a little pride back to the job as he could actually get fired for not giving a damn.

Only in New York do theatres fail to open when it rains or snows because the projectionist won’t come to work. A living wage requires minimal standards. Local 306 demands professional wages for amateur work.

The lesson for the IFC Waverly is not to repeat Cineplex Odeon’s mistakes and corner themselves into incompetence overhead and lazy programming. They have already addressed the other issues.

Running a projector is not nuclear science and I am sure they will pay some conscientious NYU film student of their own choosing a fair rate.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about IFC Center on Jul 5, 2005 at 4:11 am

I love the Waverly and this site and I feel this forum is perfect for this discussion. If we deny that poor presentation, mainstream movies, shabby seating and bully unions closed the Waverly last time, we will lose it again. Cross the picket line and support the Waverly. The local leftists may be idealist but we are not stupid. We demand excellence and reasonable prices, not crap presentations and obsolete unions.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about IFC Center on Jul 4, 2005 at 3:23 am

The projectionists at the former Cineplex Odeon Waverly were always late, incompetent, overpaid and could care less about the theatre. Hurrah to the IFC for confronting the dinosaur bullies from local 306. New York movie-goers have experienced the worse projection in the Northeast for too many years. Maybe the IFC will pioneer the first good presentation in the village. Poor standards, closed shop, defending incompetence, and demanding unrealistic wages is what Local 306 brings to th etable. I hope AMC tosses them out as well and hires people who have to do their job right unstead of hide behind a union contract because they can’t be bothered. As a Union supporter I feel Local 306 is an example of why Unions get a bad rap. I will happily cross this picket line.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about 34th Street East Theatre on Jun 24, 2005 at 6:57 pm

barrygriffin, I suspect they are probably still there as Cineplex Odeon was quite un-interested in the prints. The Toronto office was dismissive of Sterling which was still operating as a service to schools and universities. I don’t know who owns these film rights today but there were some 35mm prints of high profile titles such as ROOM AT THE TOP and TEOREMA.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Cineworld Yeovil on Jun 16, 2005 at 10:32 pm

Cineworld Yeovil opened in April 2002 and was designed by Unick Architects. It has 1897 seats and was the 26th in the British start-up chain.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Boulevard Theatre on Jun 12, 2005 at 2:49 am

This was the ABC Florida State Theatres BOULEVARD in the sixties often playing move-over runs of roadshow hits at regular prices. ABC operated it very much as a family venue. ASthe neighborhood deteriorated it became part of Leroy Griffith’s porn PUSSYCAT theatre chain. I believe the KITTY KAT was added later as the main house played DEEP THROAT for years. The Wometco Rosetta on Second Avenue faced a similar fate.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about 34th Street East Theatre on Jun 10, 2005 at 7:38 pm

You are correct BR. It was early 1990. Cineplex was trying to save money after the Garth Drabinsky debacle and did not have to pay extra rent here.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Evergreen Theatre on Jun 7, 2005 at 3:08 pm

The 162 seat Evergreen started showing movies in early 1968 with FINNEGAN’S WAKE as an outlet for Grove Press Releases. It had previously run plays as the Renata. Its claim to fame was the opening of I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW) along with Cinema Rendezvous and it offered mail order reserved seats. The film played on and off for over a year. By 1970 Grove Press also moved into the Bleecker Street and temporarily renamed that the Evergreen Bleecker as well. It was caught up in a three cinema obscenity trial for showing the film CENSORSHIP IN DENMARK and by 1971 had reverted to live shows.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about New World Stages on Jun 5, 2005 at 1:52 am

Don’t mistake full seats at discounted prices as profit. The Worldwide’s high rent killed any chance at profit. It was bad deal that should never have been made. It went subrun when the other Times Square theaters refused to play day and date. When it dated the same film as the National it did around 10% of the business and it took that from the National hence the discount attempt. Staffing costs and a sometimes violent crowd did not help matters. I understand the AMC Empire loses money as well.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Plaza Theatre on Jun 4, 2005 at 5:09 pm

