Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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RobertR
RobertR on February 19, 2006 at 5:55 pm

The print of Ben Hur had to be the same one the Loew’s Jersey ran last year. The Jersey presented it with the intermission.

evmovieguy
evmovieguy on February 19, 2006 at 5:32 pm

I agree, it would be nice to have an intermission during the long films (for the bathroom) and the right cues for the overtures and things like that, but c'mon, enough of the hair splitting. As long as I can see any of these films on the screen at the Ziegfeld from beginning to end, in focus with decent audio and hopefully no frames missing, than that’s fine with me. The other details are icing on the cake! Just be happy this kind of thing is happening. Hopefully film revival in New York City will be making a comeback and we will have schedules like this one all through the year.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 19, 2006 at 4:25 pm

There was a projectionist on duty the night I saw WSS, vito… I recall seeing a tall and thin grey-haired gentlemen walking up to the projection booth sometime before the show last Tuesday. And when I called the theater on Saturday before going to see “Ben-Hur” to find out about the print, the manager advised that a different projectionist was on duty and had not seen the print when it played the previous day. The abrupt cut as the music started to swell to a crescendo into the intermission card was jarring and unforgivable! I hold no hope for a complete intermission with “2001” (particularly since there is no musical cue in the movie and the scenes on either side of the intermission spot transition smoothly), but I am really hoping that they pull out the stops for the 70mm “Lawrence” presentation! Are you Clearview guys listening??? PLEASE!!! If for nothing more than the sake of my bladder!!!

Vito
Vito on February 19, 2006 at 1:31 am

Well.. I suppose I knew the presentations of these old roadshow movies would not be the same as they were when I ran them back in the day. I would ask REndres if the Ziegfeld uses automation to run the show these days, If so , that would somewhat explain the lights down and curtain open problem. Of course if they wanted to do it right,the simple solution would be to just not use the automation and do everything manualy, I would be happy to teach them how :)
Thanks Clearview for the promise to pay paying closer attention to
print condition. Now one last thing before “Lawrence”, lets present the movies in the true roadshow format. Try it, you’ll like it.

John Fink
John Fink on February 18, 2006 at 6:41 pm

Sadly the intermission is a thing of the past for most chain cinemas. Here in CT National Amusements does the exact same thing with Indian movies which is stupid. If people have a 5 minute break they may use it to go buy some snacks……right? Beside the point the whole idea of presenting classic movies that have ovatures and intermissions at a single screen theater as part of a program should be to perserve the big screen experience. By the way how is the expermient going for Clearview? Have the showings attracted a crowd?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 18, 2006 at 5:25 pm

I believe you are right, Howard. If you ask veteran projectionists, I’m sure they’ll all tell you that having the curtains open on a blank screen is anathema. I remember seeing movies where the opposite problem existed and the curtains were closed during the closing credits – which you then had to read across the undulating pattern of the curtain fabric.

The overture should have definitely been played with the curtain drawn and the house lights only partially dimmed. I was at the 4:30 “Ben-Hur” this afternoon as well and pretty much agree with Irv’s assessment. I remember once seeing “2001” in the ‘80’s at a theater in Manhattan (the exact theater eludes me) and this was the first time I can recall seeing the movie with overture and entr'acte music intact – and there too the music was played with the lights down and curtain (if there was one) open. To my embarrassment, during the overture to “Ben-Hur” today, I was explaining this all to my girlfreind when a gentlemen a couple of rows in front of us turned around and “shsssh’d me! My apologies to that person, if he’s online here. I guess I’ve forgotten my overture etiquette!

