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Seventy-five years ago tonight, Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times,” arguably the greatest of all his feature films, opened its world premiere engagement at the Rivoli Theatre, with all seats reserved for a gala performance attended by Chaplin himself. The B&W United Artists release opened to the public the next day, with continuous screenings from 9am daily, and the last starting at midnight. It was Chaplin’s last “silent” movie, but made concessions to modern technology with recorded sound effects and CC’s original musical score. He also played the leading role, wrote the script, and served as both producer and director.
On this day in 1943, WB’s “Casablance” opened its city premiere engagement at the Chicago Theatre, with little indication that the B&W melodrama would become regarded as an Icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Topping the Chicago’s stage show was harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, comedian Wally Brown, The Three Samuels, The Three Willys, and the Chicago Theatre Ballet (with two numbers entitled “Brazil” and “Raindrop Fantasy”).
Sixty-nine years ago today, RCMH introduced a new screen team that would become legend, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, in their first film together, MGM’s B&W romantic comedy, “Woman of the Year.” Leonidoff’s six-scene stage spectacular, “Words and Music,” was devoted almost entirely to the work of Cole Porter, with the exception of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s “Capriccio Espagnol” as the overture.
If you mean the Candler Theatre, it is listed here as the Harris Theatre:
On this day in 1944, 20th-Fox’s adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” opened its world premiere engagement at RCMH, with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles in the leading roles and rising juveniles Margaret O'Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, and Elizabeth Taylor among the supporting cast. The B&W drama was directed by Robert Stevenson, though some critics suspected substantial support by Mr. Welles. Leon Leonidoff’s stage revue, “Smart Set,” employed the house regulars plus Sharkey the Seal, dancer Mae Blondell, and future opera star Robert Merrill.
January 30th marked the 80th anniversary of the grand opening of the Los Angeles Theatre, which had Charles Chaplin’s “City Lights” as the inaugural attraction. Advertised as “The World’s Finest Theatre,” it accompanied the B&W serio-comedy with a stage presentation featuring a symphony-sized orchestra. Performances were continuous from 10:00am daily. On weekdays, general admission was 50 cents until 1:00pm, 65 cents to 5:30pm, and 75 cents to closing. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, the price was 65 cents until noon and 75 cents the rest of the day and night. Children were 25 cents at all times. All performances had reserved-seat sections at higher prices of $1 and $1.50, depending on time of day.
Sixty years ago tonight, the Paramount Theatre, via projection TV, presented General Eisenhower’s 10:30pm address to the nation about his recent meetings with military leaders of the European Atlantic Pact Nations. The “live” telecast made a perfect tie-in with the Paramount’s current movie, “At War With the Army,” the B&W Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy, which was breaking boxoffice records with stage accompaniment by Ella Fitzgerald, Boyd Raeburn & His Orchestra, Steve Condos & Jerry Brandow, and comedian Harvey Stone. To accomodate the crowds, the Paramount was giving six complete shows daily. George Wright played the organ interludes. Admission from 9am opening until 1:00pm on weekdays was 55 cents.
Century’s Meadows can be seen near the top center of this 1951 aerial view of the Fresh Meadows development. Note the large area of free parking space available, which was shared by stores and restaurants: View link
Here’s a link to a 1954 postcard view of the annual Mardi Gras Parade, with Loew’s Coney Island in the right background: View link CONEY ISLAND 102
Here’s another view with crowd scene: View link
Here’s an exterior photo as the San Juan: View link
This undated photo probably shows the Plaza during its Hispanic phase, but I can’t swear by it: View link
Here’s a rare exterior view of the Latino Theatre dated 1938: View link
Many of the large Keith-Albee houses had architectural similarities, but I think it would be wrong to assume that the Brooklyn Albee and the Cleveland Palace were close lookalikes. The Brooklyn Albee came later and was designed by Thomas Lamb, while the earlier Palace was Rapp & Rapp. I can’t connect to most of the links published by dave-bronx, so I can’t comment further at the moment.
Here’s a link to a marquee view from the Roxy’s disastrous 1958 engagement of “Windjammer” in the Cinemiracle process: http://cinerama.topcities.com/roxycinemiracle.htm
On this day in 1947, the Belasco Theatre was drawing crowds with a naughty stage revue entitled “She Dood It in Dixie,” with a cast of “Ozark Maids and Tobacco Road Males.” Performances were given nightly at 8:30pm, with 2:30pm matinees added on Saturdays and Sundays. “Popular” prices prevailed.
The name of the company was Mutual Burlesque, one of the most important “wheels” in the business. I would guess that the word “burlesque” was frowned on or even banned in many places, especially in the New England states.
Here’s a closer view of the entrance at the time of that 1947 image:
Here’s an exterior view, probably taken in 1947, judging by “Born To Kill” sign hanging beyond from Palace Theatre marquee: View link
Here’s a 1954 view of the Puerto Rico Theatre marquee: View link
The 42nd Street Laffmovie was previously the Eltinge. It proved so successful that a second Laffmovie was started at the Gaiety at Broadway & 45th Street. However, two proved too much, and the one at the Gaiety was re-named the Victoria, with another change of policy to Russian imports and then Hollywood first-runs…The 42nd Street Laffmovie was re-named Empire when the legendary “legit” Empire at Broadway & 40th Street was demolished in 1953. By that time, the Laffmovie concept had lost its appeal to comedy fans who could see the same vintage fare for free on home TV.
On this day in 1942, United Artists' “New Wine,” a B&W biography of the great classical composer Franz Schubert, opened its NYC premiere engagement at the Little Carnegie. Though Schubert was known to be obese and unattractve, he was portrayed on screen by handsome ex-model Alan Curtis, whose real-life spouse, Ilona Massey, played his aristocratic patroness. A scene where the Countess tries to persuade Beethoven to hire Schubert to complete “The Unfinished Symphony” must have raised gales of laughter loud enough to carry into adjacent Carnegie Hall.
Tuesday (February 1st) will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the NYC premiere engagement of John Huston’s “The Misfits” at Loew’s Capitol Theatre. It also would have been the 60th birthday of top-billed Clark Gable, who had died the previous November from cardiac problems aggravated by his grueling experiences during months of location work in the Nevada desert. The B&W United Artists release co-starred Marilyn Monroe, whose husband Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay, and Montgomery Clift, with Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach, and James Barton in top supporting roles. Whole books have been published about the ill-fated production, which also turned out to be the last film completed by Marilyn Monroe before her puzzling death in 1962 at age 36.
On January 30th, 1944, this was being advertised in The New York Times under the name of New World, with the slogan “Theatre of Tomorrow.” Current was a sub-run combination of “A” features that had topped bills on the RKO neighborhood circuit, 20th-Fox’s Technicolor “Heaven Can Wait” and RKO Radio’s B&W “The Fallen Sparrow.” Performances were continuous from 1:00pm to 11:30pm, with a “late show” added on Saturday nights. Telephone number was OL2-6641.
At this time in 1944, U.S. War Bonds could be purchased every day of the week from 12:00 noon until 3:00am at all of the 12 cinemas then operating on “The World’s Largest Movie Street” between Sixth and Eighth Avenues. Listed alphabetically, they were the Anco, Apollo, Bryant, Harris, Laffmovie, Liberty, Lyric, New Amsterdam, Pix, Selwyn, Times Square, and Victory. The cheapest bond was $18.75, which would pay back $25.00 at maturity.