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That’s a great “death row” photo, Bryan… It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten how many building sites occupied the location where the E-Walk and the Westin Hotel were constructed. I love how they painted all those shutters in bright primary colors and how the Modell’s and Harem signs were still in place. Since there is no entry on this site for the Harem, I’ll ask here if anyone knows the history of that theater? I assume there is no great history and that it was simply carved out of existing retail space, but was it ever used for anything other than a porn house? It’s one of the few 42nd street theaters that I was never able (or perhaps more accurately, willing) to attend. Never got into the Anco or Cine 42nd either.
Hopefully a strike is averted. My Mom plans on splurging for a fistful of tickets to take me and my kids, my brother and his kids – the whole clan – to this year’s X-mas show. I’ve explained to her that it just aint what it used to be – and particularly at these stupifyingly high prices – but, she wants a nice family holiday excursion into the City and who am I to spoil her plans?
My parents never took me to Radio CIty. Nope. It was my Aunt Lee (and later my Grandad) who always took me into Manhattan for shows and special nights out. The first movie I remember seeing here was Disney’s “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and then back again a couple of years later for their animated take on “Robin Hood.” I remember they showed the coming attraction reel for “Mame” at either “Robin Hood” or the ‘73 musical “Tom Sawyer” and it seemed like it was a 10 minute preview. I can still see my cousin leaning in to me and saying, “We won’t have to come and see that one, they’re practically showing the whole movie right now!” Of course, we went back and saw “Mame” anyway. I also recall a movie with David Niven as a tutor for the children of a Japanese ambassador – I think it was called “Paper Tiger.” I also saw the reissue of “Fantasia” here (I posted on the Ziegfeld Theater site that I thought I saw it there, but I’m obviously mistaken).
The last movie I saw at Radio City was a version of the Prince and the Pauper entitled “Crossed Swords” – a lighthearted all-star costume adventure in the same vein as the recent (at the time) pair of Richard Lester Musketeer films. It had been billed as the Hall’s last attraction (in fact, I have to dig around for the souvenier booklet I kept that has a sticker on the cover with the words “Final Attraction”), but I remember the Anthony Quinn flick “Caravans” playing there afterwords. Anyway, someone else noted here that “The Promise” in 1979 was the last first run movie and stage show attraction.
I remember the line to get in would stretch down 50th Street and then zig-zag on the plaza behind the building like the queue’s at Disney World (though this was several years before I ever made it down to Disney World and – I suspect – lines such as this had been forming in the plaza long before Walt Disney ever conceived of his first amusement park). I never saw a movie from any of the three balconies… we always seemed to get relatively decent orchestra seats, even when the crowds were large.
In 1980 I caught 5 of the 10 concerts held here by the Grateful Dead (including the Halloween show that was simulcast via satellite to theaters in other parts of the country). In celebration of their 15th anniversary at the time, the Dead played an acoustic set as well as two electric sets for some 5 plus hour evenings. Good times. The owners of the Hall were not thrilled that a poster for these shows depicted a giant skeleton leaning against the famed marquee of the theater… Perhaps they should have just been happy that the place hadn’t been gutted for office space or a parking garage at this point! I know I was and still am.
I didn’t make it back to Radio City for nearly 20 years, by which time I was a father of two and had taken my kids to see a live Barney the Dinasaur show of all things! That was after the ‘99 renovations. Finally sat in the balcony for that one. Caught the Christmas show a couple of years back and was even able to snag tickets for the Tony Awards in 2001 (saw Mel Brooks accept his record number of awards for The Producers). Being in the place nowadays – particularly up in one of the balconies – it’s hard to imagine how a movie would play here. I mean it is so vast and the balconies are set so far back. I remember the screen being nice and big when I was a kid in attendance, but it would have to be enormous to satisfy the desires of today’s moviegoers if you were planning on filling the theater right up to the third tier. And would there be an acoustical challenge with DTS surround sound in such a space?
