Loew's Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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kencmcintyre on March 20, 2008 at 9:18 pm

Here is an October 1940 ad from the NYT:

HowardBHaas on March 20, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Warren, it seemed very important to you, so I passed along your request….and someone with authority made the change. I’m going to add that you, too, are a great help for everybody doing Internet research on this website.

kencmcintyre on March 20, 2008 at 7:47 pm

My book says “Boston Baked Paper Towels” as well. Very appetizing.

bufffilmbuff on March 20, 2008 at 9:38 am

It is odd that in my copy of BEST REMAINING SEATS, which I bought over 30 years ago, the caption says he is making “Boston Baked Paper towels”. For years I have wondered if that was a typo or what. Anyone have the same printing?

Goodheart on March 20, 2008 at 5:53 am

Looks like the Major is into some moonshine.

kencmcintyre on March 19, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Here is a photo of Major Bowes in his apartment, from the Ben Hall book mentioned above:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm

To find the width of a screen of given height you multiply the aspect ratio by the height. Thus, 30'(1.33)=39.9'. A proper Academy ratio screen would have been 30'(1.37)=41.1'.

I was still eight years old when the first CinemaScope movie (The Robe) was released in the U.S. in September, 1953, so I saw many movies on Academy ratio theatre screens. A few of these were in big theatres in Downtown Los Angeles, but my memories of those theatres in their pre-CinemaScope days are dim. I do recall seeing High Barbaree at the 2890 seat RKO Hillstreet Theatre (most probably in a re-release, as I was not yet three years old when it first came out), and I had no trouble seeing the screen from one of the rows about midway back under the soffit (the underside of the balcony).

By 1950, I think, most theatre operators were routinely installing the largest screens they could fit into the space available. In older theatres, I would imagine that the size of the screen was constrained as much by the height at which the fixed draperies of the proscenium began as it was by the width of the proscenium. The largest movie palace in Los Angeles, the Paramount Downtown (aka Grauman’s Metropolitan) had a fairly wide proscenium, but its screen was probably no wider than that of many theatres with narrower prosceniums, due to the limited height available.

The suburban neighborhood houses I most frequently attended usually had screens not too much narrower than their proscenium (in the older theatres with stages), or, at widest, about half the width of the auditorium (in theatres without stages.) That means screens of about 20-30 feet wide in theatres of from 400-1200 seats. My memory of the Hillstreet is that the screen was about the size of those in the largest of the suburban theatres I attended.

Goodheart on February 2, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Here is the movie ad for “Ziegfeld Girl” at the Capitol Theater in 1941.

View link

Joe B.

HowardBHaas on February 2, 2008 at 5:03 pm

The book mentioned above didn’t give specs for theaters with more than 3500 seats, but there was not much difference between 2000 seat screen and 3500 seat screen.

Rory on February 2, 2008 at 4:59 pm

30' x 39.9' is a 1.33:1 aspect ratio? Mmmmm… I know I’m bad at figuring these things, but that don’t seem right. Anyway, I’ve checked and the correct aspect ratio for early films of the sound era is 1.37:1. The 1.33:1 was adapted as the TV standard based on the original Academy ratio for silent films going back to whenever.

But listen, this is the thing I want to know…. It’s 1935, you arrive late on the opening night of CHINA SEAS at the Capitol Theatre, it’s packed and you have to sit in the back row — of a 5000 plus seat auditorium — now, are you seriously telling me that at that distance one was paying to view a screen that was only something like 15x20 feet! Talk about the Depression!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 2, 2008 at 4:27 pm

According to Picture Show Man, it was 1932 when the Academy established the ratio of 1.37:1 as the standard for movies.

1.33:1 (just about 4:3) is the aspect ratio that was adopted by the early television industry.

Rory: If a 1.33:1 ratio screen were 30 feet high, it would be 39.9 feet wide, not 33 feet wide.

Rory on February 2, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Well, the Capitol was a 5000 seat auditorium for most of its motion picture exhibiting life, so what does that figure to?

HowardBHaas on February 2, 2008 at 2:25 pm

17 feet wide. (typo).

HowardBHaas on February 2, 2008 at 2:24 pm

The book “American Theatres of Today” (1927 so Volume One) reported that 12 feet wide means the picture is life sized. A 2000 seat auditorium was then supposed to get a screen 17 feet wall x 12.8 feet tall. A 3500 seat auditorium was supposed to get a screen 20 feet wide and 15 feet tall.

Rory on February 2, 2008 at 1:57 pm

William, the aspect ratio from 1931 until film’s went wide-screen was 1.37:1? Are you telling me that all these pre-widescreen movies they’re putting on DVD should be letterboxed?!!! In the words of Claude Rains, “I’m shocked this is going on!” And if true, then in the words of Charlton Heston, “God damn them all to hell!!!!!”

As far as the screens being as small as you think, well…. no wonder the kids threw candy at them!

ritaM on February 2, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Warren, I desperately want to know about this stage show that took place in conjunction with the run of the Wizard of Oz! What else do you know about it?

And does anyone know what the actual duties of an usher would have been around that time… 1939?

doing some research for a project… and also so curious about this period!

William on February 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm

The aspect ratio from 1931 was 1.37:1 . But for the size of the house a screen that you mentioned is not that huge. The Rivoli’s regular screen around 1926 was just 15 x 20. When they showed :Old Ironsides" in Magnascope they used a 30 x 40 size screen.

Rory on February 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm

I’ve read, right here, that when the Capitol became the Loew’s Capitol and they installed a Cinerama screen, it was something like 33' high x 90' across. In the thirties the screen would have had the Academy aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and I would assume it would have been somewhere around 30' high and 33' across. Anybody post here that’s old enough to remember the original screen?

William on February 1, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Well movie screens from that era were not that Huge, even a theatre like the Capital.

Rory on February 1, 2008 at 9:49 am

I have the 1934 “Treasure Island” on DVD from Warner Home Video. Pretty good print. It’s interesting to look at it now and imagine what it must have been like to view the movie on a huge screen in the large movie palace that the Capitol was.

kencmcintyre on February 1, 2008 at 9:38 am

Perhaps this has been mentioned already, but the musical director of the Capitol was Major Edward Bowes, according to the ad. He was the man behind “Major Bowes' Amateur Hour”, a popular radio show in the thirties and forties.

kencmcintyre on February 1, 2008 at 7:11 am

Here is a 1934 ad from the NY Times:

Astyanax on December 28, 2007 at 7:39 pm

Was in the Times Square area today. It was crowded with lots of hustle & bustle but it did not feel like Christmas without the old movie palace marquees announcing the latest exclusive run holiday movies. An ingredient of the NY holiday spirit was definitely missing and far from likely to return.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 28, 2007 at 7:28 pm

I wonder what exactly it was that Lancaster and company did on stage for those performances… Did he serve as Master of Ceremonies? Perform in skits? Dramatic scenes? Acrobatics?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 14, 2007 at 8:44 am

Most (if not all) books that I’ve ever seen on theatre architecture and history tend to list their subjects by the names under which they initially opened. The custom here seems to be to list them under the last known name that the facility operated as a motion picture theatre or under the current name if the facility is still open for theatrical purposes (whether as cinema or live venue). Perhaps once a more robust search engine is established, CT can adopt a formula that can be applied consistently – as there are many inconsistencies with the current scheme.