Loew's Jersey Theatre

54 Journal Square,
Jersey City, NJ 07306

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YMike
YMike on March 13, 2005 at 9:47 pm

I hope some day they open the balcony so we can all experience the acoustics. For now the echo reminds me of being in the Loews Oriental before it was split into three theaters.

mahermusic
mahermusic on March 13, 2005 at 6:57 pm

The Loew’s Jersey’s acoustics are incredible. I’ve told you guys about interesting things about the Jersey in earlier posts here, but I can also tell you that I can stand in the last row of the balcony, and hear people talking in normal conversation on the stage… clearly!

MrAudio
MrAudio on March 12, 2005 at 6:59 am

For some reason, I thought the Jersey did have mag capability. Thanks Peter for the heads up.

That echo….. When I first went to the Jersey during their first annual Comedy Fest, I was struck by two things. First, the decor of the auditorium which immediately reminded me of the UA Ridgewood where I spent most of my movie going youth (this was waaaaaay before they first triplexed, and from what I hear now, five plexed the place). Of course, the Jersey was more intricate and much larger, but the style was the same. Even down to the “fake” boxes.

The second was that echo! Warm, almost tangible feelings of being transported back to my youth immediately overtook me. This was how movies sounded when I was growing up! I had become so used to the modern acoustically “dead” room sound of modern cinemas, I had forgotten how things used to sound in a grand old palace.

Of course that echo was there in the Ridgewood because, like the Lowes Jersey, their balcony was never open, so the theater never reached full capacity, and the sound just bounced around all that open space.

Saps is right, if the Jersey was full, that echo would be greatly diminished. Then you would hear how wonderful acoustically the old place really is.

Divinity
Divinity on March 12, 2005 at 4:00 am

I love the echo. It reminds one of the scale of this cavernous movie palace.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 11, 2005 at 9:54 pm

Let’s fill it with 3300 people and see how it sounds then!

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on March 11, 2005 at 5:52 pm

The Jersey does not have mag stereo capability at this time, so a mag print – if even a runnable one still exists – of Ben-Hur wouldn’t have done them any good. Optical Dolby Stereo can sound very good when the proper care is taken transferring the mag tracks. The LJ has a bit of an echo problem, but overall the sound is good, IMO.

MrAudio
MrAudio on March 11, 2005 at 12:13 pm

Vincent,

It’s quite possible. I remember being very young when seeing it and for me the late 60’s and early 70’s kind of blend together. ;)

It is quite possible it wasn’t a wide re-release and I saw it as a “one-off” matinee at my local theater (The UA Ridgewood in Brooklyn) They used to do that quite a bit back then. I do remember it was during the afternoon when I came out pretending I was riding that cahriot.

I do know I saw The Ten Commnadments on it’s last go round in about ‘73 or '74 in Downtown Brooklyn. I was about 10 and was sick, but my folks thought I should see it on the big screen at least once. To show you where my head was at cinematically at the time…when Vincent Price came on screen I blurted out “Mom, you didn’t tell me this was a Vincent Price movie!!” lol

And…IB prints are available. Archives and private collectors are in posession of many, many treasured titles. And that ties into one of Bob’s biggest strengths in that he is well known and respected by both sides. He can get things done in respect to getting good, accurate prints. His rep in both camps is something that is extraordinarily hard to achieve in the celluloid jungle.

RobertR
RobertR on March 11, 2005 at 12:02 pm

Many collectors have IB prints. One of my friends has an IB GTWT in 16mm. A few times he had prints I wanted to show at Cinema Village so I would book the film the regular way but use his prints.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on March 11, 2005 at 11:44 am

Mr.Audio could you be talking about the late ‘60’s rather than early 70’s for the last go round? And are the IB prints for films like GWTW and Ben Hur even available? The studios for these classic films seem pretty uncaring.
However when I win the lottery and build my classic film theater adaptable for everything from silents to CinemaScope 2.55 to Todd AO to 3 screen Cinerama I want Bob to program it for me.

teecee
teecee on March 11, 2005 at 11:41 am

I don’t think that this link has been posted here yet:
http://www.jclandmarks.com/loews.shtml

Keep hitting the “More pictures” button for all three pages.

MrAudio
MrAudio on March 11, 2005 at 10:20 am

It’s good to see I’m not the only one who felt the showing was off!

