Comments from Vito

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Vito commented about St. George Theatre on Sep 3, 2004 at 8:27 am

Doreen, is the screen still there?

Vito commented about St. George Theatre on Sep 3, 2004 at 7:49 am

Well, that is not good new about the speaker. Jean is right, it would take a lot to get it out of the building. However the previous owners (renters) were very desperate for money and I guess stole it. I am very concerned now about what they took out of the booth. I had a complete sound system in the booth which I had upgraded with the help of friends in the industry. I worry now it’s also gone. I will have to take inventory when I get back. I never should have trusted Stephine and her band of thiefs, trouble is I discovered too late what she was up to. Did they take the stage curtain?

Vito commented about Radio City Music Hall on Sep 3, 2004 at 5:07 am

I am not sure I agree with the statement about RCMH and mag sound. I thought it was used rather extensily during the mid to late 50s.RCMH also used magnetic sound when 70mm was installed. The Simplex 35/70 projectors have 35mm as well as 70mm magnetic readers.
The last four track I saw at RCMH was in 1972 with “The Red Tent”.
“A Star Is Born” in 1976 was just about the last film to have four track, it included Dolby noise reduction which of course became Dolby optical stereo. Then “Star Wars” started the Dolby stereo revolution we enjoy today. Only Fox was completely commited to magnetic sound, all fox releases starting with “The Robe” in 1953 were available in either optical or magnetic versions. later on with the advent of mag/optical prints, all fox releases were distributed mag/optical untill 1963 when Fox abanded CinemaScope for Panavision. The last CinemaScope fox release, I believe was “Capriece” starting Doris Day. After that it was goodbye to mag sound at Fox and all Panavision prints were optical.Fox was going through some tough financial times then and the added cost of magnetic prints was one of the first to go. This brings up a question to which I never really recieved a satisfactory answer.
Why did Fox dump CinemaScope? I for one missed the extended scope Fox fanfare which disapeared with the switch to Panavision, which was never heard again untill “Star Wars” when Lucas changed “A Cinemascope production” to “A George Lucas Production”, returning Mr. Newmans great fanfare to it’s former glory.

Vito commented about Radio City Music Hall on Sep 2, 2004 at 12:28 pm

Vincent, I never saw any magnetic prints of “North By Northwest”
I played the film a couple of times and the prints were always
optical (mono).By 1959 the mag stereo prints had begun to get scarce.
Only the 35mm versions of 70mm roadshow pictures were coming thru in mag sound. In adition since “North By Nothwest” was filmed in VistaVision and shown as a reduction print, I don’t think it had stereo sound. Most VistaVision pictures were released mono with some Prespecta prints around. I also saw “Singin in the Rain” which was re-mixed in stereo and it didn’t sound to bad, The worst offender of the re-mixed tracks had to be the re-release of “Gone with the Wind”. What a disaster,especially the 70mm vesion. the surround track would simply go and and off, and since there was no real separation, just playing different parts of the dialogue and sound thru the surround speakers, well, it was awful The four track mag prints were of course just as bad. But it looked better in 35mm,
the 70mm prints looked all out of porportion. Lastly “Scrooge”,
I believe played RCMH in 70mm, hense the great sound.

Vito commented about Radio City Music Hall on Sep 2, 2004 at 10:18 am

Well said vincent, I felt same way about the Roxy and Paramount, I went not only for the movie but sometimes just to melt away in the grandeur of it all, and in the 40s and 50s with very little air conditioning anywhere else, it was a great place to beat the heat.
As for RCNH and stereo sound, from 1954 till about 1960 most of the product from MGM and all of the product from FOX was available in four track magnetic sound.I believe all those MGM pictures, as well as some from Columbia, played the hall were in four track. The seperation did get lost at RCMH but there was no dening the quality of the sound. However, one had to sit in one of the mezzanines to notice the surrounds, which in the days before Dolby, were located in the ceiling. I believe RCMH management resisted placing surround speaker boxes all over the hall when 70mmm was installed, but when Dolby Digital came along surround speakers with gold covered speaker fabric popped up all the place, this of course, as ugly as they are, intensified the surround experience. Oh and yes Bill, I too remember “Today to get the people to attend the picture show” the great sterophonic sound song and dance number from “Silk Stockings”

Vito commented about Radio City Music Hall on Sep 2, 2004 at 4:00 am

Do any of you very knowledgeable gentlemen know if the Capital projected Vertigo in VistaVision? I can recall RCMH and the Paramount having VistaVision projection, what about the Capital.

