Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

Unfavorite 113 people favorited this theater

Showing 3,901 - 3,925 of 4,124 comments

VincentParisi on January 7, 2005 at 8:29 am

Vito it’s too bad about Funny Girl. The Stradling cinematography is excellent and the the Callahan production superb. And it had the Criterion(reserved in the summer of 67 while the film was in production)which had the premiere 70mm presentations of two of the greats-Lady and Lawrence.
At the Ziegfeld you had an exposed screen and what seemed like a half an hour of commercials before the overture even started! There was a time when you paid to see a movie and that’s what they showed you.

Vito on January 7, 2005 at 4:40 am

Don, projectionist no longer have the control over the show we had in my day. It’s all automated, a push of the button and what ever happens is very mechanical now. Curtains have all but disapeared and most of the theatres that still have curtains leave them open for those damm slides.
Vincent, I guess once the studio’s realised they could get away with filming in 35mm and doing a 70mm blow up they saw $ signs in the savings on raw stock during filming.I so much agree that the result was a washed out pale comparision of true 70mm, By the way the original 70mm “Funny Girl” was no better than the reissue at the Ziegfeld. Those blow ups at RCMH were awful as well, the changeover to xenon lamps from carbon arc just added to the problem at RCMH, there just wasn’t enough light. By ther way, if you thought the lines for Woolf were long, you should have been there in 1954 when Jane Russell’s “French Line” played the Criterion in 3-D, the lines were so long you would have thought they were giving away money.

longislandmovies on January 6, 2005 at 8:52 pm

You should have seen the BUZZ when this theater played Last temptation of Crist. WOW

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 6, 2005 at 2:09 pm

The theater CConnolly, Pete and BoxOfficeBill are talking about, the Cinema I, is in the news today. It’s going to be torn down this spring, unless it can somehow be saved. I’ll never forget going there to see “The Exorcist” on its third day – the most frightened audience I’ve ever been a part of.

chconnol on January 6, 2005 at 8:23 am

PeterApruzzese: thanks for the info. I wish I could remember the source of the Kubrick story.

As for cleaning of the screens, some multiplexes ought to do it more often especially the Loews Palisades Center. I’m getting sick and tired of a movie’s image being marred by some of the giant smears that I see on some of their screens.

BoxOfficeBill on January 6, 2005 at 8:06 am

“A Clockwork Orange” opened in NYC at Cinema I — did the management there do that? Whew!

PeterApruzzese on January 6, 2005 at 7:55 am

I might not be correct regarding the color of the walls in the Kubrick section of my post above – it might have been white and not orange. I will check out my references.

PeterApruzzese on January 6, 2005 at 7:46 am

CConnolly –

Most theatre screens are made out of vinyl, which is then stretched around a frame of some sort. The are small perforations in the material to allow the sound to transmit through from the speaker(s) behind it. The front surface of the screen is generally a matte white surface (silver is sometimes used – that’s what we use at the Lafayette Theatre – mostly for installations that plan to run 3-D) that has a slight bit of reflective material in it. Cleaning a screen is difficult, most products will remove the coating and the screen darkens in those sections. There are companies that professionally clean screens, but it’s expensive and can not always remove the dirt & stains.

The Kubrick story is that when A Clockwork Orange was set to premiere in New York, the theatre had a screen mounted on the front wall (not projecting on the wall itself) with no curtaining or masking on the surrounding wall. The theatre painted the wall and ceiling around the screen an orange color, which would look awful with a projected image in the middle of it. When Kubrick heard about this (he always sent representative to the first-run theatres to check their presentations), he demanded the wall be painted the proper flat black color. I don’t know of any theatres that use the wall, but I’m sure there’s one someplace.

chconnol on January 6, 2005 at 6:47 am

Question for the theater professionals on this site (and forgive me for asking if it seems like a stupid question) but what, in general, were or are movie theater screens made of? Additionally, how do theaters clean them (or should I say, should clean them…some theaters these days don’t look like they ever do!).

I either read about this (maybe on this site) or heard about it in a documentary that Stanley Kubrick wanted a theaters wall (where the movie was projected) painted black for “A Clockwork Orange” but that the theater made a mistake and painted it a different color. Anyone know that story and what color they actually painted it? And how many theaters simply projected onto a wall?


