Ziegfeld Theatre

141 W. 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 9, 2006 at 7:02 am

Irv… We all know what is TRULY missing from the NY scene – a proper three-strip Cinerama house for the City! Is that just a lost cause? Either the Ziegfeld would have to renovate or the shuttered Mayfair/Demille in Times Square would have to be refurbished and rescued from oblivion. Neither one of these options appears to be a good bet at this point, so I imagine I’ll have to travel across country for that particular cinematic experience.

evmovieguy on March 9, 2006 at 6:43 am

Hey Bob-

I stand corrected!!! I just looked at the schedule for this weekend and they’re showing stuff in the afternoon! ‘Loving You’ with Elvis??! I am really going to plan on seeing that one. I’ve only seen parts of it and the color is amazing. I’m sure they’ll have a great print of it. Thanks again for the info.

Wow…whadda weekend coming up in the New York area. Films at the Ziegfeld, Loews Jersey, and Lafayette. Looks like film revival is making a pretty good come back. It’s the film revival-revival. Now if we could get one or two more theaters in Manhattan to have some nice repretoire schedules, I could stop complaining and the world can once again be a peace.

evmovieguy on March 9, 2006 at 6:35 am

Hey Bob-

Thanks for the tip. I actually visited the Lafayette for a screening of Hitchcock’s ‘Suspicion’ around this time last year(?). Great theater and great presentation of the film. I’m a city dweller and don’t own a car, so the trek to the Lafayette for me begins at about 8:30 AM if I want to get the PATH to Hoboken for the train to Suffern. Long story short, I’m not really a morning person, especially on the weekends. And although ‘Suspicion’ was great I couldn’t help from nodding out here and there during the screening. Not my favorite thing to do in a movie theater, even if the film is bad. But I’m sure I’ll find a good reason to visit The Lafayette in the future. Just have to go to bed early the night before…

BobFurmanek on March 9, 2006 at 4:00 am

Irv; of all the vintage theaters running classic film in the New York area, I feel the Lafayette has the best line-up, the most consistent high-quality prints and – by far – the best standard of presentation. Just check out this weekend’s line-up: dual strip 3-D, stereo sound, a dye-transfer archival print, etc. For fans of classic film and beautiful theaters, it doesn’t get much better than that!

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Vito on March 9, 2006 at 1:30 am

Oh my goodness Ed, I sure do remember those Castle films.
I too collected the 8mm versions of many of the Universal International pictures, wasn’t it fun the way they condensed an 80/90 min movie down to 10/12 mins. Later on, I switched to the
400'16mm sound versions, in fact my local store would rent them out by the day or a weekend, similar to the way they do today with DVDs.
Before video, you could rent full length 16mm films from most of the major studios from an outfit called Films Incorporated, the movies were available 6 months after the theatrical release. I loved reading your story, it reminded me of great times.

evmovieguy on March 8, 2006 at 7:06 pm

The Castro Theater in San Francisco showed ‘Mary Poppins’ last month for 6 days with on-screen lyrics so the audience could sing along. Not that I would want on-screen sing along lyrics but it would be cool to see on the big screen for sure. Speaking of The Castro they seem to have a pretty healthy revival calendar. The Ziegfeld and Lowes Jersey do a great job here in the East, but I think our friends out on the West coast have us beat in the film revival department.


JSA on March 8, 2006 at 6:14 pm

El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood has shown several Disney classics on the big screen for a limited time, prior to their DVD release. They’ve done it recently for “Lady and the Tramp”, and also for the 40th anniversary of “Mary Poppins”, among others. With all the resources that Disney has, I wonder why New York and other major cities are not included in these engagements. And, I can only speak for my 7 year old son, but yes he can sit through “Mary Poppins”!!! It’s one of his favorite films. I am a firm believer in the power and beauty of cinema, and try to pass on that appreciation to my kid. Last fall, he saw “Close Encounters” for the first time on the big screen, and he was in total awe, a jaw dropping experience for him.

I have hope for the future!



Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 8, 2006 at 3:36 pm

Minor correction to my post on Castle Films… the silent versions of the movies utilized title cards, where necessary, not subtitles.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 8, 2006 at 3:24 pm

Vito… I remember back in the days before VHS and Beta, a company called Castle Films (I always wondered if the great B-movie showman William Castle had anything to do with this outfit) used to issue Readers Digest-like versions of old theatrical films on single 8mm and Super 8mm reels for viewing at home. They may have had 16mm as well, but I defintely had (indeed might STILL have) many 8mm reels from Castle Films for films like the original “Frankenstein”, “Bride of Frankenstein”, “Son of Frankenstein”, “House of Frankenstein” (see a theme developing here?) and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”. That last title was my favorite because it was a Super 8 reel with SOUND! The silent reels all had subtitles. I also had a color reel featuring a condensed “Dr. Cyclops” as well as the ‘50’s sci-fi flick “Tarantula” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Some of the titles were on the short 50 foot reels which pared down 90 minute features to the best 3 or 4 minutes while still retaining some semblence of a story line. Some titles also came in the bigger 200 foot reels which ran more like 12-13 minutes.

