Ziegfeld Theatre

141 W. 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on July 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

Interesting comments. However, the rep cinema I ran in Toronto was operated on a very small budget, but we still managed to install a new 40 foot screen (one of the biggest in the city at that time), new curtains and the motor to operate them. If the Ziegfeld has a history of the curtains malfunctioning, maybe the equipment should be replaced… not repaired. It sounds to me like the company that operates the theatre doesn’t understand what makes the Ziegfeld unique. Or maybe they simply don’t care.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 22, 2010 at 8:51 am

When I worked there we had a full time stagehand as well as an IATSE 306 projectionist. Both were useless incompetents but the curtain issue was not their fault.

After about a week’s use the curtain wrapped itself around the coil drum and stopped working until repairs were made. The repair company was costly and took time to get there. This cycle dated back to the opening of the theatre in 1969. Replacing the whole works was not an option because the Ziegfeld was a marginal operation at best.

Many times we considered removing it altogether but mostly it was tied back and not operated when big films opened for fear of losing the whole weekend’s business every time it failed to open.
It could not be manually operated because it was too heavy.

Vito on July 22, 2010 at 8:38 am

The Ziegfeld has IATSE local 306 union projectionists, as to why management does not demand use of the curtains is a bit of a mystery to me as well. The theatre does have a history of having problems with the curtains malfunctioning, perhaps that is part of it. But why don’t they just get the darn things fixed. It’s a new world and people just are not all that interested in “putting on a show” as we did in our day, I have just resolved myself to accepting that. No more curtains no more showmanship and for that matter no more film. I know there are quite a few showmen still left in California who go the extra mile to present movies properly but here in New York, not so much. One of the folks who run the Ziegfeld, a heck of a nice guy does comment here from time to time and I think his heart is in the right place on theses matters but seems perhaps to have his hands tied at times.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on July 21, 2010 at 11:44 am

Vito, if a projectionist is given instructions to follow isn’t that what he (or she) is getting paid for? I don’t know if the Ziegfeld has a union projectionist or not, but when I ran a rep house for a number of years my position was that if you don’t want to do your job properly I’ll get someone who will.

Vito on July 21, 2010 at 8:43 am

Jon if you haven’t already, scroll up to read many posts on that subject. We have beat that horse to death here and many agree with your position on this. No one more than I
It is truly a lost art in the projecton of movies

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on July 21, 2010 at 7:52 am

I don’t understand the problem the Ziegfeld seems to be having with the use of curtains. I ran a rep house in Toronto called the Roxy from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s. Our patrons never saw that theatre’s bare screen. The projectionists were given explicit instructions as to how to present a show… when to slowly dim the auditorium lights before the movie started and then to dim the lights over the curtains. When it was totally dark and the first frames of the movie started – the curtains opened. We timed how long the curtains took to open or close and figured out how many frames of film that took. This enabled us put a removable mark on the film at

the end of the movie so that when the operator saw the mark, he hit the button to close the curtains and slowly bring back the lights over the curtains and then the lights in the auditorium. It’s not rocket science. it’s simply a matter of respect for your audience and giving the what they paid for: a show – that’s all.

Vito on July 21, 2010 at 4:54 am

Indeed that is a beautifully executed curtain falling with the music to ad to the joy of it. I am glad Simon reminded us and hope all you curtain lovers out there who have not done so do your self a favor and watch “The Great Ziegfeld” if for no other reason but to watch that wonderful curtain desend. I promise it will make you smile

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 21, 2010 at 4:30 am

Simon: Thanks for reminding me that the first time I saw that amazing curtain from “The Great Ziegfeld” was on the screen at the Ziegfeld! That scene was excerpted in 1974’s “That’s Entertainment”.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 20, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Hi Peter and Justin…
My nickname is “Mister Curtains”… and YES, curtains are all part of what show business is all about. Don’t you just love the old days when they used footlights and various colored spotlights on the curtains.
One of the most spectacular use of a singular curtain was in the 1936 (Best Film) “The GREAT ZIEGFELD”… This monster “Austrian” waterfall style drape opened and closed by wrapping itself around a towering circular revolving stage. And to add to the staggering grandeur were numerous props and fabulously dressed people. Please, do get the DVD just for this and other curtain scenes!!!

moviebuff82 on July 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm

FYI, the number one movie in America is playing at this theater in Digital projection.

AGRoura on May 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

Good show! If I remember correctly the light curtain is called a traveler. In the past, in the old movie palaces, the main curtain was used at the beginning and end of the show and the traveler between trailers, short, newsreels and the main feature.
For roadshow movies with overtures and entre'act music, where trailers and shorts were not shown, the main curtain opened and the traveler remained closed for the overture and closed at the end of part 1, remained closed during the entre'act music and opened for part 2 and the traveler and curtain closed at the end. Many of these movies had a “black” few seconds of projection at the end of the overture and entre'act to give time for the traveler to open before the image came on the screen.

moviebuff82 on April 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Thanks AlAlvarez.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Most Clearview Theatres were built by someone else, in this case Walter Reade. The Ziegfeld is like no other theatre and was described as having “New Orleans whorehouse decor” when it first opened. When the red velvet started to fade the theatre started looking classier.

