Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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ANTKNEE
ANTKNEE on December 8, 2004 at 2:09 am

The Clown: http://imdb.com/title/tt0044503/
The Yellow Cab Man: http://imdb.com/title/tt0043150/

Both of which are available in VHS at Amazon.com (no, I don’t work for them!)

vinceiuliano
vinceiuliano on December 7, 2004 at 10:38 pm

Red made a movie called The Clown? Cool if he did. I wasn’t aware of it.
I vividly remember The Yellow Cab Man. That’s one I’d love to see on DVD..

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 7, 2004 at 10:02 pm

“Niagara” opened at the recently remodeled Roxy on 21 January 1953, where it ran for three weeks with the theater’s innovative flourescent ice-stage show, “Ice Colorama.” Its competition at the Capitol was Red Skelton in “The Clown” (quickly to be followed by “Moulin Rouge”)and at RCMH “The Bad and the Beautiful,” with a “Dancing Waters” stage show. The Capitol had given up its stage shows two years earlier, but the Paramount still offered them: in January, the feature there was Danny Thomas’s remake of “The Jazz Singer.”

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 7, 2004 at 9:08 pm

Also, Niagara was pre-Cinemascope, but with the twin wonders of the Falls and MM in blazing technicolor, who needed a wide screen! I’ve seen this movie on the big screen (not in its original release) more than once…va-va-va-voom! Where did Niagara open in New York, anyway?

vinceiuliano
vinceiuliano on December 7, 2004 at 11:19 am

The Joker is Wild was a great first movie. Mine was At War with the Army! lol
I also remember a tight wire across Niagara Falls and someone walking across it, all in Cinemascope. I bought the MM film Niagara and it wasn’t THAT one. Any ideas?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 29, 2004 at 10:13 am

Movie palaces had to start somewhere, and the Regent was one of the first, though it was quickly surpassed by larger and more elaborate theatres.

porterfaulkner
porterfaulkner on November 29, 2004 at 10:13 am

Warren, I expect what ‘ij’ was referring to was ‘cushions’. It was often common practice in first rate movie theatres to provide cushions to small children to sit on. This was usually because the child was unable to see over the adult seated in front of them and often requested by the parent.

JimRankin
JimRankin on November 29, 2004 at 9:38 am

Whatever it is that defines a movie palace, the same general standards can often be used to define other such “palatial” theatres in the nation, if not also the world, even though they were not built for the purpose of movies. If you will forgive some local bias, I might nominate the palatial PABST in Milwaukee, which stands as a working National Historic Landmark to this day. It is well documented by its page on this site: /theaters/2753/
But it is best seen in this photo of the area above the proscenium: http://www.cinematour.com/tour.php?db=us&id=11592
Surely this is some of the finest and most elaborate ornamentation in a theatre in the nation, and thus the palatial experience there is among the best still to be had. Their web site at: http://www.pabsttheater.org/history.lasso features other photos.

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 29, 2004 at 9:00 am

Well, regenthr, you make my point. The rules defining what makes a movie palace are completely arbitrary. The THS says that it’s a theatre that was built for showing films, has a working stage, and seats at least 1000 people. You state that it needs to be 2000 seats with some “overwhelming” style of architecture. Whatever.

ian williams
ian williams on November 29, 2004 at 5:37 am

Thomas Lamb’s Regent Theatr, a movie palace? Hardly! Unless you are comparing it to the nickel odeons scattered around the city in the first part of the century. What is the definition of a movie palace anyway? Size or architecture? I would say that in size, at least 2000 seats. Architecture – something overwhelming – whatever style!!!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 28, 2004 at 10:21 am

Why would they provide pillows? To make it easier for the audience to fall asleep during the show?…What I do remember about the Capitol was my first visit there in 1942 to see “Tarzan’s New York Adventure.” My grandmother took me with free passes that someone had given her. They entitled us to sit in the loge, where all the seats had white slipcovers on the backs. My grandmother said it was to protect the seats from getting soiled by sweaty people.

irajoel
irajoel on November 28, 2004 at 10:06 am

I recall one visit to the Capitol in 1957 to see the Joker is Wild. I was around 10. There was a huge staircase, and I have a memory of the ushers offering pillows if needed. Is that true? Did I dream that. There were large cutouts of Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak announcing the next attraction Pal Joey at the top of the stairs and over them. It was a very large theatre. I also went there at the end when all the changes were made to see How The West Was Won, Dr. Zhivago and 2001.

Ziggy
Ziggy on October 19, 2004 at 7:08 am

Regarding the July 1st comment that the Capitol was the first movie palace, I must say I totally disagree. Even given the standards set by the THSA (which are totally arbitrary in themselves), there is no way the Capitol is the first movie palace. I would think that the THSA would want to agree with their founder, Ben Hall, and say that it was New York’s Regent Theatre. But if you don’t agree with that, let’s go by the THSA rules. In that case Rochester’s Regent Theatre would be the first. It opened in 1914, it was built for movies, it had a working stage, and it seated 1400 people. Now, as proud as I am of my hometown, and as progressive as Rochester was at the turn of the last century, I doubt that they built the first movie palace. If one doesn’t wish to believe that the Regent in New York was first, then the title would have to go to the Mark Strand on Broadway. It seated over 3,000, had a stage, and was built for movies. At any rate, the first movie palace was definitely NOT the Capitol, and I’m amazed that the THSA would think that it was.

br91975
br91975 on October 12, 2004 at 5:25 pm

Some post-modernization shots of the Loew’s Capitol interior can be found at the following URL: View link

vinceiuliano
vinceiuliano on September 22, 2004 at 8:46 pm

My uncle Norman Herman was an usher at the Capitol too. Please write to me Elwyn? I’m preparing a book on my family and your memories of that time would be invaluable! ()

Standing there in his usher’s uniform, his sister and friends would sometimes tease him. Also they tell me they threw peanut shells over the balcony to hear them loudly crunch as people walked past in the dark.

