Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Movieguy718
Movieguy718 on February 15, 2006 at 9:12 am

Saw MFL on Monday and was expecting a horrible experience based on comments from here. Let me tell you, it wasn’t a bad print at all (a couple of scratches, some dropped frames) – I have seen worse prints of movies that have been in release for 4 DAYS.

ErikH
ErikH on February 15, 2006 at 9:08 am

Agreed re: “Dolly.” In October 2002, I attended a screening of the new 70MM print at The American Cinematheque/Egyptian in L.A. (promoted as the first public showing of the new print). A silly movie, but tuneful and quite a visual feast in 70MM. If Clearview decides to continue the revival program at the Ziegfeld, “Dolly” would be a fine addition, provided that Clearview can obtain the right print.

bufffilmbuff
bufffilmbuff on February 15, 2006 at 8:28 am

I was lucky enough to see the recently struck 70mm/DTS print of HELLO DOLLY at the AFI Silver last month and I can attest to the incredible visual and aural quality. As another comment said, not a great movie, but in this format… well worth your time.

Vito
Vito on February 15, 2006 at 8:24 am

The reference to “Hello Dolly” reminmded me of the technical rehersal (dry run) we had at the Rivoli, the fox guys were there and insisted on putting in their two cents. For the intermission we cued the curtain to close in time with the speed of the Rivoli’s curtain, which meant the curtain started to close before the words Intermission appeared. Well the Fox guys did not like that and told the UA tech, Joe Kelly, and I to start the curtain only after the words Intermission appeared. With protest we complied, the result was a white screen for about 20 seconds as the words Intermission
faded out. While Joe and I cringed, we heard one of the Fox guys cry “perfect”. “Yeah sure” said Joe, “that aint gonna happen”
The opening night audience saw the intermission with the two curtain panels kissing as the Intermission faded out. There was to be no white sheet (screen) showing at the Rivoli. P.S. We got our way and never heard anymore about it.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on February 15, 2006 at 7:56 am

Mike I was refering to WSS but I saw Dolly as well at the Cinerama and though it is not a film I am crazy about I would be there in a shot to see a Todd AO print of it for the production design alone.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on February 15, 2006 at 7:48 am

Vincent
Hello Dolly had a 70MM release I saw in 78 at the Cinerama. It was great seeing it on that great huge curved screen they had. The sound was great too.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on February 15, 2006 at 6:31 am

I don’t believe this film has ever had a 70mm 6 track stereo presentation in New York since its first run at the Rivoli.

Now if only Clearview would install a larger curved screen(65 to 75ft) in front of the proscenium,install a curtain and show occassional PRISTINE roadshow prints with much publicity they would send the New York cinema going public for a loop and put an end to the constantly empty houses.

William
William on February 15, 2006 at 6:25 am

As Bob Furmanek pointed out about prints. On popular films like “My Fair Lady” and many other titles there are newer prints available, but the booker and the depot are the ones that have to work on finding out the condition of the film. Many times films are run and returned to the depot with damage and the next person/theatre gets it. Depots only inspect the first few feet of film. They will inspect the entire film only if the studio requests it and PAYS for it. So that is why many of you are seeing poor prints in many shows.
And with the lack of true projectionists in the booths (not a union vs. non-union statement), but a projectionist that has handled special prints. The cost for a 70MM print of a film like “My Fair Lady” runs around $40-50,000 a print vs. around $3000 for a 35mm. Back in the mid 90’s I was at a film depot near Los Angeles, California. The studio had them pull a few prints but they dumped 100’s of reels of 70MM tobe trashed. Because the studio did not want to pay storage on those worn prints. That is the same thing that happens with all those 35mm prints too after their release.
Last year the Castro Theatre had a series that featured 70MM films. On their booking for “Hello Dolly” they got a 70MM 6-Track Mag print that was worn-out and they had to replace that showing with another title. The 70MM DTS version was in Europe.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 15, 2006 at 6:10 am

I was there with my lady last night for a wonderful Valentine’s Day… er, evening, that is. As Bill reports, a very crowded house, though not packed to the gills. The center orchestra section was densely filled (if not to capacity) and there were a fair number of folks in either of the side orchestra sections as well. We got there very early and the place was empty (only one other couple was seated) but the theater filled up rapidly as we approached 8 o’clock (showtime was 8:15 PM). I didn’t get a good look at the rear “balcony” just before the show started, but I imagine it was pretty full as well, judging from seeing the many folks who remained through the very end of the credits as they exited down the stairs.