Cineplex Odeon destroyed this cinema’s image by playing dumb mainstream comedies and move-over films instead of the specialised art films that worked so well. On films such as CROSSING DELANCEY and MY OWN PRTIVATE IDAHO that Plaza provided some of the highest grosses in the country.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Cinema 3 on Jun 4, 2005 at 4:36 pm

Cineplex Odeon did eventually put a small concession stand in here near the end but it was the only in the circuit without postmix soft drinks. The popcorn was popped at the Plaza and brought over. Donald Trump wanted to use the area as a club and would not renew the lease.

The Cinema 3 was a primary outlet for German films for a while but that didn’t last. Cineplex Odeon booked it as a last run move-over house.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about 34th Street East Theatre on Jun 4, 2005 at 4:26 pm

Walter Reade had its offices here until the New Ziegfeld opened when they moved there. Cineplex Odeon eventually moved their offices back here in the seventies and shut down the West 56th Street offices as well as the Ziegfeld office.

When I worked for Cineplex the basement was full of Continental Releasing film prints, Sterling Film 16mm documentaries and other relics of the Walter Reade era.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Kenmore Theatre on Jun 4, 2005 at 4:17 pm

The Kenmore was in a war zone neighborhood that had shootings daily. The lobby was full of bullet holes and audiences talked right through the movie. The acoustics in the upper cinemas were appaling and the images had such severe keystoning that all ending credits looked like the beginning of STAR WARS. The staff could not stop the locals from jumping the candy counter and taking what they wanted so the mention of razor wire in the post above is not an unreasonable move. The exit corridor had barbed wire yet I personally saw a mother with a baby trying to sneak in by climbing over the wire.

In spite of its glorious past, beautiful chandelier, staircase and coal furnace (in the 90s!)the Kenmore’s more recent history involved two employees being shot, riots every time a “Chucky” film opened and a not surprising revolving door of employees. The theatres often sold out at half capacity as customers refused to sit next to strangers.

One 1980’s incident involved a naked hooker on crack running through a crowded screen, a guest of the Local 306 projectionist. This place was a bigger than life nightmare and Loews rightfully shut it down as soon as they took over Cineplex Odeon.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about National Twin on Jun 4, 2005 at 3:59 pm

The landlord of the National had been trying to buy Cineplex Odeon out of the lease for years and Cineplex resisted as it wanted the Times Square presence. The Worldwide was unable to replace it as it was always unprofitable and attempts to triple the site (mentioned above) were aborted when the landlord refused to allow it at the last minute.

The National lobby was the best place to see the New Year in, a Cineplex Odeon yearly private party.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about New World Stages on Jun 4, 2005 at 3:31 pm

The Worldwide lost money from the day it opened to the day it closed and was the source of much grief within Cineplex Odeon. The lack of a replacement cinema at the former RKO Warner Twin site lead Cineplex Odeon to sign this loser deal which was about one block off way from the action.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Art Greenwich Twin on Jun 4, 2005 at 3:21 pm

Twin one projection (the old balcony) shot over the ceiling of twin two creating a fuzzy picture. The air conditioning and heat never really worked correctly, at least as a twin.

The entrance cove was a haven for the homeless until we were allowed to gate the front at the request of local residents. The place had a lot of character and was great arthouse even though Cineplex booked both this and the Waverly as mainstream.

LImovies, I was a regional manager for Cineplex Odeon. When were you there?

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Surf Theatre on Jun 4, 2005 at 3:11 pm

Does anyone you have any memories of the other Wometco house across the street, The Normandy? I saw SILENT MOVIE there in the seventies and it hosted the World Premiere of Jackie Mason’s THE STOOLIE.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Apollo Theatre on Jun 4, 2005 at 2:55 pm

Gerald, my point is that the Apollo, unlike any other New York arthouse, ALWAYS stressed the sex angle of its films even when there was none. Only the Apollo sold a war drama like BEFORE HIM ALL ROME TREMBLED as “earthy sexuality in great abundance”. It is common knowledge that foreign film distributors often used sex angles to entice American audiences to see them but these quotes rarely used on first-run and the Apollo used them weekly.

