Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 301 - 320 of 320 comments

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on January 3, 2005 at 8:51 am

Right, Vincent. I’ve earlier mentioned from memory titles of films played at the lamented Astor and Victoria but, until Marriott pays blood money, shall refrain silently from doing so again, except perhaps in code designed for readers who already know a lot about movies. For example, if I mentioned “the film that played at the Victoria and won an academy award for color cinematography in 1947,” you’d know that it was the picture in which a true-blue six-time unrewarded AA nominee played a nun in the Himalayas, right? I’m not being, um, Narcissistic here. I may be BO Bill, but old-time Popeye fans will think of Marriott as BO Plenty.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on January 3, 2005 at 7:16 am

Good for you BOBill. The Marriott Marquis is one of the greatest architectural tragedies to ever happen to this city. The theater is a disgrace. The fact that a great NY block was destroyed still has me sputtering in disbelief. Tom tell your selfich greedy employers to cough up some of their ill gotten gains and pay you to do the work you want other people to do. Better yet ask Ed Koch!

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 31, 2004 at 7:46 am

Right—from the late ‘40s through the '60s, neither the Astor nor the Victoria were wedded to any particular studios, but both played prestigious products from all of them. If you scan through a list of films nominated for Academy Awards in those years, an at least perceived if not real barometer of quality, you’ll find that most of these films played at the Astor, Victoria, or Rivoli.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 30, 2004 at 1:34 pm

During the 1930s and up until around the end of WWII, the Astor played many of the major MGM releases that didn’t open at the Capitol or Radio City Music Hall. Two that I recall are “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Bathing Beauty” (Esther Williams' first starring movie). Because of its association with the Capitol on “Gone With the Wind,” it also shared the New York premiere of MGM’s “Quo Vadis,"
although by that time the Astor no longer played as many MGM releases as before because some of them went to Loew’s State to compensate for its dropping of vaudeville.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 30, 2004 at 9:59 am

Mikeoaklandpark— Those are accurate data, and others could supplement them with dozens more. But why give Marriott the fruit of your labors scott-free?

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 30, 2004 at 9:56 am

The Marriott Corp can well afford to pay a skilled researcher to do the leg work (or, rather, to let his or her fingers do the walking) through the NYT or Variety serials. Warren has already provided the key leads. Heaven knows such bibliographic talents get little recognition, even as mamouth corporations squander millions on trivial, self-enchanted pursuits. And heaven knows they frequently resort to quick and greedy grabs at info-facts to satisfy their wants. And heaven help the researcher who messes up this Astor/Victoria project from my reminiscent perspective: one single mistake will get him or her laughed off this page.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 30, 2004 at 9:45 am

in an old book I have called The New York Times Goes To The Movies, it shows Gone With The Wind opened here and the Capital on Dec 19, 1939. The Astor had reserved seats and the Capitol didn’t. Other films were
The Apartment-June 15, 1960 (Also at the Plaza)
The Best Years of Our Lives – Nov 22, 1946
The Champ- Nov 10, 1931
Dr. No- May 29, 1963 (Also at the Murray Hill)
Dinner At 8- World Premiere Aug 23, 1933
Grand Hotel- April 13, 1932
The Great Dictator-Oct 16 1940 Also at the Capital. The Astor had reserved seats and the Capitol didn't
A Hard Days Night-August 12, 1964 (Also at the Trans Lux East)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Sept 3, 1923
On The Beach- Dec 18, 1959
On The Waterfront-July 28, 1954
The Phantom Of The Opera- Sept 7, 1925
Rebel Without A Cause- Oct 26, 1955
Sergeant York-Jul 2, 1941
The date may be slightly off. i took the date from the NY Times review.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 30, 2004 at 9:15 am

C'mon, Warren. He only wants some major films that played here, and you could probably give him a short list off the top of your head. Help a brother out!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 30, 2004 at 8:40 am

I doubt if a list of all the movies that played the Astor has ever been published. You would probably have to do some arduous research by going through the bound volumes of New York Times movie reviews, year by year, starting from 1925, when the Astor switched from stage plays to movies. You could also do it by going through the grosses reported for NYC theatres in weekly Variety, but that would be just as time consuming. But is this really necessary? Why do we need to know every movie shown at the Astor? If they weren’t shown there, they would have been shown somewhere else.