The curtain was closed upon entering the auditorium, with none of the usual commercial slide presentations. When it opened, we were subjected to quite a number of filmed commercials – but as someone stated previously, I’ll put up with these if they subsidize the theater’s existence. The print itself was in pretty good shape, but I wouldn’t call it pristine. There were noticeable scratches and signs of wear and tear during the Overture and there were stretches where the print was a bit muddy-looking, particularly early on. Most noticeably, the beginning of the dance at the gym sequence looked very murky and faded, although once Tony showed up, the image improved noticeably. I also remember thinking how some of the skin tones (particularly the dark makeup jobs on Bernardo and The Sharks) would vary in hue, seemingly from reel to reel. However, the quality definitely got better as the film progressed and the last 1/3 of the movie in particular looked razor sharp and pretty incredible.

All of the sound seemed to be coming from the speakers behind the screen – I didn’t really pick up on any stereo effect at all. And some of the soundtrack – while good and loud – sounded a bit tinny or brash. Too bad we couldn’t get a print with surround tracks.

The movie was very well received, with the audience breaking out into applause after the Overture and many of the numbers throughout. There was even a round of applause to welcome Rita Moreno’s first screen appearance as well as some “curtain call” applause during the credits (one person started clapping at the “Panavision 70” credit, which I found amusing â€" and quite understandable!) In fairness, there were also certain aspects of the film that met with titters from the audience, mostly with respect to the miscast Richard Beymer’s performance as Tony. His “Maria” number was met enthusiastically, but much of his action during the balcony sequence evoked snickers.

The powerful final sequence of the movie was quite effective, however, with sterling work from ALL hands. You could hear a pin drop as Tony and Maria see each other for the last time in the playground and run towards each other, only to have Tony meet with a bullet from Chino’s gun. And during Maria’s meltdown and angry outburst over Tony’s body, any snickering heard previously had been replaced with the sniffling sounds of a captivated audience moved to tears.

A wonderful evening at the movies, despite my own minor reservations over the quality of the print and lack of stereo surround sound. Believe me, I would be very happy if the print of “Ben-Hur” is as good as this, but I’m still hoping for an even better quality presentation.

I snapped a few photos, but I a couple of them did not quite come out as I wanted. I plan on re-taking some of these over the weekend and I’ll post them thereafter, for anyone who is interested.

ErikH
ErikH on February 15, 2006 at 5:48 am

Question to those who, unlike me, stayed until the end of the “MFL” screening. In the restored version of the film, there is a series of end credits listing the individuals behind the restoration (the accompanying music track is, I believe, the exit music from the original road show version). Were those end credits included on the Ziegfeld print? If not, then I wonder if the print shown at the Ziegfeld was the restored version.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 15, 2006 at 5:39 am

It was the 8:15 show last night (2/14). A very good choice for Valentine’s Day, except for all the tragedy at the end. I only wish there was another show after work today or tomorrow – I’d go again. If I were old enough to go to New York alone in 1961-62, I’d probably be going to see it at the Rivoli about once every two weeks.

Since it’s been so successful, maybe Clearview will bring it back to the Ziegfeld once a year?

HowardBHaas
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
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
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
HowardBHaas on February 14, 2006 at 1:12 pm

I’ve put a few of my own photos from last month here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/howardbhaas/99853569/

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
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
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…

Regards,

JSA

HowardBHaas
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
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
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.