Ziegfeld Theatre

141 W. 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 8, 2006 at 6:59 am

Ed: I will list “Mad Mad World” also, along with “Apocalypse Now”, “Close Encounters” and “Spartacus” – all three of which were previously shown at the Ziegfeld in a most spectacular way. This also applies to the two films I listed on Sunday, “2001” and the Ziegfeld’s long-run record holder, “Ryan’s Daughter”.

Vito on February 8, 2006 at 6:46 am

Vincent, if I am not mistaken, Radio City can run 30fps, I believe that speed is used for the 70mm 3-D opening scene for the Christmas show? As I recall runing Todd-AO, it was just a matter of switching drive motors. Perhaps REndres will respond. By the way Bill, you are correct about the Zhivago intermission, as a matter of fact part two begins with the train rushing towards the light at the end of the tunnel as we begin to see what’s on the other end of the tunnel the
imagine gets wider and wider untill the train clears the tunnel and we are oudorrs again, quite a sight to see that on a huge 70mm screen. REndres tells a great story of trying to match the opening of the travelor curtain to the spectacular opening shot outside the tunnel. Another point to add to what Bob wrote regarding the intermission in 3-D films, all of the features released in 3-D had built in intermisions, because in those days the movie cam mounted on 6000 foot reels, and was shown using two projectors, after the first half which ran 45-60 minutes, we had to have an intermission to change reels. The Paramount in NY was able to run 3-D without intermission because it was a four projector booth and could make a changeover.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 8, 2006 at 6:40 am

Ed: “Reds” had a real intermission and so did “Gandhi” a year later. After that, the only first-runs I can think of that had intermissions were the Ted Turner 4-hour Civil War epics, “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals”.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 8, 2006 at 6:11 am

Vincent… Do I take it that no theater currently in NYC is equipped to show 30fps Todd AO? That’s sad, because, “Oklahoma!” would have made my suggestion list. As it stands, when I attend “West Side Story” this weekend, I will be listing the following films: “2001”, “Apocalypse Now”, “The Wild Bunch”, “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” (if they can get a hold of the print MGM struck for its showing in Seattle a couple of years back – with phony police radio calls during intermission), “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Spartacus” and the complete “Heaven’s Gate.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 8, 2006 at 6:07 am

Yes, CConnolly! The intermission for “The Towering Inferno” that I saw came at that point as well… Chamberlin is running down the stairwell and a blast of fire erupts from somewhere? I didn’t see the film at the Fantasy, but interestingly the intermission (clearly not intended by the filmmakers) came at the same point in the film. I wonder if it was just a convenient point in the film where there was a change in reels and the time seemed roughly half-way.

I’m trying to think of the last time I saw an intermission during a film presentation… I know when I saw “2001” in the ‘80’s (I can’t recall the theater) it was exhibited with intermission using a print that had the overture (more like mood music), entr'acte and exit music. I think it may have been the 8th Street Playhouse. There was also a showing of Sergio Leone’s complete “Once Upon a Time in America” at the Metro, which was presented with an intermission. I think these are the last two intermissions I can recall during a movie that I attended… and neither one was first run. As for first run, I’m trying to remember if Warren Beatty’s “Reds” was shown with intermission. I saw “Tess” and “Lion of the Desert” at the Century’s Green Acres Theater on their first runs. Both films were around the 3 hour mark and might have had intermissions. We’re talking about 1981 or '82. My memory is a bit fuzzy.

VincentParisi on February 8, 2006 at 4:52 am

For all of you talking about a 70mm Zhivago or Ben Hur. See above comments. Clearview was too lazy(or too dim?) to get a Lady print in 70mm which is the entire point of seeing it in a large theater!

Outside of that I think the programmer did an intelligent job of choosing what we think of as classics and what younger people think of as classics.

