Loew's Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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BoxOfficeBill on December 23, 2005 at 11:48 am

The wall was on W 50, at the rear of the stage.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 23, 2005 at 8:03 am

Actually, judging from the photo and the arrow pointing around the corner, I should think it was on West 50th street. So when you walked in through the lobby, the theater was to the left?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 23, 2005 at 8:01 am

Was that billboard on West 51st? And was that the rear stage wall? I’m not familiar with how the theater was situated on the block.

BoxOfficeBill on December 23, 2005 at 7:42 am

Warren— a great pic. “All the show on the screen”! What a way of directing attention from the vacant stage. Since the film opened on 25 Oct. ‘35, the shot would have been taken around that time.

There’s a terrific split-second shot of that billboard in “On the Town” as the boys exit from the IRT subway, but it passes so quickly that I’ve never been able to catch the titles advertised. When production of “Town” began on 28 March ‘49, the Capitol was featuring George Raft in “Outpost in Morocco” with Gordon Jenkins and a “Company of 52” on stage. Two weeks later the Capitol’s Easter show brought in those great B'klyn icons, Thelma Ritter and young Tony Curtis in “City Across the River” with Art Mooney and Orchestra on stage. Next time you see it, keep an eye peeled to catch whether it’s either. Meanwhile, Gene and Frank were holding down Loew’s State with Esther Williams in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for eight weeks beginning March 10. Nice timing for Kelly.

RobertR on October 27, 2005 at 3:35 am

I have never heard of this Van Heflin film before
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BoxOfficeBill on October 25, 2005 at 11:34 am


That’s a great front cover for the “Guys and Dolls” program. But its rear cover is atrocious. Who decided to use a monochrome still from the brawl in a Havana bar? Here it is:

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Page 3 offers a few more flattering shots:

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And p. 10 assures us that Brando performed his own singing:

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In one staggering leap, it just hit me that I picked up this program at the Capitol almost exactly fifty years ago on a cold mid-December Saturday afternoon. It proved yet another occasion to use guest passes proffered by a family friend who had worked in the corporate offices at Loew’s State. Only now I was a high-school Freshman with down on my upper lip and slowly descending sideburns, and it was getting to be pretty embarrassing to accompany my folks to the Capitol for an MGM tune fest.

It might have pained less if we had taken in a war movie or some action romp. But I just couldn’t face the guys in the cafeteria and say that I had seen a musical with my parents, even if it offered a mock strip-tease with “Take Back Your Mink.” As it turned out, I would share just one more family trip to the Capitol, and that took place the following summer with “War and Peace” (now that was a war movie, so I could hold my head high with the lip I’d already shaved once). After that, I was on my own when it came to attending first-ruin movies. Meanwhile, at Easter “Guys and Dolls” had hit the Loew’s nabes after playing at the Capitol for almost three-and-a-half months as Warren has mentioned. On Good Friday I went to see it again, this time with a friend, at Loew’s Kameo on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. We nearly got thrown out of the house for our wisecracks, exactly as Damon Runyon and Joseph Mankiewicz would have wanted it to be.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 18, 2005 at 2:34 pm

I like how the ad for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” tells us that the movie is “after Stephen Vincent Benet”. Seems like moviegoers were more cultured back then, or just plain smarter.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 18, 2005 at 2:32 pm

I like how the ad for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” tells us that the movie is “after Stephen Vincent Benet”. Seems like moviegoers more cultured back then, or just plain smarter.

ANTKNEE on October 18, 2005 at 11:27 am

As Percy would say “That’s a dandy, maw!”

BobFurmanek on October 18, 2005 at 10:43 am

An all-time low? The Kettle series was VERY popular with audiences at that time. In fact, they’ve been released to entertain new generations in DVD box sets.

And Percy Kilbride on stage to boot? That was a show not to miss!

VincentParisi on October 18, 2005 at 9:38 am

There is some early 30’s MGM Joan Crawford film with George Montgomery I believe where an unwanted suitor keeps trying to get Joan to see the new million dollar picture at the Capitol. Anybody know which film this is?

VincentParisi on October 18, 2005 at 4:47 am

C at Law is a terrific early talkie melodrama with not only a wonderful J Barrymore but a heartbreaking Bebe Daniels as well. Have seen it twice at Film Forum. Wait till they show it again.
A perfect Music Hall picture.

mrchangeover on October 18, 2005 at 3:32 am

Look at all those fabulous movie theatres to choose from in just one page of ads!

