Comments from Warren G. Harris

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Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on Feb 20, 2004 at 9:16 am

The only Loew’s Prospect that I know of was in Flushing, Queens.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Loew's Triboro Theatre on Feb 20, 2004 at 7:48 am

A descriptive article published in Motion Picture Herald at the time of the Triboro’s 1931 opening claims that the exterior facade was in Aztec style, not Mayan (as reported in later generations). The interior, including the atmospheric auditorium, was Italian Renaissance. The cost of the land site, construction and furnishing amounted to around $2 million. Thanks to favorable weather conditions, the building was completed three months ahead of schedule…An unusual feature was two elevators, each capable of taking as many as 55 patrons at a time from the ground floor to the mezzanine and balcony levels. Their use must have been discontinued fairly early because I don’t remember them from Triboro visits in the 1940s…The Triboro had a Transvox Enlarging Screen, which was Loew’s own version of the Magnascope. Using a special lens plus adjustable masking around the screen, the projected image could be enlarged and shortened at will.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Capitol Theatre on Feb 19, 2004 at 1:41 pm

Major Bowes was there from the Capitol’s opening in 1919, with “Roxy” brought in several years later to change the style of stage presentations, which had grown stale. Bowes continued to run the theatre, however, and when “Roxy” left to build his own cathedral, Bowes resumed full control until he finally left when the Capitol dropped stage shows in 1935…The Loew’s-owned radio station was WHN, later changed to WMGM. WOR was a Mutual-owned station.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Festival Theatre on Feb 19, 2004 at 7:48 am

Yes, 57th Street Playhouse was another of the names for the theatre presently owned by the DGA.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Festival Theatre on Feb 19, 2004 at 7:01 am

You have this confused with another theatre. The Festival was on the south side of 57th Street between Fifth & Sixth Avenues. It was originally built in the 1960s by producer-distributor Joseph E. Levine as a showcase for his own movies. The management later changed. It’s possible that Loew’s ran it for a while. After the Festival closed, it was converted to retail space…The theatre described above between Sixth & Seventh Avenues opened as the Normandie but had several name changes, including Cinema Rendezvous and the Playboy.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Nemo Theatre on Feb 18, 2004 at 1:37 pm

This was one of many sub-run movie houses that existed on Upper Broadway in “the old days.” For some years, it was operated by Skouras Theatres, with the programs playing after the circuit’s nearby Riverside and Riviera. Nemo, incidentally, is “omen” spelled backwards.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about IFC Center on Feb 18, 2004 at 1:26 pm

Cablevision/Clearview has deep financial problems. I doubt that they’ll ever follow through with this project, which would cost in the multi-millions. Ironically, the original Waverly cost $60,000 to construct!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Loew's Grand Theater on Feb 18, 2004 at 11:08 am

The Grand was considered the #1 Loew’s theatre in the Bronx until the 1929 opening of the Paradise, when the Grand was demoted to playing the same movies but two weeks later, along with most of the other Loew’s houses in the Bronx (a few played even later than that). Because of its size and luxury, the Paradise was exclusive first-run in the Bronx for all movies booked by the Loew’s circuit. That held into the 1960s, when film distribution began to change to what it is today.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about IFC Center on Feb 18, 2004 at 10:55 am

The 592-seat Waverly was designed by Harrison Wiseman for Luxor Bleecker Amusement Corp., and first opened in 1937 with late-run double features. The original structure was an early 19th century stained glass window factory, which was totally gutted for the theatre. As the building was only 50 feet wide by 87 feet deep, Wiseman used a stadium type of construction in order to have space for the restrooms, lobby and cashier’s booth. The auditorium was simply decorated with horizontally-striped wallpaper. The ceiling had no lighting fixtures, but a broad multi-colored stripe ran down the center from above the projection booth to the top of the proscenium…The marquee shown in the color photo is a modernized version of the original one. The nearly square portion at the front was all flashing lights and neon, with a giant W in the center. For the Waverly’s twinning, the boxoffice was moved to the right of the four entrance doors. It had previously been in the middle, with two doors on each side.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Polk Theater on Feb 18, 2004 at 8:05 am

The 599-seat theatre was christened as the Polk Avenue (original name of 37th Avenue) and first opened in 1938. Charles Sandblom was the architect, with Jupo Amusement Corp. the owner. The construction cost, including all the equipment but not the underlying land, was $85,000. The auditorium was semi-modern, with draped panels on the side walls, which sort of curved into the proscenium. The screen, covered by curtains that could be controlled from the projection booth, was flat against the back wall, with no room for a stage. The stepped ceiling had a central trough with cove lighting and ducts for the air-conditioning system. The theatre’s most unusual feature was the neon-bordered marquee, which carried only the name “POLK AVE,” also in neon, on all three sides. Mounted under the marquee but halfway back was a triangular attraction board, two sides of which had three rows for changeable letters (black against white glass)…The Polk Avenue was the last theatre built in the vicinity of Corona’s Junction Boulevard shopping precinct and showed late-run mainstream movies for most of its life. Its nearest competition was the Granada Theatre, further east on Polk Avenue, and the Corona Theatre on Junction Boulevard.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Millennium Theatre on Feb 17, 2004 at 1:58 pm

