Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 30, 2005 at 7:02 am

Went in to see “The Producers” at the Ziegfeld the other day – now that the prices have dropped back down to $10.75. I liked the movie and thought it was very entertaining. It isn’t much of a film, per se — as others have noted, it is basically a filmed version of the staged play. But as such, its existence is justified for preserving on film for all to see the dynamic pairing of Lane and Broderick and the inspired performances of Roger Bart and Tony-winner Gary Beach, who recreate their supporting stage roles here. Unfortunately, the equally impressive stage performances of Brad Oscar and Tony-winner Cady Huffman are left only to the memories of those lucky enough to have seen the original cast, but, we are compensated with excellent turns by Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman in their respective roles. I laughed nearly as hard and long as I did in the St. James Theater 4 years ago.

As for the theater itself… I went there with the thought of taking a fresh look at the decor and re-assessing my opinion of the place. It’s certainly not as horrible or tacky as it may have been in my memory and it is a wonderful space to enjoy a film – nice big screen, spacious auditorium, comfy seats – but it still stands in my estimation as an ersatz palace. The auditorium is a big box, not unlike those ‘60’s suburban standalone’s built by Century’s and Loew’s, but the walls are adorned with thick red-velvet carpeting and there is some decorative rope-like patterns of gold that break up the monotone. At either side of the screen (I wouldn’t call it a proscenium, exactly) there is a panel with a flourished “S”-shaped motif in relief and then there is the theater’s finest touch – the magnificent drapery and curtains. The photo posted above by HowardBHass on December 26th depicts all of this beautifully. It is a shame that the theater allows commercial slides to be projected on the screen between show times. It’s sort of absurd to watch as the traveling curtain is closed only to be opened again seconds later for the trailers. Actually, there are a series of annoying commercial spots that precede the trailers, but I try to forget about their existence.

Had I taken my camera along, I might have snapped some shots of some of the detail work that sets the theater apart from other modern-era houses. These include the detailing at the end of each row of seats along the aisles, the fanciful signs for the bathrooms (using a rendering of stylish early 20th Century footwear to identify each gender), and the chandeliers that hang from the ceilings in the various portions of the lobby. Too bad the lobby was designed with such segmentation and low ceilings. When one enters from street level, you are in a small square vestibule, where you’ll find the box office. Through another set of doors is the inner lobby where your ticket is ripped and you are sent along your way upstairs to the mezzanine foyer (where the restrooms and candy counter are located). You enter the auditorium on either side at the point where the orchestra seating ends and the raised rear stadium-style loge seating begins.

What might have really abetted the attempt at old time splendor would have been a more open atrium approach to the lobby design that might have showcased the handsome set of stairs used to get to the mezzanine foyer (there is also an escalator along the opposite wall that runs parallel to the stairs). At least there are those wonderful display cases along the lobby and staircase walls featuring vintage photos and posters from the previous Ziegfeld Theater as well as from various Ziegfeld presentations at other theaters (like the Selwyn and New Amsterdam).

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 30, 2005 at 2:52 am

The one thing I noticed from Howard’s picture is tha masking is different. It never came down below the screen in the past. Maybe they did it becuase they don’t use those beautiful curtains.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 30, 2005 at 2:49 am

I think that the screen seemed so big a few years ago is because it was one of the biggest ones in town. But now that the newest multiplexes (Empire, Lincoln Square, E-walk, Kips Bay) have wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling screens, all the space around the Ziegfeld screen makes it seem smaller.

Butch
Butch on December 30, 2005 at 2:01 am

This is the same size screen the Ziegfeld always used, excopt for the temporary “Cinerama” installation. Side masking opens a few feet for scope presentations. Existing drapery treatment limits potential screen size.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 30, 2005 at 12:48 am

When did they put in a new screen. I agree they had a huge screen when I lived in NYC 76-82.

umbaba
umbaba on December 30, 2005 at 12:30 am

Can anyone comment as to WHY the Ziegfeld installed such a narrow and smaller screen than the one they had years ago?? I remember seeing “Apocalypse Now” and thinking WOW…this is the largest screen I ever saw

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 27, 2005 at 2:29 am

I felt they made it to slapstick almost like a Three Stoges movie.

ErikH
ErikH on December 27, 2005 at 1:04 am

Reaction to “The Producers” from critics and audiences alike has been sharply divided. I prefer the stage version with Lane and Broderick (which I saw six times), but the film is enjoyable if you can accept the staginess of the presentation—-the film is an odd hybrid of a filmed stage production (such as the tv version of “Sweeney Todd”) and a movie.

