Roxy Theatre

153 W. 50th Street,
New York, NY 10020

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veyoung52
veyoung52 on February 28, 2005 at 5:58 am

The general consensus over the years at the rec.arts.movies.tech group, and the various film-music groups, and the Star Wars groups is that the CinemaScope Extension was written by Lionel Newman, brother of Alfred Newman, who wrote the original Fox Fanfare around 1934, and that this Extension was first used in 1954 for “River of No Return.” It is still a matter of debate, especially within the Star Wars groups.

Vito
Vito on February 28, 2005 at 4:04 am

Bill, I remember “The Robe” like it was yesterday and you are so right, I too thought gosh, the news is being shown on such a small screen. Of course it added to the impact somewhat like the small image projected before Cinerama when Mr.Thomas proclamed “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cinerama” and the curtains widened.
I have to remind you, there was no Fox Fanfare at the start of
“The Robe”, just the Fox logo. The music played behind the logo was part of the rich score written for the film. In fact, Mr.Newman did not write the CinemaScope extension until a few months later. Does anyone remember which film was the first to present the Fox Fanfare with the CinemaScope extension? Come on now Warren, I know you know the answer to this one.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on February 27, 2005 at 7:47 pm

Warren—

Thanks for the Roxy’s ‘53-'55 program list. The only film on it that I saw there was “The Robe,” shortly after it had opened. I recall entering the auditorium knee-deep in the theater’s super-plush carpeting during the scene when Burton entrusts Mature (or was it vice versa?) with the holy garment, and my first thought was how disproportionately wide the screen appeared. Your citation of its size (68'x24’) from Crowther’s review implies that it was indeed wider than the 2.66 ratio for early CinemaScope.

The Roxy showed no short subjects with that film. Instead, it begrudgingly offered a Fox Movietone News on, this time, a disproportionately narrow small screen (squarish rather than at the standard 1.33 ratio, likely to emphasize CinemaScope’s width by contrast). The News ended with a triumphant brief on how 20C-Fox discovered, developed, and deployed its anamorphic lens for our viewing pleasure. The purple traveller curtain closed. After a moment’s reverent silence, a portentous male voice boomed from the choral staircases that we were about to witness a miracle of motion pictures. Then the Fox fanfare began and the traveller curtain slowly parted.

Vito
Vito on February 27, 2005 at 8:41 am

Warren, I would have to agree, only now and then a new movie comes on for the first time but the repeats are well….repeated to often.
I get a bit tired of the post 1970s stuff. Hour of Stars has some excellent B&W gems that have not been shown since the original airing. Some very good performances from a lot of “before they where stars”.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 27, 2005 at 6:22 am

My main complaint about FMC is that they are VERY stingy about showing pre-1948 releases. There are literally hundreds of Fox movies that are never shown. I don’t know whether this is due to sheer laziness, legal problems, or just a belief that many people will not watch B&W movies.

Vito
Vito on February 27, 2005 at 3:28 am

Warren, give em a second chance, overall it’s a good channel. Sometimes between movies you can catch some great trailers,shorts and ole Movietone news clips. Of course it can not compare to TCM, but those pre 60s Technicolor prints look fabulous. One thing I wish they would do, and that is show overtures, leaving in the original intermission with entrance and exit music. “South Pacific”, for example, is shown naked, while TCM recently showed it fully dressed.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 26, 2005 at 1:35 pm

Thank God for that! I complained to FMC by e-mail, but they never gave me the courtesy of a reply.

Vito
Vito on February 26, 2005 at 1:02 pm

Warren, that’s a special airing that only plays once in a while, most of the movies are not presented that way and when they are, the movie will also show soon before or after without that silly stuff.
FMC presents the movies with very good prints and usually letterbox.
It’s the second best movie channel on cable but lacks the charm and
movie knowledge of the incomparable Robert Osburne.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 26, 2005 at 7:52 am

The last time that I tried to watch a “letterbox” movie on FMC, “The Valley of the Dolls,” they kept flashing production information about the movie across the bottom of the screen! It became so annoying that I finally stopped watching after about ten minutes. Is this standard practice on TMC? I think it’s appalling. How can one concentrate on the movie with something like “Jackie Susann received $1 million for the screen rights” or the career hightlights of one of the stars suddenly popping up?

