Rialto Theatre

1481 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 51 - 75 of 155 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 7, 2008 at 6:19 am

The Roxy and the other Broadway “presentation” houses had more than movies to contend with. If they held over a movie, they also had to hold over the stage show that accompanied it, which meant making advance commitments with the talent involved.

AlAlvarez on January 6, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Only six films ran more than a week at the Roxy in 1935. Distributors rarely enforced a contractual second week if attendance is not there because of the house nut guarantee. The two week minimum contract goes out the window on a flop even today. It was even less common with distributor owned depression era theatres.

The Capitol had generally longer runs in 1935 with DAVID COPPERFIELD running five weeks and MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY running four weeks).

CHINA SEAS, ANNA KARENINA and A NIGHT AT THE OPERA ran for three weeks each.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 6, 2008 at 7:18 am

The term “hold-over” can be misleading. Many movies were booked for a minimum of two weeks, so being held-over didn’t necessarily mean that it was due to smash business. Also, many theatres were limited in the product available to them, so they were often forced to play a movie for two weeks or even longer.

Rory on January 4, 2008 at 8:19 pm

That’s very interesting about BRIDE, considering that the Roxy had over 5000 seats. Another one of my favorite films from the thirties, CHINA SEAS, I’ve read, ran at the Capitol in NYC for three weeks. For those days that’s something.

AlAlvarez on January 4, 2008 at 6:56 pm

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN premiered at the ROXY and had a rare (for 1935) two week run.

William on January 4, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Rory, it’s listed as the Embassy 2,3,4 theatre.

Rory on January 4, 2008 at 2:47 pm

I don’t see the Mayfair listed here. Could it have gone by a different name? Would you know what theatre “Bride of Frankenstein” premiered at? Boy, the Roxy sure was one huge theatre.

AlAlvarez on January 4, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Although the Rialto was an action and horror house for most of the forties, it was not an exclusive Universal outlet except mostly for those double-feature re-releases. Exploitation B films from all distributiors played here.

In 1931 DRACULA premiered at the Roxy and FRANKENSTEIN at the Mayfair.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 4, 2008 at 11:35 am

Rory, my grandfather always described this theatre to me as where all the old Universal horror flicks played. He grew up in upper Manhattan as a child in the 1930’s and would often venture to Times Square to catch a double feature. I’m not saying that his recollections are entirely accurate, but it does appear that a number of those old Universal classics played here either on original release or packaged as double bills in re-release.

In a post above from October 23, 2005, CT member RobertR linked to this 1938 clipping featuring an ad for such a twin-bill re-release.

Rory on January 3, 2008 at 10:06 pm

One of my favorite movies, “Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man,” opened at the Rialto on March 5, 1943. Way before my time, but it’s interesting to me. Now it’s even more interesting to find this site and discover what the Rialto ended up showing.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 18, 2007 at 3:14 am

The Italian film Mafioso, successfully revived not too long ago, had its original 1964 American premiere at the Rialto and the Murray Hill.

nonsportsnut on October 23, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Any idea what happened to the murals inside the Rialto (Dracula, Frankentein, Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges) that were done in 1939?
Frank Reighter

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 23, 2007 at 1:18 pm

The opening paragraph of the introduction is a bit off-the-mark by not mentioning that this was the second of two Rialtos that were built on the former site of Hammerstein’s Victoria. Designed by Thomas Lamb, the first Rialto was one of Broadway’s first purpose-built cinemas and has its own listing here…Also, I would describe this second Rialto as “art moderne” rather than “art deco,” but in either case, those styles were hardly rare among cinemas in New York City and environs.

nonsportsnut on October 23, 2007 at 1:07 pm

The building at that location, built after the demolishing of the Rialto Theatre, is the Reuters Building.
Frsnk Reighter

AlAlvarez on October 13, 2007 at 7:13 pm

1481 is now a 32 floor high rise with a Chase Bank on the lower floors, one of the four towers that were part of the redevelopment of the 42nd street block. The southwest tower on 8th avenue is yet to be built.

nonsportsnut on October 13, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Hi Ed,
Thanks. I had the book (“Ghosts of 42nd Street” by Anthony Bianco)at one time (Before I downsized), but couldn’t remember the name or author.

The 1481 Broadway address was once the early home of the Times Square Visitor’s Center, now housed at 1560 Broadway. Anybody have any idea what is at 1481 Broadway now?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 12, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Frank… A photo of Mayer unveiling that mural in the Rialto (the likenesses of the Stooges are clear in the shot) can be found in the excellent book “Ghosts of 42nd Street” by Anthony Bianco.

nonsportsnut on October 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I’m a member of the Three Stooges Fan Club in Pennsylvanis.
According to the New York Times (Nov. 23, 1939), Arthur Mayer, operator of the Rialto, the theatre would be redecorated in the pre-
Christmas period with a series of murals reflecting the theatre’s film policy. including Dracula, Frankenstein, Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges, done by artist Nat Karson. Unveiling would take place Christmas Day (Dec. 25, 1939), to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the opening of the “new” Rialto.
Can anyone add to the story, such as what happened to the Murals? Also, the Fan Club is trying to document all the Three Stooges' Personal appearances. Please email me at
Frank Reighter

Also the Fan Club is trying to document all the Thre Stooges Live Personal Appearances. Can anyone supply any dates and locations? Please email me at

Frank Reighter

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 6, 2007 at 1:57 pm

I hope this shot hasn’t already been posted here – although I know that many similar shots from this vantage point have been posted on CT. I date this one to sometime in the second half of 1985. The Rialto II marquee is depicted here showing a triple bill of Kung-Fu flicks from China.

RobertR on August 18, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Day and date with RKO 59 St
View link

William on July 17, 2007 at 3:12 pm

During the opening credits for the film “Willie Dynamite”, you can see both the Rialto and Rialto II marquees and around 53 minutes into the film you can see the Tivoli’s marquee over on 8th. Ave.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2007 at 6:03 am

Yes William. Sorry! The one further to the WEST was the auxilliary to the main theater entrance.

William on June 5, 2007 at 5:53 am

Don’t you mean further to the west. The 2nd. shot of 42nd. Street is looking towards the west.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2007 at 5:28 am

I have to retract a comment I made above based on viewing these most recent photos from Warren. I was positive that of the two 42nd Street marquees for the Rialto, the one closest to the corner of Seventh Ave was the auxilliary marquee and entrance for the main ground level theater. I am obviously wrong about that as one can plainly see that marquee is advertising a different X-rated feature (“Hard Candy”) that must have been playing in the basement-level Rialto II auditorium. The title “Heat Wave” advertised on the Seventh Ave marquee matches the 42nd Street marquee further to the east.

At some point in the ‘80’s, the entrances on 42nd Street must have been re-configured. The ground level Rialto stopped advertising on 42nd Street and exclusively used the Seventh Ave entrance once it went with more mainstream product under the Warner Theater name and the former auxilliary marquee started advertising the martial-arts grinders that screened in the basement level auditorium. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.