Paris Theatre

4 West 58th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Showing 76 - 100 of 181 comments

longislandmovies on July 3, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Who books this theater?

HowardBHaas on June 24, 2007 at 8:25 am

Here are my photos at the Paris of a few of the movies shown in the last few years:

2005 Happily Ever After, View link

The White Countess, View link
Copying Beethoven, View link

The Namesake, View link
Paris, Je T'aime, View link
La Vie En Rose, View link

HowardBHaas on June 24, 2007 at 7:20 am

Having been well reviewed by the critics, La Vie en Rose seems to be doing well at the Paris. Yesterday, the orchestra was crowded during the afternoon.

The lobby display, in the niche to the right, no longer changes with the movie. I think it was sometime earlier this year, perhaps in February when Breaking and Entering was shown, that the display became a wonderful montage of Paris monuments and actors.

I’d like to see a photo of the former, huge basement lounge.

efriedmann on May 15, 2007 at 7:44 am

I have two very special memories involving The Paris theatre. The first was in 1996 when an old friend and I spend Saturday night seeing HAMLET. This was a four-hour film and we smuggled in a backpack with a bottle of wine, two glasses and snacks. A very fun evening and a great film.

The second was December 5, 1998 – my wife and I were on our first date. We went to see LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL after a wonderful dinner. Somewhere, we still have the original ticket stubs. On December 5, 2008, we have a date to revisit the same restaurant and see whatever film is playing at The Paris. I hope it’s still open then.

Other films I’ve seen there include a revival of Fellini’s 8 ½, LE DIVORCE and THE GOOD GERMAN.

AlAlvarez on April 8, 2007 at 11:48 pm

I went to the Paris recently to see BREAKING AND ENTERING and the place was immaculate. It looked like a theatre that had just opened.

HowardBHaas on April 8, 2007 at 10:17 am

The Paris is giving out a leaflet describing the current feature, The Namesake (a very good film which was well attended), and specifying Coming Soon: Paris, Je T'aime and La Vie En Rose.

Leaflet also states “Opened in 1948, the Paris Theatre is the longest continuously operating art cinema in the United States. We are proud of the Paris which has premiered many of the best American independent and international films throughout its history. The Paris Theatre is a landmark in the heart of New York City and in the hearts of discerning New York filmgoers”

dave-bronx™ on January 21, 2007 at 7:40 am

The basement lounge was long gone by the time I got there. They had photos of it upstairs in the Pathe office (the office with the windows above the marquee) and it was quite a beautiful room. It was a lounge with sofas and chairs rather than a cafe with tables and chairs. Unfortunately I can’t remember a lot of the details.

SMEvans3 on January 21, 2007 at 6:10 am

Segregation was a bit before my time, and I never heard of the Paris actually being segregated, but I believe the theatre was designed so that it could be segregated. However, I do not know this to be fact, and I had thought my initial comment made clear it was an opinion. It was not an opinion that originated with me. I had heard it several times while I was at the theatre.

I am somewhat sorry I made the initial comment because this is a beautiful theatre, and I hate seeing its page devoted to a debate over segregation. After some time at each place where I have worked, the physical facility became mundane to me. Day in and day out, year after year, the Paris took my breath away. I would hope it is best appreciated for its beauty and usually exceptional films instead of its curious water fountain placement.

Also, I want to thank AlAlvarez for posting the list of films that played there. I used to have that list, but I had lost it.

If dave-bronx worked there when the basement café was open, I would love to hear a little more about it.

dave-bronx™ on January 21, 2007 at 6:07 am

I was referring to the blatant segregation as described by AlAlvarez in his post above that went on in 1905. The Paris Theatre was a relatively small venue at the time that it was built, having only 586 seats, and the films that played there had a limited appeal. I’m sure the balcony was built for no other reason than as a solution of how to get 586 seats in a small space. The overall demographics of Manhattan in those days were different, it was more blue-collar than it is today. While the Park Avenue crowd went to ‘a film’ the Paris everyone else was going to ‘the movies’ at Times Sq. and neighborhood theatres.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 21, 2007 at 4:07 am

Unfortunately, racism has always existed in NYC (and nearly everywhere else) to varying degrees, but I still believe that the claim of the Paris balcony being built exclusively for “colored” patrons is false and preposterous. However, I will concede that in 1948 and for quite a few years after that, it is unlikely that the Paris had any black employees other than janitorial. That was true not only of the majority of NYC cinemas and playhouses, but also of stores, restaurants, business offices, etcetera. Even the municipal government and public schools had very few black employees except in menial jobs. That did not begin to change radically until the 1960s.

dave-bronx™ on January 20, 2007 at 10:39 am

Yeah, but wasn’t that foolishness over with in Manhattan by 1948 when the Paris opened? I worked at the Paris when Pathe & C5 were still running it but I never heard that story.

AlAlvarez on January 20, 2007 at 6:22 am

“When (Ethel) Waters lived in Harlem she recalled that 125th street was still a ‘white boulevard’ and that the theatres on the street were segregated. ‘Colored people could only buy seats only in the peanut gallery in B.F. Keith’s Alhambra, and none at all in the other white show houses’. “

“Despite civil rights statues in northern cities that prevented racial segregation in theatres, the laws were rarely enforced and managers evaded the law. In 1905, two African Americans sued unsuccessfully when they were not permitted to buy tickets to New York’s Circle Theatre. On another occasion black patrons who obtained orchestra tickets were prevented from sitting in the white-reserved section when the manager broke the seats and ordered them to sit in the gallery. Racial segregation in the big-time venues as well as prejudice against black performers contrasted with the circuits’ publicity which celebrated vaudeville as a ‘democratic’ entertainment open to everyone."


