Lyric Theatre

213 W. 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 76 - 100 of 104 comments

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 21, 2005 at 5:11 am

Thanks Mikeoaklandpark, I was a bit off on that location, eh? I seem to recall it ran exlusively at the renamed “Penthouse” Theater for much of 1980. I can’t remember exactly when it played the Lyric, but it must have been sometime before the film was edited down for an “R” rating and re-released fairly wide the following year. I remember going back and seeing the shorter version at the Sunrise Cinemas multiplex in Valley Stream. The film was a botch job in both versions, thanks mostly to the incompetent and incoherent editing job performed by the Penthouse publisher Guccione, who assumed control of the project and locked-out the nominal director, Tinto Brass (himself an Italian soft-porn maestro), from the completion of the project.

A lot of the notorious history behind this film (which was filmed in 1976 but not completed and released until 1979) is outlined on the movie’s imdb trivia page. There are some fine performances and evocative atmospherics, but its such a jumbled mess that it makes for a very frustrating cinematic experience. I would love to see a true “Director’s Version” with all the footage shot by Brass arranged in the precise order he intended just to see if any of the film’s glimpses of worthiness might have panned out. But that would mean Guccione and his enormous ego stepping out of the way and relinquishing control of his $17.5 million dollar epic.

Mikeoaklandpark on December 20, 2005 at 7:47 am

It was the Trans Lux East on 3rd Ave Between 57 & 58. Guccione leased it for 1 year and renamed it The Penthouse. After the year Crown took over the theater remdeled it and reopened it as the Crown Gotham.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 20, 2005 at 7:12 am

Going back to some of the “Taxi Driver” inspired debate above as to whether the old Lyric ever showed porn… I think saps is right that the theater was never one of the Duece’s full-time porno houses (like the Rialto 1 and 2, Victory and Harem were). I think Scorcese liked the theater’s outdoor vestibule area as a shooting location and had the marquee especially made up for the shoot. The Harem entrance looked like a storefront, the Rialto entrances were very small and, like the Victory’s, were flush up against the facade. My guess is the Lyric vestibule offered the right look and spaciousness that Scorcese wanted and so he took some liberties. I wonder if that is the Lyric’s interior that was used for the shots of DeNiro and Sheppard watching the movie inside the theater.

Getting back to porn… if memory serves, the Lyric did play the un-edited version of Bob Guccione’s “Caligula” very shortly after its run at the east side theater Guccione had four-walled and renamed after his Penthouse magazine. I remember my friends and I standing under the marquee and then sheepishly moseying over to the display cases in the vestibule to look over the publicity stills and cards for the movie before working up the courage finally to go in and check the film out. It was our first porn experience and I might add that several sequences were extremely difficult for us to sit through!

Speaking of “Caligula”… does anyone remember the theater that Guccione commandeered to exhibit this porn-epic? I believe it was a former Trans-Lux theater on 1st or 2nd Ave in the 30’s or 40’s? My memory is failing on that point. I tried searching under “Penthouse” here, but I guess no one has thought to add that as an AKA to whatever theater it might be.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 20, 2005 at 6:26 am

Take note of the checkerboard motif on the neighboring Victory Theater (which featured Burlesque and was called the Republic Theater at the time of this photo, I believe) to the right of the Lyric. I know that theater has its own page, but does anyone know when that design element was incorporated into the facade? Was it concurrent with the demolition of the exterior staircase that would later be re-created for the opening of the renovated New Victory Theater in 1995?

DONKIM on October 13, 2005 at 7:27 pm

There is an exterior shot of this theatre by Andrew Moore on line at
(Just click on Photography and then Times Square 1995-2005 to bring up theatre photos)
The shot of the Lyric in the 3rd one across in the second row.
In addition, Moore has photos of the New Amsterdam, Selwyn, Times Square and Liberty theatres prior to any restoration work.

CelluloidHero2 on August 19, 2005 at 2:37 am

Don – You are correct about “Sometimes Sweet Susan” on the Lyric marquee in the movie “Taxi Driver.” You assumption about moving it over to the Lyric for the “Taxi Driver” shoot is reasonable. It would be in keeping with the mood of the film to have a porn film on the marquee. There are similar thoughts on this in previous comments.

DonRosen on August 19, 2005 at 1:22 am

Interesting…the movie “Sometimes Sweet Susan” on the Rialto marquee, was, if I remember correctly, the film on the Lyric marquee in the movie “Taxi Driver”. “Taxi Driver” was filmed around the time the photo was taken. I wonder if the film was moved over to the Lyric for the “Taxi Driver” shoot.

CelluloidHero2 on August 18, 2005 at 4:46 pm

Here’s a photo I took in 1975. The Lyric had a double feature consisting of Report To The Commissioner and That Man Bolt. Porn had taken over some of the other theaters.