“Ryan’s Daughter” holds the long run record.

moviebuff82 on April 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm

How does this theater compare to all the other Clearview cinema locations? Is it the de facto Clearview cinema? What movie had the longest run at this theater?

ZiegfeldMan on March 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Here’s a thought, how about we all start e-mailing TCM that next year’s TCM Festival( assuming this will be ongoing )be in NYC. The Ziegfeld would have to be a venue, that is, the venue.

I’m going to the Hollywood Festival and intend to plant this idea in the ears of the TCM people, but I could use some help.



Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 24, 2010 at 11:31 am

If I had a chance to ask Robert Osborne a question, I would’ve asked if TCM were ever going to do this again at the Ziegfeld. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun at a movie screening.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 24, 2010 at 11:05 am

A magical night at the Ziegfeld, and a great motion picture.

The place was packed (though not sold out,) Robert Osborne and Elaine Stritch were fascinating and took a few audience questions, which resulted in a lot of laughs.

And “All About Eve” was perfect — nominated for 14 Oscars and winner of six, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Costumes, Sound and George Sanders for Supporting Actor. The other Oscar-nominated performances were by Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm, and crowd favorite Thelma Ritter.

The picture hasn’t aged a day in 60 years (aged in wood?) and its views on show business and the theater are still perceptive and relevant.

And no post on this page would be complete without a comment on the curtain — and the masking. The masking was perfectly placed; Academy ratio never looked bigger or bolder. And the two curtains closing at the end added another elegant touch to an already classy evening.

YMike on March 24, 2010 at 8:33 am

Great time last night at the Ziegfeld. I have seen this film at other venues (Loews Jersey, Film Forum) but never with an audiance so into the film. Hope TCM can come back to the Ziegfeld again.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 24, 2010 at 7:07 am

And we still have one more Anne Baxter classic movie event coming up: “The Ten Commandments” at the Lafayette in Suffern NY on Saturday April 3rd.

Vito on March 24, 2010 at 2:37 am

Thanks William for the very informative and interesting answer to my WSS sound question.

ZiegfeldMan on March 23, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Hi All:

I just got back, and could not agree with Bill more. A very AMAZING evening. The Ziegfeld is such a wonderful venue for Classics, as I’ve implored everyone, and love to do it again, please e-mail Craig and let’s keep this going. A week of WSS and Funny Girl is just a teaser.



Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 23, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Just got back from what has to be the classic movie event of the year in New York City: the TCM presentation of “All About Eve”, hosted by Robert Osborne and Elaine Stritch.

The Q&A with Elaine before the show was a genuine laugh riot, and everyone in the practically-full house seemed thrilled to be seeing and hearing Robert in person. As for the movie, I’d have to go back to opening day of “The Empire Strikes Back” to find a comparable off-the-chart level of audience reaction and appreciation. I must’ve seen “All About Eve” close to a hundred times, but something about seeing it on a screen that big and surrounded by so many fans made me feel like I was seeing it for the first time, as if I never knew what was going to happen next at all times. Amazing.

This event was free. I’m grateful to TCM for that, but it was worth paying full price for. Please come back to the Ziegfeld soon, TCM.

For the record, the curtains were not used at the start of the show because the TCM Festival logo was being displayed on the screen, but they did close at the end of the movie.

William on March 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

The new restored mix is the genuine 5-across the stage Todd-AO format Stereo with mono surrounds. Or Format 40 on a Dolby Cp-200. Remember most of these films were mixed for 4-Track (LCRS) and later expanded by the mixer for 70MM 6-Track Stereo presentations. As in the article about the mix Robert Wise created a new mix in around 1981 from a 1978 4-Track (LCRS) mix. When the article said the soundtrack has not been heard in the past 30 years. From 1981 that master has been what currnet editions of “West Side Story”’s soundtrack has been based on. Before that time the 70MM prints in release by the studio for the 1961 and reissue in 1971 were the original mix. Till they were retired from release. The 1981 mix went with changes in theatre sound systems, mainly the Baby Boom track. Many theatres changed to the use of the 70MM Baby Boom mixing or Dolby format 42 & 43, they could no longer support the original Todd-AO 70MM sound format right.

Vito on March 13, 2010 at 4:23 am

I have a question regarding the 5 track vs 6 track versions of WSS
My only experience with 70mm WSS was the full six track version. I know that the left center and right center tracks were no longer used for music/dialogue in 70mm films post Dolby, with the two tracks used for boom tracks for sub woofers and stereo surrounds. So I am assuming the original left center/ right center tracks remixed for the 5 track version? Surly the information on those tracks was not eliminated