Guild Theater

33 W. 50th Street,
New York, NY 10020

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Showing 51 - 75 of 93 comments

RobertR
RobertR on January 27, 2005 at 7:04 am

Gerald
I think you are correct. I am sure it played there.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 27, 2005 at 5:58 am

To CConnolly:
I’m not positive, but from your description it sounds like it could have been the Cinema Rendezvous (57th Street Playhouse, etc.) It is now the Directors Guild of America Theatre and is listed at:
/theaters/7049/

chconnol
chconnol on January 27, 2005 at 5:19 am

In late 1984 or so, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” was re-released with a pretty bad rock score accompaniment (not good…). Being a long time fan of Lang’s I went to see it but it was before I was keenly aware of the great NY theaters. I have no idea what theater it was but it was in the 6th Avenue area. I remember the lounge/bathrooms were downstairs and the place was VERY art deco. Smallish but beautiful. For some reason, I thought it might’ve been on 57th Street but I don’t think it was the Sutton because there was a balcony.

Can anyone tell me what theater I saw this in?

Benjamin
Benjamin on January 16, 2005 at 6:06 pm

A few weeks ago I went back to the Rockefeller Center concourse to take a closer look at the two stairways opposite the Radio City Music Hall corridor. These two little staircases do seem a little grand for just access to the service area that I thought they led to, as they kind of symmetrically wrap around the box office which is positioned in the center.

But they still seem kind of small — and so very, very much out of the way — for a main entrance to a museum. (I once worked at a similar “underground” location in Grand Central, and people found it very inconvenient and difficult to find — although it was directly adjacent to the Times Sq. shuttle, and directly below a very easily found street address!)

I’m interested in learning more about the museum, and hope that John S. Rogers, or someone else, might be able to elaborate a bit more as to how this entrance was used? Was this concourse entrance a secondary entrance, the same way that the Music Hall entrance was a secondary entrance? It seems strange that the museum wouldn’t have a main entrance on street level, since the museum itself surely extended upwards to street level. (There are pictures, from 1936(?) and 1934, of the very high ceilinged interior of the museum in the book “Rockefeller Center” by Carol Krinksy — pgs. 90 and 142).

I checked the WPA Guide to NYC (1939) and while they have a little over two and a half pages on the Museum and mention all the subways that go to the museum, they don’t give an entrance location other than 30 Rockefeller Plaza (the RCA Building’s address facing the ice skating rink).

Here’s two descriptions of the museum from Krinksy:

“The Museum dispays occupied the hard-to-sell windowless interior ‘Forum’ space on the lowest floors of the RCA Building, extending toward the RCA Building West. The long lease made the Museum a better tenant than the occasional municipal art exhibitors or the restauranteurs originally envisioned for the area.” (page 91)

“Below the [radio] studio area [of the RCA Building] was an area which had the advantage of offering wide spans of clear space — as much as 45 feet high and 117 feet wide — but which had the disadvantage of being entirely in the unlit interior of the building. The managers and architects labored throughout the 1930s to find a suitable use for this potentially profit-making waste space. It took until 1934 for the architects … . to design the area to provide a two-syory exhibition space. It had balconies at the second floor level which led to smaller exhibition rooms. The space became the site of two Municpal Art Exhibits in 1934 and 1935. When the Musuem of Science and Industry took a fifteen-year lease beinning in January 1936, Edward Durell Stone redesigned the space to create a lively display area with stepped ramps around part of a central rotunda, a scheme not entirely remote from that of Frank Lloyd Wright’s later Guggenheim Museum … As at the Guggenheim, the public was led along a preordained path, an arrangement better suited to lively displays of basic scientific principles and technology than to the contemplation of great paintings.” (pg. 143)

Thanks in advance for any additional info that anyone can provide!

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on January 15, 2005 at 12:32 am

The Guild had a cat on duty to take care of those situations – however, when the show was running ‘Morris’ could be found relaxing in the projection booth, confined there so that he didn’t upset the customers while patroling the auditorium in the dark.

worldcity
worldcity on January 14, 2005 at 3:25 pm

A less appetizing footnote to the declining condition of the Guild in its final days: On my last visit — and I do mean LAST — the audience was additionally entertained by the silhouettes of rats climbing up the side of the screen. When the action, and scrambling, moved to the floor, everyone sat with their legs pulled up, knees under their chins. On mentioning this to the manager, we were told that they had never received a complaint on that subject!

worldcity
worldcity on January 14, 2005 at 3:18 pm

Yes, those stairways for years led below the RCMH areas to the Museum of Science & Industry, which, during WWII, contained a vast and fabulous array of military and patriotic displays, aircraft, etc. Nothing like it!

