Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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VincentParisi on December 19, 2005 at 3:53 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 on December 18, 2005 at 3:37 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™ on December 16, 2005 at 9:50 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 5:16 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 5:01 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 on December 16, 2005 at 12:59 pm

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.

dave-bronx™ on December 16, 2005 at 10:02 am

Wedding hall chic? I always thought of it as ‘New Orleans Whorehouse Chic’… at least in the lobby…

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 16, 2005 at 8:20 am

Stevebob… I wholeheartedly agree with you. This is certainly not a “movie palace” in the traditional sense of the phrase – but then, neither are probably more than 80% of the theaters listed on this site. The Ziegfeld is basically a larger more decked-out version of some of the more upscale suburban boxes that were built in the ‘60’s (like the Fox in East Setauket or the Loew’s Bay Terrace in Bayside). The seating is plush and there’s a sufficient amount of velvet and brocade trim for the theater to have passed as “elegant” in the '60’s and '70’s (sort of wedding-hall chic). I felt the same towards the former Astor Plaza, which was a bit less flashy than the Ziegfeld but shared with it the one virtue that made both places a rare treat for moviegoers, particularly as older theaters (the true palaces) were either multiplexed or razed in the '80’s and '90’s: an extraordinarily spacious single screen auditorium.

That’s still good enough reason to seek out the Ziegfeld when an interesting enough film is booked there. But, I would agree that there is nothing particularly palatial about the theater’s architectural merits and certainly nothing in its interior appointments to merit favorable comparison with true lost cinematic treasures like the Rivoli, Strand, Loew’s State or Roxy Theaters.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on December 16, 2005 at 8:15 am

Sorry, SteveBob, but no one is pretending the Ziegfeld is anything more than it is. The last large single-screen cinema left in Manhattan.

I’ll repeat what I said in this comment section back in March of this year:

“So the Ziegfeld isn’t the greatest theatre that ever existed. So what? I’m 37 and most of the greatest theatres that did exist were torn down or mutilated in some way before I was born. Nothing I can do about that. A palace it may not be, but for what’s left in this city, I’ll take the Ziegfeld or the Beekman as many times as I can as long as they’re still here.”

Granted, the Beekman is gone, I’m now 38 and I’ve since moved back to Los Angeles, but the Ziegfeld was still a hell of a place to see a movie.

VincentParisi on December 16, 2005 at 7:57 am

Remember that way back in the fall of ‘70 when Lean’s first film since his greatest success Zhivago opened he chose not the Rivoli or Criterion two great epic theaters still intact in all their Time Square glory he chose the small screened tackily appointed Ziegfeld. From the very beginning this theater superseded all the others still standing and I will never know why. One of fate’s cruel jokes I suppose.

stevebob on December 16, 2005 at 7:28 am

I already posted this in response to the story about the exclusive engagement of “The Producers”, but I think it’s worth saying here too.

Sometimes I get a little sick of the devoted reverence shown to the
Ziegfeld Theater. Think about it — if it weren’t the only large single-screen house left in Manhattan, it would merit scant attention at all.

It is not a movie palace, was not built during the movie-palace era, and the decor is frankly tacky. (If you are a gay man of a certain age, you’ll probably agree that “piss elegant” is a perfect description for the style.) It is just a sad, sad joke when you consider the spectacular original Ziegfeld Theater it replaced.

Now, with the demise of the Astor Plaza, I will admit that I will choose to see a film at the Ziegfeld if possible simply because of the size of the house. That’s what it has going for it, and that’s all that it has going for it.

It is what it is. Let’s not pretend it’s something it’s not.

VincentParisi on December 12, 2005 at 3:53 am

That ad really brought me back. Imagine a full page film ad for one theater with a stylized logo the way ads often were in the Times' Arts and Leisure until the 70’s.

DonRosen on December 12, 2005 at 2:42 am

Nice “exclusive” New York Times ad for “The Producers”. They used the cursive script logo for The Ziegfeld Theatre. I don’t remember ever seeing that in an ad. I remember the Walter Reade font that every one of his theatres used.

RichHamel on December 5, 2005 at 2:26 am

The premiere for The Producers was there last night. It will run exclusive at the Ziegfeld beginning Dec. 16th.

Mikeoaklandpark on December 5, 2005 at 12:35 am

Is the theater closed again? UGH Rent is wonderful no reason for them not to do well with it.

Vito on December 3, 2005 at 1:00 am

Gustavelifting, I did not know that, I will go out and get a couple to share with the little ones. Of course when I showed hem “Dracula” and told them how scared I was watching it as a kid, they said “scary, your kidding right”? Ah, kids today, ya gotta love em.

uncleal923 on December 2, 2005 at 5:17 pm

Many of those serials are now on DVD.

Vito on December 1, 2005 at 7:51 am

I called my brother regarding the dish breaking thing, with me in the booth most of the time, he spent more time with the patrons than I did, and he told me that yes, on occassion some one would drop a dish, but it was usually accidental and the rest of the audience members would clap and cheer at the sound. Ed, you write about different days, and oh my goodness were they ever, not only did you get a free dish every Wednesday, but a double feature, a newsreel, a cartoon, and a chapter of the latest serial as well, and all for about twenty five cents. Of course many movie palaces offered eight acts of vaudeville too.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 1, 2005 at 3:26 am

My Dad grew up in The Bronx in the 1940’s and used to talk about dish nights and how at some point there’d be the sound of someone dropping their set followed by a responsive rise in the crowd. He grew up on 167th between Tiffany and Fox and most frequently mentioned the Loew’s Spooner and the Boulevard Theater as frequent destinations along with the occasional trip to the grand Loew’s Paradise on the Concourse. Those were certainly different days… and I wish I could’ve had a taste of the movie-going experience from back then.

Vito on December 1, 2005 at 1:53 am

Gustavelifting, no, can’t say that I had. Each week a new part of a compete set of dishes were given out, most people returned week after week in order to complete their set.

uncleal923 on November 30, 2005 at 5:18 pm

I heard tell many people would drop dishes during dish nights. Did that ever happen on your watch?

Vito on November 28, 2005 at 7:54 am

$2 Dave? Now I know I’m old, when I ushered it was 25 cents and we got free dishes every Monday and Wednesday. I gotta go take a nap now, where is that ole rockin chair anyway?

dave-bronx™ on November 28, 2005 at 7:34 am

When I started as an usher in 1968 tickets were about $2. An increase to $12.50 over nearly thirty-eight years is not unreasonable.

Mikeoaklandpark on November 28, 2005 at 6:56 am

Hopefully Rent will be a hit for the Ziegfeld. The movie is wonderful despite some negative reviews. I would have loved to have seen it at this theater.
I saw it here in NC at a new chain, Epic Theatres which is a top noche chain.(Unlike Carmike The Worst) They have 5 theaters so far and are building more in Florida. They recently purchased a small United Artist theater down the street from where they opened the areas first stadium seat theater.