RKO Alden Theatre

165-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Showing 101 - 125 of 161 comments

PKoch
PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 7:21 pm

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
BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 7:11 pm

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
PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 6:54 pm

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 6:40 pm

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
BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 5:35 pm

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
PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 2:19 pm

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 2:17 pm

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 2:12 pm

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
PKoch on June 13, 2006 at 1:27 pm

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
BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 12:24 am

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
BrooklynJim on June 12, 2006 at 9:18 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
PKoch on June 1, 2006 at 5:10 pm

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 4:36 pm

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
RobertR on May 8, 2006 at 10:18 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
mauriceski on May 8, 2006 at 5:01 am

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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 13, 2006 at 8:20 pm

165-16 Jamaica Avenue is the correct address for the RKO Alden. When the theatre first opened as the Shubert Jamaica, its only address and entrance were on 165th Street. After new owners changed the name to Alden, they purchased a small store on Jamaica Avenue at 165-16 and built a new entrance and lobby. The 165th Street entrance was closed and never used again except as an exitway from the theatre.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on April 13, 2006 at 7:41 pm

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

AlanShore1
AlanShore1 on March 23, 2006 at 3:36 pm

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
bobby1361 on March 23, 2006 at 1:30 pm

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.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 28, 2006 at 5:55 pm

The address was 165-16 Jamaica Avenue. The space measured only 18 feet wide and had previously been occupied by a store whose owner sold his lease to the theatre so the property could be converted into a new entrance and lobby that would be directly opposite Loew’s Valencia, according to a report in The New York Times of April 13, 1930. The theatre was then still known as the Shubert Jamaica, with its only entrance around the corner on 165th Street. The NYT story said that the theatre had recently been sold to B.S. Moss Theatrical Enterprises, which came as a surprise to me, but may explain how it eventually became part of the RKO circuit.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on February 23, 2006 at 5:47 pm

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

jack4c
jack4c on December 25, 2005 at 7:22 pm

Yes, that is the number posted on two large signs currently on the structure. There is an additional much smaller sign (“office for rent”) posted in one of the second floor windows with a cell number. It appears to be 347-276-6041. May be 6091.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 16, 2005 at 5:11 pm

Jack4c… that number is no longer in service. Perhaps the sign has been there for some time. I’d love to know if any of this theater survives, besides just the other shell.

jack4c
jack4c on December 3, 2005 at 11:20 pm

The building appears vacant and for rent currently, at least what I believe was the Alden. The number on the for rent sign is 212 840- 9699. It’s the large red brick structure on the east side of 165th St. halfway down the block south of Jamaica Av.

RobertR
RobertR on October 22, 2005 at 6:25 pm

This August of 1958 ad for “The Fly' shows up what Warren said about the product split that happened because of the Merrick and Alden. All the RKO’s are getting the "The Fly” and “Space Master X-7” but because it is booked in the Merrick the Alden is holding over the previous weeks “The Light in the Forest” and “The Story of Perri”.
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