Anyway… I have seen “Ben-Hur” before a number times, including the pristine restored DVD and the hack-edit jobs that passed for network TV showings in the ‘70’s (another film that I taped on audio cassette back then). But tonight I feel almost as though I have just seen the movie for the very first time and … Wow! My own fair lady, who had never seen the movie before in any form, was completely blown away. As for my assessment of the print, it was pretty good. As Irv said, there were some points where the color timing seemed off and definite signs of wear and tear at the back and front ends of each reel, but for the most part, the color was deep and crisp and very comparable to the WSS print that was screened last week. Better still, the print was in mutli-channel surround sound – something I desperately missed in the WSS screening – although there were one or two points where the soundtrack wobbled off pitch just a bit.

Here’s my biggest gripe (despite the lack of a 70mm print): there was no intermission! And worse yet, the edit to remove the intermission was rather abrupt and obvious. I asked the manager – Monique – about this and she claims that the print arrived this way. I wonder if it had more to do with the fact that the three movies in rotation this week add up to a combined running time of over 9 hours per day and there was but a 15 minute margin between the end of “Ben-Hur” and the 8:30 showing of “Braveheart”? In either event, I strongly urge Craig and the programmers for these series at the Ziegfeld to champion prints that come complete with intermission and entr'acte music – and that the films be presented with the intermission break (don’t just run through the intermission card and entr'acte music directly into the 2nd half of the movie)! Remember the slogan of the program; “Movies they way they were meant to be seen!” “Ben-Hur” and “My Fair Lady” were “meant to be seen” with an intermission!

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 18, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Of course, I meant to say “no blank screen ever."
Regardless, more classics!

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 18, 2006 at 3:42 pm

Somebody will tell me if I am wrong, but my understanding is you should never have a screen to look at unless the movie or another image (previews, etc.) are on it. The curtain should remain closed during the overture. That’s more important to me than the amount of light. No blank curtain ever.

evmovieguy
evmovieguy on February 18, 2006 at 3:28 pm

Just saw the 4:30 screening of ‘Ben Hur’. I have never seen this film before and I can’t imagine ever seeing it on television after seeing it on the big screen like this. This film was JAW DROPPINGLY amazing. One of the best films I have ever seen. Story, acting, cinematography, and last but not least action, were 5 star all around.It’s amazing that a film that was made nearly 50 years ago can be as powerful as this. Just in terms of action I don’t think any of these explosion films that are made today could hold a candle to this film. ‘Ben Hur’ has style AND substance, or as the say in film school ‘form and content’. It was a really profound experience. As far as print quality I would give this a 4 out of a possible 5. While there were some inconsistencies in contrast and color from reel to reel, some parts of the film were as colorful and sharp as I have ever seen. Particulary the part when Quintus Arrius announces his adoption of Judah (Charles Heston). My only other minor grievance is the way the overture was presented. Tell me if I am wrong, but should the lights in the theater not be completely lowered during that time? My impression, especially from Robert Wise’s memo for ‘West Side Story’ is that the lights should only be partially lowered for the overture, otherwise you are sitting in the dark looking at a dark screen for 10 or more minutes like we did this afternoon. Totally nitpicking here, but what the hell.

Once again great job by the theater staff. Hail Ziegfeld!! New York seems like New York again when you go to something like this. Amazing film in a really amazing theater. My mind was truly blown to pieces. This is one for the books.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 18, 2006 at 6:50 am

Called the theater and neither the manager nor projectionist who was on duty yesterday were around. However, Monique – the manager today – said that she heard the print for “Ben-Hur” is superior to the one for MFL and more along the lines of the quality we saw for WSS. Hopefully, this is the case as I’d much rather enjoy the presentation today than use a free pass in the future if I’m not satisfied. I’ll report tonight.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 18, 2006 at 5:59 am

There are no trailers running during the series – at least none so far. I plan on seeing “Ben-Hur” today at 4:30 and would love to know the condition of the print before I attend. I’m going to call the theater as soon as they’re open in hopes that the manager there will give me an honest appraisal. So far it has only screened once – at 12:30 in the afternoon during business hours yesterday. I wonder if Craig works at the theater, or somewhere else in the City.