RCMH
RCMH on December 29, 2004 at 10:04 pm

Anyone have an idea where I can get a list of major films that played at both the Astor & Victoria theatres? Already know about GONE WITH THE WIND, THE BIG PARADE, THE BROADWAY MELODY and SPELLBOUND, but would like to find out the names other major films that opened at the 2 theatres. Its for a project we are working on at the New York Marriott Marquis. One of our ballrooms is named for the Astor Theatre. Thanjs in advance.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on November 30, 2004 at 12:45 pm

Thanks, Warrenâ€"that’s a terrific book. The billboards at the Astor and Victoria were magnificent in the late 40s and early 50s. For the most part, they used bulb-lit block majuscules with a few minimally painted figures behind them. At the Astor, I remember “Enchantment” (Dec. ’47) spelled out three times and blinking on and off in dizzying combinations (at the age of five, I didn’t know what the word meant); “Harvey” (Dec. ’50) spelled out to the right of a thirty-foot representation of James Stewart and the bunny; and “Limelight” (Nov. ’52) spelled out beneath the face of an old, wistful Charles Chaplin. At the Victoria, I recall “The Third Man” (Feb. ’50) spelled out to the right of Orson Welles’s hulking shadow; and a near-copy of the latter for “The Man Between” (Dec. ’53) with a neon-circling bicycle substituting for Welles. The most elaborate one was for “Quo Vadis” at the Astor (Nov. ’51), with a forty-foot high representation of Deborah Kerr tied to a circus stake left of the title, a smaller Peter Ustinov plucking his lyre right of it, and a top and bottom border of flickering neon flames as Rome burned. Nearly as elaborate was one for “Joan of Arc” at the Victoria (Nov. ’48), with the facial representation of an armour-clad Ingrid Bergman calling for infantry over her shoulder, to the left of the title. If I’m right, the much duller block-long painted-ad sign first advertised an automobile trade-show at the Colosseum in Fall, ’55. BTW, “Times Square Style” provides a rare color photo of a stage show at the Roxy, on page 35, upper right, with sixteen Roxyettes balancing themselves on beach balls, while a jazz band (Louis Armstrong?) plays behind them; as a kid, I had a post-card of that image, which identified it as a Roxy performance.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 22, 2004 at 9:55 am

In the new book, “Times Square Style,” there’s a wonderful full-page B&W photo of the Astor’s exterior during the 1945 engagement of Hitchock’s “Spellbound.” Above the marquee is a huge rectangular sign with electrified lettering and a giant eye with Ingrid Bergman’s face in the pupil. And on the roof of the building is a billboard solely devoted to “Bergman The Incomparable,” with four portraits of her and a replica of the “Oscar” that she received for her previous movie (“Gaslight”).

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 20, 2004 at 5:16 pm

The two Gaiety’s are the same in name only. The present one, located above Howard Johnson’s restaurant, was never a playhouse or moviehouse, to my knowledge.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 20, 2004 at 1:35 pm

To add to Box Office Bill’s list, I believe that when It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World ended its year-long Cinerama run at the Warner, it moved to the Victoria, which is where I saw it. Don’t know if this was an exclusive engagement, though – it was probably part of what they called “Premiere Showcase” in those days.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on July 20, 2004 at 1:23 pm

Bryan and Vincent-
Thanks for the cross-references. Am I right that Minsky’s B'que played at the Gaiety—or did it play at the former Gotham a block north on W 47? As a movie theater, the Victoria held a distinguished record. It underwent renovations in the 40s that used the former stage space for seating and brok e through the rear wall to add an extension to the building. Shimmering steel medalions covered the red-velvet walls. CinemaScope required further modification of the narrow proscenium to accommodate the screen. From the late-40s through the mid-60s films included Joan of Arc, Born Yesterday, A Star Is Born (day-dating at the Paramount), Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove—no mean listof goodies. Box Office Biill.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on July 16, 2004 at 12:37 pm

The Victoria was originally the Gaiety which lives on today as the Gaiety male burlesque house(I am not making this up) across the street.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on July 16, 2004 at 11:52 am

Why doesn’t this site offer a listing for the Astor’s Times Square mate, the Victoria Theater on the corner of B'way and W. 46 Street?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 16, 2004 at 7:03 am

“Lost Broadway Theatres,” by Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, has B&W photos of the original and 1959 “modernized” interiors.

Beached
Beached on May 16, 2004 at 3:41 am

Where can I possibly find pictures of the interior of the Astor? Any suggestions?

thanks,
Ellis

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 6, 2004 at 1:21 pm

The Astor’s close relationship with Loew’s-MGM started in the late 1920s and ended in 1946, when Loew’s State, directly opposite the Astor on Broadway, dropped vaudeville and started showing many of the major MGM releases that were previously showcased at the Astor. Probably the most famous MGM release to premiere at the Astor was “Gone With the Wind,” which was shown there on a two-a-day reserved seat policy simultaneously with continuous run showings at the much larger Capitol Theatre at Broadway & 51st Street…The Astor was also noted for the huge billboard space above its entrance and marquee, which always advertised its current movie. When the theatre was modernized in 1959, the advertising space was expanded to include the similar space above the adjacent Victoria Theatre, starting with the dual engagement of “The Vikings.” The sign was as wide as that entire block of Broadway between 45th & 46th Streets.