The Oceana first opened in December 1934 with a double-feature topped by Joan Crawford & Clark Gable in “Dancing Lady.” Due to its proximity to Coney Island, the programs at the Oceana were several weeks behind those at the first-run Loew’s Coney Island and RKO Tilyou, or at least until the 1960s when distribution patterns changed.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Loew's Brevoort Theatre on Feb 17, 2004 at 1:49 pm

You’re probably thinking of Loew’s Bedford, on Bedford Avenue, which is now a church. Loew’s Brevoort was the original Loew’s in that neighborhood. When Loew’s later acquired the Bedford from Frank Keeney, it kept the Brevoort as a second-run house. The Brevoort was eventually demolished.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Shore Theatre on Feb 17, 2004 at 12:30 pm

The Coney Island Theatre was designed by the architectural firm of Reilly & Hall. Built by real estate developers Irwin & Henry Chanin, it was sold before opening to Loew’s, which began operation on June 27th, 1925, with a policy of vaudeville and feature movie. Although it was never a big moneymaker (who went to Coney Island to attend a movie?), Loew’s stayed on for decades for the public relations value. The theatre’s dazzling marquee and vertical sign kept the Loew’s name in view of the millions who visited the resort annually. The Brandt take-over and name change to the Shore took place around 1964-65. Attempts to appeal to the area’s large Jewish community by presenting stage revues like “Bagels & Yox” failed, and the programming switched to exploitation movies and eventually porno…Photographs of the Coney Island’s elegant auditorium in its original condition can be found in volume one of “American Theatres of Today,” by R.W. Sexton and B.F. Betts.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Loew's Triboro Theatre on Feb 16, 2004 at 1:53 pm

John, the exterior of the Steinway Theatre still stands, but the interior was entirely gutted for a clothing store with two floors. I believe it’s called Brothers, or something like that…Had the Triboro survived, I’m sure that it would be used for concerts catering to the many ethnic groups of the area. One night Greek shows, another Italian shows, Hispanic, or whatever.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Fox Theatre on Feb 16, 2004 at 11:50 am

The Fox was, of course, one of William Fox’s spectacular monuments to himself. But he lost control of the theatre when he went bankrupt at the start of the Depression. Several banks that held mortgages on the Brooklyn Fox got together and tried (unsuccessfully) to run it themselves, finally granting a long-term lease to Fabian Theatres, one of the circuits owned by Warner Brothers. Fabian also took over the management of Warner’s nearby Strand Theatre and eventually the Brooklyn Paramount when it landed in the hands of its mortgage holders. The three downtown theatres were run as a “pool,” with Fabian and the banks sharing any profits. The arrangement continued until the end of WWII, when the banks approved a deal that returned the Brooklyn Paramount to United Paramount Theatres, successor to the old Paramount-Publix chain that built it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Loew's Warwick Theatre on Feb 16, 2004 at 7:43 am

The Warwick Theatre, which had about 1,500 seats, first opened in 1913 as a conversion of the old Comedy Theatre, with the entrance moved around the corner from Fulton Street to 134 Jerome Street. The name came from another street in the neighborhood. In 1916, Marcus Loew acquired the Warwick as part of his circuit’s expansion into Brooklyn. Due to its location in a mainly residential area, Loew’s Warwick was never very successful, and as Loew’s built bigger and better situated theatres in Brooklyn, the Warwick fell to the bottom of the list, presenting double features at the very end of their circuit run. Circa 1949-50, when Loew’s started to “divest” some of its theatres to comply with the federal anti-trust decree against it, the Warwick was one of the first to go. I don’t know what happened to it after that, but I doubt that it continued as a movie house due to its unprofitable history. I believe that it is now demolished…To the best of my knowledge, the Warwick was never operated by RKO. I suggest that the heading of this listing be changed to Loew’s Warwick. Someone in recalling the Warwick probably got the circuits confused.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about RKO Greenpoint Theatre on Feb 15, 2004 at 1:59 pm

The Greenpoint was one of the first large vaudeville palaces in Brooklyn to be situated beyond the downtown shopping/entertainment district. It first opened in October, 1908, under the ownership of Percy Williams. He sold it to Keith’s in 1912, which explains how it eventually became an RKO movie house. William McElfatrick was architect, with the Rambusch Studio as decorator. The auditorium was highly ornate, with ceiling murals above the proscenium arch. Starting at the ground floor, there were three levels of boxed seats at each side of the stage. The Greenpoint also had two balconies, one above the other. As the RKO Greenpoint, it played double-features that were first-run for the neighborhood. Its main competition, which didn’t arrive until the 1920s, was the Meserole Theatre.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Symphony Space/Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre on Feb 15, 2004 at 1:27 pm

This listing seems a bit cockeyed. The Thalia may have opened in 1938, but it was beneath and around the corner from the Symphony Theatre, which dates back to the 1920s, if not before that. The Symphony had about 1,400 seats and was a subsequent-run movie house for much of its life. When it was first converted to Symphony Space, the Thalia was still operating as a cinema, if I recall correctly.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about RKO Hamilton Theatre on Feb 15, 2004 at 12:59 pm