Glad you liked the “Mad Mad World” booklet, Bill. I also have some images from the “How the West Was Won” booklet that I will post on the Capitol Theater site – since that is where the film played its roadshow engagement and where my Mom purchased the souvenir back in 1962. I did the same with a Radio City souvenir booklet from 1978 that I have from the last movie I ever saw there (“Crossed Swords”) which was advertised as the final attraction at the Hall (although that turned out not to be the case). I will post those images on the RCMH site. Our freind Bob Endres (REndres here on CT) is mentioned and photographed in the program – and I hope it’ll bring back memories for some of the RCMH veterans who contribute to CT.

Forrest136
Forrest136 on February 18, 2006 at 4:16 am

Would love to see the classic “Bye Bye Birdie” on the Zigfeld Screen Especially the opening and closing scene with Ann Margret!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 18, 2006 at 3:58 am

Thanks for the Mad World posts, Ed. I like the way they tried to fool the public about single-lens Cinerama being a vast improvement over the 3-strip version, which of course it wasn’t. I too used to make audio tapes of entire movies and play them over and over. I think the one I played the most was Psycho.

Saps: the schedule for the first week of the extension is now posted on the website (Doctor Zhivago, Singin' in the Rain, North by Northwest).

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 17, 2006 at 9:28 pm

Please post reports about the condition of this week’s features — Ben Hur, Gladiator and Braveheart — but especially about Ben Hur.

Do they run trailers of upcoming features in this festival?

Also, the three week extension is not yet on the website, so we here have an exclusive.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 17, 2006 at 4:21 pm

Interesting, Bill. I happen to have an old and not-so-mint condition souvenir booklet for “Mad Mad World” that my Mom has had since she first saw the movie on Broadway in 1963. Since my scanner is on the fritz (and the booklet is not exactly in scan-ready condition), I snapped a few photos of the cover and a few pages within:

Cover
Fold-out illustration
Actor Key to illustration
Single Lens Cinerama
Facts & Figures

That last image states that the runtime of the movie was 210 minutes (including intermission – and presumably overture).

I must admit that I am to blame for the booklet’s shoddy condition as I can recall reading it over and over when I was a kid – usually spread out on the living room floor in my house in Elmhurst when I was 6 or 7 when CBS or ABC aired it in prime time back in the early ‘70’s. I remember I used an audio tape recorder once during a mid-70’s network broadcast to capture the entire soundtrack, which I then memorized while listening to it over and over.

Truly one of my favorite all time films.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 17, 2006 at 6:55 am

I may have gotten the idea about Kramer and the shorter cut from this article:

http://povonline.com/notes/Notes110203.htm

It says Kramer was sometimes quoted as saying he preferred the 154-minute version.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 17, 2006 at 5:49 am

Hmmm. I thought I read somewhere where she said something to the effect that “if you didn’t see the original 192 minute version, then you haven’t seen Stanley’s film.” I think she further commented that the 188 minutes that Harris had been able to find was probably the best they could hope for and was as close to Kramer’s vision as can be assembled today. I also think Kramer went on record as lamenting that the edited general release version was all that remained of his epic. Folks had problems with the “extended” VHS version from a few years back that inserted many of the trims from print that was “rectified” for projection on a Cinerama screen, including at least one scene (involving Jonathan Winters' character explaining what he’d do with the money) that Kramer never intended to make the final “roadshow” cut. The VHS version is certainly interesting to watch, but the “rectified” trims appear distorted and can be quite jarring as they editing between this footage and the non-rectified material is often done shot-to-shot within a scene.