Amazing photos. I only wish there were more. I can sort of guess which theaters are which – the smoking room of the New Amsterdam, the fire curtain at the Liberty and the green interior of the Times Square are all instantly recognizable – but some of the other shots are harder to place. The “crooked stairs” for example and the ripped red plastic seats. Are these from the Liberty? A few of these, I believe, are hanging in the lobby of the 42nd Street Hilton where the Liberty auditorium is now entombed and undergoing renovations.
Thanks Warren… The ad is a little fuzzy and it might actually read “64th” which would make sense being near Lincoln Center.
On enlarging the ads… From home on my Mac, the images open up quite large, but on my Windows XP computer in the office they tend to open at a much smaller resolution. If you hover your mouse cursor over the image and you have Windows XP on your computer, you should see a small box with arrows pointing out from each corner appear in the lower right portion of the image. If you click on this, the image will enlarge to its full size. Clicking on the same box (which should now have those arrows pointing inward from each corner) will reduce the size back again.
Is this now the UA East 85th Street theater?
Regarding that last ad… what exactly was the “Cinema Studio” at B'way and 44th Street in Manhattan? No listing here under former or current names. Was this a retail space that had been converted to movie theater for a while? Perhaps on the block where the office building containing the National Theater would be built a year or two down the road?
Interesting, then, that it was called the Academy of Music. Could this be only because of the previous Academy of Music that had been located across the street from this theater?
Here’s the only image I could find online regarding the proposed “RKO Plaza” development on the Keith’s site. It reveals nothing regarding what elements of the lobby will be preserved as the angle of the image shows only an exterior rendering of what the undulating glass curtain facade might look like from down the block.
This is from the architectural firm’s official web site.
I saw many, many movies at the Midway in the 80’s. I remember liking the upstairs theaters best because the slope of the balcony gave the audience “stadium style” seating some 15 years before the phrase entered into common usage! Also, the balcony railing was still in place in front of the 1st row of seats and the screens were set back from the railing about 20-25 feet or so making for some very comfortable 1st row viewing.
In the early 80’s, the Midway would often play double-bill horror films much like those that played on The Duece in Times Sqaure, making it a pleasant alternative to the often menacing grind houses in Manhattan. Not to mention that the Midway always listed its attractions in the newspaper movie timetables (unlike the theaters on 42nd Street, where one had to just show up hoping to find something that suited one’s mood). Some of these titles I recall from the Midway include Black Magic, Friday the 13th:The Orphan (not to be confused with the neverending saga of Jason Voorhees), Beyond the Door 2, The Brood, The Dark, Without Warning and Humanoids from the Deep (which recently played on IFC to my great amusement).
This was also a fairly easy quartet to sneak in from one auditorium to the next (particularly if you used the back staircase that was located on the right side of the lobby). Hey… I was 15 or 16 years old. I had to get the biggest bang out of my $3.50 admission that I could. Of course, perish the thought today…
If you look at lostmemory’s last photo (with Cats on the marquee) towards the right side looking down Broadway, you’ll see the hi-rise monstrosity that replaced the great Rivoli Theater in mid-construction.
If you take a look at the third photo in Jerry’s post of July 27th, you can also see a “Soda Fountain” sign for the Grand Luncheonette that was located (as discussed above) under the marquee sharing the 1st floor of the now-collapsed Selwyn building with the theater’s outer lobby. The Grand might have operated under a different name at the time this photo was taken.
I recently found the negatives for a series of photos I took on 42nd Street and Times Square in October of ‘93. I’m going to have them transferred onto disc and will link to them on this site as soon as I can post them on my photobucket account.
I agree. What really eats at me is how the media plays up this alleged “restoration” as if the entirety of the theater will be “given back” to the neighborhood, as the article reads. As Warren points out, it was only the lobby that had been granted landmark status, not the once magnificent auditorium — even though this article and several others posted on this page before it would have you believe that the full interior will be restored. Even so, a “glass curtain” is to replace the southern interior wall of the lobby as per the developer’s plans, meaning that plenty of the detail that is under landmark “protection” will be demolished anyway. If the Borough President feels so passionately about the theater’s importance, then why couldn’t she have vigorously campaigned for a complete restoration as a negotiation point for the increased FAR desired by the developers? I know the Keith’s is a much larger theater, but Hilton was able to cantilever their 42nd Street Hotel over the auditorium of the Liberty Theater, thereby preserving it for future use. I’m afraid that after all is said and done, there’ll be little more than the grand staircases and upper lobby facade left to remind us of the RKO Keith’s former glory.
