Showing 51 - 75 of 143 comments
Yes Peter, I was there too. It was great to hear the organ again after the last time which was a Xmas Spectacular about ten years ago prior to the restoration. I thought it went quite well also and look forward to the next one. I estimated attendance close to 200, which was rather good for an event on such short notice. However, I think that the current owners of RCMH could have used a little more showmanship by providing a PA system, lowering the contour curtain and splurging for the amber house lights. I do understand that this would have probably negated the cost effectiveness of the event, but it certainly would have been nice to capture the ambience of
the “olden days”.
Ron…If that is the case, then it should be listed as “Variety Arts”, which was the last name used when it was used as an off-Broadway theater. I am 100% sure of this fact because the company I work for was one of the producers of “Return to the Forbidden Planet”, which was the first off-Broadway production to play the theater after it was completely renovated after closing as “Variety Photoplays”.
Ron…Thanks for the correction.
To answer Don Rosen…Yes, this is the Variety Arts Theater. The sequel to the Broadway show “Annie”, being referred to, was called “Annie Warbucks”, which starred Harve Presnell and Donna McKechnie. The show was mildly successful having played 200 performances between 10/9/93 and 1/31/94.
To our webmaster…Shouldn’t this theater be listed as “Variety Photoplays” and then aka “Variety Theater”? After all, it was known as “Variety Photoplays” for a good 75 years !
Does anyone remember the RCMH fire curtain that used to be in place when the doors opened? It then majestically rose and disappeared into the flies about 15 minutes before show time. As I recall it had a bronze color to it.
To reply to William’s question. A fair admission price for a film only format would be $12.00. For a film and stage show $20.00 general admission and $22.50 for the first mezzanine.
Reminder to everyone in the New York area…tomorrow’s 3PM organ concert on the RCMH’s mighty Wurlitzer. Further details at www.nytos.com
As a side note, the New York Theater Organ Society is sponsoring a concert on “The Grand Radio City Music Hall 4/58 Mighty Wurlitzer” on Saturday afternoon, February 19th.
Check the NYTOS web page at http://www.nytos.org/ for details.
Bway…Slight correction to your last posting. The Mozart Theater was previously known as the Irving Theater. The Wagner, which was the prime showcase in the Ridgewood area for the showing of German language films for many years, was located at 110 Wyckoff Avenue.
Get with the program Astyanaax. Lostmemory is right. We all contribute here when we have information to share.
It is kind of odd that jwood’s grandfather sort of looked down on the Alden. I did too and really cannot give a valid reason. I was a frequent moviegoer to the Jamaica theaters during the 50’s. Most frequently at the Valencia, Merrick, Savoy and Hillside. I only went to the Alden once and the feature was “Moby Dick”. Probably because I was reading the book in school at the time. However, I do recall that the theater was quite nice inside and that it had box seats.
Cypress….I’m confused. In your 3:42 entry yesterday, you said that the Polk did not have a balcony and that the theater needs a good cleaning. Yet at 5:42 you claim that there is a balcony, which is closed off and that the theater is well maintained. It almost seems that you are talking about two different theaters. Please clarify.
The building that once housed the Irving / Mozart is now open for business as a 99 cent store. I was inside the building this afternoon and am reporting that there is little, if any, evidence that this was once a theater. The building has two floors and windows were punched into the side walls. The first floor has a drop ceiling and flat walls. At the front, near the entrance was a rather ancient staircase, which I took the liberty of climbing to the second level. The staircase could date back to its movie house days and may have led to rest rooms or a small balcony. The second floor was empty wall to wall with an ancient wooden floor, which could date back to the 1940â€™s, when, supposedly, the building ceased to function as a movie theater. There were no vestiges of the projection booth or a proscenium arch. As mentioned above, the only clues to its being a theater are the knobs on the facade used to support the marquee.
Marquee should reeAd:
NEW SHOW EVERY
SUN TUES SAT
ALWAYS A GOOD SHOW
RobertR is right. The Arion was never dirty and they did have great double features. The theater was a Middle Village fixture since 1921.
As I recollect, from the late 40’s (and most likely earlier)through the early 60’s, a different double bill ran Sun to Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday. Wednesday’s double feature was usually revivals. When Dominant Pictures had theatrical reissue rights to the pre ‘48 Warner Bros. library, a great many played the Arion on Wednesdays. For a while, Wednesday’s were also a revival of “Dish Night”. Up until the late 50’s, they also had printed programs advertising two weeks worth of programming. These were available at the theater or could be mailed to your home, if you put your name on their mailing list.
Management always tried to run things on the cheap. I was once told that when they used carbon arcs in the projectors, they would buy half used ones. These were the ones from RCMH, the Roxy and other prestige first run Manhattan theaters that used a new carbon rod for each reel change and discarded the previous one. The Arion and probably other thaters were able to buy them at a discount.
In 1954, when they installed their CinemaScope screen, they really splurged and went for 4 channel stereo, which really sounded great.
However, as the supply of 4 track magnetic striped prints dried up over the next few years, the stereo equipment was removed and it was back to mono for the rest of the Arion’s life. Showmanship was also out the window with the advent of CinemaScope. The screen curtain, which opened and closed each show was removed and never replaced.
By the mid 80’s, the air conditioning and the heating system barely functioned and the Arion was driven into the ground. Too bad they did’t go for the triplex idea, which would have meant a complete redo of the place.
lostmemory….The Garden Theater in Richmond Hill is listed on this website under that name. It is theater #6629.
However, I do not know if this will be approved by the webmaster. Do you know how to run this by him to find out if it is okay? The reason why I am saying this is that I never received a comment one way or the other from my previous suggestions as to whether this was OK or not.
If it is OK, then, perhaps, we all could backtrack and rename those pages to include all the names that a theater was known under. Another one that comes to mind is our infamous Irving / Mozart.
lostmemory…It is possible to list a theater with multiple names so that the search engine will pick up the one that anyone is looking for. I have suggested a mthod for this on a number of pages (Casino -Brooklyn comes to mind) but it has always fallen on deaf ears.
If the listing for Gateway Theater / Corpernicus Cultural & Civic Center can be found by typing in “Gateway”, “Corpernicus”, “Cultural”, “Civic” or “Center” in the Search box, then other theaters could be listed under all their names, as long as there is a slash between each name.
Some that come to mind are:
DeKalb / Casino
Adonis / Tivoli
Adonis / Cameo / Squire / Ideal
Cinemart Cinemas / Inwood / Metropolis
Embassy Five / Victoria / Gaiety
I have used the last name that that the theater was known under first and worked back to the earliest name. It would work in either direction, would certainly cause less confusion and would enhance this already great site.
For the record, the Arion in Middle Village was never an “Aryan” theater (even though the words sound the same). As far as I know, they never played German language films from at least the mid 1930’s on. It was almost always a subrun house that ran double features and was supposedly the first theater on Long Island to be wired for sound and play “The Jazz Singer”. So even in the 1920’s it was playing American movies.
Does anyone know when the former Loew’s Paradise Wonder Morton theater organ, which was moved into the Jersey some 7 years ago will be up and running? It would be great to have some organ concerts to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the theater.
Jim Rankin…I wonder if you could expand on your statement above…“the venerable monument(had) been defaced and altered inside”. I attended one of the last performances of “The Wind Cannot Read” (the last attraction) and everything appeared as usual except that the stairways to the balcony were roped off.
I agree with RobertR that it was getting worn. Once in the late 50’s I recall sitting in one of the first rows of the orchestra for the stage show and noticed that the gold fringe at the bottom of the house curtain was starting to become detached. Otherwise, the place appeared quite spectacular, but then things in memory for over 40 years become cloudy and the flaws are covered up.
To answer Bway’s question…I do not believe that the theater is capable of showing movies anymore. I took a tour of the Valencia as part of a walking tour of downtown Jamaica a number of years ago. At that time, it was explained to us that the projection booth had been turned into a radio broadcasting studio used to broadcast church services from the Tabernacle of Prayer.
Further to Warren’s above “colorful” description of the paint job at the Valencia, one can go to the Valencia page at the Cinema Tour website to witness what the gypsies run amok have created. Also the bizarre hanging of a chandelier from the sky to brighten things up!.
Box OfficeBill…Thanks for the update on the mural. Glad that it made it into the 90’s and may still be around. As I recall it was on the right wall of the lobby pretty near where you entered the lobby after buying your ticket. You then had to walk past the mural toward the back of the lobby to enter the auditorium through an entrance on the left, which was close to the screen. In other words the auditorium and the lobby were parallel to each other. It would be interesting to find out how this layout compared to the original 5th Avenue Playhouse.
The mural that was created by Al Hirschfeld (not Abe, as mentioned above in error) for the 5th Avenue Cinema was done in 1954 and was called “The History of Hollywood”. Evidently, the old 5th Avenue Playhouse must have undergone a massive renovation around that time. As I recall, when I attended the revival series in the mid 50’s, the theater appeared to be new and modern.
Does anyone know if the mural has survived the theater being taken over by the New School for Social Research?
I am very sure that the Delancey or New Delancey name goes back to at least 1950. I recall passing by this theater many times during the 1950’s when my father drove the family the length of Delancey Street on our way to New Jersey via the Holland Tunnel. This was well before the Loew’s Delancey shuttered. Do not ever recall the Winston name being on the marquee. Of course, this was during the Spanish era, when such exotic names, to my young mind, as Maria Felix and Cantinflas appeared regularly on the marquee.