And yeah I’d love to see Sound of Music and Oklahoma again in Todd AO but it doesn’t look like it will happen again in my lifetime in New York.(and Magnificent Men and South Pacific…)
And if they did maybe me and another 10 people would care. That would be about it.

chconnol on February 8, 2006 at 4:36 am

Regarding the intermission for “The Towering Inferno”, I saw this at The Fantasy in Rockville Centre and the intermission was inserted at the most ridiculous time. It was the scene where Richard Chamberlin is running down the stairs. The intermission was so abrupt it looked like the film broke. My Mom was pissed because I made her get popcorn earlier and she missed the whole scene with Jennifer Jones getting spilled out of the elevator.

Vito on February 8, 2006 at 4:09 am

I would like to add my two cents on the intermission policies. back in the day, starting in the mid 50s, all roadshow 70mm films were presented with built in intermissions, the 35mm continuous performance realeases to the local movie houses also carried the intermissions. I was working at the Cinerama theatre in Hawaii at the time we say the end of the roadshow, the last one to play there was the 70mm re-issue of “This is Cinerama” in the mid 70s. After that, the big movies that had in the past been presented as roadshows were simply played on a continuous performance schedule and they rarely had built in intermissions. Like some have posted, many of the theatres began adding their own intermissions and I gather not in a very good way, the idea was mainly to enhance concession sales. At the Cinerama, one of the first movies we did this with was “Mame” and “Funny Lady”, both of which was played in 35mm with 4 track mag sound, we would screen the movie and find the absolute best place to slug the intermission, since the movies no longer carried additional intermission music or overture, I would purchase the soundtrack album and use a track from the album to use as overture, and entr'act music for the second half. As Laurel said to Hardy “no one was ever the wiser”. For me, it kept the spirt of the roadshow alive, we had fun, and I think the audience appreciated it.

Andres on February 8, 2006 at 3:26 am

Thank you all for the above responses to my comments on the Ziegfeld classic series. See your point EdSolero, and Peter, I’ll do my best to go to Suffern. By the way, remember the programming ideas came from a friend in LA, he should get the credit for the titles for an ideal classic series.

DavidM on February 8, 2006 at 2:24 am

All I can say is “thank Heaven.” I’m thrilled to see so much discussion about the Ziegfeld series. This means that we’re going and supporting it. I hope Clearview will see the results and continue this policy. I was planning a trip to Bradford, England for their Widescreen Weekend but between the Ziegfeld and the Lafayette, I’m staying home. It’s great to have this type of programming in the NYC area. And organ concerts, too!

PeterApruzzese on February 7, 2006 at 4:46 pm

Andreco – 40 minutes out of Manhattan and most of your wishes have been coming true for the past three years. If I may say so myself, the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern, NY has been consistently showing the best and most comprehensive series of classic films in the New York metro area. No, we don’t have Cinerama, but we do have double-system polarized 3-D, a silver screen, a pipe organ, and just about anything else you’d want in a renovated 1000 seat 1924 neighborhood movie palace. I welcome you to check out our spring season of events and I hope to see you at a show.

I’m glad the Ziegfeld is running this current series – the more opportunities audiences get to see classic films in a proper theatrical setting means that they will continue to seek them out at other venues.

Pete Apruzzese
Director of Film Programming
Big Screen Classics at the Lafayette Theatre

HowardBHaas on February 7, 2006 at 3:09 pm

Andreco, Joe Masher left for an arthouse circuit in New England.

One thing that is evident is that all the films in the classic series are post 1953, flat and scope, not 1.33.

It would be wonderful to get 70 MM, including the restored Doctor Zhivago along with the 70 MM titles you mention, and others! And, if they wanted to raise the prices for 70 MM to $10, I’m sure many would pay.

I may attend one of the Indiana Jones series, since I’ve saw two on big screens but haven’t seen one of them on a movie screen.

How about a James Bond series?