Vito commented about St. George Theatre on Sep 1, 2004 at 11:06 am

Doreen, I worked for 45 years in theatre exibition. I know several film buyers (bookers) who can give us all the info we need to procure films. I am going on vacation on Monday for two weeks but will start contacting people immediately thereafter and find out what I can. Booking the films is fairly simple, there are many markets which supply classic films in 35mm. Last time I was in the booth everything was working fine, I do wonder however if anyone has
been up there to undue some of my work. In addition, I installed a Voice Of the Theatre A4 speaker system and hope it is still there. I last saw it stage left covered in cloth. The wire connecting to the projection booth is attached to the screen, which had been bolted to the ceiling for safety sake, but the screen once the bolts are removed can be lowered and it is in very good condition. It should be the second fly to the right of the one marked “Rag” which is the
main curtain. Incidently, the curtain is capable of not only going up/down it can, since it is two panels, work as a travel curtain.
the rigging just needs to be replaced. I will talk more to you about this upon my return, meanwhile I encourage anyone else intersted in getting classic movies back to the St George contact Doreen

Vito commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 31, 2004 at 9:37 am

Log on to St George/theaters/1864/
There is a movement to bring movies to the St George

Vito commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 31, 2004 at 7:15 am

When I worked the Paramount, we kept the balcony closed during mid-week in order to save costs. We avoided some usher staff as well as additional cleaning crew. At least once a night I was asked tp patroll the balcony to be sure no one sneaked up there but when I found someone up there, and I did, I would let them be as long as they were well behaved and carried their trash with them when they left. My manager, Mr.Johns, was very understanding about it as well.
His biggest concern was stuff thrown down to the orchestra level, as well as people being snuck in thru the balcony door leading to the stairway down to the street. There were 500 seats in the balcony.
All the seats were replaced in 1961 when the theatre was refurbished.
Fresh paint was applied as well as some but not all new carpet.The theatre reopened with “Flower Drum Song”.

Vito commented about St. George Theatre on Aug 31, 2004 at 6:57 am

I believe you are missing the point, first of all I am not suggesting the St. George be turned back into a full time movie house, although there are NO movie theatres on the north shore…none, I believe, as many do, people will come from far and wide to see a movie in a palace rather than a small multiplex box which is all that is available at this time. There are many similar venues all over the country which present classic films on a regular basis as well as first run movies, this is done in addition to live events. I would prefer to get involved in this with a group of people who are as passionate about the idea as I am. Respectfully and clearly that is not where you are now, perhaps some day. So I wish you much luck with the theatre, it’s great to see it alive and well and not turned into a parking lot or some such thing. Thanks also for taking the time to discuss this and give us your views.
Tell us more about the Christmas spectacular, what will it be?

Vito commented about St. George Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 5:26 am

Hi Doreen, I did speak on the phone to Mrs Rosemary about this and she told me flat out there was no interest in movies. In addition, someone else I know asked her about movies and Mrs Rosemary and again said no to movies and made the comment that she did not want a “captive audience” what ever that means. If there is a change of heart on this I would welcome the chance to play a part in presenting movies. I would not want to sponsor such events but would be willing to do all the work including the projection. Please
E-mail me, , if interested. Thanks you

Vito commented about St. George Theatre on Aug 29, 2004 at 7:41 am

Once again no mention of movies has been made. I worked for months getting the old projection booth up and running, donating my time and materials so that the big silver screen could once again thrill those who may have never watched a movie in this grand venue.
The people running things at the time had some very questionable ethics so I bowed out. Now the new owners seem to have no interset at all in showing films. What a shame, because I am sure thousands of Staten Island residents would love to come to the St George to watch classic films in this magnificent theatre. I believe it is very short sighted of the new owners not to recognise that. Running classic films is a very inexpensive undertaking and would fill the time when the theatre might overwise be dark very nicely.

Vito commented about Amityville Twin on Aug 22, 2004 at 4:57 am

I worked the “Big A” for several years in the late 60s early 70s
when it was operated by Prudential which became UA. Once UA took over things began to go downhill with the exception of the projection. The man in charge of UA projection, Joe Kelly, would visit the theatres and keep the sound and projection in top form.
We presented many 35mm 4 track magnetic stereo movies including a reissue of “Gone With The Wind”, as well as “Hello Dolly” and “2001"
Sitting in the Lodge costs an additional $.50 and as Orlando mentioned had very comfortable rocking chair seats. There was a huge curved screen and a powerful (for it’s day) sound system. We had a daily matinee at 2pm Monday thru Friday followed by two evening shows starting at 7pm. Saturday and Sunday were continuous from 2PM
Due to it’s length, "Gone With The Wind” played continuous every day from 12 noon with three showings a day for the 4 week run.
It was a great place to see a movie.

Vito commented about Roxy Theatre on Aug 22, 2004 at 4:00 am

We can compare the advertising of CinemaScope 55 with VistaVision.
Very few theatres (Radio City, Paramount) actually presented movies in VistaVision projection. However, both formats, when shown with reduction prints, looked magnificent. I think Mr Zanuck recogonised that and did not really feel he was fooling the public, but giving the movies a better presentaion even in the reduction prints.