With so many celebrities citing this film as an inspiration or one of their all-time favorites, I wish someone would get together the resources to fund Harris' restoration project – that is, if it isn’t too late for some of those lost-and-found elements.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 17, 2006 at 4:49 am

Ed: I saw “Mad Mad World” at the Cinerama Dome in 2003. It was a spectacular new 70mm print. The running time of the actual movie was 154 minutes, but it had the opening title song, the police calls intermission (which played over the speakers in the men’s room) and the exit music. I think I read somewhere that Karen Sharpe Kramer, Stanley’s widow, said he always considered the 154-minute version to be his final director’s cut. She was a guest speaker at the Dome that night.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 17, 2006 at 4:10 am

Craig… What are the physical dimensions of the Ziegfeld screen – or does anyone else know for sure? I would love to see “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” in 70mm also. I can’t recall… was the 70mm version that played in Seattle (on a Cinerama screen) the same 154 minute version that is currently available on DVD (plus overture, entr'acte and radio calls)? I know Robert Harris was working on a restoration of the original 192 minute version (and had about 188 minutes of original elements) but with no one to finance the project, the elements he’s been able to find are (or have) deteriorated beyond salvageabilty). Anyone have info on this?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 17, 2006 at 1:31 am

Al: at that same sold-out 1974 show, the people in our row were passing around a large bottle of cough syrup with codeine and taking swigs from it. I and my 11-year-old brother passed on that. Hey, you don’t need any help from substances to get high from “2001”.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 16, 2006 at 9:46 pm

Bill, there is a rather funny Variety article from 1968 reporting that young audiences at the Capitol often sat on the floor instead of in their seats for 2001 and that the film was doing well although advance sales were poor and most sales occured just before the performance. It also alluded to the smoking of a certain substance by a large portion of the crowd, an nostalgia element the Ziegfeld will not be able to legally recreate.

JSA
JSA on February 16, 2006 at 5:22 pm

“Lawrence of Arabia”… 70 mm… March 24… Director’s cut , I presume…humm… Jetblue has $ 119 each-way fare to JFK from Burbank… I wonder how I’m going to explain this one to the wife…

Craig: Good choices! Wish I could make it for the “Out of this World” week!

Regards,

JSA

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 16, 2006 at 4:55 pm

A fond Ziegfeld memory: in October 1974 a Sunday night showing of “2001” sold out, and a whole bunch of people wound up sitting on the large expanse of carpeting between the front row and the screen. At a different show later in that engagement I tried it myself, getting down on the floor for the climactic Jupiter sequence. It wasn’t really the best angle to see the screen from, but it’s still a fun memory.

evmovieguy
evmovieguy on February 16, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Craig-

Great news! So glad to hear once again that the classics series is working out for Clearview and the Ziegfeld. I am totally excited about all of the new films you have announced today. I think the largest screen I’ve ever seen ‘2001’ was at the Loews Astor Plaza a few years ago. I’m sure it will be great seeing it at the Ziegfeld. I haven’t seen ‘Close Encounters’ on the big screen since it’s first release back in 1978. I’ve never seen ‘Singin inthe Rain’, ‘Doctor Zhivago’ or ‘Alien’ at all so I’ll be at the Ziegfeld alot in the next few weeks. Thanks for responding to the board and keeping your eyes and ears open.

P.S. just a little New York City revival house trivia: Back in the summer of ‘90 or '91 Radio City did a very limited run of 'Blade Runner’. I think it may have been one or two nights only. The screening that I went to completely SOLD OUT. Every seat in Radio City that night was filled to see that movie. Amazing! Some of the live acts at Radio City can’t even sell out the house at times! I’m predicting that at least one of the films you’re showing in this line up will do the same at the Ziegfeld. Wouldn’t be surprised if it happened with all of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ movies as well. A few of the last times I can remember being at the Ziegfeld when the house was full/sold out was at ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and a midnight screening on opening night of the lame Oliver Stone biopic ‘The Doors’. The crowd was alot of fun at that one and they did crank the music. Alot of drunk and stoned rock fans in there that night. Got pretty wild. It was almost like going to an actual rock show.

JSA
JSA on February 16, 2006 at 2:00 pm

Re Andreco’s Feb. 15 comment:

You are quite welcome! I only wish the best to all back East!

JSA