Forty second street theatres had a tradition of making promises of sex in films that did not deliver. My point is that the Apollo was the first to blatantly do this and probably invented the concept.

THE BICYCLE THIEF indeed was censored by the city of New York (trouble with the scene of the boy urinating in the street)and had many problems at the World 49th. BITTER RICE, OPEN CITY and THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS also had censorship probelms at the World 49. It is because of this that DEEP THROAT gained credibility as something to be protected by the first amendment. New Yorkers knew that the World 49 had faced this nonsense before.

The Apollo was eclipsed by more blatant sex films in later years but for proof that arthouse lead to porn you need look no further than the booking history of the World 49th and, of course, the selling of the films of Brigitte Bardot. The World 49 had nowhere to go after hard core.

Jerry Lewis Cinemas certainly helped spread porn to middle America. The franchise owners were losing their shirts with family films and switched to porn usually with DEEP THROAT. I do not deny the Apollo was a great house (I was never lucky enough to see it) but I think it should be duly noted, along with the World 49, for its important place in the history of film sexploitation marketing. I can assure you CHILDREN OF PARADISE, a fine film no doubt, did not exude sex appeal before or after its Apollo run.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Apollo Theatre on Jun 2, 2005 at 11:22 am

Here are some samples of Apollo ad copy from the early 1948 New York Times.

CHILDREN OF PARADISE
“Exudes sex appeal!”

OPEN CITY
“Violence and plain sexiness!”

PASSIONELLE
“ A tale of illicit love”

TORMENT
“A study of sex and sadism”

FURIA
“Strips down to the bare facts”

Each one was accompanied by a drawing of a young lady in a low cut blouse. Yes, that MUST HAVE BEEN art the Apollo was selling!

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Apollo Theatre on May 29, 2005 at 2:08 pm

Let’s not fool ourselves. The Apollo took the best of the then current crop of foreign of European film and turned them into sexploitation material. They did not revive films unless they had sex value.

I am not devualing the Apollo. I love sexploitation. But let’s not play stupid history games. The Apollo was the grandad of porn.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Radio City Music Hall on May 29, 2005 at 1:01 pm

I know there is a lot of nostagia surrounding this theatre and it is indeed an impressive building but have you ever watched a movie here?

I saw THE SUNSHINE BOYS, the World Premire of THE ABYSS, and several other screenings in this barn. The acoustics and screen presentation can best be described as appalling. Long live the MUSIC HALL, but for movies give me the megaplex. Without the tacky live shows (camels on ice!)it is rather amazing this place is still standing.

To compare the real palaces around the US to this freak hall is not fair. Movies should never have played here and audiences made that clear. There, I’ve finally said it.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Art Greenwich Twin on May 28, 2005 at 2:03 am

After many years as a listed building (even the battleship gray exterior was untouchable) this appears to have been demolished and replaced by an awkward glass fronted gym.

The Art Greenwich had poor presentation as a twin and was home to rats the size of cats. One particular rat (named Ben by theatre staff)had gray hair and used to sit on its hind legs and eat popcorn at the stand, sometimes on busy nights.

The basement boiler was a nightmare of disrepair causing several winter closings. The Art Greenwich had a lot a personality but was truly past its sell-by date.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez commented about Gables Theatre on May 28, 2005 at 1:44 am

The Gables had dressing rooms upstairs and a proper stage. It was always upstaged by the smaller but more modern Coral down the road, In spite of a tiny lobby and several run down years, it survived the adding of the Twin Gables (actually located on the Miami side) to serve the affluent Coral Gables market.

In it’s last years it was also home to the ABC Florida State Theatres South Florida offices, later becoming a Plitt Theatres.

The Gables hosted the exclusive South Florida run of STAR WARS in Christmas 1977 when the movie just wouldn’t go away that year.