Plaza Theatre

42 East 58th Street,
New York, NY 10022

Unfavorite 17 people favorited this theater

Showing 51 - 75 of 159 comments

captblood on September 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I worked there in the 70s. It was a Rugoff Theatre then. Rugoff Theatres became Cinema V. I met Mr. Rugoff. The Plaza was a very comfortable theatre as were all of the theatres in the Rugoff – Cinema V chain. Many celebrities saw films at the Plaza. There were sometimes also gala film openings. The Plaza was where Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn opened in N.Y. with a gala film opening. Believe it or not there was still paraphanalia from that event in the theatre when I worked there.I met many stars through working for Rugoff Theatres. I worked in all of the Theatres and in the home office. The Plaza and the Sutton were two of my permanent assignments but I also worked in the Cinema I & II; The Paris; The Grammacy; The Art; Either the Murray Hill or the Kips Bay, I forgot which it was. All great theatres with good crowds. I met Darin McGavin; Patricia Neal; Henny Youngman; Dustin Hoffman & more to speak to and Sylvia Sydney; Yoko Ono; Eli Wallach; Ann Jackson & many more just to be in the room with. I enjoyed working in the Plaza and other theatres of the chain. It was one of my jobs that was the most fun. I wound up knowing every scene and move of Milos Forman’s Visions of 8; Alfredo, Alfredo; The Exorcist; Bang the Drum Slowly; Gimmee Shelter; and many more AND I wound up knowing ALL the Dialogue of The Blue Max. It was a happy family in those days and everyone who worked there was tight with each other. A Sunday Shift was like special duty and everyone cooperated to get some food in and to sympathize with each one’s Sunday morning and afternoon feelings (by evening everyone was back to normal).

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

This closed in late January 1996 and the last movie was “GRUMPIER OLD MEN”. “BIG NIGHT” never showed here.

SeaBassTian on September 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm

This venue was definitely still open in the fall of ‘96 when I had the pleasure of catching Big Night there…

bigjoe59 on May 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm


my original post in which i said that calling the the theater “out of the way” or “hard to find” was a bit much was from my personal experience. the first time i can remember going to the Plaza was to see “Anne of the Thousand Days”. this i believe was the beginning of 1970. until reading my fellow posters replies i had no idea that the theater was first built to be an elegant second run house. so i guess the Plaza must have become a prime first run house shortly before my first visit. i seriously doubt Universal would have
booked a big Oscar bait film like “Anne….” into an exclusive Manhattan run at a theater out of the way or that no one could find.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

The Plaza was very successful as a subrun theatre. The conversion to art house took place only because a distributor desperate for an east side outlet for his films took over the lease. The location, near other art houses, and down the street from the Paris was perfect.

bigjoe59 on May 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Hello- this was one of the most prominent quasi-art houses in Manhattan in that it would occasionally play big films as well. granted it was on 58 St. between Park and Madison but to deem that it was “hard to find” as the intro states it sooooo way off base. it was a favorite theater of mine. i would have loved to have the downstairs lounge as my apartment.

KingBiscuits on December 23, 2011 at 3:56 am

The last big engagement at the theatre (before it became a move-over house) was David O. Russell’s Spanking The Monkey, which had a long run from July to September 1994.

jay58 on September 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

…if you worked there in the 60s, you should! Please read my earlier posts and see if you remember me! We lived next door.

jay58 on September 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

Is “Vinnie P” still reading? I’d love to know if you remember Robbie.

Astyanax on September 6, 2010 at 8:37 am

Thanks Al for the reference to the American Musical schedule in 1974. Going through the pages of that VV edition, the head spins at the humber of summer film festivals, including the Carnegie Hall Cineam & Cinema Studio. In addition to the art house fare, you could catch a double feature of Bananas & Sleeper for a buck. So much for technological progress with Netflicks & On Demand.

TLSLOEWS on June 21, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Thanks johnjohn.

Johnjohn on May 27, 2010 at 7:16 am

The Plaza Theater on 58th St. was a great cinema, one of the irreplaceable ones. I grew up in Westchester and I went there in 1965 at age 15 on my very first date to NYC. We ate at Reuben’s (just down 58th street a block or so, and another lost landmark), and then to the Plaza to see The Knack…And How To Get It. These places were really classic places, and I remember them like it was yesterday.

jbailey212 on February 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I really enjoyed reading this thread. The Plaza was one of my favorite NY cinemas. I saw “Diva” there about 20 times, I think it ran for close to a year. I think Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses” played there as well. In the mid-late 70s I used to call the theater just to hear that wonderful woman’s voice on the recording. She was so theatrical, she had a British accent. “Thank you for calling the Plaza Theater, located on 58th Street east of Madison Avenue…” As for the small theater that was located inside the Plaza Hotel, that was the Cinema 3. I remember seeing Carlos Saura’s “Cria!” there, with Geraldine Chaplin.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 21, 2010 at 12:32 am

The American Musical at the Plaza.