I too saw 2001 there in 1968 (breathtaking, although the movie COULD drag in spots) and (I seem to recall) GWTW as well. The screen was HUGE. What a beautiful theater. Like the demolition of Penn Station and so many other landmark spots, another testament to the short sightedness of city planners.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 23, 2004 at 8:36 pm

Those photos are breathtaking. This is the first I’ve seen of the Capitol’s interior. Wow! And it kills me to know that I was alive when the theater closed (though still a youngster living in the suburbs.) Actually, maybe I should kill my parents instead for not realizing what we were about to lose and taking me to see it.

William
William on July 23, 2004 at 4:40 pm

In 1965, United Artists held the largest outdoor barbecue ever held on Broadway in connection with the 24 hour world premiere of “The Halleljah Trail”.

JamesMannix
JamesMannix on July 22, 2004 at 12:39 pm

As it seems many saw 2001at the Capital…I saw it a week after the grand opening but don’t remember if it was the print before the editing and new titles where inserted.
THe theatre as remembered was immense and even though the cinerama was faux the film was wonderful……

JimRankin
JimRankin on July 17, 2004 at 7:54 pm

The sad fact is that the drapery treatment (which happened in various forms to many movie palaces) was due to the advent of wide screen projection. The new super wide screens could usually not be contained behind the proscenium, so they usually hacked away the sides of the proscenium arch and sometimes the organ screens too, and then draped over the damage since they were too cheap to redesign the plaster ornament to accommodate the new ‘look.’ Usually, the draperies added nothing to the acoustics or the decor. At least in the CAPITOL they used more expensive and decorative contour draperies for both the screen and to divide the balcony when they were not expecting a full house — something rare after TV and the arrival of shopping center cinemas. Note how the drapery was not extended all the way across the ceiling else it would have blocked the projector’s throw from the booth ports seen in the back wall. The fourth comment from the top describes the situation for the CAPITOL. Who would have thought that after all that expense for the screens/cinerama/escalator/new draperies (which were no doubt motorized and quite costly!), that in only six years they would toss it all when the place was demolished?!

IanJudge
IanJudge on July 17, 2004 at 12:08 pm

Those photos of the Capitol are awesome and heartbreaking. It is especially interesting to see the before/after pictures of the proscenium when it was shrouded in drapery. Was this done for aesthetic reasons (the whole ‘modern’ look that Loew’s seemed to push in the late fifties) or for acoustical reasons? Or both? I notice the Loew’s State photos show great alterations and similar drapery. And yet, even when these ornate auditoriums were draped and modernized, they remained impressive spaces. It is truly a shame that not one of these old NY houses was saved.

umbaba
umbaba on July 17, 2004 at 6:35 am

peter…great site. Are there any other theater pics on this site?

itinerama
itinerama on July 16, 2004 at 11:33 pm

For about 30 photos of the Capitol go to
http://memory.loc.gov
enter capitol theater in the search site for lots of cinerama screen photos etc

ANTKNEE
ANTKNEE on July 16, 2004 at 2:56 pm

I too saw 2001 here, as a nose picker of 9 years old (am now a nose picker of 46!) Scared the bejesus out of me when the apes smashed to bones and that spooky singing whenever the obeslisk appeared.

Funny thing is that I clearly recall the embyro sort of smirking and perhaps even giving short wave at the very end but have never seen this since (the original viewing). Could this perhaps have been deleted from the original 158 minute version? If so, then I guess I was lucky enough to have seen this! Didn’t this theater have a large (wide) escalator too? Thanks.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 16, 2004 at 1:27 pm

The Capitol was the lead theatre in one of the NYC area’s first major saturation releases, which took place in 1947 when David O. Selznick’s “Duel in the Sun” opened simultaneously at the Capitol and 38 Loew’s neighborhood theatres. This was done partly to justify a huge advertising campaign, and partly in anticipation of unfavorable press reviews and word-of-mouth. The movie did huge business, and continued at the Capitol exclusively for several weeks after the Loew’s circuit run ended.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 12, 2004 at 9:17 am

MGM later paired the Capitol and Astor for “Quo Vadis” with the same policy, continuous at the Capitol and reserved seats at the Astor…In its original booking in 1939-40, “Gone With the Wind” ran for 12 weeks at the Capitol, and grossed a total of $780,000. It was shown three times a day, at 75 cents per seat for the first two shows and $1.10 at night (loges slightly higher). The biggest single week was the second, which included the Christmas-New Year’s period and grossed $85,000. The Astor gave only two reserved-seat performances per day and consistently sold out at $23,000 per week. The Astor reserved-seat run continued for about two months after GWTW closed at the Astor and even when the movie moved into the Loew’s “nabes.” On February 1, 1940, GWTW opened in downtown Brooklyn at Loew’s Metropolitan, playing simultaneously with the Capitol and Astor and at the same 75 cents-$1.10 price scale as the Capitol. The Capitol run ended March 6, 1940, but Loew’s Met continued until March 21st, when GWTW moved exclusively to Loew’s Paradise in the Bronx and Loew’s Valencia in Queens, then gradually to the other Loew’s houses in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. All of these bookings were at the same “continuous” three shows per day and the 75 cents-$1.10 price scale.