“It will indeed be a resurrection,” says the Sun… What nonsense!
I created a listing for the Victory Theater based on the description Warren provided above plus some digging around I did through the City’s online records (yes, I know how incomplete and misleading those ‘records’ can be). Anyway, I also posted some current photos of that former theater’s exterior for anyone who is interested. I’m surprised Warren didn’t go ahead and create the listing himself some time back. Anyway… if anyone has more info on that theater’s history, please visit the page and add your comments!
I also caught “Trainspotting” in the upstairs theater. I remember the bathrooms were located upstairs in the front of the building and had windows facing the street (clearly visible in the stills of the front facade provided here) above the marquee.
I’m not entirely sure which film was the first I ever saw here. I know my parents took me to see “That’s Entertainment” at this theater, but I also recall seeing a re-issue of Disney’s “Fantasia” at a big theater in Manhattan in the ‘70’s and I think it might have been here… although, now that I think about it, it may have been one of the many films I saw at Radio City Music Hall in the '70’s.
I remember seeing the “Grateful Dead Movie” here in 1977 when I was a pre-teen Dead Head in training. Also “Apocalype Now!” which was presented here in 70mm & Dolby without any opening or closing credits, just a program that was handed out with a listing of those involved in the production. I also recall playing hookey and coming in to Manhattan via subway on Saint Patrick’s Day and braving the crowds to catch a matinee of the musical “Hair” in 1979. I still have the souveneir program from that day. A few years later some college buddies and I caught the movie version of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at the Ziegfeld.
I know there were many other movies I caught here, but these stand out in my memory. The most recent one was “Chicago” a couple of years back. And if the Peter Jackson remake of “King Kong” is indeed booked here for December, I will most certainly make the quick trip in to see it. Now with the Astor Plaza converted to a venue for live concerts, the only other movie theater in Manhattan that compares to this (in terms of presentation and spaciousness) is the main “Loew’s” auditorium at the Lincoln Square Multiplex on Broadway and 68th, which has some ersatz “movie palace” decor and features a two-aisle seating plan (with left, center and right orchestra sections) as well as an honest-to-goodness balcony.
I think the last movie I saw at the Astor Plaza was “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992. There really was nothing all that special about this place from an architectural perspective (same can be said of the Ziegfeld Theater), but at least it was a big single-screen house where presentation seemed to matter. This should be a top notch venue for musical performances. I look forward to the opportunity to see a show here. It’s sad to say goodbye to the movie theater, but as some of the posts here have been saying, better a concert hall than a parking lot or retail space.
I saw a couple of films here in the ‘80’s. I recall seeing The Beastmaster in the upstairs theater in the summer of 1982. I had met a friend for dinner on Austin Ave (any locals remember the French restaurant Le Crepe?) and found myself walking towards the subway when I decided it was too early to go home and ducked inside to catch the 9 o'clock showing. I distinctly remember hearing the faint but recognizable hook from the song “Abacab” ringing in the distance as the band Genesis was playing an open air concert at the nearby Forest Hills Tennis Stadium (actually the “West Side Tennis Club” as locals will correct me).
I saw the Marx Brothers' “Animal Crackers” here in 1976 on a double bill with the bio-pic “W.C. Feilds and Me” during a matinee. It was the very first time I attended a movie by myself (I was 11 and had my Mom drop me off). I had tried to see this attraction on the previous day, but got there too late to be allowed in unattended by an adult — we discovered that there was a late afternoon cut-off for allowing unaccompanied children into the theater regardless of the film’s MPAA rating. This was back in the days when smoking was still allowed in theater balconies and/or the last 10 rows of the orchestra!
I had seen “Animal Crackers” during it’s exclusive re-issue engagement at the Sutton Theater in Manhattan the previous year, but really wanted to see it again.