AlAlvarez on January 19, 2007 at 6:06 am

Really? Take a black friend for a drink at a Bay Ridge Bar at night.

AlAlvarez on January 19, 2007 at 5:22 am

I can’t imagine the owners expecting black audiences to fill the balcony of SYMPHONIE PASTORAL but perhaps the French owner thought all American theatres were segregated and prepared himself for this.

Let us not forget that most American troops were segregated during the war (unlike in the movies) and NYC was hardly a bastion of freedom for black people. In 1951 The Stork Club refused to serve Josephine Baker and unofficial “no-go” areas can still be found today.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 19, 2007 at 4:23 am

What nonsense! The Paris’s balcony was never intended for “colored” patrons. NYC cinemas did not practice segregation. In all theatres, it was customary to have a drinking fountain for the balcony section. It saved people from having to walk down to the ground floor or even further, as in the case of the Paris, where the main lounge was below street level.

SMEvans3 on January 18, 2007 at 8:39 am

I managed the Paris Theatre during the Sony Theatres years. I will try to answer a few questions and share a few memories.

The Paris Theatre is a labor of love for its landlord, billionaire Sheldon Solow. He expects the theatre to turn a profit, and he has shrunk the size of the theatre, but so long as he is alive, the theatre probably is safe from eviction or closure.

The original marquee for the theatre is on display in the American Museum of the Moving Image. The current marquee is a reproduction.

I believe that when the theatre first opened, it included a management office which has since been rented out as office space(a Reebok design studio was in there during my time at the theatre). The basement was a large café in which theatre patrons could have coffee before the show. The landlord has attempted to rent out that space as a restaurant. As a result, the theatre essentially has no lobby. The restaurants had difficulty because there was little street access. The landlord made a larger street level restaurant entrance and further reduced the floorspace in the Paris Theatre in the process.

The popularity of the balcony seating is ironic. I believe the balcony was initially intended for “colored” audience members, and the balcony has a separate water fountain.

The theatre still uses a beautiful curtain instead of a slide show.

Someone at Miramax booked the revival of BELLE DE JOUR into the Paris allegedly against the wishes of Harvey Weinstein. The film went on to set the record for the highest gross on a single screen of a foreign language film. The single-screen Paris Theatre was one of the top ten grossing theatres in the nation, outgrossing most multiplexes. After that engagement, Harvey Weinstein often wished to play the Paris.

Merchant-Ivory usually want to play the Paris, and even their commercial disappointments usually have high grosses at the Paris.

The terms for booking a film into the Paris are tough and include costs for making a lobby display. For the right films, the grosses at the Paris are worth the difficult terms.

Celebrities can be found in almost every show. Former New York City Mayor Ed Kotch always attends the opening night show. Sylvester Stallone has seen virtually every foreign-language film at the Paris, but not the English-speaking films.

The theatre has appeared in many films.

The theatre appeared in a fashion shoot for the May 1996 MARIE CLAIRE(I am in the background of one of the photos).

I have plenty of photographs of the theatre if anyone is interested.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 17, 2007 at 3:48 am

The Criterion DVD of the Alec Guinness classic, “The Horse’s Mouth,” also includes the short subject that played with the movie during its American premiere engagement at the Paris Theatre in 1958. In an interview on the DVD, filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker relates how he shot “Daybreak Express” in 16mm color and then had it blown up to 35mm before screening it for the Paris’s managing director, Duncan McGregor. McGregor liked the short and offered to buy it outright for $100, but Pennebaker insisted instead on a rental of $25 per week. Luckily, “The Horse’s Mouth” ran for months at the Paris, and Pennebaker earned quite a bit more than $100, and could also go on to booking the short elsewhere. “Daybreak Express” is well worth a viewing, since it was filmed on the Third Avenue “El” line just before the Manhattan portion was shut down. Its length of just over three minutes is timed exactly to a Duke Elllington recording that provides the musical background.

kencmcintyre on January 4, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Here is a short article from Time about the opening, dated 9/20/48:

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 11, 2006 at 3:55 pm

A major motion picture (despite being something of an experiment from director Steven Soderbergh) opens on a day-and-date exclusive run at the Paris and Angelika this Friday.

Good German – NY Times 12/10/06

I think I might make the trip in to see it. I only hope the film is half as good as the poster! Shades of “Casablanca” here, eh? The movie is shot in black & white using the techniques and equipment that were available during the 1940’s (no zoom lenses, no wireless mics). I understand there were a few modern post-production elements employed, but the concept sounds interesting and refreshing all the same.

Coate on November 15, 2006 at 4:28 pm

What company currently owns and operates the PARIS?

CelluloidHero2 on September 7, 2006 at 6:56 am

Just watched Cactus Flower, which I thought held up pretty good. Enjoyable. Anyway, in one scene Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn take in a movie (Romeo and Juliet) at the Paris. Exterior and the small lobby.

RobertR on August 30, 2006 at 3:13 pm

Odd to see the Paris day and dating with Embassy 46th Street.
View link

Shade on July 8, 2006 at 8:28 pm

Great news! At the Raiders of the Lost Ark screening tonight it was announced the Paris Theatre would continue showing classic films and would be getting a new website soon:

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 21, 2006 at 9:55 am

According to Al’s list above, this classic pulled into the Paris for quite a nice run in December of ‘80:

Mon Oncle – Daily News 12/14/80