Radio City Music Hall

1260 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020

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vindanpar
vindanpar on October 9, 2016 at 11:24 am

NYer posted the opening day ad of the B&B ‘71 Christmas show. As you can see the secular part had a circus theme.

My memory is that they had made holes in the first arch so that they could suspend the trapezes. Therefore the act took place in the auditorium itself.

I don’t remember exactly but I think the orchestra went down and stagehands put a net over the pit.

This scared the devil out of me as I was very young and had somebody been flung and not taken hold it looked like they could have gone any which way including the stage or choral stairs or audience.

I endured this twice and it was terrific but it made me very nervous.

It’s also unfortunate the film was heavily cut before release to the Hall. I’ve never seen the restored cut.

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on September 26, 2016 at 10:14 am

As far as I know all of the nitrate is out of the Hall. There’s a room on the North side of the theatre that was specifically designed as a vault, with a room between it and the corridor. It’s next to what used to be the costume sewing room. It wasn’t cooled, and my boss discovered it when they were using the second room as an echo chamber when Plaza Sound had the recording studio there. He moved all of the film to the Projection office where it sat behind the desk to the discomfort of the City Inspectors since one of the cans on top of the stack had a big red “nitrate” label on it. The collection moved around. To get it out of the sight of the inspectors, for a time it was stored behind the screen in Preview A. We finally made a deal with the Museum of Modern Art to take the RKO newsreel footage of the Hall in return for striking acetate prints for the Hall from the nitrate footage. The rest of the nitrate (some of which did go into the garbage) went to Sherman-Grinberg.

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on September 26, 2016 at 9:29 am

Is it safe to assume that there is no nitrate film left in the film “safe” in the closet at the end of the hall? I was going to go through all the film in there this season.

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on September 26, 2016 at 9:23 am

At one point we were trying to get all of the nitrate film which had been stored in a nitrate safety room in the Hall out of the building. Since it would be dangerous to just throw it out, I asked the Sherman-Grinberg stock footage library which had the rights to the RKO newsreel footage of the Hall if they would take the film to add to their archive. They accepted. In going through the footage I came across a reel marked “Breen”. I thought it might be something in regards to the Breen behind the Motion-Picture Code who also had ties to Rockefeller Center. The archivist at Grinberg played it and told me it was Bobby Breen singing. I suspect it was a protection track in case Breen’s voice gave out from doing multiple shows during the Christmas run. It may well have been the “Cantique de Noel” referred to in the above post.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on September 26, 2016 at 7:28 am

In remembrance of the legendary child star and singer Bobby Breen, who died last week at age 87, I’m posting an ad for a unique achievement at Radio City Music Hall. Back in December, 1936, Breen dominated the Christmas holiday show, with his movie “Rainbow on the River” on screen, and with the boy soprano himself performing in the stage show. Costumed as a young shepherd in the “Nativity” pageant, Breen sang “Cantique de Noel,” accompanied by the Music Hall’s resident chorus and symphony orchestra.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 4, 2016 at 12:53 am

Here’s an excerpt from the NYTimes' review of this theater’s first “pictorial attraction:”

Radio City Music Hall yesterday became a motion picture theatre, with the Columbia film “The Bitter Tea of General Yen” as its first offering. The RKO Roxy, the smaller theatre in Radio City, continues to exhibit the screen version of Philip Barry’s play, “The Animal Kingdom.”

It gladdened the hearts of the management to observe the imposing throngs at the doors of the Music Hall for its initial performance as a cinema. Most of the lower-priced seats were filled before 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and later there were lines of persons in the grand foyer and along the Fiftieth Street side of the house awaiting admission. Even the loge chairs were well patronized.

The acoustics of the great auditorium are suited admirably to the showing of talking pictures. The projection booths were installed during the construction of the theatre, but the screen, one 70 by 40 feet, was installed after it was decided to run it as a motion picture theatre.

In addition to the feature film, the program is as follows:

Excerpts from “Faust,” with Alida Vane, Aroldo Lindi and Max Ratjmiroff.

“The Sunburst,” with the Radio City Roxyettes.

“Spanish Twist,” a pictorial cartoon.

“The Story of the Walts,” with Patricia Bowman, Gomez and Winona, the ballet corps and choral ensemble.

The Tuskegee Singers.

Ray Bolger.

“Marche Militaire,” by Franz Schubert, with the ballet corps and the Roxyettes.

An organ recital.

This stage show evidently pleased the audience, but it cannot be said to be very different from other exhibitions of singing and dancing offered by Mr. Rothafel. One might also say that it would be materially helped by more humor and fewer exhibitions of dancing.

The screen attraction, “The Bitter Tea of General Yen,” is a handsomely mounted affair with conspicuously good portrayals by Nils Asther and Walter Connolly. It is a melodrama of China that has certain aspects of Edith M. Hull’s “The Sheik.” It is a story that is scarcely plausible but which has the saving grace of being fairly entertaining. Certain characters are called upon to be exceptionally credulous at times and those who can overlook this and other shortcomings will probably find the tale of missionaries, romance and civil war in China diverting.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 3, 2016 at 8:32 am

I’m glad you’re here, CC. Your collection is amazing and I am pleased that your are sharing it.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on September 3, 2016 at 7:39 am

In the Photos Section, I uploaded a poster and details for the Mel Brooks event back on August 10th, so Cinema Treasures did provide members with advance notice of the event.

markp
markp on September 2, 2016 at 7:12 pm

rcdt55b, that was a complaint of mine when the movie started. The image wasn’t touching the bottom masking and from my seat on the stage left side there was a motor chain bag hanging in the image upper right. The movie looked fantastic. I was under the balcony. I was gonna ask if they shot it to the screen from the booth or in the seating area. You answered my question. Also I was curious, and you certainly do not have to answer, but was it a digital ingest, or……

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 2, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Early tomorrow morning at 6:15am TCM is running this theater’s opening attraction The Bitter Tea of General Yen. By coincidence or design at 4am they are showing Marooned, the opening attraction of the Ziegfeld…

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on September 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm

I can’t believe how packed it was. Throughout the day, they kept releasing more and more seats. They even seat people behind the projectors in the first mezz.