The Hamilton was another of the original B.S. Moss theatres that eventually became part of the RKO Circuit. It was designed by Thomas W. Lamb and presented vaudeville only when it first opened on January 23, 1913. Except for new seats in 1932, the Hamilton retained intact until 1943, when RKO redecorated the auditorium but without making any drastic changes. In 1954, a modern entrance lobby was installed. Four years later, dismal attendance figures forced RKO to close the Hamilton, and I don’t think that it ever re-opened under aother management. The interior was eventually converted to retail space.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Coliseum Cinemas on Feb 15, 2004 at 11:21 am

The Coliseum was built by B.S. Moss, whose affiliation with Keith-Albee eventually brought the theatre into the RKO fold. Designed by Eugene DeRosa with 3,462 seats, the Coliseum first opened on September 23, 1920 with high-grade vaudeville supplemented by a feature movie. At the time, it was the second largest vaudeville/movie theatre in Manhattan after the Capitol. The auditorium was in Adam style, with a large elliptical dome in the center of the ceiling. The grand lobby was 85 feet long, with two marble staircases. In its first years, the Coliseum had a 25-piece orchestra, plus an organist for the Moller 3/15 Op. 2954. Because of its location so far uptown in Washington Heights, the magnficent Coliseum was probably never visited by the majority of Manhattanites and certainly not by tourists, who usually kept to the midtown entertainment zone that was about 130 blocks south of the Coliseum. Under the RKO regime, the Coliseum ran double features that were first-run for the area. Its main competition was Loew’s 175th Street, which didn’t arrive until 1930 but far eclipsed it in movie palace splendor.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Loew's Triboro Theatre on Feb 15, 2004 at 9:43 am

John, it seems possible that we attended the Triboro at the same times. My grandmother often took me there on Saturday matinees circa 1942-49. Some of the movies that I vividly recall seeing there are “The Jungle Book,” “The Harvey Girls,” “Son of Lassie,” “National Velvet,” and “Two Years Before the Mast.” We always took the subway from Elmhurst. After leaving the station, it was still quite a long walk up Steinway Street to get to the Triboro. I would always insist on stopping to look at the posters and “stills” that were displayed by two theatres that we passed along the way, the Steinway and the Astoria. Nana would get annoyed because she was very punctual and afraid that we’d miss the start of the movie.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Anyone Remember Glen Cove's Cove Theater? on Feb 14, 2004 at 1:32 pm

If I recall correctly, the Cove was transformed into a “dinner theatre” after it stopped showing movies. Amusingly, “in the old days,” Glen Cove also had a movie theatre called the Glen. It had only 590 seats, while the Cove had 1,658, according to the 1932 Film Daily Year Book.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about RKO Albee Theatre on Feb 14, 2004 at 9:37 am

The Albee was always considered one of the most important and beautiful theatres in Brooklyn. In its first years, it played two-a-day vaudeville exclusively, but finally had to give into the competition by adding a feature movie and shifting to continuous performances. Vaudeville was finally dropped in 1934-35 when it became economically unfeasible due to the Depression. As the RKO Albee, it was exclusive first-run for all of Brooklyn, getting the movies direct from their Broadway premiere engagements. However, due to the product “split” between three other downtown Brooklyn palaces— the Fox, Metropolitan, and Paramount— the Albee played mainly 20th Century-Fox and RKO releases. This meant, as it did with the other three theatres, that the double-feature programs usually had to be “held-over” for at least one extra week, which was not rewarding except in the cases of the biggest hit movies. Because of its size, the Albee suffered when the New York area switched to the “Premiere Showcase” type of saturation release and the theatre lost its exclusive status. Due to a simultaneous decline in downtown Brooklyn’s shopping district, the Albee’s demolition seemed inevitable as the community tried to save itself with new construction projects.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Monogram Theatre on Feb 14, 2004 at 8:27 am

Monogram Pictures never owned theatres. This seems just a coincidence in naming.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris commented about Drake Theatre on Feb 14, 2004 at 8:19 am

The Drake first opened in 1938. Although located in Rego Park, its site on Woodhaven Boulevard is quite a long walk from the shopping hub at Queens Boulevard & 63rd Drive. Its nearest competition was the Trylon, on the QB border with Forest Hills, and the Arion in Middle Village. Even nearer was the Queensboro Theatre, but that was closed for about 99% of the time from 1938 until 1946, when it re-opened as the Elmwood. Prior to the era of saturation release, the Drake was always a late-run situation, playing the same double bills as the dominant Loew’s and RKO chains, but several weeks after they completed their circuit runs. The Drake usually changed programs twice a week, playing the Loew’s originated double bills from Wednesday through Saturday, and the RKO’s from Sunday through Tuesday. Sometimes, on a Wednesday, they would break that pattern with a one-day booking of re-issues. Several that I recall are “Jesse James” & “The Return of Frank James”; “Tarzan Finds A Son & "Tarzan’s Secret Treasure”; and “The Last Days of Pompeii” & “She.”