Elmwood Theatre

57-02 Hoffman Drive,
Elmhurst, NY 11373

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Showing 126 - 150 of 249 comments

Jeffrey1955 on June 15, 2006 at 8:34 am

Great reminiscence, BrooklynJim — only incidentally related to the Elmwood, but still nice to hear. I used to listen to Jean Shepherd every night at 10;15 on WOR, and read the book (which was really more of a series of short stories) when I was in 6th grade. But I have to admit, this movie was so far below the radar, I didn’t even realize until I saw it on TV years later that it was based on Shepherd’s stories!

BrooklynJim on June 15, 2006 at 7:24 am

The time was late December, 1983. My wife and young son had flown from CA to NY to spend the winter with her parents in Ridgewood. I was able to fly in for a week or so (part business, part pleasure) between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Landed at JFK with the temp at a balmy 51. Nice CA weather. That night, it fell to 4 below and stayed around there for the remainder of my trip. $%#@! NY weather.

One evening, my wife suggested we see a movie. I wanted to see Al Cappuccino in “Scarface” at the Ridgewood, but she wasn’t up for that one, based on the reviews. Too violent. She did notice, however, that Jean Shepherd’s ‘66 novel, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” had been made into “A Christmas Story.” She told me and I was sold. (Shepherd, late of WOR radio and top Playboy humorist, was one of my fave writers, then and now.) Taking my youngest sister-in-law with us, off we went by bus in frigid weather to the Elmwood.

Loved the movie, thought it was a tour-de-force hoot. So did my wife. Unfortunately, our sentiments were not shared by her sister. Only when younger brother Randy stuck his face into the mashed potatoes to show his mom how piggies ate did she laugh, but that was it, just that one time. (Shoulda sent her to see “Scarface!”

Later, I was disappointed that “A Christmas Story” hadn’t caught on with audiences. It took years and multiple TV viewings. Now it’s a holiday classic. (You know that’s so when a website pops up to tell you every error in continuity, place and dialog within this low-budget flick. Some people get their jollies in strange ways.)

To demonstrate how miniscule the budget was: Kathy Hawkins, a nurse and former neighbor of mine, had a grandfather in Cleveland where the film was shot. He loaned the director a wind-up tank that is given a decent close-up early on when the kids are oogling all the great Christmas stuff in the window of Higbee’s Department Store. For his donation, he and the family received passes to see the movie.

Today, living directly across the street from me, is a pack of dogs that turns on their primitive howling at top volume whenever they hear fire engines nearby. Naturally, my neighbors and I refer to them as…the Bumpus hounds. What else?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 12, 2006 at 5:49 am

There could have been temp(s) issued. They just aren’t available. All that c/o really tells you is, this theater was a twin by 1982.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 12, 2006 at 5:34 am

NYC must have been a bit slow in issuing its final C/O’s… The theater was definitely in operation as a twin by late 1980 as evidenced by this Movie Clock listing from December of that year:

Daily News 12/14/1980

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 12, 2006 at 4:57 am

In March of 1982 a c/o was issued for a twin theater at this address. Seating was 1001 seats on the main floor plus 648 seats in the former balcony.

Bway on June 12, 2006 at 4:44 am

I “think” it was just a twin when I saw Back to the Future in 1985 there, but I can’t guarantee it. I saw Back to the Future Downstairs, and I “think” it was still the whole orchestra level, but like I said, it’s over 20 years….

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 12, 2006 at 4:25 am

When my Junior High School graduation was held at the Elmwood in June of 1979, the theater was still a single (and playing the horrible monster movie “The Prophecy”). Sometime by the following year, the place was twinned up and down. I don’t remember it as a triplex, but by the end of the ‘80’s the theater was a quartet with 2 up and 2 down (see the seat counts Lost Memory provided above on June 3rd).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 12, 2006 at 4:13 am

The Elmwood was first twinned (top and bottom). The two auditoriums were later divided. On the orchestra floor, the right-hand auditorium was wider than the left. The dividing wall was in the vicinity of the left turret, which had to be partially removed to make way for it.

Bway on June 12, 2006 at 3:43 am

By the way, I haven’t been inside the Elmwood Theater since I saw “Back to the Future” there in 1985, so that’s over 20 years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember if it was “multiplexed” yet by that point. But how was it split up? Why would one of the Turrets have been damaged? Did they cut the orchestra level down the middle? Was the turret damaged when they tried to put a screen on one half? How many screens was the Elmwood cut into?

Bway on June 12, 2006 at 3:36 am

Thanks for the update Warren. I’d like to one day get over there myself.
Anyway, as for them retoring the theater, this is probably the best we can hope for. A chirch is a good “after theater” life for a theater, as they are probably one of the best non-theater afterlifes a theater can get, as churches lend themselves well to theaters.

