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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”.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
“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?
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:
Yes, it happened rather quickly with little or no fanfare. Of course the Fox Fanfare will forever ring in memory of the great roxy
I can still hear it as the great curtains parted.
Thanks for the laugh Vincent, to see the threads on the Astor Plaza closing you would think it was the greatest ever. Please, I can only guess all those people crying over the loss of the Astor Plaza never saw a real movie palace like the Roxy.I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sad for the loss of the Astor, it represented one of the last single screen theatres in NY, but there is, of course, no comparison to the closing of the Roxy.
Vincent, my Italian heritage says it like this,
“I got ya front row tickets rii here” :)
I actually watched a bit of the game on MSN Friday, it’s sorta like a car wreck you pass on the highway, some how you just have to stop and look at it. They had chairs set up in the wings for people to watch the carnage, oops, I mean game and the players were actually gushing about playing on the worlds greatest stage. The whole thing made me sick.
Come on guys, you know it upsets Warren when you ad THE to a theatre name. He has told us often enough :)
mjc, I wondered about that rolling the reels around on the floor. I somehow did not think that happened at RCMH.Thanks for clearing that up.
mjc, Very few theatres run reel to reel carbon arc now a days, but some remain with Xenon reel to reel. Everyone has gone platter happy, even the single screen Zigfield, which has two projectors in the booth, uses a platter. What a boring job that projectionist must have.
I was just thinking, RCMH could have presented “Kiss me Kate”
in 3-D without intermission, since they had enough projectors to make a 3-D reel changeover. That is what the Paramount, with four projectors, did with “House Of Wax” and “Charge At Feather River”
That closing night was dedicated to the 50s, where patrons were encourged to drive and display their vintage 50s cars. Many patrons dressed the part, and one couple got engaged with the man proposing to his future wife on film at the start of the show.