Clairidge Cinemas

486 Bloomfield Avenue,
Montclair, NJ 07042

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Showing 51 - 75 of 86 comments

Astyanax
Astyanax on January 1, 2008 at 8:05 am

Saw Atonement at the Clairidge. I can tell that I really enjoyed the movie if despite the surroundings, I still come away with a positive experience. From the postings describing the sumptiousness of the single screen theater, the current 6 screen set-up does feel like a grade-school basement. There is nothing to contribute to the sense of going to the movies as an experience within itself. Sorry never to have been to the theater in its Cinerama days.

The location is convenient, but I’d rather go to the SOPAC screen which has a few more comforts. Otherwise, going across the Hudson is still a good option.

rhett
rhett on December 29, 2007 at 2:56 am

Recently saw “Atonement”. a good if not greatly overrated movie. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t at the Claridge. Unfortunately, some movies will only play there and we have to grin and bear it. The Box-office line is one of the slowest…only one ticket seller (although the customers usually take a long time to make a decision as well. Many times, I’ve left since the wait was endless). The lady in front of me spent $49 on tickets for an afternoon show in one of the smallest auditoriums. I told her, she’d be beeter off just buying the DVD…she agreed, she wasn’t happy. I always close the theater door myself cause the employees never do or take a long time to. Again, sometimes the customers themselves won’t take it upon themselves to.

I don’t go there much anymore, unless I REALLY want to see something. Unfortunately, I kept waiting for “The Valley of Elajh” (Tomy Lee Jones) and “Jesse James” to open wide but they never did. and I didn’t want to sit in the Claridge for a two and a half hour movie.

What sealed the deal was seeing “Streetcar Named Desire”, it was screened in the 1:85 format, while shot in 1:33. The heads were cut off the entire movie. I fugured if I complained, an employee would just tell me that’s how the movie was made. I didn’t go see any of the other classic movies. I still remember seeing “Rocky II” in 79…what an experience.

The Claridge is a place with such bad atmosphere, it’s hard to just enjoy a movie there. If they closed it, truthfully, I wouldn’t be upset.

carlfriedli
carlfriedli on December 25, 2007 at 5:19 pm

I grew up in Verona New Jersey in the 50’s and 60’s. I spent many afternoons at the Clairidge. One of the greatest movies I enjoyed at the Clairidge was Gone with the Wind. It started out with a small screen and then gloriously opened up into the full Cinerama screen. The sound was great too. What a treat it was to see movies in this theatre. There was also a beautiful round ceiling light that took up a good deal of the ceiling. It was beautiful as they dimmed the light for the movie.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on June 10, 2007 at 4:38 pm

it’s the back of the theater.

teecee
teecee on June 10, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Oddly enough I don’t see any modern photos posted here, so I found one:
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HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on May 26, 2007 at 10:39 pm

$5 Clearview classics summer 2007 at Clairidge Cinema (973) 746-5564, sponsored by The Montclair Times, Wednesday & Thursday 7:15 PM, Saturday & Sunday 11 AM, June 6-7 & 9-10, Rebel Without a Cause, June 13-14 &16-17 East of Eden, June 20-21 & 23-24 Giant, June 27-28 & June 30, July 1 A Streetcar Named Desire, July 4-5 & 7-8 The Wizard of Oz, July 11-12 & 14-15 An Affair to Remember, July 18-19 & 21-22 Manhattan, July 25-26 & 28-29 Raging Bull

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 23, 2007 at 12:06 am

One benefit of being a nun back in the 60s – you got to see Cinerama:

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 23, 2007 at 12:02 am

I photographed these classic Cinerama pictures that were hanging in the lobby of the Clairidge – and got my camera confiscated for it until the movie ended. They thought I was going to bring it into the theater, but I didn’t bother telling them I’d never do that. I wasn’t the least bit interested in how the Clairidge looks now, but in 1961 … that’s a different story.

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Bradley Knewstubb
Bradley Knewstubb on January 22, 2007 at 10:04 pm

According to the book “Freedom Child” by Carrie Allen McCray, The Clairidge Cinema opened on February 17, 1923. It was at that time owned by a Mr Hinck.

Also mentioned in the same book was the Bellevue Theatre, located in Upper Montclair.

dtespy
dtespy on October 19, 2006 at 2:26 pm

I worked at The Claridge theater for a few years in the mid 1970’s when it was still a one screen theater. The paneled Cinerama screen was still being used and was bright and clear as ever. Behind the Cinerama screen was a stage and several dressing rooms. I managed to find some programs from the Cinerama era and other items stored in the dressing rooms. I remember running features for a long time, several months sometimes. We premiered ‘Jaws’ there in June 1975 and it ran through December. By the way, Peter Benchley (Jaws author) came to the Claridge on opening night. I have been there a few times since the six screen conversion and get upset walking in and remembering where things used to be. The Claridge was selected as New Jersey’s Cinerama theater because it had a smoking lounge one flight up, between the restrooms (remember the marble stairs). This lounge was converted to the projection room because it had a straight shot to the screen. With three projectors you couldn’t project downward because of the keystone effect. The forth Cinerama machine (for audio) was another flight up in the original projection room. Most of the original equipment was there when I worked there, it was great. The same owner also had the Wellmont in Montclair, a larger and more ornate theater. I recall it having 1700 seats (800 downstairs and a 900 seat balcony). This theater is in limbo right now, I hope something good will come out of it. We were talking about bringing in live concerts there as far back as back in 1975!

steelstrings
steelstrings on September 29, 2006 at 11:27 pm

I remember the Claridge theater quite well. My parents used to take my sister and I there when we kids. I vividly remember seeing “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World there in Cinerama (circa 1962) and "Windjammer” in Cinerama as well. Even though I lived in Newark and was closer to the Stanley, Castle and Sanford movie theaters, I visited the Claridge quite often. It was a great place to see a film back then. Just down the street was Grunnings Ice Cream, which was an awesome place to visit after the movie was over. It closed in the 1980’s I believe.

teecee
teecee on September 13, 2006 at 11:17 am

Goldmine! Check out these old photos:
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teecee
teecee on March 1, 2006 at 10:17 pm

Listed as a 3 screen independent theatre in the 1991 International Motion Picture Almanac. Owner is P. Petersen.

pbubny
pbubny on December 5, 2005 at 5:42 am

You’re right about that, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t ever been to a single-screen venue to try finding one, if it’s at all convenient. As for the memories of single-screen moviegoing, I’m glad to have quite a few and not as glad that in so many cases, the memories of these places are now the only opportunities to “visit” them.

teecee
teecee on December 3, 2005 at 6:02 am

Paul – I really enjoy your insightful postings on various NJ theaters. As far as the sadness of seeing a glorious single screen hacked into small theaers no bigger than a closet, remember “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” Many of the younger CT members don’t even have first hand experience of a single screen viewing.

pbubny
pbubny on December 2, 2005 at 3:34 am

My experience with the Clairidge spans various phases of its existence. First time there was three days after “Jaws” opened in June 1975. At a Monday matinee, the place was packed. One of the greatest moveigoing experiences I’ve ever had: a mammoth Cinerama screen, a thoroughly involving movie, and a responsive (screaming, laughing and applauding as if on cue) but well-behaved audience. I saw the movie there three times more before it closed about five months later; each time I saw it, the projectionist left the maroon curtain closed for the first 30 seconds or so over the Universal Pictures header and the first couple of credits on a black screen, and then gradually opened it as the credits continued over that underwater “shark POV” shot and the familiar “Jaws” theme grew more menacing. A nice touch. I went to the Clairidge several more times while it was still a single-screen house, but the presentation seemed to decline after “Jaws” finished its run, particularly the sound.

The main auditorium of the Clairidge Triplex wasn’t too bad, actually; you still had the feeling of being in a movie theatre rather than a storage closet with a screen tacked up. I saw “Fanny and Alexander,” “Zelig,” “Back to the Future” and “Cape Fear” there, among others. More recently, I’ve been to the Clairidge in its “arthouse” six-screen configuration. A shame that a theatre with an often-interesting slate of movies now shows them in such dismal conditions. Not only are the auditoriums about the size of the restroom in the old place, but the projection and sound have been pretty ratty the last few times I’ve gone. It’s a good thing so many of the movies are shown with subtitles because I wouldn’t have been able to make out the dialogue if it was in English! I don’t plan on going there again unless I hear that conditions have improved.

umbaba
umbaba on November 5, 2005 at 12:02 am

GeneK…it’s best you never go to the Claridge again…..I guarantee you will cry…it’s like watching movies in a crowded basement….the glamour is gone

teecee
teecee on November 4, 2005 at 3:24 am

Old photo. Theater barely visible on the left:
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GeneK
GeneK on October 31, 2005 at 9:16 am

I saw “How the West was Won” in 3-strip Cinerama at the Claridge back in the days when people dressed up to go to the movies, and it was a truly grand experience. I’ve not been back there since I was a kid, and based on the comments posted here it is probably a good thing. Some things are best allowed to survive in one’s memories.

teecee
teecee on July 5, 2005 at 12:55 am

A Wurlitzer organ, opus 604, was installed in this theater on 11/24/1922. The organ was discarded in the 1950s during renovations, which included the addition of air conditioning.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on June 25, 2005 at 11:02 pm

I went to this theatre when I used to live in Clifton to see “Life is Beautiful” since it didn’t play in Clifton or Wayne, and it was a decent experience. So-so sound, good picture, and fresh popcorn. I only went there once, when independent films were only playing at theatres like the Clairidge. Nowadays, you can see them at your local multiplex and on DVD, where most of the revenue is right now in an era where box office is down and DVD sales are up! Yet the Clairidge is still open and plays an eclectic mix of films, some of which are on two or three screens (ala the much bigger multiplexes!).

teecee
teecee on June 15, 2005 at 11:56 pm

According to in70mm.com, “2001” opened in this theater on July 17, 1968 and ran for 36 weeks.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 19, 2005 at 4:38 pm

Here are two more Bergen Record ads. In the first, from July 1968, “2001” was about to begin its exclusive North Jersey run at the Clairidge:

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It was still there in March 1969:

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