Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre

707 Seventh Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 1, 2006 at 7:42 am

I know, Don – she couldn’t resist giving that away. Even worse is the “Psycho” review in Variety, posted below. The critic reveals practically everything that happens in the movie. Hitchcock must have been furious.


Paramount. Director Alfred Hitchcock; Producer Alfred Hitchcock; Screenplay Joseph Stefano; Camera John L. Russell; Editor George Tomasini; Music Bernard Herrmann; Art Director Joseph Hurley, Robert Clatworthy. At DeMille Theatre, N.Y., June 16, 1960.

Norman Bates – Anthony Perkins
Marion Crane – Janet Leigh
Lila Crane – Vera Miles
Sam Loomis – John Gavin
Milton Arbogast – Martin Balsam
Sheriff Chambers – John McIntire
Dr. Richmond – Simon Oakland

Anyone listening hard enough, might almost hear Alfred Hitchcock saylng, “Believe this, kids, and I’ll tell you another.” The rejoinder from this corner: Believability doesn’t matter; but do tell another.

Producer-director Hitchcock is up to his clavicle in whimsicality and apparently had the time of his life in putting together “Psycho.” He’s gotten in gore, in the form of a couple of graphically-depicted knife murders, a story that’s far out in Freudian motivations, and now and then injects little amusing plot items that suggest the whole thing is not to be taken seriously.

The “Psycho” diagnosis, commercially, is this: an unusual, good entertainment, indelibly Hitchcock, and on the right kind of boxoffice beam. The campaign backing is fitting and potent. The edict against seating customers after opening curtain (as observed at New York’s DeMille Theatre) if respected may add to the intrigue. All adds up to success.

Hitchcock uses the old plea that nobody give out the ending — “It’s the only one we have.” This will be abided by bere, but it must be said that the central force throughout the feature is a mother who is a homicidal maniac. This is unusual because she happens to be physically defunct, has been for some years. But she lives on in the person of her son.

Anthony Perkins is the young man who doesn’t get enough exorcise (repeat exorcise) of that other inner being. Among the victims are Janet Leigh, who walks away from an illicit love affair with John Gavin, taking with her a stolen $40,000, and Martin Balsam, as a private eye who winds up in the same swamp in which Leigh’s body also is deposited.

John McIntire is the local sheriff with an unusual case on his hands, and Simon Oakland is the psychiatrist who recognizes that Perkins, while donning his mother’s clothes, is not really a transvestite; he’s just nuts. Vera Miles is the dead girl’s sister whose investigation leads to the diagnosis of what ails Perkins.

Perkins gives a remarkably effective in-a-dream kind of performance as the possessed young man. Others play it straight, with equal competence.

Joseph Stefano’s screenplay, from a novel by Robert Bloch, provides a strong foundation for Hitchcock’s field day. And if the camera, under Hitchcock’s direction, tends to over-emphasize a story point here and there, well, it’s forgivable. Further, the audience’s indulgence is not too strained with the inevitable appearance of Hitchcock himself. He limits himself to barely more than a frame.

Saul Bass' titles are full of his characteristic trickiness, Bernard Herrmann’s music nicely plays counter-point with the pictorial action and editing seems right all the way.

1960: Nominations: Best Director, Supp. Actress (Janet Leigh), B&W Cinematography, B&W Art Direction

DonRosen on September 1, 2006 at 5:13 am

Interesting thing about the “Psycho” review…it’s a Paramount release. You would never know that from the Universal logo on cable and the video/DVD releases. Also, the reviewer said she wouldn’t reveal the plot twist, then says Simon Oakland who throws light on the strange behavior of a dual personality.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 31, 2006 at 8:06 pm

You’re welcome, B.O. Bill. What a pleasure to be able to bring back a special memory to you, after all those Radio City and Roxy programs you’ve given to us.

BoxOfficeBill on August 31, 2006 at 8:01 pm

Bill Huelbig—

A million thanks for the comic strip (and of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” When the strip appeared in the Daily News over the stretch of a week, I carefully clipped each one, and at the end imagined what the film would be like. A month or so later, the pic screened at my local RKO Dyker nabe, and I watched it with amazement.

I love the adjacent ads— for “Captain Horatio Hornblower” at RCMH and “The People against O'Hara” at … Loew’s State? Thanks for unreeling those newspaper spools from fifty-five years ago.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 31, 2006 at 6:49 pm

In honor of Joseph Stefano, who died yesterday:

View link

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 31, 2006 at 6:38 pm

From the New York Daily News, September 1951:

An unusual ad for the Mayfair’s next attraction:

View link

Kate Cameron’s review. She sounds a little surprised to have enjoyed it – I guess science fiction didn’t get much respect back then:

View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 28, 2006 at 8:06 am

I don’t like to make a re-tread post, but here again is a 1963 ad for the upcoming reserved seat engagement of Otto Preminger’s “The Cardinal” at the Demille:
Daily News 11/25/63

What I failed to note the first time I posted this ad is that “The Cardinal” represented a milestone in the history of theatrical presentation of motion pictures; it was the first 35mm production ever to have been presented in 70mm blow-up prints.