In addition to the movies I listed above in my post of October 2003, I recall specifically seeing The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker here. Not entirely sure if I caught the next two Bond flicks, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy here, but I think I might have. I also recall seeing The Right Stuff and the first Evil Dead movie here (and eating at the Red Lobster that is still located next door).
I don’t think I was ever in this theater after they triplexed it. Anyone know what year that was? I definitely have not been here since it’s been further carved up into 6 screens.
B. O. Bill… No it wasn’t “Ulysses.” It was set in the 18th or 19th century and was made on a more modest scale and budget then that much older film. Actually, I just flipped over to IMDB.COM to figure it out (don’t know why I didn’t think of that earlier) and the film is “Scalawag” from 1973 (which makes sense on the bottom of a double bill with 1974’s “Golden Voyage of Sinbad”). The movie is described as Treasure Island set in the Wild West — “He’s Long John Silver and Jesse James rolled into one!!!” Apparently, it was also a musical — not that I recollect any one breaking out into song, but as I said, my memories are fuzzy. And odds are I was fast asleep in the backseat long before the film was over.
If the Regent was XXX and the Bay Shore closed in 1982, then where did I see the movie “Return of the Living Dead” back around 1985? I could swear it was this theater, located on Main Street in Bay Shore on a fairly major intersection. I vaguely recall it being a fairly large theater, but it might have been a twin when I attended. Am I totally off base on this?
I know I saw Fletch here in 1985 and probably one or two other films, but I can’t for the life of me remember the names of those films or any of the supporting features. As was mentioned earlier, this was the first Drive-In theater I ever attended that made use of the cars radio’s speakers.
I lived out in Bay Shore for a couple of years and to get to the theater coming down Brentwood Road from the north, you had to turn onto Oakwood Blvd and then make a right onto St Louis Avenue, going around the permiter of the property that encompassed the Drive-In and the Waldbaums Shopping Center that fronted Brentwood Road. This would then put you on the service road of the Sunrise Hwy going in the proper direction so that you could turn into the theater’s parking lot. Anyway, coming down St. Louis Avenue (in a residential development, mind you) one could clearly make out the images on the twin screens which rose high enough to provide a clear line of sight over the fencing that ran along the edge of the property. Maybe not an issue when Muppets Take Manhattan was playing, but certainly something to talk about when a movie like About Last Night had a 30 foot tall Rob Lowe and Demi Moore prancing naked around the bedroom.
Wow. Great photo Warren. I can’t say that I ever recall admiring the exterior facade of the Keith’s much… but this shot really shows how handsome the detailing around the windows and spandrels was back in its heydey. Was that cast iron? And of course the old fashioned arched marquee was an integral part (indeed the focal point) of the whole design — as opposed to the big boxy marquee I recall from the ‘70’s and '80’s.
I saw a couple of films here, but the only one I can specifically remember was a 1980’s restoration of the British horror film The Wicker Man, which had been released here in the U.S. in a seriously truncated version back in the early ‘70’s. The theater was still called the Paramount at the time. Presently, a feng shui inspired unisphere (not unlike the '64 Worlds Fair remnant that stands in Flushing Meadow Park – but much smaller) is situated more or less on the spot where the exterior entrance to the Paramount used to be.
I saw a few films here while we lived in nearby Laurelton, Queens when I was a pre-teen. I remember seeing The Omen here in ‘76 as well as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad in '74. I wish I could remember the names of the supporting features. If I’m not mistaken, the 2nd film with Sinbad was a movie with Kirk Douglas where he played a pirate who was stranded on a tropical isle somewhere… Very hazy memories. I remember playing in the small playground at the base of the screen and then the sound of car-horns honking to summon us back to our parents when the movie started to play. Sometimes they’d start those movies before the sky was dark enough – particularly deep in the summer. I can recall straining to see what was going on for the first 5 or 10 minutes of The Omen.
I also remember a re-release of The Exorcist being among the last films to play here.
My last memory of this place is of the partially demolished structure that had the screen on one side and the neon signage on the other. Someone had scrawled “Goodbye Cruel World” in large letters with a can of spray paint on the side that faced Sunrise Highway. The Flea Market that had been held by day in the Drive-In parking lot for years and years is still taking place every weekend, last I knew.