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Half a century ago today, on November 10, 1960, Paramount’s “The World of Suzie Wong” opened its world premiere engagement at RCMH. The Technicolor melodrama gave William Holden sole billing above the title, and introduced Nancy Kwan as the Hong Kong prostitute. Leon Leonidoff’s stage revue, “Town snf Country,” included an ice-skating segment built around ice ballerina Margie Lee, and “a joyful Thanksgiving banquet of song” by a group called The Manhattanaires in sddition to the RCMH resident company.
The following illustrated article repeats a frequent error that the Meserole was originally called the Garden Theatre. What nonsense! The Garden was another theatre on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint.
Today marks the 37th anniversary of the opening of the 1973 Thanksgiving-Christmas Show, with Walt Disney Productions' Technicolor animated feature, “Robin Hood,” on screen. Leon Leonidoff’s stage revue was divided into two parts, the traditional “The Nativity” and the razzle-dazzle “World Wide Christmas.”
Tomorrow (11/8) will mark the 66th anniversary of the opening at Loew’s Criterion of the world premiere engagement of MGM’s “Lost in a Harem,” starring boxoffice giants Bud Abbott & Lou Costello. The B&W comedy re-cycled costumes and sets from MGM’s Technicolor spectacle, “Kismet,” starring Ronald Colman and Marlene Dietrich. Ironically, “Kismet” was currently in its 11th record-breaking week at the Astor Theatre, almost directly across Times Square from the Criterion. I wonder how many people who saw both films spotted the similarities?
Alexander Pantages was still in jail on the night of the opening of the Hollywood Pantages. The warder kindly sent a radio to Pantages' cell so that he could listen to the broadcast of the ceremonies.
On this November 6th in 1932, the Europa Theatre was in its final two days of “Louise, Queen of Prussia.” Arriving next was the eagerly-awaited American premiere engagement of G. W. Pabst’s “Kameradschaft” (“Comradeship”), which had already won critical acclaim and artistic prizes in Europe and England.
On this day in 1936, William Shakespeare made his screen debut at RCMH with the opening of Paul Czinner’s version of “As You Like It,” which gave the Hungarian producer-director’s German wife, the legendary Elisabeth Bergner, sole billing above the title in the role of Rosalind. Topping the supporting cast of the B&W 20th Century-Fox release were Laurence Olivier, Sophie Stewart, and Harry Ainley. Russell Markert’s stage revue, “Iridescence,” was described as a “rainbow of songs and dances in three scenes,” and was preceded by an overture of Tschaikovsky favorites.
Perhaps the date of the photo was April 29, 1929, which is reflected in the final numbers of the .jpg coding.
On this day in 1953, the Paramount Theatre opened its “Happy 27th Birthday Show” with WB’s Doris Day-Howard Keel Technicolor musical, “Calamity Jane,” on screen and a stage presentation featuring the Ames Brothers, Pupi Campo & His Orchestra, Clifford Guest, and the Peiro Brothers. The very next day, Howard Keel would also turn up on the screen of Radio City Music Hall with the opening of MGM’s “Kiss Me Kate” (which was accompanied, of course, by a stage show).
On this night in 1955, the gala world premiere of Samuel Goldwyn’s filmization of “Guys and Dolls” took place at the Capitol Theatre, as a benefit for the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital. Journalists from all over the United States and Canada were flown in by Goldwyn and MGM to cover the event, which had a “Bridge of Stars” constructed in front of the Capitol’s entrance for arriving celebrities. Continuous performances of “Guys and Dolls” started the next day at 10:00am.
On this day in 1933, RKO’s “After Tonight,” starring Constance Bennett with future husband Gilbert Roland, opened its NYC premiere engagement at RCMH. The untitled stage show was personally produced by “Roxy” with a cast of 500, including the Radio City Symphony, Corps de Ballet, Choral Ensemble, the Roxyettes, and guest artists. During this point in its history, RCMH had a general admission price scale of 35 cents from opening time to 1:00pm, 55 cents to 6:00pm, and 85 cents to closing. Reserved seats in the first mezzanine were a bit pricier. By comparison, the nearby and equally large Roxy Theatre, which had filed for bankruptcy and reduced its stage shows to eight acts of vaudeville, charged 25 cents to 1pm, 35 cents to 6pm, and 55 cents thereafter.
On this night 60 years ago, the United Artists Theatre held a “Halloween Spook Show,” which started at 11:00pm and included a screening of the 1948 classic, “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Starting at 6:00pm, a real corpse was placed on display in the grand lobby. Anyone who could positively identify the corpse was eligible for a $50,000 reward, according to an ad in the Los Angeles Times. Also on screen that night was the United Artists' current double feature, “Woman on the Run” and “Madness of the Heart.” There was no increase in admission prices for this special evening.
I don’t know the full price scale for the Strand Theatre in October, 1942, but advertising said that gerneral admission was 55 cents from opening until 1:00pm…Since the end of the Depression and the wartime “boom” in attendance, admission prices were gradually increasing, but I think that $1 was about tops for first-run Broadway houses except for “loges,” which had a slight additional charge.
On this night in 1942 at the Strand Theatre, you could see a “preview” of “George Washington Slept Here,” plus the current “You Can’t Escape Forever” and a stage show topped by Stan Kenton & His Orchestra, Jack Carson, and the Three Stooges. The next day, “George Washington Slept Here” started its NYC premiere engagement at the Strand, with a new stage show comprised entirely of Phil Spitalny and his huge and incomparable “All-Girl Orchestra.”
James MacArthur was the ADOPTED son of Helen Hayes and Charles MacArthur. The couple also had a child of their own, Mary, a promising actress who died at 19 from polio.
Kino International is distributing. A trailer can be seen here: http://www.kino.com/metropolis/
On this night in 1942 (which happened to be a Tuesday), comedian Joey Adams hosted a “Stars of Tomorrow” revue with 10 acts on the stage of Loew’s Willard. On screen were two “B” programmers, “Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen” and “All American Co-Ed.”
I doubt if Clearview does much if any p.r. work of its own. For first-run engagements, theatres usually expect the film’s distributor to do it for them. In fact, many distributors insist on it because they employ high-salaried marketing departments that are supposed to be aces in their field.
On this day in 1949, the Capitol opened its “30th Birthday Bargain Show,” with Columbia’s B&W Humphrey Bogart starrer, “Tokyo Joe,” on screen, and Lena Horne and Skitch Henderson’s Orchestra topping the stage bill. On weekdays, general admission was 55 cents until 1:00pm.
The cinema originally opened 76 years ago on October 26th. 1934, as Trans-Lux The Modern Theatre, according to advertising in The New York Times. A blurb described it as “Brooklyn’s First Newsreel Theatre” and “Ultra Modern in Every Detail.” Programs consisted of the lastest newsreels and selected short subjects. Continuous performances started at 10:00am, with the last show at 10:00pm. Admission was 25 cents at all times. The advertised address was Fulton Street & DeKalb Avenue.
The actress in “Operation Petticoat” was Joan O'Brien (not “Jean”).
“That Wonderful Urge” & “Belle Starr’s Daughter” opened on the RKO circuit in Queens on May 4th, 1949, so the combo probably reached the sub-run Newtown three weeks after that. In those days, the Jackson Theatre in nearby Jackson Heights played a week behind the RKO circuit, and then the Newtown would get the programs a week later. By this time, the Elmwood was no longer showing programs off the RKO circuit. It had gone “first-run” for the area with programs originating on the Loew’s circuit.
I believe that the Elmwood’s name referenced Elmhurst and the theatre’s nearness to Woodhaven Boulevard…The Newtown was originally known as the Victoria. The new name was to designate its proximity to Newtown HS, a landmark for the area…The name of Newtown still survives today on the magnificent First Presbyterian Chruch of Newtown, on the south side of Queens Boulevard (almost directly opposite the Target shopping center that was originally all Macy’s).
Tonight (10/23) will mark the 69th anniversary of the gala world premiere of Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” at the Broadway Theatre. Public performances started the next day at 9:30 am, with prices starting at 35 cents until 1pm. Children’s tickets were 25 cents at all times. The Broadway Theatre had previously enjoyed a long run with Disney’s “Fantasia” as a reserved-seat roadshow. For “Dumbo,” mezzaine seats could be reserved at a slight additional charge. Both films were distributed by RKO Radio.