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It’s strange to see one single wall standing on a big vacant lot. Check it out while you can!
My grandmother and great-grandmother lived at 2525 Church Avenue until the early 1970s. I think this was the first movie theater I ever went to, beginning a life-long love affair. We saw Jason and the Argonauts, circa 1963. I also saw The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Mary Poppins. As I recall we sat in the balcony.
It was a mess really only after it closed, with a leaking roof that no one repaired for years. It was my favorite place to see double features, and even in those days there was a remarkable amount of detail still existing. Of course it’s gorgeous now, but then it was a pretty decent grind house. It was a thrill to come up out of the subway on Wednesday (and later Friday) mornings, make the U-turn onto 42nd Street, and see all those wonderful marquees with their breathless descriptions of the double and triple bills awaiting inside. I loved seeing 9:00am movies at rock-bottom prices instead of going to college classes!
I saw Freaks there about 1970 when I was a young teenager. My girlfriend and I came in more than half-way through the film, and the movie freaked us out so much (One of us, one of us…) that we fled at intermission. It was years later that I finally had the nerve to watch it again, and it was as distrubing as I remembered it. A weird little theater perfect for such a weird little movie.
>>Its auditorium was in the very rear of its block, preceded by a group of vestibules containing stairways, restrooms, and one of the first theatre escalators that ran through a former carpet store, which fronted on Washington Street. The theatre held 2500 people in an orchestra, two balconies, and fourteen brass-railed boxes…
That’s just the way I remember it from the mid-1980’s!
If you ask a New Yorker about the Little Theatre, she may say, oh, you mean the one on 44th Street next to Sardi’s, now called the Helen Hayes? That’s what I’d say, anyway.
>>“Gone with the wind” which remains the worst example of 70mm
Of course, Gone With the Wind wasn’t made in 70mm, it was just monstrously blown up to that size 30-something years after it was made. I saw GWTW for the first time in that 70mm print at the UA Syosset 150, and I was shocked at the poor quality (everything was fuzzy and grainy) and the obvious cropping of the image at the top and bottom. I couldn’t belive this was the biggest grossing picture of all time! The curved screen was pretty neat, as long as nothing was being projected onto it.
I later saw GWTW at RCMH in its proper aspect ratio, and of course it was magnificent.
Robert R, that was the Bryant Theater on 42nd Street between 6th and 7th, where in the late 1970’s I saw my first and only live sex show. Oh, brother.
The lobby of the Selwyn collaped, but the auditorium, currently known as American Airlines Theater, was unharmed.
I passed by tonight and the marquee is still up and still listed the same movies as mentioned above.
Also, Niagara was pre-Cinemascope, but with the twin wonders of the Falls and MM in blazing technicolor, who needed a wide screen! I’ve seen this movie on the big screen (not in its original release) more than once…va-va-va-voom! Where did Niagara open in New York, anyway?
That link should be www.film-tech.com (without the comma)
Here’s an interesting Q & A from Roger Ebert’s 10/03/04 column concerning screen brightness. Hey, CConnolly, maybe we should get a light meter and check out some of these local houses!
Q. I know well your well-deserved attacks on theater managers who don’t have bulbs at full brightness. So when I was hired as the general manager of the Grand Cinema, a non-profit movie theater in Tacoma, Wash., I resolved not to be one of those managers. One of my first questions to my projectionist was whether we have the bulbs of our three screens at full power. We don’t.
And five months later, we still don’t. As he tells me, our theaters are so small (no more than 50 or 60 feet from projector to screen) that having our bulbs at full would burn our screens and wash out a picture. I’ve relied on his judgment, but I think it’s time to check this. Is there any evidence to suggest that a bulb should be dimmed slightly or significantly if playing in a very small theater?
Erik Hanberg, Tacoma, Wash.
A. Steve Kraus of the Lake Street Screening Room in Chicago, who is a scholar of film projection, tells me: “Yes, it is possible to be too bright. Of course you can’t literally burn the screen but the picture could be washed out and uncomfortable to watch. There are many factors in picture brightness, but there is no reason for guessing. A technician with a light meter can read the reflected brightness of the screen with the projector running without film. It should be 16 foot-Lamberts. I would recommend the forum section at www.film-tech.com, where he can get detailed advice about his particular equipment.”
They used to own the Long Beach but don’t anymore, which was torn down and rebuilt by new owners.
I was from Brooklyn and I think this place is in the middle of nowhere, unless you are taking the bus or driving. The nearest subway lines are several blocks awaw, either on East 16th Street or on Nostrand Avenue; no subway line runs along that part of Flatbush Avenue. So unless you’re really devoted it could be a chore to get there.