William on February 7, 2006 at 2:23 pm

A few reasons they might have chosen the “Indiana Jones” series and “Lord of the Rings” series, is that they are almost a sure thing to make money at the box office for the classic series. These fans love to see these films on a big screen and they come rain or shine. Back in the day the studios did release the “Back to the Future”, “Star Trek” series and the almighty “Star Wars” original trilogy. And the print of these titles are easy and cheap to rent. I think the rent on most titles is $350 vs. 35% of the gate per picture plus shipping to and from storage. And with “Gladiator”, “Chicago”, they did very well the in first run. Hopefully the print of “Gladiator” will be runable. The one they sent to me for a Academy screening was a piece of crap from the first reel to the last.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 7, 2006 at 2:11 pm

I think the programmers at the Ziegfeld are trying to balance showing “truly” classic films with booking newer (yet still worthy) films to attract a wider audience. They have 1100 seats to fill and this is, after all, a sort of trial run here. The admissions are seperate so the bean counters should be able to see whether the older fare or newer films drew the largest audiences. If showing the Rings movies and Gladiator brings in crowds and helps subsidize showings of “Ben-Hur” and “West Side Story” then I welcome it wholeheartedly.

All of your suggestions are good, andreco, so I hope you jot them down (or print your post out) and drop them off with theater management – who are evidently looking for ideas for future retrospectives. I for one am ecstatic at the opportunity to see “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on the big screen again.

As for intermissions… thanks for all the info and history from everyone. There wasn’t one at the original Ziegfeld engagement for “Apocalypse Now” in ‘79. I remember one that definitely seemed arbitrarily spliced in for “The Towering Inferno” where the screen literally just went dark prattically in mid-dialogue. I really wish they’d reinstate the practice for all films over 2 and ½ hours.

mhvbear on February 7, 2006 at 2:08 pm

Idiot maybe but I imagine that the week that the 3 Lord of the Rings films play will be the highest grossing of the whole series.

Andres on February 7, 2006 at 1:42 pm

If Joe Masher is still a division manager for Clearview, this is for him:
I was totally disappointed when I went into the Ziegfeld page at the Clearview web and saw the “classics” revival schedule. Gladiator a classic? Chicago a classic? Who’s the idiot who programmed this series, a 19 year old? The 7 year old daughter of the programmer that, like Amy Carter, advised her father, president Jimmy Carter, on nuclear weapons? (Remember that?) Well, I sent the program of the series to a friend in LA — where they have Cinerama and have REAL series and retrospectives, and he sent me his comments — which follow. Incidentally, it is a shame that in the “capital of the world”, we don’t have a Cinerama theater or have REAL retrospectives and REAL CASSIC FILM series.

Here are his suggestions:

1) “Epics Week”: Remove “Gladiator” and “Braveheart”, and replace with the restored 70 mm prints of “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Spartacus”, and/or “El Cid”.

2) Eliminate the “Indiana Jones” week, replace with Western week. (High Noon, Shane, The Searchers, Gunfight at OK Corral, The Big Country, Magnificent Seven, and so on). Ok, maybe have an Indiana Jones day, ( a weekend if you must) but please not an entire week at the expense of John Ford & company!

3) Eliminate “Lord of the Rings” week, replace with war epics: “Bridge on the River Kwai”, “Guns of Navarone”, “The Longest Day”, “The Great Escape”, “Tora!, Tora!, Tora!”, “Dirty Dozen”

4) Remove “Chicago” and replace with “The Sound of Music”, “Hello Dolly” , “Oklahoma!” or “Singing in the Rain”. Any of those will do.

4) Put all those removed films (“Lord of the Rings”, “Gladiator”, “Chicago” etc.) in a “Contemporary Award Winners” week.

5) I would have a “Cop/Tough Guy” week: “The French Connection”, “Dirty Harry”, “Bullitt”, “Point Blank”

6) Comedy week. Lots to choose there!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 7, 2006 at 11:42 am

“Doctor Zhivago”’s intermission is right after the red train carrying Strelnikov speeds past the big train carrying Zhivago and the others, which has been sidelined. It does come out of nowhere but it’s intentional – a direct cut to the Intermission title card – no fadeout or dissolve – accompanied by a big crash of cymbals. It’s very effective, I think.

VincentParisi on February 7, 2006 at 11:17 am

The stage version comes after the ball which makes the first half too long. The movie got it right. It helps that the always radiant Audrey is heart stoppingly beautiful at that moment. How lucky the world is that she got the role.

William on February 7, 2006 at 10:41 am

The Roadshow intermission on “My Fair Lady” happens just after Eliza comes down the staircase and her and Professor Higgins & Colonel Pickering go off to the ball. Act II Begins at the ball.

BobFurmanek on February 7, 2006 at 10:26 am

Often times – in revival houses – they would just place an intermission at the end of a reel, whether it belonged there or not. I saw many revivals of 1950’s 3-D films with the intermission incorrectly presented that way.

chconnol on February 7, 2006 at 10:19 am

With the exception of the “Lord of the Rings” films which practically begged for an intermission, I agree that an inappropriately placed intermission can be a killer.

I remember seeing Apocolypse Now at a third run house in Massapequa (even then with curtains!) and the intermission seemed to pop out of nowehere.

Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t there these different kinds of intermission “logos”? I remember the one they had for “The Sound of Music” seemed to write the word Intermission in script across the screen. There must’ve been others.

One movie that didn’t seem to have an obvious intermission part is “My Fair Lady”. The plays' first act ended after the ball with Act II beginning upon their return home. Where was it in the roadshow version? And how about “Doctor Zhivago”? Again, I can never quite tell where an intermission should be. I saw it at a couple of revival houses in NYC and like my experience with “Apocolypse Now” the intermission seemed to pop out of no where.

PeterApruzzese on February 7, 2006 at 9:47 am

Yes, CConnolly, those two films have built-in intermission, as many of the 3-hour films of the past did. Regarding newer films, adding an intermission to a movie not specifically edited to accomodate one is a bad idea, IMO, as it will disrupt the carefully constructed flow of the film.

RobertEndres on February 7, 2006 at 9:46 am

A couple of comments about AlAlvarez’s post. I was Head Projectionist at the Music Hall and a relief projectionist at the Ziegfeld at the time of the “Abyss” premiere. That premiere at the Hall had a surround system brought in by an outside contractor for the screening. It was huge and not particularly good considering it took a week to take out seats to install it. Nonetheless, the sound at the Ziegfeld would have been better at the time. There was a classic echo at the Hall because of its sheer size. Acousticians had tried to solve them from the time the Hall opened, including Tom Holman of THX. When I would screen new prints I would sit in the middle of the orchestra at the producer’s table, and if I turned my head in the empty auditorium I would hear two soundtracks, one from the screen and one from the backwall. If you sat in the Mezzanines there wasn’t a problem, since you weren’t hearing the slap from the area above the 3rd Mezz. Thus the Zieg had comparatively better acoustics. When we did the “Lion King” premiere, we installed a completely new film sound system with adequate speakers behind the screen and a plethora of surround speakers (I think its up over 100 now). Disney was extremely happy with the sound, and we added more speakers both for the stage system and the surround system for later premieres. Since then, the house has added acoustic treatment installed during the 1999 remodel. For all of the romanticism about the movie palaces, we tend to forget that many of them had enormous acoustic problems because of their sheer size. One of the acomplishments of the Dolby system was to include house eqalization to try to iron out the acoustic differences. Now we are used to E.Q. and digital reproduction and would probably be shocked if we actually had to hear the sound in a Paramount or Roxy as it played when those theatres reigned.

chconnol on February 7, 2006 at 9:37 am

I’m sorry if my above comment upsets and Lloyd Webber fans out there. I just consider him such a hack compared to the old greats. I’m somewhat glad to see his last few offerings being quickly dispatched here in NY.

But to the discussion regarding intermissions: weren’t some films shot with an intermission clearly in mind? For example, “The Sound of Music” seems to have a hand made intermission at the scene where Maria leaves the children’s house after The Countess has “talked” to her. And “Gone With The Wind” seems to have the intermission built into the scene with Scarlett declaring she’ll never go hungry again. Right? Or does it just seem that way?

chconnol on February 7, 2006 at 9:33 am

I’d probably run from the theater regardless of the sound quality if I had to sit through the movie OR stage versions of either “Evita” or “Phantom”.