Plaza Theatre

42 East 58th Street,
New York, NY 10022

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Showing 101 - 125 of 152 comments

Astyanax on January 16, 2006 at 7:33 am

Thanks for the update, Jay58. I did not live in the neighborhood but I remember the Cinema V offices in the Fuller building after visiting art gallery exhibitions there.

As for the Lopert name, it often appeared as the distribution arm for many UA arthouse releases in the 60’s & 70’s, as well as being connected to the Plaza.

jay58 on January 16, 2006 at 5:25 am

Astyanax, the last I remember of Don Rugoff was that he presided over a stockholders meeting of Cinema V at the office at 595 Madison Avenue (the Fuller Building). I think he passed away in the late 80s.

Re your earlier comment abotu Ilya Lopert. Yes, I believe that he was in the chain of title at some point. I think his daughter Tanya went to school with my sister. I have to ask her about that. Rings a bell.

Did you live in the neighborhood?

Astyanax on January 14, 2006 at 5:00 am

Thanks to jay58 for his description of movie-going in a very different time and place, where the theatre owner, in this case Don Rugoff could give you permission to park your bike in the theatre alley. Showmen, owners, exhibitors or whatever you want to call them, played a vital role in making a trip to the movies a personal experience. Sadly there are no Marcus Loews, Walter Reades or Don Rugoffs still on the scene. Dan Talbot stands alone. Any idea what became of Don Rugoff after Cinema 5 was taken over?

jay58 on January 12, 2006 at 2:33 pm

Certainly the lobby was wood paneled, to the best of my recollection. I remember that the interior walls of the theatre were covered with curtains, gold, I believe. The downstairs wating area was also gold-themed. Sorry I can’t really help much with this. Kids don’t pay that much attention… Maybe someone has some photos????

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 12, 2006 at 5:18 am

Can you describe the theater’s original decor, Jay58? A very early post here from RobertR recalls more wood detail than plaster.

jay58 on January 11, 2006 at 1:46 pm

None of the original decor survived.

jay58 on January 11, 2006 at 1:45 pm

Sorry, that should be “Vanderbilt.”

I must also mention that if what was playing at the Plaza didn’t interest us, we could always go to the RKO 58th Street where I saw Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Time Machine. What a place that was!

BTW, my parents moved in to their apartment in 1943; my Father is still there! Yes, we do know the Plaza!

jay58 on January 11, 2006 at 1:42 pm

My brother, sister and I were raised in the building that is just west of the building that used to be the Plaza Theatre and is now the Tao Restaurant. I was delighted to find this site and hope that readers will be pleased by what I have to offer.

First, to the writer who mentioned Polly, I have quite a vivid recollection of her. She was in vaudeville for many years; I wish that I could remember her stories. Mr. Evans, the long-time manager of our childhoods, confirmed her tales. I remember that in her later years she was especially washed in rouge and ate saltine crackers behind her booth.

We were all quite friendly with Mr. Evans and Robbie, the building’s caretaker and I spent many hours in the building, upstairs and down, during business hours and off-hours. Robbie and Don Rugoff allowed me to store my first bicycle in the alley between the Plaza and my parents' building. I saw Gimme' Shelter in the theatre probably three times. Once from the projection booth and twice in the audience.

Another writer explained the relationship between the Plaza and the Vanderbuilt family’s mansion on 5th Avenue. The writer is quite correct. I spent hours in the basement (beyond the public waiting area) looking at what was left of he stables. There was a lot of plumbing but the archways were absolutely there, clear as day. Do you remember the steps going downstairs? They were built on what used to be the ramp going down to the stalls!

BTW, the short buildings that go from the Plaza to the corner of Madison Avenue used to be separate brownstones that were built in the civil war era. They were combined into a “horizontal multiple dwelling” in the 30s. The corner building, the one that is on the SW corner of 58th and Madison, was the first of these to be built and housed the Vanderbilt’s stablemen!

Mr. Evans was succeeded by Mr. Marks, a tall gentleman who walked with a limp and later worked at other theatres. We lost contact years ago.

The Plaza Theatre was an extraordinary place. We all have many happy memories of it.

By the way, Neil (Doc) Simon was one of the owners of the Theatre property.

William on January 9, 2006 at 5:57 am

The Plaza Theatre was listed as seating 530 people.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 9, 2006 at 5:26 am

Thanks Al!!! That’s been bugging me for a while now. Then I saw the movie at the 57th St. Playhouse. I probably saw another film or two that same day in the city, since my M.O. was usually to squeeze in as much as possible on these solo ventures into Manhattan.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 7, 2006 at 10:54 am

Ed, NOT A LOVE STORY, the feminist anti-porn documentary with all the porn scenes plate dthe 57th St. Playhouse in June 1982. The PLAZA was showing an extended run of the hit DIVA.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 5, 2006 at 9:42 am

