Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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HowardBHaas on February 15, 2006 at 5:05 am

They read the above comments about the old My Fair Lady print they received, and about our wanting 70 mm prints.

They did use the curtain as I wrote above for The Godfathers. Did they not keep using it for My Fair Lady & West Side Story?

As to commericials, I expect few among us relish them but most will gladly accept them if that’s the price to pay to keep the Ziegfeld open.

Bill, was this additional West Side Story yesterday that you attended? A Valentine Day crowd? Except for the part about people talking, how neat!

BobFurmanek on February 15, 2006 at 5:02 am

Vincent; MFF was restored and preserved, and the current copyright holder has all of the preservation materials. However they have allowed their release prints to fall apart, and have been booking the same worn out prints for years. They are too cheap to strike new ones. But, they have preservation printing elements if they should ever decide to do so.

For this type of high profile booking in New York City, the distributor should have struck a new print, and the exhibitor should have checked the print they received prior to showing it.

To present this beat up version to a paying audience is poor showmanship and a reel shame.

VincentParisi on February 15, 2006 at 4:25 am

So why doesn’t Clearview just cancel the Lady showings and replace them with WSS?

I do have a question for you guys at Clearview. Why do a very rare theatrical showing of one of the most beautiful Hollywood films ever made and make no effort to show a 70mm print and then not even make sure the 35mm print is pristine. Obviously a lot of time and planning went into this and all you did was put in an order to the distributor and not make sure the condition of the product you were getting was top notch?

I saw the restoration at the Ziegfeld 3 times in ‘93. Whoever was in charge back then did the film proud with no commercials and the use of the curtain. Every performance I saw was sold out. I mean that literally. Then after nine days it was pulled for a Meryl Streep action flick.
I am on my knees. Please repeat this great success.
I can’t believe these guys did the restoration only to have the film disintegrate all over again after only 10 years.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 14, 2006 at 5:55 pm

Another great “West Side Story” show at the Ziegfeld, with an even bigger crowd. It was so big, I had to change my seat during the opening sequence to get away from people talking! It looks like classic movies might be here to stay at the Ziegfeld. I was talking to one of the employees and she said they haven’t had crowds like this for months, not even for the exclusive showing of “The Producers”. She said “Tristan & Isolde” often played to an empty house.

Looking forward to “Ben-Hur” next week.

HowardBHaas on February 14, 2006 at 1:12 pm

I’ve put a few of my own photos from last month here:

I took photos of details like ornate exit signs, small sconces, etc. but would rather post items less likely to walk out of the theater during slow times.

I wasn’t able to photo nicely the ornate chair end. Perhaps somebody else could.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 14, 2006 at 11:53 am

Bill… I’ll be there tonight. I’ll be the one with the small silver digital camera snapping some photos of the theater. I’m very much looking forward to this.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 14, 2006 at 9:49 am

David: I know what you mean about the atmosphere at the Ziegfeld. It seemed to me like I was attending a show in the ‘70’s for some reason. Maybe it was because the first movie I ever saw at the Ziegfeld was “West Side Story” 36 years ago, but I was noticing things I hadn’t seen in years, like the engraved plaque in the lobby directing patrons to the numbered seats (odd and even). I’m going back tonight.

DavidM on February 14, 2006 at 9:24 am

I attended the 4:30 screening of West Side Story on 2/13. It was the most enjoyable experience I had in a movie theater in quite some time. The print looked and sounded great. The theater staff was informative and helpful. What struck me most is that there seemed to be a lovely change in the air at the Ziegfeld. I will address more specific comments in a separate letter to Clearview.

I sincerely hope series such as this one will become part of the regular schedule. Congratulations to all at Clearview who are coordinating the series.

JSA on February 13, 2006 at 6:21 pm

To Craig,

I sincerely hope that your “classics” series is the beginning of a positive trend for New York City. In the spirit of constructive suggestions, I have a few brief comments. First, you may want to reconsider associating the term “classics” with films like “Chicago”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Gladiator” and so on. This is not to be taken as a negative comment on neither the movies themselves, nor on the management at the Ziegfeld. Those films do have a proper place in contemporary American popular culture, and no doubt they help bring around the “bottom line”. Having said that, “Braveheart” is not in the same class as “Ben-Hur”, and “Chicago” is no “West Side Story”. They have not passed that “oh so subjective” test of time. Some of the Cinema Treasures’ members have given very good suggestions as to what constitutes a “classic motion picture”, so I will not repeat them. Hopefully your next revival festival will include proper 35 and 70 mm presentations of those true “classics”.

And finally, someone with the resources, connections and vision may just notice someday that Cinerama is alive, well, and doing business in Seattle and Los Angeles. I’m not sure if the logistics will allow the Ziegfeld to go in that direction. But for New York, it may just be a matter of “when” it will happen, and not “if”. The clock is ticking…



HowardBHaas on February 13, 2006 at 4:48 pm

The Uptown in Washington DC still runs movies. Its two side Cinerama booths have been closed, but still exist. It no longer has a Cinerama screen, but one could be put in. That may be the best East Coast possibility for Cinerama.

I don’t know if there’s room for a massive Cinerama screen in the Ziegfeld and as Ed says, projection capacity may or may not be possible.

“Independent films” don’t sound like a recipe for success at the Mayfair. I’d love to see that house (which I haven’t been in) become a theater and host some films, though given NYC prices, it may more likely be demolished for real estate.

Now as to classic films at the Ziegfeld, whatever is available in 70 MM and 35 MM prints is possible and realistic (if enough audience shows up) and that should make all of our hearts warm!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 13, 2006 at 3:50 pm

Having a real Cinerama theater in NYC would be a dream come true. There has been some talk about this on the page for the old Mayfair/Demille/Embassy 2,3,4 site. There was also a recent news item here about someone looking to revive the vacant Embassy 2,3,4 as a 4-room complex for live performance and independent film where many CT folks implored a restoration to single screen and perhaps install 3-strip capabilities. The only problem I see with renovating the Ziegfeld for that purpose is that the theater (as has been discussed above) might be that the auditorium is too deep and narrow for maximum effectiveness as a Cinerama showcase. Configuring a new booth (or booths) may also pose a challenge, should the current booth location be inadequate for Cinerama projection within that space.

Still, It would be better than what NYC has now… which is NOTHING!!!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 13, 2006 at 7:57 am

Andreco is right about the drawing power of Cinerama. I’ve gone to see it in Los Angeles twice, and Dayton, OH once. It sure would be nice to get on the subway and see it right here on 54th St., in the city where it was born.

Andres on February 13, 2006 at 4:18 am

To Craig of Clearview:
Why doesn’t Clearview convert the Ziegfeld into a Cinerama 3-strip theatre? I said this before and I am saying it again: I think Cinerama should be brought back to New York City. Triple projection Cinerama and its huge curved screen debuted right here in New York City at the Broadway Theatre on September 1952. Yet, while Seattle and Los Angeles have Cinerama theatres, New York, “The Capital of the World,” does not. I am sure a Cinerama theater in New York City would be a terrific tourist attraction and would bring movie loving visitors and money to the city, and Clearview. Besides triple projection Cinerama, the theater could show 70mm spectaculars like “Lawrence of Arabia” as they were intended to be seen. Also, the venue could be used for other movie attractions such as a 3D festival like they had last summer at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. Except for the occasional double projection 3D film at the Film Forum, most contemporary New Yorkers have not seen double projection 3D, just as they have not seen Cinerama. Last summer both the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens and the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center celebrated 50 years of wide screen movies. It’s ironic that it was Cinerama that started it all right here in New York City and we don’t have a Cinerama theater. Bring Cinerama back to NYC, THE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! As for “classics” programming, see my Feb. 7 post above.

ErikH on February 13, 2006 at 3:54 am

I did not ask for a refund for MFL on Friday night. I was tempted to do so, but as I wanted to support the revival concept (and in the hope that MFL was an anomaly), I decided not to. When an usher in the lobby asked why I was leaving early, I told her and she apologized.

I completely agree with cutting Clearview/the Ziegfeld some slack. I had no expectation that the MFL print would come close to the restored 70MM print that I saw at the Ziegfeld in the early 90s.

On the other hand, when the quality of the print is this bad, there is no point in exhibiting it for a paying audience.

Movieguy718 on February 12, 2006 at 8:10 pm

Hey Ed,

Yeah, but they both have smallish screens. The Paris is really a niche market sort of place – they don’t show movies people actually see – and the Tower East (72nd St) likes to run movies at the “barely audible” setting (which is probably due to the neighborhood it is in – those sensitive UES ears!!) There’s also the crappy UA East which is probably THE worst national chain theatre in the city. So really, it’s only The Ziegfeld.
(Why was there no huge outcry over the Astor Plaza’s demise?? It was a better theatre.)

evmovieguy on February 12, 2006 at 7:53 pm

I agree…cut the Ziegfeld some slack on the prints. Some of the older ones may have some problems. If they’re are not in the best of shape, what can you do, THEY’RE OLD MOVIES! Just be glad that something like this is happening. I’m not saying that it’s great to sit through a crappy print of a film, but c'mon. I’d rather go see a not so great print of an old film at a place like the Ziegfeld than see a boring stupid new film somewhere else. Quit the whining. Support the Ziegfeld and support film revival in this area. WE NEED IT!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 12, 2006 at 7:42 pm

Movieguy718…. the Paris and the Loew’s 72nd are both single screen houses – though admittedly not as large and plush as the Ziegfeld.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 12, 2006 at 7:40 pm

I forgot to ask Erik H if he demanded a refund after walking out on the poor print of MFL only an hour into the screening… And, if so, how was that demand met?

Movieguy718 on February 12, 2006 at 7:39 pm

Hey all,

I’m just so thrilled that someone is doing SOMETHING with the theatre… I’d love to see a pristine 70mm 6 Track Dolby print of RAIDERS but am going to take what I can get! I go to EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF CRAP MOVIE that they throw up on that screen whether I’m interested in seeing it or not, just to support the theatre – which is, for all practical purposes, our last single screen in the city.
I have ZERO tolerance for sloppy presentation of NEW movies, but guys – you gotta cut them some slack with the revivals!

RichSchoenholtz on February 12, 2006 at 11:42 am

Caught the 1PM “WSS” screening today and, despite the blizzard, there was a good turnout. It was a beautiful print with wonderful sound, a huge improvement over the poor “MFL” print. Even the 5 minutes of commercials before the start of the movie looked better (much brighter than at yesterday’s 1PM screening). That’s the good news. The bad news: The movie stopped dead TWICE during the opening minutes — once during the overhead aerial shot of Manhattan and again just before the camera comes in on the Jets in the playground. I wonder what the problem was?

Vito on February 12, 2006 at 11:42 am

Perhaps when clearview made the decsion to have the festival, the film buyer should have had a discussion with the studio regarding print availabilily. If the studio could not promise a good quality print of MFL, the picture should not have been booked at all. I still believe the poor presentation of MFL was the fault of Clearview dropping the ball here and not the studio. As ALAvarez pointed out, Clearview can only play the prints that are available.
I just feel, under the circumstances, MFL should not have been played. I promise not to vent about this any longer. I only hope Clearview will pay more attention to print quality next time.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 12, 2006 at 10:50 am

My compliments to Clearview for doing their best!…and to Craig for listening. It is easy to criticize, but putting this type of program together requires some serious hard work.

Clearview can only play the prints that are available so save your grief for distributor Warner Bros who really did this

Cheers to Clearview for bothering with MY FAIR LADY instead of some better print of RENT.

Vito on February 12, 2006 at 10:37 am

Regarding the condition of the MFL print, I would like to know why that print was accepted for this very important engagement. Did the projection staff not notice the condition of the print and report same condition to management? If there was any question as to the quality of the print, it should have been screened in advance and rejected, then demands should have been made for a better quality print. Clearview had no right to present this masterpiece in the condition outlined in this forum.

Vito on February 12, 2006 at 9:48 am

All very well and good Craig, however you missed the boat here, more effort should have been made to present WSS and MFL in their original 70mm roadshow granduer. As you can see by reading posts here, it was expected and would have been more appreciated. Having said that, I will say, myself and many others apppeciate the effort.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 12, 2006 at 9:47 am

Glad to hear from you, Craig! Knowing that you care and are proactively interested in our opinions brings a big smile to my face. I wish nothing by success with the program and look forward to future series… See you guys on Tuesday night!