Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Andres
Andres on February 21, 2006 at 2:53 am

When I worked in film distribution and exhibition some years ago, we always checked the prints and if it was a roadshow film we always had a rehearsal the day before opening the film. From what I have read here from Vito, I am sure he always checked the print before throwing the switch.

umbaba
umbaba on February 21, 2006 at 2:18 am

I was at the screenings of “Ben-Hur” and “Braveheart” yesterday.

While I absolutely agree with all the “nitpicking” about the intermission, curtain cues, film stock etc (as the people in this site are old school movie going lovers as myself), I was absolutely overjoyed at the print of Ben – Hur. The stereo sound was outstandingbut seeing the film on a large screen was awesome. I had seen it in 2005 at the AMC 25 on 42nd st…they played it on their smallest screen and the people who worked there kept screwing up (lights were on, film lost frame etc) …but seeing it on a small screen was criminal…although i was glad just to see it in the movies…BUT..yesterday topped them all….also, no mention has been made of “Braveheart”…absolutely great print, clean, great sound (OK…a nitpick…a jump cut at the end…but I can live with it)…I talked with Monique (the theater manager) she was extremely nice and I told her what a good thing this festival is..

So….look, they get the prints they get…yes, it would be great if they were checked…but maybe that’s the print they got…I doubt there are many new prints struck of Ben-Hur etc. After being on this site for a couple of years now, on all the theaters…it always seemed that our dream of a film festival at the Ziegfeld was just a “pipedream”…but now….we got it…it seems that someone has listened to us..and this could be the start of something big….so, let’s not sweat the small stuff guys (sorry, don’t mean to preach) but, there I was sitting in the Ziegfeld yesterday, watching a double feature of “Ben-Hur' and "Braveheart”…whod’ve thought

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 20, 2006 at 4:54 pm

It would’ve been nice to have the intermission at “Ben-Hur” today, but at least a theater manager spoke to the audience about it before the show started so it wasn’t an abrupt shock. It must have been removed to make sure the 4:30 showing of “Braveheart” started on time, but starting “Ben-Hur” at 12 noon instead of 12:30 would’ve solved that problem.

Anyway, that and the curtains being open during the overture were the only disappointments in the whole show. The color was beautiful, no frames were missing, and the sound and score were especially powerful. The sea battle and chariot race were seen and heard to maximum effect in a theater like the Ziegfeld, but the big screen also lent a special dimension to the quieter moments. Ben-Hur’s reunion with his mother and sister in the leper’s cave was never more moving to me than it was today.

evmovieguy
evmovieguy on February 20, 2006 at 4:41 pm

Ed-can’t argue with your comments about ‘crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s’ when it comes to presenting the films. However, when I see the Ziegfeld advertising “films the way they were meant to be seen” as far as I’m concerned that means ‘seeing them on the big screen and NOT seeing them on TV’, and in fact they are presenting these films the way they were meant to be seen. “Ben-Hur” is a stellar example of that. That film should only be seen on the big screen.

Yeah, it would be great if the Ziegfeld would do all the curtain and light cues, but it would also be great if we could see these films at the Rivoli, or the Capitol, or even the original Ziegfeld. It would also be great if we could go back to 1959 and see ‘Ben-Hur’ in it’s first run, but that obviously isn’t going to happen. I don’t have much to complain about with this series. I’m am more than pleased that it is happening, and ‘Ben-Hur’ for example was one of the best movie-going experiences I’ve had in a while, so I’m not gonna sweat the curtain and light cues. If they do them great, if they don’t well….they don’t.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 20, 2006 at 1:49 pm

ok, red curtain is a cliche. yes, gold, yes, my mistake.

Forrest136
Forrest136 on February 20, 2006 at 1:44 pm

The seats and interior used to be gold too!

Butch
Butch on February 20, 2006 at 12:32 pm

The Ziegfeld’s house curtain is gold and always has been.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 20, 2006 at 12:19 pm

Andres, the traveler curtain is in use at the Ziegfeld during this series. There is a red contour curtain that is perpetually fully drawn into the proscenium, but I can’t recall from days of old if this is merely a decorative bit of drapery or if it was ever a functioning curtain. Anyway. the thick gold traveler is accompanied by another transparent traveler on an inside track that – if operated independently – could remain closed and act as a scrim while the overture plays. Here are some photos I took over the last couple of visits to the Zeigfeld. The last picture shows the traveler as it was closing after the credits rolled for WSS last Tuesday night.

Exterior day
Exterior night
Rear signage (W. 55th)
Ticket lobby chandelier
Lower Foyer statue
Lower Foyer Gallery
Stairway from Lower Foyer
Upper Foyer landing
Stairway from Upper Foyer
Upper Foyer lounge area
Upper Foyer lounge area alternate view
Men’s room signage
Ladies' Room signage
Rest Room entrance cove mirror
Auditorium from rear orchestra
Projection booth portholes
Side wall ornamentation
Seat row end-cap
Rear stadium seating
Side wall motif
Exit sign
Proscenium decorative panel
Traveler curtain in action

I wanted to re-take a few of those shots that are a bit blurry or off center (the ladies' room signage and the end-cap for example), but when I went back the 2nd time, my camera battery expired and I forgot the spare!

