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Hello To Canadian Neighbors-
i’m from NYC and have been posting a question
on pages for big cities of which Toronto is
certainly one. here goes- the big era of grand
old movie theater building or palaces to use the popular term in the U.S. was approx. 1913-1941.
now none of the grand old movie theaters/palaces
built in this period in NYC specifically as 1st
run theaters continue to do so if if they’re
still standing. now L.A. has Grauman’s Chinese
among a few and Washington,D.C. has the Uptown
but like NYC San Francisco has zippo. so i was
wondering if any of the grand old movie theaters/
palaces built in Toronto in the above mentioned
period have continued to operate as 1st run
venues in more or less their original condition
since the day they opened.
sorry about that. i thought anything to do
with motion picture exhibition was a legitimate
topic. oh, well. never said i was perfect. :–)
therefore since this website is apparently
only for the discussion of actual physical
theaters rather than motion picture exhibition
policy do you know where i could discuss the
topic of souvenir programs? thanks in advance.
as always i thank my fellow posters for their
replies. today i have an interesting two part
question. hear from you soon.
*i have a decent size collection of souvenir
programs. i think approx. 120? these are
actual souvenir programs that were sold in the
the theater lobbies and not the thin but colorful
leaflets or pamphlets theaters often gave out
during a film’s run. here’s part one- for all
of you with a sizable collection of actual
souvenir programs which are your favorites?
now this has nothing to do with the quality of
the film itself just how well designed you think
the program is. my top 3 are “The Greatest Story
Ever Told” which may be the most elaborate
souvenir program in my collection.“Don Juan”
starring John Barrymore. not only is the
program itself in mint condition but its a
complete program in that is still has the
separately printed colorized full length portrait
of Barrymore that was placed in the middle of
the program. then i would choose “The Ten
Commandments” from 1956 which rather than have
photos from the film had full color paintings
of the scenes. so for people with sizable
collections what are your favorites?
*part two. everyone who collects x,y or z
whether it be coins, stamps, 1st edition
books has a “Holy Grail” that one item they
have always wanted but never been able to
locate. for movie souvenir programs mine would
be the one for “The Birth of a Nation”. i
believe TBOAN was the 1st film to sell a
souvenir program in the lobby. i found a
copy in a movie memorabilia store in L.A. a
few years ago but it was in such frayed worn
condition there’s was no point in spending
the $35. i would be willing to spend a
reasonable amount for a near mint if not a
mint condition copy.
Hello to Simon S.
thanks for the info about the engagement of “The
Robe” at the Roxy. now the film had a souvenir
program of which i picked up a almost mint condition
copy of in a memorabilia store about ten years
ago. which leads to this question-if a film playing
at the Roxy had a souvenir program when the film
ended its run would the Roxy send all the unsold
copies back to the studio in question or did
they keep a few? i have always wondered about that.
the reason i ask is simple. in early 1966 i was at
my friend’s house after school and noticed a souvenir
program for “The Great Race” on the bookshelf. he
mentioned his parents had gotten it when the film
played its first run engagement at Radio City
Music Hall. when TGR had played my local theater
they didn’t sell the program. so i said “oh,well”.
the next week i had an idea. i wrote a letter to
RCMH and inquired as to whether they had any
copies left. now this was several months after
the film had left the theater. i included a $1
for the program and $1 for s&h. guess what? the
next week i received a package from RCMH which
contained not only a mint condition copy of the
souvenir program but the two $1 bills. :–)
the first Cinemascope film “The Robe” debuted
at the Roxy. but how long did it run on what
i assume was an exclusive engagement? the reason
i ask is simple. in the approx. 50+ years it
was a first run venue even the most successful
films ran just so long at Radio City Music Hall.
i always enjoy reading my fellow posters comments.
to which i myself do not consider this theater in
the-“Out Sight~Out of Mind” category. i mean Radio
City Music Hall is within spitting distance and
people don’t have trouble finding that theater.
so considering we humans have the ability to walk
and Manhattan has both great bus and subway
lines i don’t see how this theater is anymore “out
of the way” than any other movie theater in Manhattan.
Hello To My Fellow Posters-
there’s one statement in the doom and gloom
article from this past Sunday’s N Y Post that
seems made up simply to give the article
bite. it says patrons were shocked when they
arrived at the Ziegfeld the Memorial Day
weekend an the doors were looked. but why would
people have shown up at the theater that
weekend if it was temporarily closed and there-
fore couldn’t have had any advertised screening
the Roxy was torn down if i remember correctly June/July of 1960. which prompts this question-
at that point Hollywood was still operating on
the A level and B level movie system. so does
anyone know what the last successful long run
of an A level film was a the Roxy?
Hello To techman707-
as always i thank my fellow posters for replying
to my posts but as the saying goes the plot
in her book “"42 Street” Mary C. Henderson
chronicles the life as it were of the 12 theaters
that were built on 42 St. between 7th and 8th
Avenues. the 12 essays are chronological by the
date the theaters were built. the first essay is
for the American which opens with this statement
–“the American has the dubious distinction of
being the 1st theater built on the block and the
first one torn down.” now Henderson herself
acknowledges Hammerstein’s Victoria as one of
the 12 theaters.
now several weeks ago i mentioned that the
statement that opens the chapter on the American
didn’t make sense since the Victoria was torn
down at the end of 1915 to build the 1st Rialto
which opened in 1916. as a reply a fellow
poster said that Henderson didn’t consider the
1st Rialto of 1916 a completely new edifice/
structure implying it encompassed a part or parts
of the Victoria. yet in your reply you said the
Victoria was completely torn down to build the
1st Rialto. so since Henderson considers the
Victoria as one of the 12 theaters built on 42 St.
and you said it was completely torn down to build
the 1st Rialto doesn’t that make her statement
that opens the chapter on the American incorrect?
Hello From NYC-
if i am not mistaken the big building period
for grand old movie theaters or palaces to use
the popular term was 1913-1941? this is where
my question comes in.
none of the theaters built in Manhattan to be
exclusive first run engagement theaters survive
as such. for instance Radio City Music Hall is
now a multi-purpose venue and hasn’t been a
1st run theater since 1979. so i was wondering
if any of the grand old movie theaters/palaces
built in Chicago in the period mentioned above
have continued to operate in more or less their
original condition as exclusive 1st rum theaters
since the day they opened? Washington,D.C
has the Uptown and L.A. has Grauman’s Chinese
among a few but Manhattan comes up zippo as does
Hello To Al A.–
you seem to be quite knowledgeable so i have a
good question for you and it pertains to the 1st
Rialto on 7th Ave. between 42/43 St. which opened
in Mary C. Henderson’s book “42 Street” she states
that the American of 1895? was the first theater
build on 42 St. between 7th & 8th Avenues and the
first to be torn down. but then i said to myself-
“wait a second wasn’t Hammerstein’s Victoria torn
down at the end of 1915 almost 16 years before the
American?”. one of my fellow posters replied that
the reason for Henderson’s comment about the
American is that she doesn’t consider the Rialto
of 1916 a completely new structure. this would imply
that the Victoria wasn’t completely razed and some part or parts of it lived on in the Rialto. so if this is true then how much of the Victoria did in
fact live on in the Rialto of 1916 that Henderson doesn’t consider it a new structure?
Hello to Ed S. –
thanks for your reply. you of course make a
valid point about whether the projection/screening
set up at the Crescent was permanent in other
words constructed along with the rest of the
theater or perhaps hastily put up at the
last minute and then later made permanent. i guess
we will never know since anyone who went to or
worked at the theater is long gone.
also after reading your reply an interesting
thought occurred to me. if the theater this page
is for the Embassy 1,2,3 were still showing films
wouldn’t it be the oldest theater building in
Manhattan being used as a movie theater? after all
it opened in 1910 as the Columbia a burlesque
Hello Again To My Fellow Posters-
as always i thank my fellow posters for their
thoughts/comments on my posts. its nice to have
a lively discussion.
now if you read my last two posts i never use the
term “movie only theater” just “movie theater”.
i admit the Cresent in terms of its size or
ornateness wasn’t in the same class as the Rialto
of 1916. but since it did have movies as part
of the bill on opening night that would imply
i’m sure you’ll agree that the intention of
screening movies as well as having vaudeville acts
must have been part of the design and construction
phase. i can’t imagine they chose to show films
on a whim the morning of the opening night. so what
are your thoughts on this as a more valid way of
describing the Cresent-“the oldest theater i could
find in my search that was built from the ground
if not as a movie only theater at least as a
combo movie/vaudeville house”. i admit that’s a bit
much but since is it the oldest purpose built
theater i could find that screened movies on its opening night and for some time after i think its
distinctive place in the history of movie exhibition
in Manhattan should be duly noted.
Hello To My Fellow Posters In L.A.–
i live in NYC and enjoy reading this page to
see what’s going on in the movie going world
of L.A. so i have a question for fellow posters
in L.A.. does anyone know what the oldest
continually in operation movie theater is in
L.A.? my one qualification is that it has been
a commercial house the entire time. for instance
the Egyptian on Hollywood Blvd. doesn’t count
since its been a non-profit film society type
house for a number of years.
Hello Again to AL A.–
thank you for your quick reply. its always good
too read your thoughts on the subject.
as i said i have a rather liberal definition
of what constitutes a built from the ground up
or to use the proper term purpose built movie
theater. now no one can contest that the Cresent
was designed to be and was built from the ground
up as a theater and opened on the night of Dec.
16, 1909. now i don’t know this to be fact but
i’m guessing the technical know how and equipment
needed to show movies or photoplays as i believe
they were called in the early years was a bit
more complicated by 1909 from when they made
they debut at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in
April of 1896. my point being since movies were
a part of the bill on the opening night of
Dec. 16, 1909 the thought to exhibit movies as
well as vaudeville must have been a part of the
whole design and construction phase. that’s why
i am classifying the Cresent as the oldest purpose
built “movie theater” i could find in my search.
whether is was a large theater in terms of seating
capacity or whether is was ornate in its exterior
or interior design or whether is was considered a
major theater in terms of the product or performers
it got isn’t important. the important fact is that
on the opening night movies were part of the bill.
Hello To Al A. & techman707-
as always i enjoy reading my fellow poster
replies. to which your comments of May 4.
i guess i have a rather liberal definition
of what classifies as a built from the ground
up or to use the more proper term purpose
built movie theater. my search used the
nifty list this site complied of all movie
theaters that ever existed in New York State.
i of course just looked up the theaters
listed under New York, New York which was the
list’s notation for Manhattan.
the oldest purpose built “movie theater” i could
find was the Cresent at 36 W. 135 St.. it opened
on the night of Dec. 16, 1909. true the opening
night program as you can imagine was a double bill
of movies and vaudeville but the important fact
to remember is this- the fact movies were shown
as part of the opening night program would seem
to be proof that during the design and construction
phase it was the intent to exhibit movies as well
as vaudeville. to which this fits my definition of
a purpose built “movie theater”.
i thank my fellow posters for their replies
to all of my questions. its been most helpful.
as you know for the past several weeks i have
been browsing a neat list this site complied of
all the movie theaters that ever existed in New
York State. the purpose being to find the oldest
built from the ground up or to use the more
proper term purpose built built movie theater
in Manhattan. to which on the list i just looked
up the theaters listed under New York,New York.
now for some time the furthest back i could go
using my criteria was the Regent and the Bunny
both of 1913. then i found out the late Apollo
of 42 St. was built in 1910 to exhibit both movies
and vaudeville. well i found an even older theater
that was built to exhibit both films and
vaudeville. the Cresent later known as the Gem
was built at 36 West 135 St. it opened on Dec. 16,
1909 with a program of both movies and vaudeville.
now whether in the design and construction stages
the builder intended to show films well who knows.
