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Sixty-two years ago today, the Capitol Theatre opened its 1949 Easter holiday show with the NYC premiere engagement of Universal International’s “City Across the River.” With Stephen McNally topping the cast, the B&W melodrama had no major stars, but its expose of Brooklyn street gangs was in the same realistic style as UI’s “Naked City,” which had broken boxoffice records at the Capitol the previous year. Heading the Capitol’s stage show were Art Mooney & His Orchestra, whose single recordings of “Four-Leaf Clover” and “Baby Face” had been recent best-sellers. Also on the bill were singer-pianist Rose Murphy, aka “The Chee Chee Girl,” and, as a special added attraction, the revered vaudeville, stage, and radio star James Barton.
Sixty-two years ago today, Loew’s Valencia opened a week’s engagement of MGM’s B&W “Command Decision,” starring Clark Gable, Van Johnson, and Walter Pidgeon, and the Monogram B&W programmer, “Henry the Rainmaker,” both exclusive first-run for Queens. The same conditions had prevailed the previous week with Paramount’s Technicolor “Whispering Smith,” with Alan Ladd, and Paramount’s B&W “My Own True Love,” which had now moved on to an exclusive-for-Queens week at Loew’s Triboro in Astoria.
Here’s a link to a photo of the 42nd Street marquee of Rialto II, with billing as “New York’s Newest Movie Theatre”: View link
In March, 1948, Loew’s Victoria presented the world premiere engagement of “The Fight Never Ends,” a B&W melodrama starring boxing champion Joe Louis and Ruby Dee, simultaneously with three other Loew’s theatres in African-American neighborhoods. At Loew’s Victoria and Loew’s 116th Street in Manhattan, the independently-produced film was supported by Columbia’s Ginger Rogers-Cornel Wilde starrer, “It Had To Be You.” At Loew’s Burland in the Bronx, MGM’s Technicolor musical, “Good News,” was the second feature. Bottom of the bill at Loew’s Brevoort in Brooklyn was 20th-Fox’s “Daisy Kenyon,” starring Joan Crawford.
Here’s a link to a photo taken in front of Loew’s Valencia during the Al Jolson tour: View link
More than a century ago, on Sunday, April 5, 1908, the Columbia was advertised in The New York Times as “The Home of Melodrama,” with the stage play “Sweet Molly O,” starring Dolly Kemper, due to open the next day for a six-day run with matinee and evening performances. On Sundays only, the Columbia presented “Shepard’s Famous Moving Pictures” and “High Class Vaudeville.”
More than a century ago, on Sunday, April 5th, 1908, the Dewey Theatre was advertised in The New York Times with eight acts of vaudeville, topped by the Watermelon Trust and Ben Welch, and assorted moving pictures projected via “The Deweyscope.” The matinee started at 2:15pm, and the evening performance at 8:15pm. Tickets were priced at 25 and 50 cents. This was the last day of the engagement. Opening the next day for a week’s run, was a similar program, with the Kentucky Belles heading the vaudeville acts.
Sixty-four years ago today, WB’s “The Two Mrs. Carrolls,” a B&W melodrama starring Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, and Alexis Smith, opened its world premiere engagement at the Hollywood Theatre. The eagerly-awaited film was based on a hit play that ran for two years on Broadway. To handle the expected crowds, the Hollywood’s last screening that day started past midnight at 1:15am.
One of the stars of the Albany’s opening film was Ronald Colman (not Coleman).
Fifty-eight years ago today, Republic’s The Lady Wants Mink" opened its NYC premiere engagement as the Holiday Theatre’s Easter attraction. Filmed in Republic’s own TruColor process, the romantic comedy starred Ruth Hussey, Dennis O'Keefe, Eve Arden, and William Demarest. Advertising claims like “How a Mink Can Make a Monkey Out of a Man!” failed to attract crowds. After its Holiday Theatre run, the film landed on the Loew’s circuit as supporting feature to Paramount’s Technicolored “Shane.”
Fifty-nine years ago today, the Roxy opened its 1952 Easter Holiday Show with 20th-Fox’s Jane Froman biopic. the Technicolored “With A Song In My Heart,” on screen. Susan Hayward, with her singing voice dubbed by Froman, played the leading role, co-starred with Rory Calhoun, David Wayne, and Thelma Ritter. The Roxy’s stage show featured TV singer Bill Hayes, ballerina Nanci Crompton, ventriloquist Clifford Guest, and the singularly named Divena in an underwater ballet. The Gae Foster Roxyettes, dressed as Easter bunnies, did their famous routine of balancing on huge rubber balls…This year, the Roxy had strong musical competition from RCMH, which had MGM’s “Singin' in the Rain” for the screen portion of its Easter show.
