Rialto Theatre

1481 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 101 - 125 of 155 comments

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2006 at 7:59 am

Scrounging around the web, I came across these two shots below. Neither one focuses on the Rialto Building and the theater constructed in 1935, but the Rialto marquees sort of figure prominently.

1967 View
1975 View

The best image I’ve seen of the ‘35 Rialto Building (albeit at the bitter end of its existence) is from the nyc-architecture site I posted back on January 12th. Here’s the shot again:

Early 90’s Rialto Bldg

You can see the wrap around awning signage on the corner of the building evidencing the original Broadway lobby’s use as a “Visitors and Travel Information” center during the time.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 24, 2006 at 4:29 am

The introductory image shows the original Rialto Theatre and should be moved to the listing for that theatre. The Rialto shown in that postcard view was totally demolished to make way for a building that included a much smaller Rialto as part of it.

longislandmovies on May 24, 2006 at 4:02 am

Cineplex odeon never opened the porn side as the ceilings were to low and the support beams for the building ran down the center of the porn auditorium.Both sides had a common basement door to go back and forth for staff.

longislandmovies on May 24, 2006 at 3:57 am

I was the manager of this thater when CINEPLEX odeon opened it, the Warner name was used to replace the old warner that had closed at 1500Broadway…The theater at one time had a box office on Brodaway and 42nd street…the 42nd street side lead to a basement theater that showed porn…..The Broadway side 1st run. .

42ndStreetMemories on May 9, 2006 at 9:50 am

I was just looking at a book in the library called “1950s” by Jane Duden. Not much of a book but it does have a small shot of the Rialto taken from the south side of 42nd Street. Double bill is surprisingly conventional WE’RE NOT MARRIED and BROKEN ARROW. If this was during the original run of WE’RE NOT MARRIED that would put the year at 1952. j the k

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 3, 2006 at 4:06 am

I don’t have time to contribute a listing for the original Rialto Theatre. I hope that someone else will do it so that the theatre finally has a listing of its own. It was one of the most important in the entire history of cinema…In answer to Tim Snelson’s query, I think that it would be incorrect to label the second Rialto as a “specialist horror cinema.” While some horror films did play there, there were just as many action, adventure, mystery and western movies shown there. They were almost always in the “B” category and suited to “exploitation” via flashy posters and sidewalk publicity stunts.

AlAlvarez on April 24, 2006 at 2:00 pm

For a short time in the late sixties-early seventies this became the Rialto West, the basement theatre continued as the Rialto II, and the Pix became the Rialto East. All three played soft-core films.

Cineplex Odeon indeed never used the basement theatre due to subway noise and the trouble they already had securing first-run product for this venue. UNCLE BUCK and a 70mm move-over of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA from the Ziegfeld were among it’s biggest hits.

TSnelson on April 19, 2006 at 3:13 am

Hi, my names Tim and I’m doing a PhD in 1940s horror films and horror spectatorship. I’m particularly interested in who was visiting specialist horror cinemas like the Rialto during the war. I have got hold of a lot of the relevant NYT articles and Mayer’s biography which are great sources, but if anyone has any more anecdotal info, other articles or leads on archives I would be really, really grateful to hear from you either through this or my email: .uk I’m in the UK so it’s hard for me to access NY archives at the mo, but hopefully next year I will be able to. Thanks to everyone above for some already great stuff.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 8, 2006 at 7:03 am

Right. Warren… I can’t think of anyone better than yourself to add a listing for the original Rialto. Have you compiled enough information on the original theater to do so? Ross and Patrick will have to move the photo from the top of this page to the new one, should you decide to proceed.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 8, 2006 at 6:44 am

The Rialto shown in color in the intro to this listing is the original Rialto, and not Candela’s 1935 Rialto.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 8, 2006 at 6:38 am

An interesting article appeared in this past Sunday’s NY Times Real Estate section about the Rialto’s architect, Rosario Candela. Several photos accompany the article, including one long shot of the Rialto building. Here’s a passage regarding the theater:

<<In 1935, Anthony Campagna, one of Candela’s regular clients, brought in the $250,000 Rialto building, at the northwest corner of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue. Candela abandoned the country-house Georgian style he had perfected with his luxury co-ops, adopting instead a flashy Art Moderne of chunky blue glass panels, rounded milky glass forms with strips of metal, and aluminum finlike assemblies that looked like engine cooling blocks.

That the New Yorker critic Lewis Mumford called it “unspeakable” probably hurt very little â€" in a year when the majority of new structures were one or two stories high, this was a plum project. The Reuters building is now on the site.>>

Imagine… $250,000 to construct the entire building! I wonder how that translates to 2006 dollars?

Here’s a link to the full article with photos (don’t know how long it will be active): View link

BobT on January 13, 2006 at 6:38 am

I posted this weird experience the other day on The Times Square Theatre post. Thanks EsSolero!