it may only have been a thought after the
construction was finished. but the important fact
remains that on the opening night the program
consisted of movies as well vaudeville. the theater
ceased operation in 1937 and for many years the
building was used by a community organization. the
building is now demolished.
does anyone know if the Sutton had anyexclusive roadshow engagements other than“The Blue Max”?
in the last say year and a half of the Roxy’s
life i was under the assumption that in the
movie industry at the time it was quite clear what
was considered an A film or a B film. for instance both the Loew’s Capitol and the Paramount went out
playing A films. so it would have been nice if the
Roxy’s final film had been a big A film.
as i said in my previous post in its last days
the Roxy was playing many B if not C films. in fact
the last film to play the Roxy was what a friend
of my parents referred to as a C film. i forget the
title but in had “Wind” in it. to which what was
the last first run A level film that the Roxy
thanks for the info. there were many large grand
old movie theaters that continued to operate as
single screen first run movie theater for several
years after the Roxy was torn down. the Criterion,
Loew’s State, Loew’s Capitol, the Rivoli, the Warner the Demille and the Paramount. i guess they were
able to survive as single screen movie theaters long after the Roxy was torn down because they were manageably large whereas the Roxy which had like
twice the seating capacity of the Paramount was
just to frigging big for its own good.
also what are your thoughts on the fact that till
the day they closed down both the Loew’s Capitol
and the Paramount were still playing first run A
level movies. respectively PLANET OF THE APES and
2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY for the Capitol and THUNDERBALL
for the Paramount. a friend of my parents said
that in its last 2 years or so the Roxy at times
played B or even C movies. now this was long before
mutliplexes when studios opened a film in 2000 to
3000 theaters on the same day. so if the Capitol
and the Paramount were able to book first run A
level films till the day they closed why wasn’t
i was able to attend many of the great old
movie houses in the Times Square area when they
were still more or less in their original condition and they before were twined or torn down. the Roxy
wasn’t one of them. to which i have what i hope
is a simple question. the decision to tear down
the Roxy was made i believe in June of 1960. so
as well loved as the theater was and had ornate as
it was by June 1960 wasn’t a movie theater as HUGE
as the Roxy just plain economically unviable?
when did the price for shows before 12.pm.
go up to $7? i saw MEN IN BLACK 3 last weekend
and it was still $6.
to AL A.–
thanks for your reply. granted no one ever
said the National either as a single or twin
theater wasn’t successful. if you have a
minute read the two previous posts i alluded
to in my post of 5/22/12. doesn’t the
sentiments expressed in these two posts make it
seem certainly to some one you had never
been to the National that the theater had
gotten as seedy, run down, ill kept etc…
as the general area itself? i just wanted to
make the point to people who had never been
to the National that in all the times i went
there in its 26? year history regardless of the
quality of the films the theater itself was
always well run, well maintained etc….
this is of course the direct opposite of the
Embassy 1,2,3. i admit i went to the tri-plexed
former Demille a number of times simply because it
was convenient. in fact the last film i saw there
which was shortly before it closed up shop was
“Living Out Loud” with Holly Hunter and Queen
Latifah. my point being in the year or two
before it closed both the main auditorium and
the two upstairs were in run down condition.
in fact the men’s room for the main auidtorium
downstairs and the men’s room and the two
upstairs were in decidedly un-mantained
condition. i wonder how the theater was never
closed for health code or building violations.
the city closes eateries at the drop of a hat
for the same reasons.
i wish to comment on the replies to
my post of 5/22/12. i don’t see why the
ethnic or demographic composition of the
audience needs be mentioned. all i was
commenting on was the fact that even during
Time Square’s most “colorful” period the
denizens of the area that produced said
“colorfulness” never seemed to frequent the
National(either as a single screen or twin)
as they did the grind houses on 42 St. aside
from the quality of the movies being shown
i never remember this theater ever being run
down, seedy, a shadow of its former self etc…
terms which i’m sure could have been applied
to the grind houses on 42 St.