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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.
I visited the RCMH booth just before the restoration and wondered about what has changed. At the time there were 5 projectors, 3 of them were Simplex 35/70 and the other two were Simplex XL 35. All were equipt with a Xenon light source, the carbon arc lamps having been removed a while ago.Dolby Digital had been installed and they were running on 6k reels. No platter in site ,thank heavens, I hope it stayed that way. At one time RCMH employed multiple union projectionist on each shift, two would monitor the changeovers, one calling out the que marks as not to miss them. A chief projectionist was also on hand.The reels were rewound by hand and inspected after each showing. Any one with more info?
Re-opens Friday, July 23 with a double bill, “Bourne Supremacy"
and "Anchorman”. This is the first drive-in movie showing in New Jersey since 1981. Capacity is 700 cars, and the screen is an awesome 120 feet wide. Admission will be $6 for adults and $3 for children which is rather a bargain for a double feature. I would be wonderful if the public were to turn out to support this wonderful piece of Americana.
National Amusements buys only the best in projection and sound. In addition, the equipment is kept in top form thru a maintenance agreement with a projection survice company. The condition of the theatres is monitred regularly, nothing in the booth or anywhere else in the theatre is allowed to deteriate and must be kept in tip top condition at all times.
OH MY GOD! Did anyone else see those pictures of RCMH on television last night? The stage is a basketball court. They built some sort of hidious frame around the stage and hoops were installed and I saw men playing basketball. The image of that has been burned into my mind and I am cursed to see that forever.
How dare they do such a thing? obviously they have no respect at all. Do yourself a favor and do not allow yourself to see the hall in her present state.
National Amusements has a second complex of this type in White Plains, the design is called “Cinema Delux”.
The 15 White Plains cinemas cinemas are equiped with huge wall to wall screens and state of the art Dolby Digital sound. The concession stand features “Directors Hall Express Service”. Ushers will also show you to your reserved seat. This concept brings a little class back to the movie going experience.
Ahhhh a time machine, lets see, take me to Christmas 1954 to see “White Christmas” in VistaVision at RCMH
Holmes, I think the ship has sailed on that.
The Paramount sat for several years with no one interested in saving it, and now someone has purchased the building who has no interest at all in keping it as a theatre…. no interest at all
I have difficulty even driving by, it’s just too sad