I’m still curious if anyone knows whether any of the original Plaza Theater decor remains in the current Tao restaurant that occupies the space. I drove past not too long ago and the place is definitely still open, but I couldn’t see much inside. I’m fairly certain I saw the Lindsay Anderson comedy “Brittania Hospital” with Malcom McDowell here in ‘83. And there was a quasi-documentary film in 1986 called “Stripper” that I also saw here. Or so I believe. Does anyone know of any interior photos?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 8, 2005 at 10:23 am

I’m not sure that I ever attended this theater, but I’m trying to track down if a movie named “Not a Love Story” played here around 1981? This was an un-rated (but definitely graphic) documentary about the porno industry that I definitely saw in one of the small mid-town theaters in the upper ‘50’s. I originally thought I saw this at either the Festival or 57th Street Playhouse but then I got to thinking it might have been here at the Plaza or maybe even the Paris Theater or the Cinema III in the Plaza Hotel.

Does the movie ring a bell with anyone? Anyone familiar with midtown bookings for the film?

RobertR on October 27, 2005 at 12:07 pm

The director of this film used to make pro nazi films. I have never seen this film but remember reading a lot about it in a film class.
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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 27, 2005 at 5:16 am

Was the theater completely gutted for the TAO restaurant? I understand the food there is good, and might be interested in making some dinner plans, with camera on hand, particularly if any of the original decor remains.

As hardbop mentioned back in April, there is confusion regarding this theater and the one that was actually located within the Plaza Hotel on Central Park South. I was confused myself about it. That theater (in the hotel) was called Cinema III and was also turned into a restaurant! Here’s the cinematreasures page: /theaters/6461/

ERD on October 27, 2005 at 4:53 am

I remember going with my dad and brother back in the 1950’s to see an Alex Guiness film. It was a charming movie house that added to New York’s charm.

pbenzon on October 27, 2005 at 4:32 am

Does anyone have further information on the Chaplin series that played at the Plaza in the 60s? Or on where The Great Dictator played when it was re-released in 1972?

dave-bronx™ on October 24, 2005 at 6:20 pm

It was a mess over when they were building that Four Seasons hotel.

bazookadave on October 24, 2005 at 4:33 pm

I saw “Henry V” and “A Midnight Clear” here in the early 1990s. Great theatre but its location was a bit off the beaten path for moviegoers. I just walked by yesterday, it’s some kind of club or restaurant now. I saw some of the comments above saying it is called TAO but I did not see a name. What I recall about seeing both films there is that even though I attended them years apart, the street and sidewalk outside the Plaza theatre were very messy. Trash, dirty gutters, parts of the street barricaded and jackhammering going on, etc. The theatre itself was nearly empty.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 15, 2005 at 12:25 pm

A brief scene filmed at the New York premiere here of De Sica’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis in December of 1971 appears in the Italian TV documentary That’s Life: Vittorio De Sica. It is included on the Criterion DVD of Umberto D. The director, others associated with the film, and moviegoers can be seen walking in. The Plaza marquee is clearly evident. We see the front of the theatre and inside the entrance. The scene appears toward the very end of the documentary.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 25, 2005 at 2:53 am

THESE THEATRE ADS appeared in a program booklet “Stadium Concerts Review” for Lewisohn Stadium, College of the City of New York, for July 29 to August 4, 1936. The concerts were by the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra. The small ads tout what was playing at several New York movie theatres. One of them was for the Plaza, then showing The Princess Comes Along.

BoxOfficeBill on August 25, 2005 at 8:46 am

Here’s a Showbill from December, 1960:

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Ποτή τιν Κυριάκι was a huge hit because it made prostitution and sex seem funny and political at the same time. Melina Mercouri supplied the fun on screen with her energetic performance, which she later repeated on the B’way stage in a musical version of the film, I believe one of the first live musicals to derive from a film rather than vice versa. Appropriately too, Mercouri was intensely political in her off-screen activities; it flowed in her blood as the daughter of a Greek Minister of Parliament and granddaughter of the Mayor of Athens. Off-screen, Jules Dassin supplied yet more politics as a resister to McCarthyism in H’wood and an ex-pat who found open-mindedness abroad. On screen, he was hardly funny at all. Mercouri worked in overdrive to give the film the bounce it had.

The article mentioned on the cover, “Can We Take It?” by Robert Hughes, a filmmaker who worked with the United Nations Film Unit, argues that foreign films such as “Hiroshima mon amour” and “Generale della Rovere” have made better anti-war statements than the American-made “Paths of Glory” and “On the Beach.” It ends with a plea for the theatrical showing of John Huston’s unreleased (read: censored) “Let There Be Light,” a 1945 short about combat neurosis. In this year of Our Lord 2005, what could be more relevant?

RobertR on August 14, 2005 at 5:50 am

I noticed that also.

Astyanax on August 14, 2005 at 5:06 am

Curious that “David & Lisa” was a Walter Reade release but was not (according to the above ad), exhibited at any of his NYC art-house outlets.

RobertR on August 13, 2005 at 5:50 pm

“David & Lisa” was in it’s 7th month in this ad.
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