Vito
Vito on February 25, 2005 at 2:18 pm

Thanks Warren for the great post, I worked for 20th Century Fox during the 50s and attended every one of those movies. Now I watch them in letterbox on Fox movie channel.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 25, 2005 at 8:56 am

The Roxy followed “The Robe” with the CinemaScope “Beneath the 12 Mile Reef,” which opened December 16, 1953 and grossed only $88,000 in its first week (blamed on pre-Christmas shopping). In its second week (including the holidays), business surged to $102,500. At the same time, RCMH grossed $150,000 and $181,000 with its Christmas stage-and-screen show, which included Esther Williams' “Easy to Love.” The Roxy continued with a movie only until December, 1955. All of those movies were in CinemaScope, and all but two were from 20th Century-Fox. The titles and opening dates are:
“Hell and High Water,” February 1, 1954
“New Faces,” February 19
“Night People,” March 12
“Prince Valiant,” April 6
“River of No Return,” April 30
“Three Coins in the Fountain,” May 20
“Demetrius & the Gladiators,” June 18
“Broken Lance,” July 29
“The Egyptian,” August 24
“Woman’s World,” September 28
“Black Widow,” October 27
“Desiree,” November 17
“There’s No Business Like Show Business,” December 16
“The Racers,” February 4, 1955
Columbia’s “Three For The Show,” February 24
“Untamed,” March 11
“A Man Called Peter,” March 31
“Daddy Long Legs,” May 5
“Soldier of Fortune,” May 27
Disney’s “Lady and The Tramp,” June 23
“How To Be Very, Very Popular,” July 22
“The Virgin Queen,” August 5
“Love Is A Many Splendored Thing,” August 18
“The Left Hand of God,” September 21
“Seven Cities of Gold,” October 7
“The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing,” October 19
“The View From Pompey’s Head,” November 4
“Good Morning, Miss Dove,” November 23
“The Rains of Ranchipur” & resumption of stage shows, December 15

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 25, 2005 at 7:42 am

I don’t know the schedule of shows for “The Robe.” You’d have to look in the newspaper advertising for that period. But the movie alone ran two hours and 15 minutes, so a complete show was probably at least two and a half hours if they included a newsreel and short subject.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on February 25, 2005 at 7:19 am

Warren, How many times a day did the Robe play at the Roxy? Were there extra early morning perfs and what about midnight showings? At the Hall there were only 4 complete perfs a day.

To Paulb what films did you see at the Plaza? The Ziegfeld in NY is only 50 ft! But I seem to be the only one that finds that lame.

Vito
Vito on February 25, 2005 at 7:14 am

I would like to add my thoughts about CinemaScope screen size.
Let us not forget the main object of anarmorphic or large format photography, and that is to enable the director to photograph a larger area on a single frame. In my opnion, although screen size does enhance the viewing of the image,it may not be the most important aspect. I offer the example of watching a movie in a letterbox version, the screen need not be large to enjoy the advantage of a film shot in an anamorphic process.

PAULB
PAULB on February 25, 2005 at 7:05 am

Regarding CINERAMA and Cinemascope screen widths, here in Sydney Australia we had the 1300 seat single level PLAZA. The Cinerama screen installed there in 1958 was a wall-to wall head swivelling 91ft wide. It closed in 1977.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 25, 2005 at 6:50 am

On 12/31/04, I did the Roxy an injustice by claiming that the Music Hall always out-grossed it. There were times when the reverse was true, most notably in September, 1953, when the Roxy set a “world’s record” with an opening week’s gross of $264,500 for the CinemaScoped “The Robe” (sans stage show). In the same period, RCMH, then in its fourth week of “Roman Holiday” (with stage show) grossed $122,000, according to the boxoffice reports in Variety. Furthermore,“The Robe” ran 13.5 weeks at the Roxy and grossed a total of $1.63 million, both claimed as “all-time highs” for any large, mainstream movie theatre.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 24, 2005 at 4:26 pm