There is a large marquee that says Oceanside Theater that is over the sidewalk and can be easily seen by passing traffic. There is another smaller marquee flush against the building that gives the names of the movies playing. I’ve never seen any birthday messages.
There is nothing to be afraid of inside. There are two nondescript auditoriums, but the place is clean and the screens are clean and usually well lit.
This is a family-owned business with a friendly staff. It has a smallish lobby but a lot of one sheets advertising upcoming movies and those playing at the Bellmore and Malverne, also owned by this family.
Admission is also inexpensive and the concession stand is cheaper than the chains.
We should treasure these local houses, because we will miss them when they’re gone. I recently saw Motorcycle Diaries and Maria Full of Grace here, so I also appreciate the creative booking that sometimes occurs.
Yes, the Christmas Spectacular is often at the TKTS half-price booth in Times Square; I’m not sure about the South Street Seaport location. Thanks for reminding me…maybe I’ll check it out at half-price, and it’ll be a good opportunity to explore the Hall again. I love going into the upper mezzanines and looking out over the lobby, or sitting in and watching the show from that extreme perspective.
This is late notice but I just learned that there is a special one-hour program about Radio City Music Hall on WOR-TV (UPN network) tonight at 9:00pm.
Vincent, I know I’m a little lazy but do you have a link to that Crowthers' Art and Leisure piece?
They ran those Embassy theaters right into the ground.
(This is a copy of some posts on Sunrise Multiplex board about the Green Acres Cinemas.)
The Green Acres Cinemas is so much nicer than this one. [Sunrise Multiplex] Sadly NA is letting it get run down. They do book the more upscale features here, but when you start seeing hand printed signs hung on walls it’s not good.
posted by RobertR on Nov 22, 2004 at 9:50am
RobertR: You have GOT to be kidding me that the Green Acres Cinemas is falling apart! When that opened (or reopened as a six screener) in 1988 or so, it was a REALLY nice place. The theaters were small but it was beautiful. The last time I saw a movie there was “The Crying Game” in 1992 and it was still really nice. What a shame to let it go down hill. But with the megaplexes now taking over, this place’s days are numbered. If this was located in a more accesible place, like on a neighborhood street, it might have a chance. What I mean is, there’s dumpy theater located in Teaneck, NJ that’s a four plex made from an old single screener. Now this place is nothing special but it’s got two things going for it: it’s located in a neighborhood that enjoys the type of movies it shows (independent/art films) and it’s in a very accessible neighborhood street. Hope this made sense.
posted by CConnolly on Nov 22, 2004 at 10:39am
I was there over the summer and although it was still clean there were many signs things were not being kept up. The candy stand only used one out of four stations and they did not even bother to make the other stations look decent. The show cases were just empty. They also did not have as much concession item’s as most theatres. The auditorium I was in had most of the runway lights burned out and alot of the theatre lights were dead. I checked out upstairs and that candy stand looks like it has not been used since the Cineplex days. As a former theatre manager this always suprises me. For the small amount it pays to have another concession person, you can make this up in a few sales. Also having a person behind the counter upstairs prevents vandalism. This was a top rate house in it’s single days when it used to play exclusives, I have a load of great movie memories there.
posted by RobertR on Nov 22, 2004 at 11:06am
I s still think to this day this theater must be in the top 5 grossing theaters in the country the #s here are still hugh…..
posted by longislandmovies on Nov 22, 2004 at 11:51am
“This was a top rate house in it’s single days when it used to play exclusives, I have a load of great movie memories there.”
Oh, are YOU kidding me? Of all the theaters I remember going to as a kid, the Green Acres is the one I have the best memories of. The most distinctive is seeing “Jaws” there in the summer of 1975. The entire PACKED audience screaming our collective heads off when the guys head rolls toward the audience. I remember the deep red brick on the front of the theater and that huge marquee.
Obviously this is a discussion more for Green Acres posting than the multiplex but it does relate to it. Do you know what year the original Century’s Green Acres opened? Do you remember that marquee they had on the BACK of the theater that faced the mall? That always got to me as a kid…
posted by CConnolly on Nov 22, 2004 at 12:05pm
Nice article to enjoy in today’s New York Daily News at this link: http://www.nydailynews.com/city_life/big_town/
Cavalcade is a great but mostly forgotten Best Picture winner, and there’s no shame in it moving over to RCMH! It still runs on the Fox Movie Channel (talk about moving over) so try to catch it if you can.
What’s the latest on the classic film series? I’d love to see a great old movie in a great old theater.