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 20, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Adreco, there’s a red curtain, and a transparent white curtain. The prior operator, Cineplex Odeon, would open the red curtain first, and then would open the white curtain while the film title came on. I liked that practice. I suppose they probably had closed them both after the trailers, but I don’t recall exactly.

Clearview opens them at the same time, with the white one seen separately, but not really separately used.

If they have time for intermissions and still have the number of showings they wish to present for intermissions, then they should do the intermissions. These epic films had them originally. That’s the right presentation, would help with restroom breaks, and increase concession stands. \

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 20, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Adreco, there’s a red curtain, and a transparent white curtain. The prior operator, Cineplex Odeon, would open the red curtain first, and then would open the white curtain while the film title came on. I liked that practice. I suppose they probably had closed them both after the trailers, but I don’t recall exactly.

Clearview opens them at the same time, with the white one seen separately, but not really separately used.

If they have time for intermissions and still have the number of showings they wish to present for intermissions, then they should do the intermissions. These epic films had them originally. That’s the right presentation, would help with restroom breaks, and increase concession stands. \

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 20, 2006 at 11:46 am

Vito… you’re points about laziness and lack of showmanship are exactly what I’m talking about. Irv, you may well consider it splitting hairs, but for a theater as high profile as the Ziegfeld to undertake an ambitious series of movies “the way they were meant to be seen”, why stop short of the very best presentation possible? Make no mistake about it, I was thrilled to see WSS as I was to see “Ben-Hur” and I’m thankful to Clearview for the program. But, if they are listening to our suggestions and interested in making this series a success, then why not offer our honest and constructive criticism along with our genuine appreciation for the effort? Perhaps the ideas and opinions expressed here will result in higher quality prints in the future and presentations closer to the filmmakers' original intentions. Clearview has an opportunity to do something very special here in NYC and I for one would like to see them make the very most of it.

Andres
Andres on February 20, 2006 at 11:43 am

I remember when I saw the restored Lawrence and other 70mm roadshows here, they played the overture and entre'act with lights dimmed, main curtain open and the traveler closed. When the Columbia logo or whatever logo came up, then they turned the lights copletely off and opened the traveler. Do they still have a traveler at the Ziegfeld?

Forrest136
Forrest136 on February 20, 2006 at 7:09 am

Another ROADSHOW that has not been mentioned is “HAWAII” with Jule Andrews and Max Von Sydow! An absolutely beautiful film! How I would love to see it again on the big screen with Intermission and Entr'Act!

Forrest136
Forrest136 on February 20, 2006 at 7:08 am

Another ROADSHOW that has not been mentioned is “HAWAII” with Jule Andrews and Max Von Sydow! An absolutely beautiful film! How I would love to see it again on the big screen with Intermission and Entr'Act!

Forrest136
Forrest136 on February 20, 2006 at 7:08 am

Another ROADSHOW that has not been mentioned is “HAWAII” witrh Jule Andrews and Max Von Sydow! An absolutely beautiful film! How I would love to see it again on the big screen with Intermission and Entr'Act!

Vito
Vito on February 20, 2006 at 4:40 am

Good point Erik, unfortunatly what I believe is happing here is the projectionist are doing a simple “cookie cutter” presentaion, thread the film, push a button and that’s it. If they wanted to put on a show they could, but it seems they don’t. If I were the projectionist at the Ziegfeld I waould be choppin at the bit to present the classic films as close to the original presentation as possible. Case in point is Ben Hur, instead of allowing the overture to run with the lights down and the curtain open, it would be a simple matter to do it properly, heaven only knows why they chose to run it the way they did, there simply is no excuse for it, even if the Zigfeld is running thru some sort of automation it couild easily be by-passed and the overture run manually. Come on guys, admit it, your just being lazy! Show us a little showmanship for heavens sake.

ErikH
ErikH on February 20, 2006 at 3:57 am

The concept of roadshow intermissions isn’t entirely foreign to the Ziegfeld. The hugely successful 70MM re-release of “Lawrence” in 1989 had an intermission, as did the 70MM engagements of “My Fair Lady” and “Spartacus” in the early 1990s.

Also, in 2002 or 2003 the Ziegfeld brought back “Lawrence” in 70MM for a run of several weeks; a friend of mine saw it then and said there was an intermission (and the print shown was in great shape).

Interesting to note the number of 70MM engagements of “Lawrence” in NYC in recent years—-far more than any other film that I can think of. In addition to the three 70MM engagements at the Ziegfeld (1989, 2002/3 and 2006), “Lawrence” was also screened in 70MM for a few weeks at the Paris, probably in the mid to late 1990s.

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.