In his review on “Ebert and Roeper,” Ebert said “I loved the play and liked the movie.” I agree.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 26, 2005 at 10:40 pm

The movie is absolutely terrible.I love musicals and loved the broadway show, but this did not transfer well into a movie. Beleive me the people who paid $12.75 to see thismovvie were ripped off. If I was a critic, my review would have statrted like this.
Mel Brooks creattes majoy FLOP in Producers movies. I would have gien it *½ stars and only the half because Will Farrell is the best thing in the movie.

uncleal923
uncleal923 on December 26, 2005 at 4:06 pm

How is the Producers? I did not see it on Broadway and I would like to see the film at my local theater.

uncleal923
uncleal923 on December 26, 2005 at 4:04 pm

mikeoaklandpark;
Try contacting cinematreasures.org from their ‘contact us’ link on the homepage.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on December 26, 2005 at 1:23 pm

Here’s a nice interior photo found on a popular photo website-
View link

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on December 20, 2005 at 5:59 am

Check your email – the link to “remove” is at the bottom of it.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 20, 2005 at 5:50 am

Does anybody know how I stop getting e mails when somebody reponds to this theater? I musty have accidently checked the block one day. I don’t kow if it was Clearview Cinemas or Mel Brooks being a thief, but if I was still living in NYC I would have boycotted and would be picketing the theater. There was no excusse to raise the price for this film. I always loved this theater but would not support this.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 20, 2005 at 5:16 am

According to Clearview Cinemas, the $12.50 price will last only for the exclusive premier run of “The Producers” and prices will return to the normal $10.75 once the film goes into wider distribution.

hardbop
hardbop on December 20, 2005 at 4:30 am

“Worth every penny of the inflated $12.50 ticket price.”

Wow. Thanx for the warning. I’ll be giving the Ziegfeld a wide berth in the future if they are charging $12.50 a pop.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on December 19, 2005 at 4:14 am

Rhett and Vincent: well, at least we can look forward to the next best thing – “Ryan’s Daughter” on DVD February 7th from Warner Home Video (who will do it justice). Turn up the volume!

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on December 19, 2005 at 1:53 am

Yeah I missed it too for some reason and saw it only very recently at the MOMA. Yep it puts all contemporary filmaking in the shade. Astounding that at the time the idiot New York critics totally humiliated Lean personally at a public function which caused him not to make another film for 11 years.
We lost many years of his moviemaking.
And yes the film deserves a major 70mm release. Some of it is stupendous.

umbaba
umbaba on December 18, 2005 at 1:37 am

Bill….I personally believe “Ryan’s Daughter” is David Lean’s most underrated film and one of Mitchum’s best. What a re-release that would make…but..that’ll be the day

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 16, 2005 at 7:50 pm

Dolly (Mrs. Walter) Reade did the original interiors here. She is a nice lady, but in the lobby she did go a little overboard with the red and gold flocked wallpaper, the French provincial furniture and the red-globed gas-lamp replicas. That decor in a larger, taller room would have been ok, but in that room it was a somewhat overbearing. Still, it was more imaginative than other theatres built in that era. The decor in the auditorium, due to it’s size, came across better. I haven’t seen it since Wonder-Boy from Toronto had it renovated, so maybe it doesn’t look like that anymore.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on December 16, 2005 at 3:16 pm

Re: Vincent’s comment about “Ryan’s Daughter” at the Ziegfeld – for 35 years I’ve regretted NOT being able to see that movie there. In December 1970 I was standing outside the Ziegfeld with my cousin, all ready to go in, when he talked me out of it, saying it looked boring, etc. We wound up seeing “Love Story” at Loew’s State 1 instead. What a comedown compared to the great film experience “Ryan’s Daughter” turned out to be.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on December 16, 2005 at 3:01 pm

Just got back from a hilarious showing of “The Producers” at the Ziegfeld. Worth every penny of the inflated $12.50 ticket price. Say what you want about the theater’s decor, its size as compared to the Roxy or Rivoli, etc. – I love the Ziegfeld and I’d hate to think what New York City would be like without it.

ERD
ERD on December 16, 2005 at 10:59 am

In response to some of the above negative comments, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” An attempt was made to create an atmosphere in this theatre and honor Flo Ziegfeld. The interior was much better than many of the late 1960’s & 70’s movie houses. It is unique in its own way, even if it wasn’t built during the movie palace era. There are many people for over a quarter of a century who have felt their movie going experience has been enhanced when attending the Ziegfeld. To them, there are many pleasant memories associated with this theatre.