The last “combo” show at the Roxy before it switched to movies only with the September, 1953 introduction of CinemaScope was “Mister Scoutmaster” (incongrously starring the homosexual Clifton Webb in the title role!) and the Ice Colorama stage revue, “Dude Ranch Round-Up.” After an unprofitable first week, the Roxy dropped the stage show for the second and final week, and replaced it with the first NYC showing of “Vicki.” The double feature of “Mister Scoutmaster” & “Vicki” may have been the Roxy’s first. The only other that I know of is the reissued “On the Waterfront” & “The Caine Mutiny,” which was the Roxy’s next-to-last booking before it closed forever in 1960.

veyoung52
veyoung52 on February 24, 2005 at 4:00 pm

It’s all dependent on the size of the auditorium. Both the Roxy’s and the RCMH’s original CinemaScope screen were larger than the Broadway’s original Cinerama screen. However, the effect was much more startling at the Broadway. There are pictures of both the original CinemaScope and Todd-AO screens at the Rivoli on the American WideScreen Museum site.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on February 24, 2005 at 2:34 pm

When I saw 7 Brides at the Hall in the late 70’s it seemed larger than the Panavision or 70mm screen there. It was huge. I can’t even begin to imagine what 90 to 100 ft Cinerama screens were like. Now I’m beginning to think that the 60ft Todd AO screen at the Rivoli was on the small side.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 24, 2005 at 2:07 pm

In his 9/17/53 NYT review of “The Robe,” Bosley Crowther said that the Roxy’s CinemaScope screen measured 68 feet wide by 24 feet high. Four months later, in his review of “Knights of the Round Table” at Radio City Music Hall, Crowther reported RCMH’s CinemaScope screen as 70 feet wide by 28 feet high, so it was just slightly larger than the Roxy’s.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on February 23, 2005 at 8:34 am

So what was the size of the Roxy screen from 27 til 53? Then what was the size of the Cinemascope screen that people were overwhelmed by?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 23, 2005 at 8:12 am

According to a New York Times article when the Roxy first opened, situating the projection booth in the first balcony permitted a “throw” of only 104 feet to the screen. If, as in most theatres, the booth had been placed at the back of the last row of top balcony seats, the Roxy’s “throw” would have been 204 feet…Also, the Roxy’s stage level was one floor below that of the street, which meant that people in orchestra seats did not have to look up at the stage but straight in front of them.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 14, 2005 at 11:29 am

When the Roxy celebrated its 25th anniversary in March, 1952, it was reported that attendance since opening day had amounted to 107,067,319, and that 749 movie/stage shows had been presented. The average yearly attendance was 4,282,692, or roughly 82,359 per week or 11,766 daily. That quarter of a century, of course, included the depths of the Depression and the heights of the WWII period, so the averages may seem extreme if applied to specific years.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on February 14, 2005 at 7:01 am

Concerning Veyoungs comment I believe it was Harry and Walter go to New York that put Radio City on showcase in ‘76. You would think they could have gotten better movies if they were so flexible.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 13, 2005 at 8:17 am

Movie theatres with balconies often had a segregated section at the front called the “loge” where seats were bigger and wider spaced. Loge tickets were always priced higher than general admission, from maybe 25 to 50 cents or even $1, depending upon time of day. I think that until the 1930s, loges were also the only places where patrons were permitted to smoke in many theatres, which was another justification for the higher price. Eventually, smoking was also permitted in all upstairs seating. I think the opening of RCMH broke that barrier. You could smoke in any of the RCMH mezzanines. Right after that, the Roxy, Capitol, Paramount, Strand, etcetera, also permitted upstairs smoking everywhere…In the “old days,” movie theatres, regardless of rank, always had a sliding scale of admission prices. From opening until 5 or 6PM, it would be cheaper than in the evening. Weekday performances were cheaper than those on weekends. On Saturday night, and all of Sunday and holidays, the highest prices prevailed. Children under 12 usually paid half the adult price. There were no discounts for seniors.