Symphony Space/Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre

250 W. 95th Street,
New York, NY 10025

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Showing 76 - 92 of 92 comments

hardbop
hardbop on March 31, 2005 at 10:49 am

I remember the Thalia well and made the trek up there many times in the 1980s. I remember a “Smile”/“Carrie” double-bill that was pretty good and the Thalia had a funky attitude.

And I remember going to the Thalia when the local businessman — a hardware store owner I believe — renovated and reopened the theatre. I used to buy those books of tickets where you got a discount and the owner sent me a refund for my unused tickets, to his credit.

BR91975 says it was Fine Line that booked the theatre to show its films exclusively, but I think it was Miramax that moved in there as a way to keep its films in theatres, but it never took off. I think the Miramax films played there after they had closed at other theatres.

Last time I went there, before the new renovation, was ‘98 when someone tried to make a go of it by booking films that hadn’t received commercial distribution. I remember seeing an atrocious film called “Crossing Fields” that played there in '98. That didn’t last long either.

Richard Schwartz seems like an interesting guy and I’d like to know more about him.

Richardhaines
Richardhaines on March 13, 2005 at 2:04 am

The Thalia was a great repertory cinema in the seventies and
eighties. It was run by the late Richard Swartz. Although the theater
was small and contained the bizarre upwards curve (which obscurred
the screen with heads if a tall person sat in the front row), they
did show some rare movies. It had a nice art decor design. It was a fun place to attend which I went to NYU in the seventies. In the eighties they installed selzin
motors and a silver screen so they could show 3-D movies. Swartz
hunted down rare dual projector prints of “The French Line” (in Technicolor with the cut bubbble bath sequence) and even borrowed
a print of “Carnival of Souls” from Herk Harvey. At one point they
advertised an uncut print of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” but
this turned out to be a regular cut print. After Richard Swartz died of AIDS, the theater folded along with most of the great NYC
repertory cinemas,

Briefly it was an Indian cinema run by Malik Tirlok that played films from that country. I booked my own 3-D movie, “Run for Cover”, in it before it shut down again.

RobertR
RobertR on October 23, 2004 at 7:23 pm

Someone should make a seperate page for the Thalia. This theatre was too important to be an afterthought on the Symphony Space page.

AbbeyKatz
AbbeyKatz on October 23, 2004 at 7:09 pm

I wonder what “bringing the Thalia back to life by incorporating the old theater into its newly redesigned complex” means. If the photo’s suggestive, it doesn’t bode well. When I lived in the Village (West & East) 1962-69, the Thalia was Wonderful! I was very poor, saw theater mostly standing room, got most of my entertainment browsing bookstores. But I’d travel a million miles for the old Thalia just the way it was then.

steve Lewis
steve Lewis on August 24, 2004 at 7:47 am

I worked at the Symphony theater for quite a few years as a projectionist. At that time I believe that it was owned by Columbia University (I could be wrong but that’s what I heard) and was managed by a man named Sam Figler. Sam was an interesting person that used to be the personal assistant for the Shuberts. I understand that he created the Gregg shorthand language and sold it to Gregg for almost nothing. I was there until they closed it as a regular theater in the 70’s. They reopened it briefly as a spanish theater and had some live shows there as well. I still have an old oak coat rack that was in the theater and I used to have the twin 78 RPM players that they used for silent film. I gave it to a friend of mine that I lost track of. What a shame.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 22, 2004 at 11:51 am

Nothing to forgive, David S. It’s just that I was utterly certain about that and checked the New York Times microfilm to confirm. You may note that the Playboy was a theatre that I submitted and have had great times there over the decades.

davids
davids on July 22, 2004 at 10:39 am

Thanks, Warren.In general, is there an easy way to find a movie theatre that changed names?

davids
davids on July 22, 2004 at 9:34 am

Hi, Gerald. Forget what I said about CRIA. Agree with u 100% on the Thalia. their film noir series were something. Now can u, or any body else out there, show me the way to the Playboy, the one that was located on 57th between 7th and 6th. Could nt find it on the list.

RobertR
RobertR on April 30, 2004 at 7:27 am

No still 2 seperate entrances.

RobertR
RobertR on April 30, 2004 at 6:01 am

Dosent the Thalia deserve it’s own listing?

RobertR
RobertR on April 30, 2004 at 6:00 am

The Thalia is open but sadly I dont find the programs exciting enough to drive into the city for. The old Thalia used to run everything and anything. I remember a triple bill of Zsa Zsa Gabor in Queen of Outer Space, Plan 9 from Outer Space and the one with Beverly Garland where the creature looked like a giant Asparagus, damn I cant remember the name. Those were fun times.

br91975
br91975 on March 14, 2004 at 8:12 am

Warren is correct; the Thalia was still operating as a cinema at the same time Symphony Space began hosting programs out of the old Symphony Theatre. The Thalia closed in May of 1987 (and was immortalized in a Newsweek article the next month, chronicling the struggles revival houses around the country were facing in the wake of the VCR boom at the time). It sat empty until a neighborhood businessman bought the lease to the Thalia, gave it a slight renovation (including the installation of a new marquee), and reopened it in July of 1993, offering double-feature changes, if I remember correctly, three times a week (unlike during the former run of the Thalia which Gerald makes reference to, where the bills changed six – and, occasionally, seven – times a week). The revival programming at the ‘new’ Thalia, however, failed to catch on, perhaps due to a lack of originality in comparison to what was booked at the Thalia during its heyday, and the booking policy changed sometime around the spring of 1994, focusing exclusively on releases distributed by Fine Line Features (the dependent offshoot of New Line Pictures). That, however, didn’t last long and the Thalia went through several fallow periods and a handful of different lease-holders, all whose efforts to keep the Thalia running failed (the programming during this time could probably be best said to have resembled that of the old Bleecker Street Cinemas – an odd fit for the UWS, but it may have worked if the Thalia was consistently open for business).

Finally, after all those up-and-down periods, Symphony Space renovated the Thalia, which, if the times I’ve attended programs within its walls are to be judged as the rule as opposed to the exception, is more than holding its own. Unfortunately, none of the original architectural elements – including that beloved-by-some, despised-by-others upwardly sloping floor in the auditorium – remain.

SethLewis
SethLewis on March 14, 2004 at 6:34 am

The Symphony itself…a noble second run house was on Broadway…my best memories of it were in the mid 60s seeing unmemorable kid’s pictures from Universal Studios ie Tony Randall in Fluffy, Andy Griffith in Angel in My Pocket

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 14, 2004 at 1:30 am

For many decades the amazing Thalia on 95th Street had daily changes of double bills: they showed virtually everything: foreign films, recent American movies, classic revivals, silents, educational film programs, cartoon programs, films from private collections, films forgotten, films dumped, films rarely or never programmed. I submit that, from the viewpoint of programming alone, this paradise for film lovers was the greatest commercial movie theatre in the history of the United States, if not the world.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 11, 2003 at 6:28 pm

The Thalia is now known as the Leonard Nimoy Thalia, as the former Mr. Spock was evidently a significant benefactor of the theaters renovations. It is located at Broadway and West 95th street. And the strange slope of the auditorium was that it sloped UP TOWARDS the screen!!! I do not know if this peculiarity survives the renovations.

Jean
Jean on August 22, 2002 at 6:32 pm

The original Thalia was located around the corner. The interior of the theater was strangely sloped.It apparently followed the slope of the street outside.It was very small inside but no one seemed to mind because the revival films were great.

DougDouglass
DougDouglass on August 4, 2002 at 1:53 pm

NPR’s “Selected Shorts” originates here.