RobertR on October 18, 2005 at 2:25 am

March of 1955 the Capitol was playing Tyrone Power in “The Long Gray Line” while a few blocks away the Roxy had Mr. Power in “Untamed”. Almost 12,000 seats for him to fill :)
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BoxOfficeBill on October 5, 2005 at 9:09 am

Yet another stage show based on Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” only now at RCMH and before the Capitol mounted one to escort Dietrich-von Sternberg a year later!

mjc asked for my memory of the Capitol’s presentation of “Zhivago” in ‘65-66. Here are two global impressions:

(1) About Roadshow presentations at the Capitol and elsewhere, I most remember a totally settled, seated audience in place during the entire performance. At the busy B'way palaces for conventional shows, a steady stream of patrons ascended up and descended down the aisles throughout the screening. Often it would come in waves, as diligent ushers shunted files of patrons from one aisle to the next in an effort to balance the seating throughout the auditorium. In that case, every twenty minutes or so a herd of seat-seekers would fan out down the aisle looking for optimal spaces. It could be distracting. One learned never to sit toward the center-side of the aisles on the right or left hand wings of the house for the penalty of contending with the occasional throngs arriving during the pricture. Because seats were reservced for specific performances at roadshow presentations, such interference did not occur. Everyone sat in place from beginning to end, except for the rare squirmer who became quickly conspicuous for his or her movement.

(2) I also remember the theater(s) as completely dark. Since there was no need for the dim lighting that allowed patrons to arrive or depart during the film, once the house lights went out, the palace became black as pitch. Dark scenes on the screen seemed ever so much more vivid because of this darkness, while bright scenes shone yet more brightly as light reflected from the screen bounced off the walls and silvery proscenium curtains. The famous shot in “Zhivago” of the wintertime fields bursting into springtime bloom brought the whole house from drab grey to vibrant color in a few seconds. One feature of the Capitol’s projection (and that of its mid-town peers, too) was that the sides of each frame met the screen’s masking with razor-sharp precision: no fuzzy projector gate edges and no overlap of image on top of the masks.

“Counsellor at Law” appeared on TCM last week, and the few minutes I caught of it looked quite good. I had never heard of that film or play before, and I wouldn’t mind watching the whole thing some time.

mrchangeover on September 29, 2005 at 2:49 pm

Box Office Bill wrote" I remember that the Capitol’s presentation of the film was absolutely superb. But, then, that was all to be expected."

Bill…can you paint a word picture for us about the presentation at the Capitol? What did they do (or do differently) that impressed you?
Presentation has always been a big thing for me ever since my days in 1960 as a part-time projectionist in a 400 seat theatre. Even so, presentation was drilled into us.

BoxOfficeBill on September 29, 2005 at 2:31 pm

Good God! My Sophia as Lara? In June ‘57 she appeared on the Capitol’s screen in “The Pride and the Passion” (I was there at the opening showing at 10 am on 28 June), in Nov. '58 with Cary Grant in “Houseboat,” in March '60 in “Heller in Pink Tights” and again in September '60 in “It Started in Naples” (am I right on those two?), but never, thanks Heavens, in “Doctor Z.”

PeterApruzzese on September 29, 2005 at 11:56 am

The producer/studio would not let him – via the budget – film Dr. Z in SuperPanavision, he certainly wanted to do it that way.

VincentParisi on September 29, 2005 at 10:16 am

I believe Zhivago world premiered at the Capitol. I remember reading somewhere that Lean said the film bombed initially because of the awful reviews and you could throw stones in the theater without hitting anyone. But if I remember correctly from looking at old Varietys in the library it was a sellout from day one. Maybe someone could confirm this?
Lean was out his mind not to have filmed this in 70mm.

BoxOfficeBill on September 29, 2005 at 6:15 am

Did this theater have a romance with Old Russia, even after “The Scarlet Empress” failed to pay off? Here’s a “program” for “Dr. Zhivago,” distributed in the form of a leaflet at the Capitol in January, 1966.

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A friend had attended the premiere on 22 December, 1965, and swooned over the film. She then returned to the box office the next day and bought tickets as Christmas presents for everyone she knew. Extravagant woman! I remember that the Capitol’s presentation of the film was absolutely superb. But, then, that was all to be expected. I’ve often meant to check out the film on tv and see whether it holds up under those conditions.

BoxOfficeBill on September 26, 2005 at 9:19 am

Awww— All the Dietrich-von Sternberg collaborations seem like such natural vehicles for the Paramount or the Rivoli. Your news about “Scarlet Empress” at the Capitol shatters my illusions. The stage show sounds over-the-top. Of course, major Paramount bookings at the Capitol after 1952 were commonplace: “A Place in the Sun,” “Sister Carrie,” “War and Peace,” “Vertigo,” etc.

VincentParisi on September 12, 2005 at 6:40 am

What is it with all the drapes? The original boxes and prosceniums of both the Roxy and the Capitol from photos I’ve seen were magnificent. Yet for so much of their history even before being converted to Cinerama or Cinemiracle these were covered.

BobFurmanek on September 6, 2005 at 9:55 am

Wow, Hope and Crosby on the same bill 8 years before their first film together! I wonder if they shared the stage for any portion of these shows?

VincentParisi on August 29, 2005 at 3:41 am

To myrtleave,
Sadie Thompson played in 3D at film forum a number of years ago.