VincentParisi on January 6, 2005 at 6:42 am

Though I didn’t see Funny Girl or Oliver during their original roadshow runs(saw them in the burbs)the restored FG at the Ziegfeld just looked like any other Panavision film. Why these films couldn’t have been shot in a 70mm process is beyond me after all in the same period CCBB and Star were. However I don’t think the sound is as good in these restored prints as it was back in the days of true 6 track sound. Blow up 70mm at the Music Hall looks especially bad as I remember Scrooge and Tom Sawyer looking grainy and washed out.
By the way I hate exposed screens. It’s like staring at an unattractive naked person.

hudsony777 on January 6, 2005 at 6:35 am

You’re all absolutely correct. Most theaters now have no showmanship. However, it’s good to know the Ziegfeld is still open. Not a movie palace, but an interesting, pleasant, middle size theater that is idiosyncratic and plush in its interior, even if the exterior is just a box.

Just found out they are showing, “Phantom of the Opera.” A great place for this movie.

As someone once said to me, “The Ziegfeld. Best projection in the city.” Who knew this was a craft, now that it’s disappearing?

DonRosen on January 6, 2005 at 5:25 am

Vito…I remember how perfectly the curtins were timed with the movie ending. Now, it’s a white screen with ads from a slide projector before and after the movie. Whatever happened to showmanship?

DonRosen on January 6, 2005 at 5:24 am

Vito…I remember how perfectly the curtins were timed with the movie ending. Now, it’s a white with ads from a slide projector befor and after the movie. Whatever happened to showmanship?

Vito on January 6, 2005 at 4:55 am

Vincent, Bill, “South Pacific” was of course a true 70mm
(Todd-AO I think) presentation at the Criterion, “Funny Girl”, “Oliver” and many others were a blow up from the 35mm neg which in my opinion never compared to the real thing. We were bombared in the 60s with these 70mm blowups and I thought they paled by comparision. The image was sharp but dull, and the colors a bit faded. However, the magnificent six track magnetic sound made up for the picture quality. Would you agree?

Vito on January 6, 2005 at 4:38 am

RCDTJ, I know a lot of projectionists who still take a lot of pride in the job. However, you must admit, in most cases. it’s just not the same now as before automation, platters and multiplex’s. In my day we “put on a show” Dimming house lights as the last of the intermission music began to fade, then opening the curtain just as the stage lights were dimming, and opening/raising the curtain being carefull not to expose any white screen. Then there were the reel changes every 15-20 minutes where you took great pride in timing the changeover perfectly as not to interupt the presentation. Ending the movie had to be perfect as well, the curtain had to be in the full closed position as the title faded, again no white screen or titles running over the closed curtain, with the stage lights to full up position at the same moment the curtains finished closing. Of course the big days came with the Roadshow presentations with overtures, intermissions and exit music, all coordinated perfectly.
Now a days it’s all automation, you thread a platter set a timer and your finished. I prefered the days before I retired when we were showmen, is all I am saying.
Bill, I could be wrong but I don’t remember the Criterion installing VistaVision projectors for “10 Commandments”, I thought it was a reduction print.The only VistaVision projectors I recall were at RCMH and Paramount. In fact I recall when “White Christmas” opened at the Hall, they had temporary VistaVision projectors installed without sound heads, the sound had to be interlocked with two projectors untill the finished projectors were built and installled.
Do you have more info on how “10 Commandments” was projected?

rcdt55b on January 5, 2005 at 6:03 pm

Vito, some of us still take pride in being a projectionist.

VincentParisi on January 5, 2005 at 11:02 am

I’m sorry you didn’t see Funny Girl there I would like to have known what that was like.
I understand for Woolf the lines were down to Sixth Av! That must have been an amazing sight.
You must definately visit the Ziegfeld if you are in town. It is all that is left that in any way reflects what moviegoing was like for most of the 20th Century(though built in ‘69.) I have often disparaged it on this page as it in no way compares to the great NY cinemas but it was an attempt to recreate a Times Square house in the more friendly environs of 6th Av. Though it did not fully succeed(for me)I would rather see an epic or musical there today than anywhere else in Manhattan.