Vito commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 14, 2004 at 8:35 am

Thank you Peter for the info, I never realised stereo sound was used in this way. I just assumed all stereo sound was magnetic stiping on the prints. I’m always happy to learn something new.

Vito commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 14, 2004 at 5:07 am

Thank you Peter for the info on WarnerPhonic. I seem to remember The Paramount had four projectors and a a changeover was made between the two parts eliminating the reel change intermission.
Did they also set up a 35mm magnetic sound reader to interlock with the film projectors? On many occasions I have worked a booth for test screenings and the print’s sound is carried on a seperate magnetic track played thru a sound reader which must be interlocked with the picture, I assume this is how WarnerPhonic sound was presented at the Paramount.

Vito commented about Roxy Theatre on Aug 13, 2004 at 3:49 am

Going to work as a projectionist and finding hundreds of people on line waiting to enter the wonders of a movie palace is one of the greatest joys of my life. The thrill of looking down from from my booth porthole to hundreds if not thousands of people and listining to the roars of laughter at “Some Like It Hot” or the screams during “Physco” can not be described. I can not forget seeing countless numbers of kids enjoying a movie matinee of westerns, cartoons and The 3 Stooges. When I dimmed the lights at the start of the show and heard all those children scream delight in anticipation of what I was about to present to them would always choke me up a little. Well…. you just had to be there.

Vito commented about Radio City Music Hall on Aug 12, 2004 at 11:39 am

Vincent, my roadshow days were a long time ago, however I remember a few standouts such as, “Sound Of Music” (70mm and 35mm)
“Oliver” (70mm), “Ben Hur” (70mm) “My Fair Lady” (70mm) “Hello Dolly” and Grand Prix (70mm Cinerama) I do remember the last one which was “Fiddler On The Roof” in 35mm with 4 track mag sound.
Prior to the opening, a dress rehersal would be done to check the print and set volume levels as well as timing the lights and curtains for the overture, intermission and exit music. Sometimes as in the case of “Hello Dolly” the studio (fox) attended to put their two cents in. As for becoming a projectionist, in my day you had to pass a written test and then take a practical exam which was given at a theatre in New York, then if you passed both tests you were issued a licence and the business agent would present you to the executive board exactally as outlined by William.

Vito commented about Roxy Theatre on Aug 12, 2004 at 4:44 am

Good job Warren!, I too read the article and sorta just grunbled something to myself about getting the facts straight. I am Glad you took action, This is not trivia they are writting about, it’s historic fact.

Vito commented about Radio City Music Hall on Aug 12, 2004 at 4:39 am

William is quite correct, I was a union projectionist in New York for many years and the jobs were awarded just as he said. In the early years with a low seniority number I worked as a relief projectionist and would travel from theatre to theatre covering vacations.When a projectionist vacated a job the bids would go out and I would work the booth untill the bids were closed and the job awarded.In addition whenever a roadshow was presented in 70mm, two projectionists were on duty at all times no matter how big the house. Incidendently, $50-$75 per show was pretty good money in those days, we only worked about 3 to 4 hours per shift. On a Roadshow engagement we were required to be in the booth one hour before show time, and half hour on regular continuous shows. engagements.

Vito commented about Lane Theater on Aug 12, 2004 at 4:17 am

The sound system at the Lane was a small 50 watt tube amplifier which today would be rather sub-standard, but in it’s day was considered acceptable. Th Paramount sound system, which was upgraded in 1954 to include magnetic stereo sound, was far better than the Lane or St George. Another problem with the Lane was the introduction of Cinemascope, the stage area could not accomadate a larger screen, so Cinemascope was shown letterbox style on the same screen it had always had, with monophonic (optical) sound.

Vito commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 12, 2004 at 4:04 am

I would agree with Garth, I do not recall the Paramount ever being used as an adult theatre, however during the time it ran as a nightclub some 16mm adult films were shown from time to time.
I remember a halloween screening of “Rocky Horror Picture” Show"
in 16mm was also held.

Vito commented about Roxy Theatre on Aug 10, 2004 at 3:46 am

I wonder how different things might have been had the goverment kept out of the movie biz. Would some of the palaces still be around? Would we have lost MGM and RKO?

Vito commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 1, 2004 at 4:52 am

“House of Wax” was the first film presented in Warnerphonic sound
which was the precurser to stereo sound. The film was of course played in dual projection 3-D with an optical photographic track, the stage speakers (3) playing from the left image and the surrounds playing from the right image.I believe this info to be accurate, anyone know more about it?

Vito commented about St. George Theatre on Aug 1, 2004 at 4:44 am


I would be interested in helping in any way I can to bring movies back to the theatre. I spent a good deal of time recently, updated and repairing the projection systrem in the booth. However the previous tenant (I think you know of whom I speak)and I had issues and I walked away. Most of the work was completed and very liitle remains to be done to be able to show movies. If intested in contacting me please do so.I think many people would like to see classic films shown in a movie palace from time to time
Please contact me at: .com