My biggest complaint was the non use of ANY masking. How do you not mask the image on ANY side?????

markp
markp on September 2, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I thought his funniest story was the one about him and the late Bill Cullen.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 2, 2016 at 11:33 am

One of the best moments of the Mel Brooks appearance for me was when he talked about how he and Anne Bancroft loved going to see movies at Radio City Music Hall. He said they went so many times. He couldn’t believe he was now standing on the great stage.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 2, 2016 at 11:24 am

I only found out about it earlier this week from markp’s comment above, on August 29th. It was a coincidence that it was scheduled so soon after Gene Wilder died.

Mel talked about meeting Gene backstage at a Broadway play Anne Bancroft was starring in, and that Gene was also in. They hit it off right away. Mel was grateful to Gene for stepping into the role of Jim in Blazing Saddles at the very last minute after Gig Young came to the set drunk on the first day of shooting. He said Gene was a comedy genius.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 2, 2016 at 11:07 am

Bill, what was the occasion for the Blazing Saddles screening, and what did Mel have to say about Gene Wilder?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 2, 2016 at 11:05 am

It was probably Last of the Red Hot Lovers, about which Roger Greenspun of The New York Times said: “In the dismal history of Neil Simon screenplays and adaptations for the screen, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers may represent the lowest ebb…

But I’m glad you have good memories of it, or at least of your visit to this magnificent house.

davepring
davepring on September 2, 2016 at 10:12 am

The greatest venue on earth to see a movie. I remember going there in September 1972 to see a movie and stage show. I remember the organ being played and the orchestra rising out of the pit and gliding onto the stage, The film was The Last of the Red Hot Mamas and the hall for a weekday afternoon was busy!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 2, 2016 at 8:44 am

It’s been a long time between movies for me at Radio City, not since The Blues Brothers in 1998(?). That made last night’s showing of Blazing Saddles extra special. Mel Brooks came onstage after the movie and told hilarious stories for an hour. He has more energy at age 90 than I ever had.

Orchestra and all three mezzanines were sold out. Ticket prices started at $70. If they had such a big success with a movie showing, maybe they’ll do it again soon. A lot sooner than 18 years from now, I hope.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 29, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Ann-Margret was on Johnny Carson last night from December 13, 1978 promoting her special called “Rockette: A Holiday Tribute to Radio City Music Hall”

They were both wondering if the Music Hall would survive… Ann thought there was a lot of life left, Johnny was more pessimistic… (As we now know, RCMH ended its movie/stage show format about four months later, and after years of nail-biting drama, it’s still in show business nearly 40 years later.)

Here is a short clip I found from the special; I wish I could see the rest. :(

clip

markp
markp on August 29, 2016 at 1:55 pm

I will be attending this Thursdays screening of “Blazing Saddles.” It will be a bit somber after todays news of Gene Wilders passing. It will probably be my only time at the hall this year, as my wife will not be working the Christmas Spectacular this year, her first time not doing it in 9 years. She is working on Cirque Paramour. Gonna miss seeing the Christmas show this year.

GeorgeStrum
GeorgeStrum on August 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

I try to attend every Dec.27th RCMH’s birthday. They say Roxy’s ghost appears with a beautiful blonde ghost. So far after ten years trying I haven’t seen it.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 18, 2016 at 11:14 am

“Of Human Bondage” starring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard opened here in June 1934.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times review:

“At the first showing yesterday of this picture the audience was so wrought up over the conduct of this vixen that when Carey finally expressed his contempt for Mildred’s behavior applause was heard from all sides. There was a further outburst of applause when the film came to an end.”

Ah, if we could turn back time: an adult-themed picture playing to an enthusiastic crowd at the Music Hall…

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on July 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm

NewYorker, I think you are right about not having the big names in the show. Last year when Derek Hough took a day off, their was a clear audible moan from the audience. Also, the thought was that there would be more tourists in the summer.

On the projection side, we replaced the 11 digital projectors on the choral stairs and in the booth with 22 newer, brighter ones. They also replaced some of the LED walls and legs with newer ones and also added more.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 13, 2016 at 12:37 pm

I wonder if slow sales can be partially attributed to the title — in seems “New York Summer Spectacular” is more catchy than “New York Spectacular” which sounds a bit generic…

NewYorker64
NewYorker64 on July 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm

I noticed the ticket sales… very unfortunate and likely a direct result of not having star names; an unfortunate dynamic performing arts is going through right now, including Broadway. I saw the show twice, once from 1Mezz A401 and again in Orch ZZ413. The emptiness of the Hall in both cases was alarming. However, being in the orchestra provided a dramatically different experience overall… one of much more energy from the stage, which is to be expected.

rcdt, I think your critical opinion, being so close to the show, would be very interesting. That said, of course one must appreciate your need for professional discretion.