The films used to be sold in camera stores (or in department stores that had camera sections) and I remember the cover art was always fantastic. In some cases, even more so than the films themselves. My Dad would drag the home movie screen out into the gutter during our annual block parties and run a few extension cords end-to-end from the stoop light fixture to the fire up the projector and he’d run the movies for the neighborhood kids (myself and my brother among them). It was always a big hit. Man, thinking of those old films brings back such awesome memories. I remember how often the film would jam in my Dad’s projector and start to bubble under the heat of the lamp. I became quite the expert splicer under my Dad’s tutelage.

Sure, I’ve got thousands of full length, crisp quality, surround sound movie titles at my fingertips via cable-TV, On Demand services, Netflix, Blockbuster, even the local Library… but nothing will ever replace the experience of watching a familiar old flick with freinds – be it on the bottom of a double bill in some faded grind-house palace, or at the run-down nabe for 80 cents, or when boiled down to a precious few minutes in a heavily spliced silent 8mm print on my Dad’s noisy projector while sitting on a few folding chairs out in the gutter under the stars courtesy of Castle Films.

Coate on March 8, 2006 at 2:55 pm

Are those horizontal screen measurements for a CURVE or a CHORD?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 8, 2006 at 2:48 pm

Hmmm. Thanks for the stats, William. The Ziegfeld’s screen looks big enough when you sit in the front half of the orchestra – as I stated earlier, I like about 10th row or so. But with the theater’s long rectangular shape, the impact of the screen size diminishes the further back one sits (for my tastes, anyway). Many of those older theaters, while much larger and with greater seating capacities, were designed with a porportionately shallower fan-shaped floor plan, which brought a greater number of seats closer to the screen by virtue of their cantilievered loge and balcony sections. As a result, I think the screens seemed even larger than they were.

Not sure what the dimensions in the old Harris on 42nd Street were, but that screen was truly impressive in relation to the size of the auditorium. It’s one of the few Duece grind houses in which I ever visited the balcony and I remember sitting dead center in the 1st row and thinking like I was going to fall into the screen. It felt like I could have leapt off the balcony right onto the face of the screen.

William on March 8, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Here are some dimensions to other Broadway Theatre in NYC.

Broadway Theatre: 78 feet by 26 feet for 3-strip Cinerama
Capitol Theatre: 90 feet by 33 feet for Cinerama
Warner Theatre: 67 feet by 24 feet for 3-strip Cinerama
81 feet by 30 feet for 70MM
Rivoli Theatre: 66 feet by 27 feet for Todd-AO
Paramount Times Square: 64 feet by 45 feet VistaVision

Cinerama Dome: 86 feet by 32 feet Cinerama
Warner Cinerama Theatre: 76 feet by 28 feet for 3-strip Cinerama

Vito on March 8, 2006 at 11:46 am

The comments regarding re-releases prompted me to recall the days before video tape when it was quite common for studios to re-release the older movies, quite often in the form of a double feature.
We would receive reburbished prints, which meant the film exchange would consolidate several prints together to replace missing footage, the prints with surface scracthes (non emulsion) would be sent to a lab to have the scratches removed or covered up, consoladated industries in New York did most of that work in NY. Prints would then have new thread up leaders attached and shipped off to the theatres. The exception to that was Disney, who always supplied new prints for re-issues.

VincentParisi on March 8, 2006 at 11:22 am

The 63' screen was good. Not great, but good. 50 for a house this size is, let’s just say to be kind, pathetic.

RobertR on March 8, 2006 at 10:15 am

When “Lady & the Tramp” was recently restored for DVD, I was thinking what a shame they did not re-release it to theatres. It was a Cinemascope cartoon and looked AWESOME on the big screen. I remember the last theatrical re-issue I was running the Cinemart and we were getting full houses even at night.

William on March 8, 2006 at 9:41 am

I believe the current dimensions are 50 feet by 24 feet. Back for the 1973 70MM reissue of “This is Cinerama”, the temp screen was 63 feet by 27 feet.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 8, 2006 at 8:54 am

You have a good memory, Irv. I had to check the Reader’s Digest connection on imdb.com. Apparently, the magazine shared production expenses with Arthur P. Jacobs' Apjac International (I always associate Apjac with the “Planet of the Apes” series). I always thought this was a Disney production, but I am wrong. The score was written by the brotherly partnership of Robert and Richard Sherman, who had worked for Disney since the 1950’s and scored many of their films, including “Mary Poppins”, “The Aristocats”, “Bedknobs & Broomsticks”, “The Jungle Book” and the Winnie the Pooh series. They also took on non-Disney assignments such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Charlotte’s Web” and this film. They blessed the human race with Disney Theme Park’s signature song “It’s a Small World” – for better or for worse.

