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Saw Louis Malle’s “Murmurs of the Heart” there. Enjoyed the movie, but hated having to leave the plush and comfortable lounge area.
Like you ECR, my kids grew up in the surrounding neighborhood and their fondest memories from the 80’s is “playing on the block”. In Midwood, the Century theaters including the Midwood, the Elm, the Nostrand, the Avalon, the Mayfair, along with the Kingsway, and the Kent (not a Century house) had a devoted following of kids and adults and were a safe destination within the immediate neighborhood. These theaters helped define the neighborhood and afforded residents the chance to come together.
It may be no accident that Crazy Eddie’s home entertainment empire started across the street from the Kingsway but as you point out the rise in technology has led to the closure of the above theaters except for the Kent. As a result movie viewing has become an isolative experience, separate from any audience interaction. Most playdates now involve indoor activities and most front yard (few remaining) activities or just hanging out on the stoop are no longer in evidence.
Movie going, as opposed to movie viewing, as a social phenommena no longer exists.
Pretty depressing, pretty distressing – feels like seeing movies in a bomb shelter. Last night the theater was packed given some pretty strong product. Staff were polite, but were inexperienced in how to direct the ticket holders. The lobby is stark and offers no distrations while you are waiting. Going through the old photos posted, there have been a good number of marquees at the main entrance, most fairly elaborate. The latest is little more than an illuminated sandwich board. Given the sad state of marquee listings especially at the AMC Loews houses, which refer you to Fandango instead of identifying the features, there’s something to be grateful for.
Fascinating that specialty films ran in several Brooklyn neighborhoods in theaters like the Bell, the Astor, the St. George.
Now that we have a photo of the Alba, can it be added to the top of the listing?
Curious that on the City Cinema’s web site there is an effort to thwart the city of Sacramento’s efforts to demolish the Tower theater. This from the company that destroyed and demolished the Sutton, and would likely do the same to Cinema 1,2&3 if it was in their economic interest.
Thanks Ken for posting the 1946 photo. The marquee and the blade sign appears to have been the original. The marquee that I recall from the ‘50’s was less stylized and more “modern” and minus the blade sign. I prefer what I assume is the original and was curious as to when the replacement was installed.
Because of the BMT Jamaica Line El tracks overhead you could not appreciate the impressive architectural features of the theater building highlighted in the postcard drawing. Of course the later addition of the Loew’s marquee also distrupted the building view. Saw the Conqueror there with a miscast John Wayne, & Susan Hayward as the love interest (although even back then I knew that there was no attraction between them). I got to appreciate the theater’s impressive details while bored by the feature. Alexander the Great with Richard Burton did a better job of holding my interest.
These were exceptional venues for the release of serious films. It’s no accident that the late 60’s & 70’s are now considered a watermark in American filmmaking. Both the Rugoff and the Reade houses were expert in showcasing these specialty films. Do those films still exist and are they now relegated only to the Lincoln Plaza, the Angelica & the Sunshine? Does anyone know the whereabouts of Dean Kronos who managed the C&B in the late 60’s?
As I can recall by the 1950’s there were no longer color lights above the marquee.
Truth be told, the Plaza was never a conventional venue, and until coming under the Rugoff banner in the ‘60s, specialized in some imports but mostly revivals. Under the deft booking pattern of Cinema 5 it established a clear identity as a prime first run art house in league with the Paris to the west, and the Fine Arts to the east. After the exit of the specialized Rugoff bookings and advertising campaigns, it became just another screen in a marginal location.
Sadly, is this the last of the Fox theater empire to give up the ghost? I agree that the neighborhood could use it as a performing arts center.Do all the local high schools hold their graduations at Queens College?
Elvira Madigan, a Cinema V release, premiered at the Cinema II in the spring/summer of 1968.
Great neighborhood destination. By the 70’s most of the original detail had been “modernized” but always comfortable, clean and well run especially for a discount house. Packed the crowds when it played “Raging Bull” & “Grease” as well as other blockbusters of the era. Great eateries on Avenue J including Bonaparte’s, Joy Fong and of course Di Fara’s, still serving one of the best slices of pizza in the city.
Great 1947 photo of the Vogue. Too bad that the structure that replaced it is so nondescript and adds nothing to the streetscape.
Hadn’t realized that Lincoln Center, under the mantra of urban renewal, demolished what Westsidegirl describes as a cohesive and distinct community. Like other neighborhood theaters, the Regency served as a touchstone for the area. No coincidence that the early Rugoff houses completely identified with the surrounding neighborhoods: the Gramercy, the Murray Hill, the Sutton, the Beekman.
The Devoe branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system where the book’s heroine went for sanctuary is just a few blocks west of the Metropolitan on Devoe St. & Manhattan Ave. As I remember, it was a rather quaint neighborhood branch on a quiet neighborhood tree-lined street.
The Maujer Street Houses are reknown as one of the first NYC Housing Authoprity developments in the city. The location of this theater is an odd one as both Manhattan Av. & Scholes were not major thoroughfares, unlike Graham Ave., one block over. The closure of this site probably encouraged the construction of the nearby Rainbow.
Terrific photo of the building, vastly different from the present day view of Whole Foods/Avalon Chrystie. Curious that the site remained vacant for several decades, although the local Community Board was seeking a development plan that tied in the northern side of Houston St., and offered community recreation, hence the University Settlement Community Center and the YMCA. The basement level of the site is up against the noisy vibrations from the F & V train subway tracks. Curious as to whether this was evident when the theaters were in operation.
Appears that the grumps are not only restricted to the owner of the “bondada”. Tha Alba was a local institution and the focal point of the surrounding neighborhood. The theaters were not just buildings exisiting in a vacuum, but part of the community fabric and at times it helps to get an understanding for the texture of the surrounding area. It’s too bad if some of our members are limited in that perspective.
Good Old Brooklyn – Just caught your post from last year. Can’t believe that anyone still remembers Angelo the chicken market owner with one milky colored, blind eye, as well as Sal the barber. My dad would place bets with the owner of the fruit & vegetable store next to Linden’s. The best was the bread bakery across from 849 Flushing Ave. The owner was a no-nonsense Italian woman who turned out Italian & French bread from her brick oven. We got to know the baker’s schedule and when the bread would be coming out of the oven. Nothing like it! Anyone remember the owner’s name?
And I always thought that the original Kitzl Park was in Williamsburg at the juncture of Lee Ave. & Roebling St. and not in Brownsville backing on the Loews Pitkin.
The C5 ad campaigns were brilliant, and usually were accompanied by creative lobby displays in the first run houses. Memorable among these were the promotions for “Elvira Madigan”, “Z”, “Putney Swope”, “the Fireman’s Ball” and the “Two of Us”.
Went by the theater a couple of weeks ago and although it was well past sunset, the marquee was dark. The Urban Outfitters next door by contrast, was brightly lit and many times more inviting than the darkened theater space.
Sad to link this 4-screen with the original showplace. Adding movie screens as an afterthought to another entertainment or business site has little chance of success. No surprise that Virgin as the prime tenant compounded the shortcomings of the quadplex. Of course you can trace this back to when the Loews corporation decided to make their fortunes in real estate, instead of entertainment.
Never got to the theater but glad to know that the bakery is still there. It was a regular stop walking from nearby JHS 50.