Ok deja vu! I was reading about a series of movies in the 60’s called “New York Roughies”, which were basically silent, overdubbed later, black & white nudie flix with little plot that played the grindhouses of 42nd street. So I rent one from NetFlix. Ok, came today, it’s called “The Ultimate Degenerate” by Michael and Roberta Findlay on Something Weird DVD. Their story alone would make a good film. So I’m watching this “masterpiece”, sorry, not my cup of tea but an interesting time capsule non the less and low and behold they have a Times Square night shot. They showed The Victoria showing Sammy Davis Jr. & Peter Lawford in “Salt And Pepper” and The Rialto on the corner of Broadway & 42nd playing “Therese and Isabelle” and then the shot turns the corner down 42nd street. What comes up first is a beautiful shot of a marquee with “That Woman” 13th Big Week playing. Finish the flick, click onto Cinema Treasures, see this post, click on EdSolero’s link and there is the same marquee shot only during the day! All in an hour’s time. Too cool.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 13, 2006 at 4:57 am

Interesting, Joe. I wonder if they still have some of the material in their Chelsea store.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 13, 2006 at 3:57 am

There were two different Rialto Theatres, both built on a site that had previously been occupied by Hammerstein’s Victoria. The first Rialto retained the back (west) wall of the Victoria, but everything else was new. The first Rialto was completely demolished in the 1930s to make way for an office building that contained a much smaller Rialto within it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 13, 2006 at 3:24 am

I’ve found a page about the Rialto at the web site of a firm that sells architectural antiques. They mined the building for its relics before it was demolished. Their text claims that the building was built in 1898, and merely renovated, rather than rebuilt from the ground up (though they claim that the renovation took place in the 1920’s, which seems unlikely, as the decorative details on the exterior are surely 1930’s era streamline moderne style.) They show a small but decent photo of the theatre in its last days, and the exterior design does look as though it had been attached to an older structure.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 12, 2006 at 5:57 am

I forgot to add: Note the message to “Stop Pay TV” on the top of the Victory Theater marquee in that same photo!!! By doing some searchin on imdb.com, I was able to determine that the Victory marquee advertises “The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill” as the main feature along with “A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine”, both of which are listed with a 1966 release and both starring one Stacey Walker – apparently a high school drop out from Texas who made these two sexploitation flicks and then high-tailed it back to Texas to finish school and resume a life of complete obscurity. The 3rd “extra” attraction appears to be called “The Casting Director” for which imdb has only sketchy information but lists as a short 6 minute striptease film released in Finland (!) in 1968.

The Eva Renzi flick at the Rialto, “That Woman” (in its “13th Big Week”) is also listed for 1966 on imdb. Perhaps the “The Casting Director” was also released in 1966 in the U.S. and that is the year of the photo?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 12, 2006 at 5:32 am

While searching for updates on the renovation of the Times Square Theater, I came across this web page from a site about NY architecture. There are some excellent photos taken over the years of the north side of 42nd Street, including a late ‘60’s image of one of the Rialto marquees proclaiming it to be “New York’s Newest Movie Theater”. I assume this was the new Rialto 2 marquee for the auditorium created in the basement and that the identical adjacent marquee (seen in one of the other photos on the page) was the relocated entrance that led one in behind the screen of the original 1930’s era Rialto Theater auditorium.

Does anyone have an exact date when that work was done? I know the entrance was later relocated back to 7th Ave when the theater was re-dubbed the Warner for a last gasp at life in the ‘80’s.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 28, 2005 at 7:21 am

I agree, Warren. I imagine you have sufficient information to add that page, particularly now that the site seems to be back up and running at full strength. Were both theaters listed at the same address? I know the newer Rialto also had a marquee around the corner on 42nd Street — for some reason I want to say there were two small triangular marquees right next to each other on 42nd street near the old subway entrance that was on the curb facing east… am I wrong about that? I never found my way into the Rialto during my days of frequenting the grind houses on the Duece.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 15, 2005 at 4:21 am

First anniversary celebration of the original Rialto Theatre:
The original Rialto was one of the most important of the early movie palaces and deserves to have a listing of its own, separate from the later and much smaller Rialto Theatre that was built on the same site. There is already precedent for that here in the case of Loew’s State and the later Loew’s State multiplex at 1540 Broadway.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 15, 2005 at 3:08 am

Ed, I had to remove that photo from my album to make way for others. However, you can find the original in the photo archives at the New York Public Library website.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 15, 2005 at 3:04 am

The listing for this theatre is inaccurate. There were really two Rialto Theatres. The first one, which is shown in the photo, was totally demolished to make way for an office building which contained a new and much smaller theatre called the Rialto.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 4, 2005 at 5:42 pm

This double bill must be the reason my grandfather had once told me that the Rialto Theater was where all the Universal monster movies of the ‘30’s played. I’ve seen copies of advertisements for those movies here that would evidence otherwise, but the one you posted, RobertR, vindicates my grandfather’s recollections to some degree. He’d have been 16 or 17 at the time, depending on the month it was released. He grew up in Harlem and Washington Heights, but made his way down to Times Square as often as his means allowed (“I would take the subway downtown for a nickel, kiddo!!! Then 10 cents got me a ticket and another dime some candy and a soda pop!!! The world was mine for two bits!!!”)

RobertR on October 23, 2005 at 10:06 am

1938 a double bill of “Frankenstein” and “Dracula"
View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 19, 2005 at 8:15 pm

Warren… that photo link you provided from back in August no longer works. Any chance you have an updated link?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 22, 2005 at 4:18 am

The 1932 “Scarface” at the original Rialto. Note the electrified lettering on the marquee: