Criterion Theatre

1514 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on August 7, 2004 at 10:54 pm

O, and I thought “The Ten Commandments” was great on its giant curved VistaVision screen. Who could forget the Criterion’s bright red traveller curtain?

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on August 7, 2004 at 12:47 pm

Warrenâ€"
Thanks for the ’36 photos of the Criterion’s debut. I wondered how they could have twinned it upstairs/downstairs in the ‘80s, since the balcony was so shallow. The pics confirmed my memory of that shelf-like space. Loew’s had a share in ownership through the late ‘40s, no? The films through the mid-‘50s were mostly mediocre. I recall as a kid seeing there “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and William Bendix in “The Life of Riley.” Disney favored it in the early ‘50sâ€"I remember being brought to “Snow White” (’52 revival), “Robin Hood” (the live-action one), “Alice in Wonderland.” They also showed several 3-D schlockersâ€"“Fort Ti” and “I, the Jury” (parents wouldn’t take me to “The French Line,” ‘cause the Legion of Decency condemned it). As a high-school kid, I sought it out for mature fareâ€"I recall “Anatomy of a Murder” and “Advise and Consent.” My visit to “The Ten Commandments” in ’56 left me with wounds still borne today: To accommodate an extra reserved-seat showing, they ran an early-bird 9am screening that suited my teen-age wallet. I arrived at 8:59:99 and sprinted past the usher-women to find my seat (knowing where it was, thanks to Stubs). The lights were already down and Mr. DeMille’s prologue had begun. I crashed loudly into an industrial-size trash-can left in the far aisle after the previous night’s showing. A thousand eyes turned to me in the darkness, lit only by light shining from the screen. The can rolled toward the proscenium. Usher-women fanned out down the aisle on a witch-hunt. I darted into my seat, terror-stricken that I’d be ejected for causing a ruckus (not the least for being an unaccompanied 14-y.o.). I survived ejection, but limped for several weeks with what might have been a fractured shin. Shoudda sued ‘em.

Mark1
Mark1 on July 25, 2004 at 8:57 pm

The Criterion people were going to in the 1950’s was not the otiginal Criterion, but probably the New York theatre renamed. On the same block, but on the southern corner was where the original Criterion was — the one that showed the original The Ten Commandments back in the 1920’s. In the 20’s there were the two theatres on that same block.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 14, 2004 at 1:48 pm

Sorry to go off-Criterion for a minute, but here are pictures of the inside of the Hollywood Pacific theater:

View link

To get back to the Criterion, I have good memories of seeing “Tora! Tora! Tora!” “Nicholas and Alexandra” and “Alien” there. And its marquee was always prominently featured on the annual TV coverage of New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

William
William on May 19, 2004 at 10:30 am

But for right now it’s being used as a Digital Projection showcase. But some day it will happen.

RobertR
RobertR on May 19, 2004 at 10:08 am

I hope someday the Hollywood Pacific is restored.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on May 19, 2004 at 7:03 am

Hey all. I agree about United Artists running down their theaters. There is one here in Ft. lauderdale which I haven’t been in for many years. The last time I was it was starting to get runned down and some of the theaters were so small I would hvae preferred to stay home. I am going to Asheville, NC for the next 6 months and there are 2 United Artist thetares. I know the one across from the Asheville Mall, UA Buccaneer Cinema has a broken ugly marquee out side. I can imagine what the inside looks like.
Mike

William
William on May 18, 2004 at 7:57 pm

brucec, Yes both Pacific and Mann kept their theatres in good shape. But Pacific took extra good care of the Hollywood Pacific Theatre. They kept that lobby and theatre so clean and changed the bulbs in the original light fixtures and maintained a wonderful theatre.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on May 18, 2004 at 6:59 pm

I agree with you William on the UA Egyptian. I always noticed when I lived in LA in the 80’s and early 90’s that Pacific and Mann did a much better job maintaining there theatres compared to United Artists. Its to bad the Criterion was taken over by UA instead of another circuit after Moss stopped running the theatre.City planning should have kept one megaplex in Times Square and one on 42nd St.There will be no movies showing in Times Square which was once the Capitol of movie going.brucec

SethLewis
SethLewis on May 18, 2004 at 5:33 pm

60s memories of the Criterion include roadshows such as Is Paris Burning and Patton…later memories include Rambo III on the main screen at ground level, The World According to Garp and A Cry in the Dark in Number 2 upstairs and Sharkey’s Machine and sin of sins not to have seen in first run at the Sutton Raging Bull in the smaller basement screens…the latter was notable for simultaneous translation going on behind me in Spanish…Remember in the summer of 88 trying to see Die Hard in first run here and the air conditioning being down…they closed the theatre I think that night

RobertR
RobertR on May 18, 2004 at 4:57 pm

At least they maintained The Rivoli to the end except for hacking the exterior to prevent it from getting landmark status and booking grind films in this once proud house.

William
William on May 18, 2004 at 4:54 pm

That’s why I hated going to some of their theatres. By their management cost cutting programs. The Egyptian was maintained and ran well during the 80’s, but when the 90’s hit. It all went down hill fast. During their last year open they tried, running it as a bargain house. ($1.50 or $2.00 any seat format) I went there a few more times before it closed. And it was not a pretty site to see how they let their Flagship West Coast Theatre die.

RobertR
RobertR on May 18, 2004 at 4:09 pm

William, although not as glorious a house as The Egyptian UA outdid themselves the last few months running The Movies at Bayside. Not only was no maintenance done they did not clean the bathrooms, mop the floors and barely picked up any trash from the floors. This is a sin because the thatre sits in a nice part of town.

DreamStreetFanNYC
DreamStreetFanNYC on May 18, 2004 at 3:44 pm

It was a Charity show for the Variety Children’s Network
-Holly

DreamStreetFanNYC
DreamStreetFanNYC on May 18, 2004 at 3:43 pm

No, it was really there, I’ve got the tape :)
-Holly

William
William on May 18, 2004 at 3:37 pm

It might have been just a rental for doing the video and concert. We have had people rent theatres for meetings, screening and filming in a theatre auditorium. Maybe since they were going to close the theatre and someone wanted to do a rental.

William
William on May 18, 2004 at 2:09 pm

You should have seen the UA Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, during its last days as a United Artists Theatre. “Where the Stars See the Movies” (That was their catchline, during the 60’s)

RobertR
RobertR on May 18, 2004 at 11:58 am

UA’s maintenance of all their theatres is always north of non-existernt. Then they wonder why people stop coming and the theatres close.

br91975
br91975 on May 17, 2004 at 11:04 pm

There was talk for a time in the mid-1990s that United Artists was considering gutting the Criterion, most of the retail spaces to the theatre’s right, and converting the property into a 15-screen house. However far along those plans were I don’t know, but they were likely scuttled at the absolute latest after both Loews and AMC announced their plans to build their megaplexes on 42nd Street, a timeline that matches the point when UA’s maintenance of the Criterion slid into something just barely north of non-existent.

DreamStreetFanNYC
DreamStreetFanNYC on April 5, 2004 at 11:17 pm

Hi, My name is Holly, I’m 14 and a Big Dream Street fan, A band that performed their very first concert at the Criterion. In the video it seemed in fine shape, why did they knock it down? The concert was 12/14/99 Wayyyy back there. Yeah so I was like so sad when I read the back of the video box. It said that the concert took place just days before the Criterion was to close it’s doors forever. Forever is such a sad word. Yes I am very emotional.
-Holly

avkarr
avkarr on March 20, 2004 at 11:07 pm

60s-went to the movies & Bonds as a child. Early 80s Bond International Casino was a massive club, Criterion was still functioning as a private club/theatre till the end? Know
down the block (43rd) Toffanetti’s (which my Mom & Dad patronized
in the 40s) became a Nathan’s, now a Building with the huge NASDAQ
ticker (famous news wire neon Next block over)

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on March 16, 2004 at 6:52 pm

A featurette of the premiere of “The Ten Commandments” can be seen on the new DVD release of the film.

Orlando
Orlando on March 3, 2004 at 5:17 pm

You are right the building’s 45th St. sidewall is intact as are the other walls of the auditorium which I now believe is a stockroom for truck deliveries for Toys Are Us. The Toys R Us marquee or television monitor is exactly where the theatre’s original marquee was. Since the building was only partially demolished, they were able to keep the ordinance that allowed them to retain the extended marquee they have now. I also worked as a fill in manager for B.S. Moss and I was there for Alien and Bo Dereks film “10”. I can still remember her running on the beach ion her famous scene from that film. It was still a single screen at the time and a Moss theatre. During a Saturday matinee of “10”, there was civil unrest outside the theatre that caused us to close the front doors and suspend the sale of tickets for a hhalf hour until the crowd outside simmered down. People in the theatre were unaware of the turmoil outside. I have a set of 11 x 14 movie stills from ALIEN that were discarded that I kept as a momento of the theatre.

dickdziadzio
dickdziadzio on March 3, 2004 at 4:28 pm

In response to Warrens good comment, the Theatre was located on the
North half or 45th St. side of the block (left side when facing the block) facing the Loews State rear entrance and current Lyceum. The balcony fire escapes are still visable.They even re-painted the building side about 2 years ago. The 44th St. side in back of Toy's
without windows must have the area used by Bond Clothes, Woolworths, and the Roundabout Theatre.The Theatre entrance was in the middle of the block and when you walked through the long lobby you were at the right side of the auditorium.
I remember my first trip to Times Sq. around 1955 when they had the entire roof with the giant Pepsi Cola bottles on either side and the giant waterfall in the middle.

Vito
Vito on March 3, 2004 at 2:51 pm

I remember back in 1954 when “The French Line”
starring Jane Russell played in 3-D and played to record crowds.
Remember the giant billboard above the marguee?
JR in 3-D Need we say more?