View link

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 18, 2005 at 11:26 am

After being stripped of certain ornamentation and architectural elements to be later re-used, the Lyric and Apollo were guttted to the bare walls, the roof was removed, the wall between the two theatres was removed, and there you had it: four walls standing, surrounding a dirt pit. From this rose the new theater we lovingly call the Hilton (not). Some of the artwork and other elements in the new theater are originally from the Lyric and Apollo, but there are many recreations done to look as classic as the originals. And I have been to this theater many times since it first opened with Ragtime the 1990’s.

rlvjr on June 18, 2005 at 10:16 am

NO WAY the HILTON is new. Nobody can construct a new building to look like it’s 100 years old. Nobody can layer 100 years of dirt on art work et cetera. Let somebody who says they’ve actually BEEN THERE and SEEN the HILTON (aka FORD) THEATRE —– let that person say the theatre is “new.”

br91975 on June 18, 2005 at 5:32 am

The Hilton Theatre is an entirely new structure, rlvjr, save for select architectural elements which were removed from the Lyric and Apollo, both of which were demolished (in terms of their interiors) to make way for the then-Ford Center/Hilton Theatre.

rlvjr on June 18, 2005 at 4:55 am

I have trouble believing the LYRIC is anything but alive and well. I attended a show there this week, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, expecting a stark modern interior of the currently named HILTON Theater. To my happy surprise I found a beautiful old interior, with all of the decorations typical of a grand theatre circa 1901, two balconies, and absolutely looking like a cleaned-up old palace. Go there and see for yourself.

DonRosen on June 17, 2005 at 2:06 am

You’ll need to quickly freeze frame to catch this one. In “Midnight Cowboy” when Jon Voight is running down 42nd Street, you have a full screen of the front on the Lyric showing “Hang'Em High” with all the lobby displays.

RobertR on June 7, 2005 at 11:41 am

On 3/10/72 Universal released Paul Newman, Henry Fonda and Lee Remick in “Sometimes a Great Notion” and as a second feature Clint Eastwood in “Play Misty For Me”. Great Notion is billed as “first New York Showing”, but has no Broadway theatre playing it. The Manhattan run was The Lyric, UA Academy of Music, Juliet 1 (which only played the main feature), Kips Bay, UA Riverside and Brandts Cinema Studio. I have noticed in many of the Showcase engagements the top Broadway theatres did not play many of them until the later 70’s when Broadway was pretty much always opening everything on showcase breaks.

JoeS on May 21, 2005 at 12:19 pm

There was a Lyric Theater on 3rd Ave between 12th and 13th St.,
Manhattan years ago.You can check out the link section on here to view it.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 17, 2005 at 7:01 pm

Thanks for the link; really fascinating stuff. Not completely accurate, and with a typo or two, but well worth a visit.

42ndStreetMemories on April 17, 2005 at 9:35 am

Here is a 1966 shot of The Deuce. Note the billboards over the Lyric. THey would display their coming attractions there. In this case…..THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (10th anniversary re-release) and the remake of STAGECOACH

I won the item on ebay and will be loaded it on to my website soon. Here’s the temporary link:
View link

For those interested, the films showing are:

42ndStreetMemories on March 20, 2005 at 6:35 am

saps, I also wondered if the Lyric actually played those films. IMDB lists both as 1974 releases (I thought the titles and posters may have been made up for the film). An IMDB user comment on the second film makes mention of the Taxi Driver connection.

Great tip,lostmemory. Enjoyed the site.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 20, 2005 at 4:57 am

And that’s a very interesting site. Thanks for the tip.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 20, 2005 at 4:54 am

In a word, wow! But I wonder if the Lyric actualy played those two movies, or if it was a mock up for the film.

42ndStreetMemories on February 26, 2005 at 9:36 am

I just found a beautiful color clip of the Lyric and entire north side of 42nd Street from 1956 on the website. The Selwyn is showing (3 Coins in the Fountain & Love is a Many Splendid Thing), Apollo (Naked Night & Divided Heart), Times Square (Best of the Badmen & Badman’s Territory), Lyric (Man in the Grey Flannel Suit & Magnificent Roughnecks), Victory (Purple Heart & Guadalcanal Diary). Here’s the link View link

Jerry 42nd Street Memories

DonRosen on February 19, 2005 at 1:51 pm

I have an exterior photo of the Lyric (circa early 90s). I’ll e-mail it to some if they want to post it.

42ndStreetMemories on February 5, 2005 at 6:37 am

I recall that the Lyric, like a lot of legit theaters, was not very wide but it certainly was tall. And in the 50s-60s, it was always packed since it was showing some of the newer films on the Deuce, along with the New Amsterdam. Since people did not time the beginning of a showing back then, a lot of the viewing was interrupted by you, or someone else, looking for a seat or two seats together. And if you ended in the top balcony, you were looking down on the screen through the cigarette smoke.

After a week here, the program would move west to the Selwyn.

As always, if anyone know how I can obtain images or booking/programming information for any of the theaters on the Deuce, please let me know. The Lyric did appear in a lot of newspaper ads, since it was showing newer flics, but sometimes they would vary the 2nd feature (as opposed to the RKO circuit)for their “action” audience.

Jerry 42nd Street Memories