As far as the color goes, it’s a resolution issue. The tone of the colors was close, but the shades and nuances were obliterated. A classic case of poor quality control, rushed Eastmancolor processing. I saw Ben-Her in it’s last go round as a kid in the early 70’s and it looked rich. It left an impression on me the way the earth tone color scheme of much of the movie was so vivid and opulent.

I was thinking about that last night, and it did dawn on me that some of the faults I found with the print may not have been faults as such. One thing that bears mentioning that I forgot and no one seems to have picked up on, is the issue of “horses for courses” (if I can make the pun)

Up a ways in this discussion forum you’ll note entries from Bob Furmanek about his departure from being programmer at the theater.

Now, the one thing that Bob did there more than any other that contributed to the wonderful success of his screenings was his attention to the prints used.

The carbon arc lighting that the Jersey uses forms a synergistic match to the old dense IB tech and black and white prints that he would book for showings. It’s a bright, bright, light, and much less “blue” illumination than modern Xenon lamps. Modern prints just don’t look good with that type of projection. That may explain the washed out look and off color of the film last Saturday. I think it can even affect preception of focus.

This is why it is so sad they parted ways. I know he would have scored an archive IB Tech print with Mag tracks for Ben-Hur if he were still affiliated with them. And he would have also scored a true archive IB tech print of “Gone With The Wind” as well.

It’s a shame when these “factions” develop and cause misery. I can only hope one day the wounds will heal and the “family” that started the Lowe’s Jersey ressurection will be whole again.

And Andyc, I hear ya on the sightlines issue. I always wondered why they built theaters with such a subtle angle to the floor back then. I’m only 5'4", and it would be very unfortunate to have sat behind you last Saturday! LOL!! I mean…that issue had to exist back then, no? :P

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on March 10, 2005 at 9:54 am

Interesting because I am very sensitive to focus and if it is slightly off it drives me crazy whereas other people don’t seem to notice or care unless it is really bad. And yes there were times when it was slightly out of focus but I thought the projectionist really did a good job of keeping on top of it. I’ve had experiences in the past where entire reels would be out of focus and I would have to complain.
As for the color. I saw a bit of the film not long ago on TCM and I would say the color was comparable and it also matches the tones in the souvenir book for the movie. So what did the movie really look like in ‘59?

andyc
andyc on March 10, 2005 at 9:00 am

i attended ben hur this past saturday and would echo some of MrAudio’s criticisms, unfortunately. while the chariot race looked really good and there is no substitute for seeing the race on a big screen with pounding audio, i agree that parts of the film did look washed out. the biggest problem for me was that much or most of the film was not in really sharp focus. i was glad to see it get focused at the very beginning when anno domini flashed on the screen, but within 10 minutes the focus was very soft. i think one projector may have been in better focus than the other. the dialogue sounded amazingly crisp in sound quality as projected, though the music under the dialog did sound a little buried. this all may sound ungrateful, but also the sightlines right now are such that anyone sitting in front of you is liable to block the screen a little, and i am six feet tall. however, i have liked the theater a lot since i first visited around 1996 and am amazed and in admiration that the volunteers have been able to do the truly heroic restoration of the theater, as well as managing to keep it open in the face of great adversity.

RobertR
RobertR on March 8, 2005 at 6:51 pm

Just wanted to let everyone know Town Hall is running the Douglas Fairbanks film “The Black Pirate” with a live orchestra this Sunday at 2pm. The tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on March 8, 2005 at 6:30 am

Many years ago I saw Selznick’s Tom Sawyer at the MOMA. It was probably one of the first 3 strip Technicolor films. The print was excellent and while the colors were rich they also gave the effect of water color illustations in a children’s book of the period.
This contrasted enormously with the TS I saw at the Music Hall in ‘73 with its grainy washed out home movie look. Technically films at that point had become so shoddy and no one seemed to notice.

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on March 8, 2005 at 5:40 am

It certainly could be, YankeeMike. Warner just hasn’t done it yet.

YMike
YMike on March 8, 2005 at 4:58 am

Last month I saw “Thief Of Bagdad” & “Robin Hood” at the Loews and the prints looked and sounded great. Those films were technicolor and were made at about the same time as GWTW so why can’t a print of GWTW be made to look as clear as those films?

