Loew's Willard Theatre

96-01 Jamaica Avenue,
Woodhaven, NY 11421

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BrooklynJim on June 21, 2006 at 10:06 am

Tech Sgt. Leonard Nimoy, as he walks to the teletype machine and sez to the cutie: “It’s T.S. stuff – Top Secret.”

“T.S.” is “Top Secret?” Wasn’t in my part of Brooklyn.

In “Beast,” one of the scariest moments for me was fire destroying the roller coaster in Coney Island! “NOOOO!!!” The other was watching the soldiers drop to the ground from the wounded beast’s infected blood. The funniest was his coming ashore in lower Manhattan’s Fulton Fish Market. Loved those guys' expressions!

If you get a chance, rent “Half Human.” It’s a likeable, pleasant enough bomb, and like “Godzilla” (same Japanese director), the film also features the same three Japanese lead actors/actress from “Godzilla, King of the Monsters.” They also add the likes of John Carradine, as they did with Raymond Burr, to woo U.S. audiences. (After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, why would they even bother? They’d get even in years to come by selling us their cars, tvs, stereos, etc.)

“Get the antennae! Get the OTHER antenna! He’s helpless without it!” – Professor Edmund Gwenn to Nevada Trooper James Whitmore in the desert

PKoch on June 21, 2006 at 9:50 am

Thanks for the compliment, and for calling me young !

“THEM !”, eh ? I know what you mean about that squeaky fan belt sound, growing ever louder.

“Enough formic acid pumped into him to kill an elephant !”

“Saturate the nest ? If I can still lift an arm when we get out of here, I’m gonna see how saturated I can get !”

Did you notice Leonard Nimoy’s bit part ?

“The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” :

“It’s exactly as I pictured it, except that the dorsal fin is singular, not bilateral ! But he’s enormous ! And the clavicular suspension is … cantileveric ! But the most astonishing thing about it is that …”

The scariest part for me was when the rhedosaurus ate the NYC policeman.

“Monster at Nassau and Pine !”

The scene of the monster coming ashore at the Fulton Fish Market was later copied in the 1998 film “Godzilla” with Matthew Broderick.

The original “Godzilla” was inspired by the success in Japan of “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms”.

Whit Bissell, Tor Johnson, Ned Glass, Stanley Adams, William Schallert, Robert Shayne, Richard Deacon, Raymond Bailey, John Hoyt, John Agar, Morris Ankrum ….

“Oh, no ! Not HIM again !”

You could be right about the softball !

BrooklynJim on June 21, 2006 at 9:34 am

For a young guy, ya did a lot of catchin' up. I’m very impressed, Peter! “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” was one of my earliest faves. Bradbury! Harryhausen! (Check out their superb interviews on the WB DVD.) My mom wouldn’t let me see it that summer, that it would give me nightmares, but when I explained my nightmares had been pretty tame, she relented and I got to see it on the next go-‘round at the Peerless. But she totally freaked out the following year when her movie-addicted first-born kept clammoring madly for “THEM!” (To this day, I immediately check the horizon if I should hear a squeaky fan belt in the distance growing ever louder…)

Hey, if you check out today’s comments on the Loew’s Kameo page, do ya think it’s possible to hold…

pausing here to catch breath

…a WHIT BISSELL FILM FESTIVAL in TriBeCa later this year? (Tor Johnson remains my alternate suggestion.)

[i still say 104th St. probably clobbered 102nd St. in softball.]

PKoch on June 21, 2006 at 8:50 am

Either that, BklynJim, or it was to achieve consistency with the Liberty El (Lefferts A Train) 104th Street station, which, as you probably know, used to be the eastern end of the old BMT Fulton St. el.

It IS odd, because 102nd Street is a two-way street, and becomes Freedom Drive in Forest Park, and 104th Street (the former Oxford Avenue) does neither.

I leave it to el expert Bway to elaborate further.

I first saw “The Giant Behemoth” on TV WOR Channel 9 in fall 1961 at age six, then for the first time on a movie screen at Film Forum in summer 1987 or 1988. I now have it, and the other two Eugene Lourie-directed dinosaur movies, “Gorgo” and “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” on VHS, taped off AMC.

“Black Museum” : I remember those binoculars spring-loaded with six-inch prongs, so when the victim put them to her eyes and adjusted the focus ….

BrooklynJim on June 21, 2006 at 8:40 am

Seeing this Willard page knocked my socks off! Because it closed about 1960 or so, very soon after I’d moved to the new neighborhood, I’d almost totally forgotten this B-I-G gem of a theater.

The guys and I would take the el to Woodhaven Blvd. station, and then it was only a few blocks' walk on Jamaica Ave. Had seen a couple cheezy Hammer films there, “The Giant Behemoth,” with animation by Willis “King Kong” O'Brien, and one called “Horrors of the Black Museum.” Every kid in the neighborhood came back trying to devise a pair of binoculars with needles or sharp nails that shot out directly into victims' eyeballs and blinded ‘em. We were fun dudes.

I think there was a catering hall there that went belly-up prior to being taken over by Le Cordon Bleu. My kid sister had her “Sweet 16” party there in 1973.

One oddity: The next station on the el used to be 102nd St. Now I find that end closed and the station has been renamed 104th St. Did 104th St. have a stronger and more influential block association???

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 4:44 am

Thanks, Warren and klass, for your input. Yes, klass, those numbered streets used to be all named streets : 104th St. : Oxford Avenue, 111th Street : Greenwood Avenue, names preserved for awhile in the names of the Liberty Avenue (Lefferts A train) el stations.

KathyLass on June 11, 2006 at 2:06 pm

The Loew’s Willard Theatre, on Jamaica Avenue and 96th Street (formerly Willard Street) opened on November 24, 1924 as a vaudeville and motion picture house with a capacity of 2500. I got this info from a book called “The Story of Woodhaven and Ozone Park”.

fmgrana on June 25, 2005 at 11:28 am

The Queens Chronicle dated June 23, 2005 has an article and picture of the Garden Theater in Richmond Hill taken in 1937. They mention the Willard Theater in the article.

RobertR on September 28, 2004 at 1:51 pm

How nice was this theatre? Did anyone ever see movies here? I remember someone telling me once they went 4 days in a row to the Willard to see “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers”. A few months later she did the same when the Haven got it. The name is pretty rotten though.

PeterKoch on April 23, 2004 at 2:36 pm

There are nine images of the Woodhaven Blvd. station of the BMT Jamaica line at : www.nycsubway.org All but the most recent of them, dated January 30, 1983, face east, show the tracks curving to the right, and show the Cordon Bleu, ex-Willard near the vanishing point. It appears as a pink brick building with dark grey sloped roof.

PeterKoch on April 23, 2004 at 1:20 pm

I think the Willard Theater is now the Cordon Bleu Catering Hall in Woodhaven, Queens. If you go to www.nycsubway.org, BMT Lines, BMT Jamaica Line, Woodhaven Blvd. station images, you can catch a glimpse of the once Willard, now Cordon Bleu, in the images that face east, with the power towers of the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Line in the distance, just beyond the Willard.

William on November 15, 2003 at 10:34 am

The Loew’s Willard Theatre was located at 9601 Jamaica Ave in Richmond Hill area.