But it also has to be remembered that they have to make the building suitable for their use. That would include much better lighting than a theater would have offered. That is one of the reasons the Valencia had that chandelier added. While a theater can have “mood lighting” when you come in to be able to see to get to your seats, a theater’s use is “in nthe dark”. While a church must be flooded with light to be able to see readings, hymn books, or whatever they are reading while at service. A church must flood the interior with light, while a movie theater wouldn’t need that. That is the reason you are going to see lighting in there, that you never would have seen as a movie theater.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 12, 2006 at 3:24 am

During a visit yesterday, I found the repair work to be moving slowly but surely. The castle turret to the left of the stage, which was severely damaged during the sub-division of the auditorium, has been fully restored but is not yet open to view due to scaffolding being used for work on an adjacent wall. I was a bit shocked to see that the two side exits in the auditorium have been drastically changed. The medieval ornamentation surrounding the doors was removed. The exits now have peaked roofs, supported by fluted columns at each side. At present, all the walls and ceiling are painted varying shades of white. I don’t know whether they’ll stay that way or will eventually be re-painted with colors. My overall impression is that the church is trying to retain the original castle design of the stage area, but not committed to restoring the rest of the auditorium to what it was before. Many contemporary lighting fixtures have been installed on the side walls. The balcony is still closed, but work is obviously going on there. The orchestra floor was long ago stripped of seats and still uses folding chairs. The front enrance under the marquee is still closed, and entry is through a side door on 57th Avenue…After leaving, I took another look at the roof sign and noticed that the lower left corner of the “L” in “ELMWOOD” is broken and has a piece missing. I don’t know if there are any plans to restore the sign. And even if it is, I doubt that it will ever be lighted again, as the operating costs would be too expensive. And who would pay for it?

NativeForestHiller on June 5, 2006 at 5:56 am

Warren’s first reason seems more like it in this case.

Bway on June 5, 2006 at 5:53 am

Well, I can understand that they don’t want photos taken during services, but I wouldn’t understand it if it was after services.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 4, 2006 at 4:04 am

The work is far from completed, which might be the reason why photographs are not permitted. There’s always a chance that an unflattering photo might get published in a newspaper. Also, many churches forbid picture-taking because it can distract and/or offend worshippers.

Jeffrey1955 on June 3, 2006 at 5:14 pm

I don’t understand why the church won’t permit interior photographs. You’d think if they’re proud of the restoration work, they would be willing to show it off.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 3, 2006 at 12:30 pm

NYC has this theater listed as a quad back in 1989. The seat count was:

Theater #1-211
Theater #2-483
Theater #3-275
Theater #4-275

NativeForestHiller on June 3, 2006 at 8:00 am

It seems as if they will keep the rooftop sign, which will add to the building’s distinctive history. The address & phone of the Rock Community Church/Elmwood is as follows:

Rock Community Church
5702 Hoffman Dr
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(718) 651-2950

ShortyC on June 3, 2006 at 5:31 am

Will they keep the Elmwood sign thats on the roof? It would be nice if they kept it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 24, 2006 at 3:56 am

The church will not permit interior photographs, but visitors are welcome during Sunday services, which start around noon and continue for several hours, including fellowship afterwards.

NativeForestHiller on May 23, 2006 at 11:37 pm

Has anyone visited the Elmwood Theatre/Rock Community Church recently & taken photos of the restoration in progress? I would prefer interior shots, although my fellow members might find exterior shots beneficial as well. Much appreciated!

YeXDO on April 21, 2006 at 6:17 am

I have visited The Rock Church in Kissimmee, FL, close to Orlando and can reassure you that it is in great hands. The staff and leadership are doing a marvelous job remodeling the old arena area, lobby and foyer. This added to a high tempo of services every week! It’s great to see the dedication and commitment of their awesome staff. The greater Orlando area has many physically and spiritually needy folks just as any metro. They’re helping to save more than buildings here. My hat is off for the distance they’ve come to date and I pray for their continued success supporting the disadvantaged that live in our communities.

stevenl on April 19, 2006 at 10:02 pm

first movie i saw there was Godfather last movie seen there Golden child with ed murphy.

Jeffrey1955 on April 4, 2006 at 5:40 pm

I think somebody finally stole the hat.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 4, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Certainly more charming than any of the current non-trailer “pre-show” reels they play in most theaters today. Thanks for sharing that, Robert. Brought back some memories. I seem to recall that played in the late 1980’s or maybe early ‘90’s? Anyone remember that reel that featured Dom DeLuise? I forget which theaters it played in. Possibly Loew’s, but maybe the old Redstone or National Amusements? And whatever happened to all those Will Rogers Institute pass-the-hat ads?

RobertR on March 29, 2006 at 11:44 am

Remember this cute Loew’s short?
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