RobertR
RobertR on December 17, 2004 at 12:50 pm

The Austin is now the Kew Gardens Cinemas, the Astro is the wrong name of the theatre I am thinking of.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 17, 2004 at 12:36 pm

It was near Union Turnpike…

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 17, 2004 at 12:36 pm

Wasn’t the Austin on Austin St. In Kew Gardens Qns? It was a porno joint in the mid-1980s – I knew someone who worked there, he said an old woman owned it at that time…

br91975
br91975 on December 17, 2004 at 12:20 pm

I did a search on the site for the Austin, Robert, but no match. I also searched some time back for a theatre you mentioned in response to one of my posts on the Nova Cinemas page a few months ago, the Astro, but found no info on that one either. What do you remember of those two theatres?

br91975
br91975 on December 17, 2004 at 12:14 pm

The Embassy 72nd Street was once a newsreel house, explaining the existence of its entrance turnstile.

RobertR
RobertR on December 17, 2004 at 11:12 am

Benjamin

Years ago the turnstyle was not that uncommon for neighborhood houses. When I ran the Drake and Haven we had a turnstyle. The Cinemart had one until we twinned it. Most of the porno theatres used turnstyles and even the Cinema Village had one. Some other places I remember with them were Brooklyn Heights Cinema and The Austin. I always thought they were totally tackey for Manhattan. Embassy 72nd Street had one.

Benjamin
Benjamin on December 17, 2004 at 10:50 am

Re: The Guild

I think the most noticeable thing about the Guild (at least for me as a kid) was its turnstyle entrance — which was very unusual for a movie theater. Now that I think about it, it seems this system was common for the newsreel theaters. I guess it’s adequate for their needs and is less expensive than a ticket taker. But I think once they switch from newsreels, the Guild still continued with the turnstyle entrance.

Although I realize that this is probably a very minor, minor consideration, I think the turnstyle — which in my mind was associated with “low class” facilities and entertainments — might have been a subtle turn off to prospective movie patrons. Kind of like, “What kind of theater and movie experience will this be — they don’t even have a ticket taker?! If I want to see this movie, I think I’ll go see it in a "real” movie theater.“ Again, I don’t think this was a major problem, but I wonder if it had a slightly subtle negative effect nevertheless.

I always wondered what the inside of this theater with the unusual entrance was like, and if memory serves I was surprised by how “normal” it was when I finally saw a movie there. In the late 1960s, I saw the Beatles “Yellow Submarine” there. I think it had already been playing all over the place for a while, and this was the last place that was contining to show it.

If I recall correctly, while not an unpleasant experience, it was something less that the “full” movie theater experience — even for a small movie theater. For instance, the small movie theaters on the Eastside have/had coffee bars, etc. — I think the Beekman even had one where you could see the movie through a window. So in some ways, I guess, it was a lesser movie experience.

Re: the underground entrance to Radio City Music Hall

As a curious kid, I always wanted to use this entrance, and if memory serves I believe I got the chance in the late 1970s when I used to escort tour groups to the Music Hall. I think we were assigned to that entrance a few times.

In it’s earlier days (1950s, 1960s, early 1970s), I have a vague recollection of seeing “knowing” patrons of the Music Hall use it as a quick and easy exit to the subway after the show, especially when it was raining. But this is just a vague recollection and maybe it’s a false “memory.”

Re: the stairways around the underground entrance to the Music Hall

Someone asked where did they lead to? It depends on which stairways are being talking about.

Unfortunately that whole area has been rebuilt — desecrated (sp?), in my opinion — and there used to be additional stairways (and additional hallways) to the ones that are there now. (For instance the grandest passageway and stairway, the one directly on axis with the subway, was replaced by income producing retail space.)

But I don’t think any of the stairways in the area lead directly to the Museum that was mentioned in a previous post. (My earliest recollections of the underground concourse, however, are mostly from the mid-1960s. And since the Museum is before my time, this is only a guess on my part.)