So anyway… I had previously asked about the Ziegfeld’s screen dimensions and was wondering if anyone had an answer for me? I know it’s not the 80 foot curved screen both Vincent and I pine for, but I’m still curious as to just how big it is.

ErikH on March 8, 2006 at 8:38 am

Prior to the home video era, Disney re-released their classic titles every 7 years or so (and often did blockbuster business during those reissues). Following the advent of home video, the studio experimented with reissues of classics previously released on video—–“Pinocchio” (in the late 80s/early 90s) and more recently, “The Little Mermaid.” My recollection is that neither reissue did well enough to justify the cost of new prints and marketing.

evmovieguy on March 8, 2006 at 7:31 am

Hey Ed-

I saw the animated Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’ at Radio City as well at the 1973 Christmas Show. They played the film before the live show. How’s that for a full day of entertainment. I gotta give myself credit for actually staying in my seat for that long back then. I recently went to the RCMH Christmas Show this past year with the in-laws and their kids. Those brats couldn’t sit still and keep quiet long enough before their dad had to yank them out of the theater and the show wasn’t even half way over yet. Too much TV!!!

Now that you mention it I do remember seeing ‘Tom Sawyer’ back then starring Johnny Whitaker, Jodie Foster, and Celeste Holm. That’s a blast from the past! Wasn’t it something like “Reader’s Digest Presents”. Probably saw that in the same theater as ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Sound of Music’.

VincentParisi on March 8, 2006 at 7:19 am

Oh Ed! If only we could see it on an 80 ft curved screen. But then there would be nothing left to live for would there? Except maybe to see it again and again…

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 8, 2006 at 7:11 am

My Mom used to take me religiously to see Disney theatrical re-releases. What ever happened to them? Disney continued this practice (albeit with decreasing frequency) right through the early to mid 90’s. I think I remember “Sleeping Beauty” having a re-release not all that long ago. Seems to me that’s why certain classic titles of theirs were offered “for a limited time only” when they came to home video – so that Disney might still have an audience for theatrical re-release of those titles. I always wanted to take my kids to the movies to see my favorite old Disney film “Pinnochio”… but now, I fear, they are growing too old for it to have the same impact as it did when I saw it as a child.

I remember seeing the “Mame” coming attraction at Radio City Music Hall when I saw Disney’s “Robin Hood” (or was it the musical “Tom Sawyer”?) there. I recall thinking at the time what a very long trailer it was – and joking that we didn’t need to come back and see the film as the trailer showed so much of it, even though we did go back to RCMH to see it.

I love that Clearview played the “2001” trailer the other night! I can’t wait to see it once again on the big screen. I hope the print is in good shape and that the entrance music and entr'acte are presented properly.

evmovieguy on March 8, 2006 at 6:25 am

Little flashback on when I saw the re-releases of ‘Poppins’ and ‘Sound of Music’. I distinctly remember seeing the trailers for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Mame’ when I saw both of these in the theater. I think the trailer for ‘JCS’ was before the ‘Sound of Music’ screening and the ‘Mame’ trailer before ‘Poppins’. So that would make this 1973 and ‘74 respectively. I remember being a little spooked by the 'JCS’ trailer. As a little kid the idea of hippies and Jesus was a concept to big and abstract for my little head. I also remember seeing the ‘Mame’ trailer and knowing who Lucy was. Funny to think that rock bands like Led Zeppelin and the New York Dolls were at their peak at that time and I was just a little kid being dragged by my mom to see musicals at the movie theater.

VincentParisi on March 8, 2006 at 6:02 am

In my post the fortunate should read unfortunate.

Excellent idea Irv. These films would be perfect for the big screen and families.
if only they could get SOM and Chitty in 70mm.

Good MGM program this week. So why did they choose this Sunday to be closed?!

evmovieguy on March 8, 2006 at 5:44 am

About Mary Poppins, I totally agree. I was lucky enough to see this as a kid in the theater when it was in re-release in the early 70s. Also a year or two before or after I saw ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Oliver’ in a theatrical re-release. Gotta thank my Mom for thinking of taking me to all of those. Experiences I’ll never forget and perhaps a contributing factor to my big screen fandom. The Ziegfeld should maybe do a ‘film for kids of all ages’ and include ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Sound of Music’, and maybe ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ or another big screen disney classic that I can’t think of right now.

VincentParisi on March 8, 2006 at 4:49 am

I saw Mary Poppins a few years ago at the Walter Reade and while a good print the words of the songs were subtitled. This was fortunate.
For the release of the DVD the film should have been rereleased by Disney.
How the kids sit through it today on video I’ll never know.(Do they?) The Ziegfeld should get Disney to get them an archive print. People should be introducing their kids to this movie in a theater. It’s one of the best.