RKO Alden Theatre

165-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

Unfavorite 12 people favorited this theater

Showing 76 - 100 of 126 comments

BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Thanks, Peter. Greg was only 23 when a rare form of cancer nailed him last year. He was a diehard movie critic. He was friends with French actress/writer/director Agnes Jouie, met his hero David Lynch and even got to do a walk-on for a late ‘05 episode of his fave TV show, “Gilmore Girls.” He loved anything connected with film and Hollywood. We hope to issue a book of his reviews, articles and interviews next year, with all profits going to the Film School Scholarship his film critic peers established at San Diego State University.

We are never good at making sense out of random stuff like this, but I always liked what one of his peers had said: “God needed a foreign film critic He could understand.” That sure works for me.

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 11:48 am

Thanks, BklynJim. My condolences to you on the death of your son.

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 11:47 am

I first saw “Teenage Frankenstein” on the ABC 4:30 movie. It was called “The Big Show”. CBS, NBC and WOR also had 4:30 movies. The CBS 4:30 movie was called “The Early Show”.

BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 11:46 am

For diehard Carradine fans, “The Unearthly” is avaible on widescreen DVD for less than 10 bucks. As a bonus, it also features the non-acting skills of Allison Hayes, who was the 50-foot woman with a terminal case of P.M.S..

To save you guys some dough, try this site that my late son turned me on to a while back. The beauty is that there’s NO tax and NO shipping fees, and delivery is fast:


And if you’re music lovers to boot:


PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 11:40 am

EdSolero, I’m glad it’s your favorite.

I’m glad you remember all those old movies on TV. There was also “The Late Late Show” and Schaefer Award Theater on Saturday night.

The Chiller Theater opening I first remember was a montage of clips from the films they showed, like “Plan 9”, “Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman”, “The Gorilla”, “Killers From Space”, backed with godawful scary music I couldn’t begin to mimic. The six-fingered hand came later, about 1970.

Whit Bissell even more ubiquitous than John Agar?!? Or John Carradine?!? Not at all ! I couldn’t begin to guess !

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 13, 2006 at 11:34 am

PKoch… that is my favorite Bissell line of all time!

I wasn’t around in those days, being in my early 40’s, but I did catch a lot of those old movies on WPIX channel 11 and WNEW channel 5 growing up! I shouldn’t forget channel 9, WOR TV. Or even the local programming no the network owned stations! The Late Show on WCBS, the 4:30 Movie on WABC… the Million Dollar Movie… Chiller Theater… Creature Features… Fright Night…

DVD and cable TV pretty much put an end to watching old movies that way… As much as I miss the intro’s to some of those shows (the 6 fingered claymation hand rising from the swamp on Chiller Theater is a fave), I gotta say I love watching unedited and uninterrupted classic-era films on Turner Movie Classics. And the prints they run are usually pristine.

Anyway… are you telling me that Whit Bissell was even more ubiquitous than John Agar?!? Or John Carradine?!? I love this site.

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 11:21 am

One of my favorite lines of Bissell’s was in “I Was A Teenage Frankenstein” :

“Speak ! You have a civil tongue in your head ! I know ! I sewed it there !”

BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 11:11 am

Ed, I don’t have the necessary equipment to scan that photo when I find it, but I will search my transit files on the Web. I know I’ve seen it and can post a link to it that way.

Peter, I still laff whenever I hear Melvyn Douglas (as Wild Eyed Homer Bannon) growl at Whit Bissell, the hapless vet, in “Hud” after he’s just been told his cattle have the worst thing they could have: Foot and Mouth Disease:

“Yer not a bad feller. Ya just got a cruddy job.”

But, yes, Bissell WAS everywhere!!! Jeez Louise!!!

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 10:54 am

1) “The Thing (from Another World)” :

“An interstellar carrot ! The mind boggles !”

2) “Hud” : I recall my dad’s remark about Paul Newman in 1966’s “Hombre” as “the blue-eyed, Jewish Indian”.

“ … the ubiquitous Whit Bissell!” I know what you mean ! Ditto Ned Glass, Stanley Adams, Richard Deacon, and John Hoyt :

“Oh, no, not HIM again !”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 13, 2006 at 10:40 am

That would be a great scan to include on this site, B'klynJim. I passed by the area today and you can still clearly make out where the 165th Street entrance was because the facade appears to be pretty much intact. At least, it appears obvious to me. I had my camera on me, but the area was too congested for me to stop and take photos. I’ll have to get down there one weekend morning so I can park the car and walk around the block to snap some proper shots.

BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 9:35 am

PKoch, 42nd St. ran the gamut of entertainment from my time in the ‘50s until now. Between 7th and 8th Avenues, there were a bunch of theaters lit up like mad. (Some are still there.) This was before the porno wave of the late '60s and '70s. Can’t recall any specific theaters on 42nd St., but two films stand out in my mind:

1) “The Thing (from Another World)” – originally out in ‘51, I saw the '57 re-release. All of us Brooklyn street urchins hit the floor simultaneously when Ken Tobey opened the greenhouse door behind which was 8-foot James Arness as the vegetable from space! shudder

2) “Hud” (‘63) with Paul Newman, Patricia Neal, Brandon de Wilde, Melvin Douglas and others, including the ubiquitous Whit Bissell! The widescreen B&W panorama of Texas – breathtaking! – won the Cinematography Oscar for James Wong Howe, and Neal and Douglas got one for their supporting roles. Watched it twice on the same day!

As for the RKO Alden, it may have been the only theater I’d known to have 2 marquees, the main one on Jamaica Ave. and the other on 165th St. Somewhere I have a color shot of the latter on a NYC Transit calendar which shows not only a battered silver & blue J train pulling out of the 168th St. station, but also a gray & orange LIRR train a bit farther down on Archer Ave. Gotta try to find that one to see how clearly the Alden’s marquee is and perhaps what was playing…

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 6:19 am

EdSolero, thanks for your feedback. Thanks for the explanation of distributors wanting that PG-13 rating for their films. Last summer, I heard that reasoning expressed in another form, namely, that NC-17 films don’t make money, because they miss the mid-teen audience.

Thanks for the tip on “Humanoids from the Deep” !

BTW : “prurient” means “lustful” : give us more sex !

“prudent” : means the opposite.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 13, 2006 at 6:17 am

Sorry… Fruedian slip. I typed the word “prurient” (and mispelled it to boot) where I meant “puritan” and as a result said the complete opposite of what I intended! Anyway, it probably should have been “puritanical” anyway. Hopefully you caught my drift.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 13, 2006 at 6:12 am

PKoch… you should have seen what was offered up on 42nd Street (and I don’t mean porno) during the ‘70’s and '80’s!!! I was too young for the '70’s, but I saw stuff from about 1979-80 through the late '80’s there that was just unbelievable! But you are right… in the '90’s and into today there seems to be a more purient attitude towards sex in films. I think its all about demographics. Distributers want that PG-13 rating.

I have seen “Horror of Party Beach” – perhaps on Creature Features or Chiller Theater when I was a kid. You should catch its 1980’s update called “Humanoids from the Deep” one day! The same scaly monstrosities menacing bikini-clad babes – but they rip the bikinis right off of them in this one! And you get Doug McClure thrown in for good measure!

PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 5:27 am

Thanks for your Bardot-Tablet story, BrooklynJim. I’m ten years younger than you, so it’s a bit hard to relate. I remember Bardot mentioned as a sexpot around 1964-65, but never saw her in any films. I remember an over-scrupulous conversation with my cousin Fran, both of us age nine, in the late fall of 1964, about whether or not the film “Horror Of Party Beach” was indecent or not. It showed scaly monstrosities menacing bikini-clad babes on the beach.

I don’t recall a “hot” movie that all the guys felt they had to see when I finished 8th grade at St. Brigid’s parochial school in the spring of 1969, only that, by the end of that year, film-makers were letting it all hang out with films like “Midnight Cowboy” and “I Am Curious”, both blue and yellow, and later in April 1970 with “Without A Stitch”. I remember being taken aback by the sex and nudity in the film “Joe” when I first saw it in February 1971.

Things seemed to peak in the late spring and early summer of 1975, when I saw a re-release of “Harrad Experiment” and “Harrad Summer” at the RKO Madison, then the first run of “The Incarnation Of Peter Proud” at the Madison in July 1975, showing Margot Kidder masturbating fully frontally nude in her bathtub.

Then DeNiro in “Taxi Driver” at the Madison in May 1976, then the trashy “Lipstick”, with the Hemingway sisters and Chris Sarandon at the Madison in July 1976, which is the last film I ever saw at the Madison.

Films nowadays seem much more restrained in terms of sex and nudity than the films of the early to mid 1970’s.

BrooklynJim on June 12, 2006 at 4:24 pm

P.S.: I’m havin' a blast learning about the goofy filter employed by CT. It allowed me to write “sex kitten” in the next-to-last paragraph above, but edited s-e-x-p-o-t to pot in the 3rd paragraph up top. LOL!

BrooklynJim on June 12, 2006 at 1:18 pm

OK, youse guys, time for that story I promised in my recent RKO Keith’s (Richmond Hill) post…

The time is 1959. We parochial school kids (I had attended St. Malachy’s in ENY only for my final grammar school year, ‘58-'59) were brainwashed into reading THE TABLET each and every week. Now this paper had a section in which movies were placed into several categories for non-offensive, family-oriented viewing purposes: There were 3 categories of “A” movies, followed by the “B” section (these might play some havoc with yer faith 'n’ morals, kids, and then finally, the infamous “C” list for CONDEMNED movies. What a promo! We devoured “C” for ones to try to get to “SEE” without our parents ever finding out.

Bridget Bardot was a pot of the 1950s, no argument there. And the Vatican certainly had it in for in her (figuratively speaking only, amigos) ever since her debut in Roger Vadim’s “And God Created Woman” in 1955 or ‘56. If Bardot’s name should appear in the credits, La Iglesia de Catolica Romana instantly and without hesitation condemned the film.

At some point in ‘59, I spotted a movie ad in the L.I. Press that a Bardot movie had begun playing at the RKO Alden. With my young teenage hormones raging at warp speed, I hadda go no matter what the cost, no matter what the risk!

So, on one rainy summer afternoon, I ducked out of the house, got on the Jamaica train and made my first visit to the Alden to see this proverbial “sex kitten” in “Babette Goes to War.” It turned out to be a slow moving WWII movie, in black & white, and could never seem to make up its mind whether it wanted to be a drama or light comedy. At any rate, it was so tame I nearly dozed off several times. Bardot was gorgeous, I admit, and she bent forward once or twice to display cleavage that went clear to China, but that was IT! Nothing else! And for this it earned a big fat “C” rating by the Legion of Decency? Sorry, but LMAO…then and now, folks.

Anyone else out there have a similar Bardot moment???

PKoch on June 1, 2006 at 9:10 am

Thanks, EdSolero ! “only the bottom half of this double bill was playing” : So the double bill was topless, eh ?

Vampire Playgirls ? Like Gay Dracula, I suspect that blood is not all that they suck. Yes, it must have wound up in at least one 42nd Street grind house.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 1, 2006 at 8:36 am

According to the asterisk in the following ad, only the bottom half of this double bill was playing one of the Alden’s four auditoriums in December of 1980:

Vampire Playgirls Daily News 12/12/80

No Manhattan theaters are listed in the ad, but don’t tell me this pairing didn’t wind up in one of the 42nd Street grind houses! Sorry for the blurry image.

RobertR on May 8, 2006 at 2:18 am

The 165th Street entrance was closed and never used again except as an exitway from the theatre.
posted by Warren on Apr 13, 2006 at 3:20pm

The 165 St entrance was used again at the end when they lost the lease on the lobby store.

mauriceski on May 7, 2006 at 9:01 pm

The last time I attended the Alden was some time in the late 50s or early 60s I saw a stage show featuring the great swing trumpeter “HOT LIPS PAGE”.The rest of the program I don’t remember.Maybe Warren remembers the year that “HOT LIPS” appeared.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on April 13, 2006 at 11:41 am

So, which one is the correct address: 92-11 165th Street, 92-23 165th Street, or 165-11 Jamaica Avenue?

AlanShore1 on March 23, 2006 at 7:36 am

I live in Washington State, but I was just in Jamaica, and took a long walk along Jamaica Ave. There are still some architectual points of interest, such as the Jamaica Arts Center Building between 161st and 162. In my mind’s eye, I can still see Fischer-Bear (Dep’t Store), Skouras Restaurant, which had autographed pictures of the actor Thomas Gomez (Key Largo, et al). I think his sister worked at Jamaica High. Other great stores included the Parsons Smoke Shop and a marvelous music store. Stetson Hats also, and Gertz, where I saw Paul Winchell perform in about 1960 and a host of others. New population, different stores, but still a vital neighborhood!

bobby1361 on March 23, 2006 at 5:30 am

Just had to say I saw the movie Mandingo in 1975 with my dad. He didn’t know it had such steamy sex scenes and took me right out! I was only 10. I know the theatre was open in 1980 becuse I saw the movie, The Blues Brothers with Dan Ackrod and John Belushi. It was 2 screen place by then. What was amazing to me was that it out lived the Loews Valencia. It was no way near as ornate as the Valencia but it was nice. When it first closed it was turned into bunch of little stores. I never knew about the entrance being on 165st but as I think about it I do remember a large opening on that side of the street!
Man do I miss both movie Theatres. I was a kid and would spend many Saturdays on Jamacia Ave. She would give me $5 and I was good. All of my freinds would go!
In looking at the picture that was posted earlier, I forgot that there used to be a SACHS store at the corner of Merrick and Jamacia aves.

BobFurmanek on February 23, 2006 at 9:47 am

To promote his new film “The Ladies Man,” Jerry Lewis appeared on stage at this theater on July 13, 1961.