My recollection is that most of the stairways around that area were intended as additional passageways up to the main lobby. There was also a very small stairway opposite to the Music Hall entrance that was a stairway to, I think, a mechanical area. It was too small to appear to be a public passageway of some sort. And above that mechanical area would have been a large, movie set-like pharmacy with lunch counters, I believe. Even if this pharmacy had been the location of the Museum, it’s hard to imagine the small stairway that I think people are referring to as being a public passageway to it.

One of the great things about stairways from those times — something that architects seem to have forgotten — is that they often were designed to be an interesting “experience” in one way or another. Some of them, including I think some of the ones we are talking about, had “windows” into storefronts etc. And the larger ones, designed as main entrances for large crowds, were worthy of the Queen Mary or a Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers movie.

One problem, however, is that they were built for a different “safer” age. So some of the smaller ones, even perhaps those with windows into shops, had I believe “blind” spots that might have made them somewhat dangerous in this day and age.

And the larger ones took up “too much” valuable space and were thus made into rentable, income producing areas.

chconnol
chconnol on December 13, 2004 at 10:35 am

I went by the old Guild this afternoon. The Build a Bear workshop store is temporary until their 5th Avenue store is completed (imagine what that place will be like…the epitome of chain store insanity).

The doors directly under The Guild’s old marquee are the theater’s doors complete with the turnstile and box office. You can’t make out much of the theater from the Build a Bear store. The upstairs area is closed off.

Sad…

DonRosen
DonRosen on December 13, 2004 at 10:13 am

The Guild 50th has been featured in a few films and tv shows, most notably “The English Patient” episode on Seinfeld.

irajoel
irajoel on November 28, 2004 at 10:54 am

I recall using the subway entrance to get into the music hall several times in the late 50’s and early sixties. We always used it on sat. morning for the 1st show. Think it was 50 cents to get in. Don’t recall where we arrived at once we went through the door.

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on November 23, 2004 at 6:53 am

This was a DISNEY HOUSE FOR MANY YEARS

RCMH
RCMH on November 23, 2004 at 6:39 am

RobertR: The Music Hall was a bit more unique than most theatres. Its multiple box offices could be set up to sell for particular areas of the auditorium. The first mezzanine was the only part that was reserve seating.

RobertR
RobertR on November 23, 2004 at 5:21 am

TomR
Thanks for the info, so in a multiple box office house like the Music Hall would each box office would call each other constantly to compare tickets sold?

RCMH
RCMH on November 22, 2004 at 10:28 pm

CConnolly: the stair flanking the downstairs box office most likely went to the the Museum of Science & Industry, that occupied the space during the 1930’s. The museum space was designed the fill in the was thought to be non-profit making interior space at that end of the RCA Building, actually the RCA Building West.

The passageway from the concourse to the Lower Lounge of Radio City Music Hall most likely has a corresponding passageway theat lead into the lower level of the old Center Theatre. All of the buildings in Rockefeller Center were connected by the concourse.

RCMH
RCMH on November 22, 2004 at 10:15 pm

RobertR: Before computerized box offices, we did stop selling tickets and did a count of tickets sold for that show. Once we knew the count, we knew how much more we could sell. We never actually sold out an auditorium. We always stop selling with about 50 seats left. These were usually the seats in the first two rows. Peopel did not want to crain their necks to watch the movie. Also, we never sold every seat beacuse in the summertime, no amount of air conditions will cool down an auditorium filled to capacity. The same in the winter, as it it would become very stuffy. Even today, most computerized box office will cut off selling tickest when they reach a certain number of tickets sold.

chconnol
chconnol on November 22, 2004 at 1:53 pm

RE: the downstairs boxoffice…one more question. The stairs that are on either side of it. Did these at one time lead up to the lobby of the building (not Radio City but the main Rock Center building)? Just curious…Right now the stairs go to a small landing and there is a door but it’s a janitor’s closet now.

RobertR
RobertR on November 22, 2004 at 1:41 pm

Does anyone know in the days before computer box office systems how theatres with multiple box offices kept track of the seats left to sell? Was it as simple as doing the tally and calling each other?

chconnol
chconnol on November 22, 2004 at 12:02 pm

TomR: that’s intriguing…that concourse entrance thing. So people would enter the Music Hall from inside the Rockefeller Center concourse to where? The lower level area of RCMH? Was this removed during the remodelling that took place a few years ago?

Thanks for the reply…that box office is funky looking right out in the hallway like that.