View link

captblood on January 18, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Hector, Thanks for your comments; missing a beautiful theatre; valuing meaningful / beautiful buildings & adding to the list of unusual films. I agree, all the Rugoff-Cinema 5 theatres were comfortable, classy and beautiful. I forget the ones downtown. I only worked the upper East Side. I think the Kips Bay, Murray Hill and Grammacy were Cinema 5. I think there was one in the Village too (The Art?). Oh, “The man with one red shoe” & “Gimme Shelter” played at the Plaza. Someone should write a book about this; ie: the history of the Plaza; the history of Rugoff-Cinema 5; The society that first builds and then throws away magnificent structures, etc. OR a book called: “The Theatre Moguls”. Cinema 5 was also a film distributer, ie: “released by Cinema 5”. I have some memoribilia from the Plaza. I saw about a dozen really famous people while I was there. Plus two or three in the neighborhood; Plus more when I worked in a health club on 59th St. It was really fun working there in those days.

TPH on January 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Capt. Blood, I share your sentiments. The Plaza certainly rode the crest of art/commercial films after coming into the Rugoff fold. Even movies that didn’t work such as Petulia or Taking Off were still an event when seen here. But that was the same for the entire Cinema 5 chain. But the standouts like Finzi Conitinis & Amarcord were all the more special when seen here.

captblood on January 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I have only just discovered (1/10) that the Plaza is no more. I am very dismayed. This was a beautiful, comfortable theatre with an illustrious past. It should have been saved or declared a landmark. It was one of the elite theatres of the Cinema 5 chain. Situated on the posh upper east side of Manhattan, along with the Cinema I & II; Sutton; and Paris Theatres; it was one of the creme d'la creme. Cinema 5 aquired the chain of theatres that were owned by Rugoff Theatres including the Plaza. Before that the Plaza was owned by Ilya Lopert, who I believe was the original owner. I worked at the Plaza as an usher and doorman in the 1970s. I worked in all the other threatres mentioned above and also in the home office of Rugoff Theatres and later Cinema 5. The original Film “Robin Hood” (with Flynn, DeHaviland & Rathbone) premiered at the Plaza and was a gala event. While I worked there, another gala opening was held for “Happy Mother’s Day, Love George”. Many stars appeared and there were searchlights outside and a red carpet. Situated in that neighborhood, many celebrities passed by or came in to see a film. I met many famous people there. Some of the films I remember while I worked for Cinema 5 theatres were: The Blue Max – 1966 or 67, Sutton; Happy Mother’s Day – Plaza; Alfredo, Alfredo (a riot! see it if you can) – Plaza; The Exorcist – Cinema I & II; Visions of 8 – Cinema I or II; Garden of the Finzi Continis – Plaza; Hell in the Pacific – Sutton; White Dawn; A Tear in the Ocean; Yellow Submarine; so many more!!! As for the staff, I remember Mr. Blonje, the asst. mgr; Mr. Geller, the Mgr; Kevin, the doorman – an aspiring actor; Ivy who staffed the refeshment cart and was later replaced by a cute girl of Greek heritage; The cute Italian box office ticket seller; Hassain, my co-worker & friend; Tac the handiman and Mr. McMahon the area manager. I am sorry and angry to see this theatre being misused as a restaurant. This is one problem in our culture, money overrides all other concerns including beauty, meaning, nostalgia, history, etc. That’s why we lost the original Penn Station, 100 times grander than Grand Central. Horrible!!!

johndereszewski on January 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Too bad. But I guess they had to place kitchen somewhere. The old lounge would have made a very nice private dining and party room.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 2, 2010 at 11:48 am

The waiter at TAO told me the kitchen is in the old basement lounge area.

johndereszewski on January 2, 2010 at 10:58 am

Just finished reading this marvelous thread, one of the most interesting and informative on this web site. I always knew there was something special about this place, but I had no idea of its rich history.

I visited the Plaza a number of times during the 70’s and 80’s. The one movie that I recall seeing was the Garden of the Finzi Contini.

While a few persons have already noted it, I need to say a word about the wonderful basement lounge, which was, at least in my experience, the most civilized place in which to wait for the next showing. I remember once becomming so comfortable reading my book there that I actually regretted the fact that the movie was about to start and that I had to leave this place!

My guess is that the old lounge area now hosts a separate dining room. While it probably has been totally re-designed, this might be the one area where some relic of the former theater may have survived. Who knows?

JimS1 on January 2, 2010 at 8:03 am

I saw STORY OF ADELE H. at the Plaza. Thanks for clearing that up about the basement theatre at the Plaza Hotel. For the life of me, I could not remember the name of that venue. I thought it was also called the Plaza.

dave-bronx™ on October 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm

That last sentence should read “…because she was AFRAID one or more of…”. sorry…

dave-bronx™ on October 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

When she put on her British accent, she was Alexandra Jones. She was holy terror to work for – at one point she was going through three assistant managers a week and had a revolving door for the staff, too. Had to have the armed security guard walk her home every night because she was one or more of the multitudes she fired would kill her.

vicboda on October 2, 2009 at 4:30 pm

This was the first theater in Manhattan to become totally smoke free. The manager was Avi Jones and when she quit smoking herself – she put the policy into works.

edblank on September 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Very interesting, Vinnie. Please do share more memories of the Plaza.

By the way, Preminger’s response to which picture was his favorite or made him proudest, etc., was always, “My latest one.” When you’ve made “Laura,” “The Man With the Giolden Arm,” “Anatomy of a Murder” and “In Harm’s Way,” among others, you can’t pass off “Hurry Sundown” or “Skidoo” or “The Human Factor” as the answer to that question.