BoxOfficeBill on January 5, 2005 at 10:41 am

Vincent—that could be true. I did not see “South Pacific” there, but I did see “Anatomy of a Murder” which followed it there in Summer ‘59, and the house seemed unchanged (perhaps they had dismantled the special screen). The last film I saw at the Criterion was “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (day-dating at the Tower East)in Summer '66. Same old trappings, but the audience was so garrulous that I decided to avoid Times Square for serious films and to take my business to the East side. I’ve never been to the Ziegfeld, since I decamped from NYC before it was built. Should I visit it if I happen to be in town?

VincentParisi on January 5, 2005 at 9:50 am

But BOB in the Variety review of South Pacific it seems to say the Criterion installed a large curved screen just for this presentation. He comments that the heads look like the heads on Mt Rushmore.

BoxOfficeBill on January 5, 2005 at 8:25 am

My memory of the Criterion stretches back to “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” in July ‘48 and “The Life of Riley” in April '49, through various Disney features in the early '50s (“Alice in Wonderland,” a revival of “Snow White”) to “The Ten Commandments” and beyond. It seems to me that the theater remained the same throughout, clad chiefly in red plaster with a red traveller curtain. (See Warren’s web link posite on the Criterion page last 25 July and my reply on 7 August.) I remember being slightly disappointed that the VistaVision screen for “The Ten Commandments” was not as large or curved as the Todd-AO screen at the Rivoli, but that kind of screen would have required alterations such as thrusting the viewing surface in front of the proscenium, which the Criterion refrained from doing. The theater might have been spruced up for its roadshows with brighter lighting and new fabrics, but in the original colors and with no change in design.

VincentParisi on January 5, 2005 at 7:57 am

Vito the first time I was in the Criterion it was for MFL in the summer of ‘65 as a fluke. It was raining and we couldn’t go to the World’s Fair. It was a matinee and as a little boy I was amazed that people were all dressed up for the movies. In the suburbs it was even at that time very casual. I had never heard of MFL and thought it was a bore. The experience itself of going to a deluxe Times Square roadshow house was however unforgettable. I have since revised my opinion of the film and had I been an adult at the time I certainly would have been a frequent visitor to that late and deeply lamented movie theater(the last time I was in it was for Alien though god knows I wish it had been some wide screen epic or musical from the 50’s or 60’s.)
What was the Criterion like before the 10 C? Was it much different?

Vito on January 5, 2005 at 4:22 am

Bill, thanks for the kind words, it was a lot of fun and we took a lot of pride in being a projectionist in those days. I dearly miss that.
Vincent, you mentioned seeing the Criterion before it was cut up, remember when it was renovated for the roadshow of
“10 Commandments”? curtains, seats, walls, everything was red.

VincentParisi on January 4, 2005 at 10:37 am

CC were you ever in the Rivoli or the Criterion before they were sliced and diced?
As for my previous post about the empty perf at the Ziegfeld I got my info from a talkinbroadway site. The home page has a beautiful color interior of a picture palace. Does anyone know which it is?
Do they know they have a movie theater to epitomize a legit house?
Speaking of which a little while ago a Japanese Decca cd line had an opera series which used what they obviously thought was the interior of a great European opera house on its cover. Well that great European opera house was the Paradise in the Bronx!

chconnol on January 4, 2005 at 5:13 am

I would not blame The Ziegfeld for the poor turn out for “Phantom”. The movie is not getting good reviews or word of mouth and it’s being marketed poorly (probably because the releasing studio knows it’s got a stinker).

In 1995, I saw “Braveheart” here and it was packed. I know some people here knock the Ziegfeld but I thought the place was awesome.

With the right movie, the place can be amazing. I like “Chicago” and I can only imagine that it must’ve been impressive there.

There are articles in the NYTimes about the dismal movie season. Yes, grosses are up for the studios but all the articles point out that it’s because the ticket prices are higher. Actually ticket sales are down by about 6%. It’s the second year in a row. There’s been talk for awhile about posting actually number of tickets sold along side the grosses. But the studios are frightened by that prospect because it would reveal for all to see just how movie going is slipping.

Why are ticket sales down? Easy: the movies lately SUCK!

You want people to plant their money paying butts in theater seats, make something worthwhile.