A couple of recent photos of the spruced-up facade of the Boulevard Theatre can be seen at the very end of this new article about Westchester Avenue: View link
Seventy years ago today, MGM’s “The Bad Man,” with Wallace Beery as a fictional spin-off of the character he portrayed in “Viva Villa,” opened its NYC premiere engagement at the Capitol Theatre. The B&W western’s supporting cast was topped by Lionel Barrymore, Laraine Day, and a future President of the USA (borrowed from Warner Bros.). Still being managed by Major Edward Bowes but now in a “screen only” period, the Capitol supported “The Bad Man” with a compilation of all major newsreels, plus an MGM Technicolor cartoon and the latest episodes of MGM’s “Pete Smith Specialty” and “Crime Does Not Pay” series.
Could this be the Bon Ton Theatre? It definitely is NOT the Broadway Theatre, and it doesn’t seem to fit the descriptions of other Newburgh theatres listed at Cinema Treasures: View link
Sorry, “Blessed,” but I don’t know the booking for that date. But you might be able to find it in the Brooklyn Eagle issue of 12/7/41, which some public libraries have on microfilm. However, many small, sub-run theatres didn’t advertise in newspapers because it was unnecessary and/or too expensive. Most of their patronage came from people in the neighborhood.
Seventy years ago today, the Roxy Theatre made history with the opening of the world premiere engagement of UA’s “Pot O'Gold,” the first movie ever produced by the son of an incumbent President of the United States. James Roosevelt’s B&W romantic comedy starred James Stewart and Paulette Goddard, with a plot spun around the popular radio program of the same title. That show’s Horace Heidt and his band, the Musical Knights, also appeared in the movie. The Roxy’s stage bill was topped by harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, with support from Al Bernie, Ann DuPont, Weldon Barr, the Gae Foster Girls, the 12 Esquires, and the Roxy Orchestra.
Josephine Baker gave only a single performance at the Victoria Theatre in 1973 as a benefit for the Harlem division of the Police Athletic League (PAL)…Loew’s Victoria had a limited connection with vaudeville due to intense competition from other theatres in the area. Further details can be found here: http://www.villageviews.org/victoria.pdf
12/7/41 was a Sunday, which is probably why you were at the movies when you heard the news. No school!
On this night only in 1947, the RKO Franklin presented vaudeville in addition to its current screen program of 20th-Fox’s “Boomerang” and Republic’s “Rendezvous with Annie.” Topping the Franklin’s stage bill was the great comedian Mantan Moreland, best known for his portrayal of chauffeur Birmingham Brown in Monogram’s “Charlie Chan” series.
The Mayfair was built by pioneer exhibitor Walter Reade. Prior to opening, he leased it to RKO Theatres to insure quality bookings. RKO eventually had to drop out when it took over the management of the two new theatres in Rockefeller Center and also had to switch the Palace, which was just down the block from the Mayfair, from vaudeville to movies. Walter Reade took over the management of the Mayfair until 1935, when he leased it to Loew’s as a replacement for Loew’s New York. which was to be demolished along with the rest of the original Olympia complex. Loew’s New York had long been very successful as a subsequent-run house with two program changes per week, and Loew’s switched that policy to the Mayfair. During more than ten years as Loew’s Mayfair, that sub-run policy never varied. First-run bookings resumed when the Brandt circuit took over the Mayfair. During all that time, the theatre was owned by Walter Reade (and/or his estate; I’m not sure when he died). His son and namesake, Walter Reade, Jr., was responisble for taking back the management and re-naming the theatre the DeMille for positioning as a roadshow venue.
Sorry, Justin! Chalk it up to a typing error. I do know how to spell the word. Did you know that they’re called daisies because their scent can put you in a daze? Nelson Rockefeller would never permit them backstage at RCMH when his Rockettes were performing.
Seventy-eight years ago today, Fritz Lang’s “M,” even then considered a masterwork of world cinema, opened its American premiere engagement at the Mayfair Theatre. Starring Peter Lorre as a psychotic child killer, the stark B&W drama was shown with its original German dialogue and English sub-titles. No longer affiliated with RKO Theatres, the Mayfair was now being booked and managed by its owner, Walter Reade, with a policy of “The Cinema of All Nations.”
Justin, I was only kidding. None of your claims about Nelson Rockefeller and RCMH are true…No 3-D features ever played at RCMH. In 1953, MGM’s “Kiss Me Kate” was considered, but shown “flat” instead due to technical problems related to projection and the distribution of glasses.
Justin, you constantly amaze me with your knowledge. I never knew that Nelson Rockefeller ran Radio City Music Hall, that the Rockettes were his, and that he was responsible for their becoming New York icons. Thanks for sharing.
Fifty years ago today, Paramount’s eagerly-awaited “One-Eyed Jacks,” which starred Marlon Brando and also marked his debut as a director, opened its NYC premiere engagement at Loew’s Capitol. Photographed in VistaVision and Technicolor, the epic western was presented at the Capitol as a semi-road show. Performances were continuous, and regular prices prevailed, but tickets could be purchased in advance for up to seven days. Advance tickets guaranteed a seat, but not a specific location. The advance tickets could be purchased not only at the Capitol, but also at all Loew’s circuit theatres in the Greater New York area. Tickets for current performances were sold only at the Capitol.