MrAudio
MrAudio on March 7, 2005 at 8:20 pm

Hi Robert

That is an issue that has been kind of a hot potato for a while. I think a lot of the myth of super saturated Technicolor stems from reissue prints that weren’t as carefully timed as opposed to first run issues. According to the book “Glorious Technicolor” the whole goal of Technicolor was natural looking color, not gaudy eye popping hues.

The magazine “The Perfect Vision” used to debate this very topic many years ago, and examination of actual premiere IB tech prints (or remnants of them) showed much more subdued color than reissue copies of the same films. Gone with the Wind in particular seemed to have wildly fluctuating color levels and schemes depending on what reissue print one examined and what process was used. (1939, 1954, technicolr and 1960’s MetroColor etc…)

Another point was IB tech prints don’t make for accurate video transfers. The prints are too dense for most telecine machines and the colors get screwed up there as well. So most of the “technicolor” DVDs out today aren’t from IB prints at all.

Early Techniclor was quite subtle as it was found audiences complained that strong color hurt their eyes. Films like “The Wizard of Oz” had bold colors, but that was a fantasy film. And all the expressionistic films like “The Red Shoes” or the later Gene Kelly and Stanley Donan musicals also featured bold and vivid colors.

So, I’d have to say the answer is its not so much toned down, but the goal of natural looking color is being restored to films that in the past were being seen in an artifically pumped up state.

RobertR
RobertR on March 7, 2005 at 7:44 pm

MrAudio

Read my above posts regarding IB Technicolor. Do you agree the DVD releases seem like the color is toned down?

MrAudio
MrAudio on March 7, 2005 at 7:17 pm

I was at the Ben-Hur screening and I was actually disappointed by the print used. I thought it was pretty bad! It looked very dupey and washed out to me, with poor color consistency between reels, and a lack of razor sharp detail that a good 65mm to 35mm reduction usually provides. The sound also wasn’t that great; it sounded like a standard Dolby optical matrix track instead of a discrete 4 channel source, which meant separation was pretty poor. The music score sounded like it was underwater most of the time. That was no fault of the Lowe’s though. I’ve seen other stereo films there that looked and sounded spectacular.

What was a problem theater wise, seemed to be a faulty projector which caused considerable “wow” whenever the music score swelled. I blame the projector since it happened only in every other reel. Maybe those new projectors came just in time! Side note, will the new projectors use the carbon arc illumination now in place? I sure hope so.

It’s a shame a true IB Tech archival 35mm ‘Scope print wasn’t utilized as this title is one of the most visually spectacular films ever made. A true achivement from the heyday of widescreen photography.

Even with all that though, the sheer spectacle of the film kept one entranced for the almost four hour running time. They really don’t know how to make ‘em like that anymore!

mahermusic
mahermusic on March 7, 2005 at 6:17 pm

The Loew’s Jersey closed on Thursday, August 21, 1986.

RobertR
RobertR on March 7, 2005 at 1:43 pm

I don’t have the latest GWTW DVD, I keep meaning to buy it. What I was basing my post on was the latest Meet Me In St Louis. Does anyone who has worked with real IB Tech prints knopw what Im referring to?

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on March 7, 2005 at 1:39 pm

I was Head Projectionist at Radio City in 1989 when we did the 50th Anniversary screenings of GWTW. The two prints we had were full 1.37 aspect ratio prints, one of which had been pulled two points lighter (as was common) for Radio City projection. Unfortunately, that print had an optical stereo track, and everyone from MOMA and the West Coast felt the mono track simply sounded better than the stereo track run in mono, which we decided to do for the sake of authenticity. The color balance was slightly different on that print as it was done for a video transfer, but we put the same reel up from both prints and ran them together with “split” aperture plates, so the pictures could be compared directly side by side. They actually were very close, and of course used the full 1.37 frame without the necessity for deanamorphosis.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 7, 2005 at 1:20 pm

I have the latest DVD of “GWTW” and I saw no evidence of the color being “toned down.” Sometimes people have the color controls on their TVs set to what they think is “perfection,” but might not be to others.

YMike
YMike on March 7, 2005 at 1:18 pm

I saw GWTW at Radio City in 1989 when they had a special 50th anniversary event. I could swear that print looked better then this 1999 “restored” print.