Here’s a page on the wonderful Widescreen Museum site featuring a contemporary article heralding the new process.

AlAlvarez on August 21, 2006 at 11:48 pm

Thanks guys. That makes perfect sense.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 21, 2006 at 11:50 am

The Columbia ceased to exist when it was replaced by the Mayfair. The 1934 Columbia was the ex-Central Theatre on the west side of Broadway at 47th Street. In that year, the owners re-named the Central the Columbia for a revival of burlesque, but they were shut down by the police. The theatre kept the name Columbia when it returned to films, but soon went back to Central. The original Columbia and the Mayfair were actually on Seventh Avenue, and not Broadway.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 21, 2006 at 11:49 am

Al. The Columbia discussed above was gutted to make way for the RKO Mayfair, so it must be a different theater altogether – particularly since you reference the film as a move-over FROM the Mayfair. Actually, it is probably the old Central Theater right across Duffy Square that you are talking about. It was later known as the Forum and closed as Movieland under B.S. Moss, but did operate for a time in 1934 as the Columbia.

AlAlvarez on August 21, 2006 at 11:24 am

In May 1934 the Columbia was showing a move-over from the Mayfair of HITLER’S REIGN OF TERROR. Although it rarely showed films, they seems to have co-existed or there was another Columbia on 47th and Broadway.


veyoung52 on August 21, 2006 at 5:11 am

“Thanks, Warren. That Kinopanorama ad is great.” You should also take a look at the opening day ads. Initially, the Russians called the process “Kinorama.” The Cinerama folks complained loudly, and the next day the process was renamed “Kinopanorama”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 20, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Ed, I have yet to find evidence of the Columbia Theatre ever presenting anything but “live” burlesque, which was tame in comparison to the type pioneered by Minsky’s with strip-tease performers.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 20, 2006 at 2:28 pm

Thanks, Warren. That Kinopanorama ad is great.

And I have to wonder, how “beautiful” and “perfect” could the old Columbia have been if it was to be completely gutted just a couple of years later?! Does the Columbia have a page here? Or was it strictly a live performance venue?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 20, 2006 at 8:49 am

Here’s an ad from July, 1959 for the Russian equivalent of Cinerama:
And here’s an ad for the Columbia from October, 1927, roughly three years before the grand opening of its replacement, the Mayfair. The Columbia probably closed in 1929, but that’s only a guess: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/columbia47.jpg

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 17, 2006 at 11:47 am

The front of the Ziegfeld’s marquee, which you could only really see from the other side of 54th St., said “THE ZIEGFELD A Walter Reade Theatre” for several years after it stopped being a Reade theatre. That part of the display is now covered up by a Clearview Cinemas sign.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 17, 2006 at 10:23 am

Thanks Bill. I remember the Ziegfeld having that distinctive Walter Reade font in movie ads from the ‘70’s and early '80’s (ditto the Little Carnegie and New Yorker Twin). I was just curious as to the origins of the Reade chain in NY, particularly during the '63-'64 time frame from which the clippings I posted came. Warren’s response helped me out with that one. I’m also curious about the geographic territory. I know there were a number of Manhattan houses over the years (inlcuding the Waverly, later on, and one on W. 23rd Street) and a couple in Queens, but did Reade ever run any Brooklyn houses or theaters further out on Long Island?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 17, 2006 at 8:37 am

Ed: The Ziegfeld was a Walter Reade theater too, for many years. It opened as a Reade theater in 1969 and I think it stayed that way into the early ‘80s when Cineplex Odeon took it over.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 17, 2006 at 6:30 am

GWHIZ, should I take it as a compliment that you have adopted part of my e-mail address for your signature? Have you abandoned your previous “Lost Memory?” I believe that it’s against the rules-and-regulations for members to use more than one signature at a time.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 16, 2006 at 3:29 pm

Ed Solero asked about “the extent of the Walter Reade chain,” so I answered him. If that is of no interest to you, “Lost Memory,” perhaps you have joined the wrong website. Please go and pollute another website with your pathetic babblings.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 16, 2006 at 1:05 pm

During founder Walter Reade’s lifetime, most of the Reade theatres were in New Jersey. The few that he owned in NYC were usually leased to others. After Reade Senior died, Reade Junior began to concentrate on “art” theatres, especially first-runs in NYC, but the company still had the majority of its theatres in New Jersey, many with mainstream rather than “art” policies.

AlAlvarez on August 16, 2006 at 11:26 am

Ed, they had the 34th St East and, of course, the Baronet.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 16, 2006 at 9:31 am

Correction… the above image should be captioned “Daily News 9/21/63”.