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SJL: I’d say the first time a Star Wars film played at the Ziegfeld was the Special Edition of “Star Wars” in 1997. You’re right about the Astor Plaza – that was always the big-screen home of Star Wars in New York when the films were new. I think I would’ve tried to see them at the Ziegfeld if any of them had played there as a reissue.
I saw my first movie here, a reissue of “Bambi” in 1957 when I was 2 or 3 years old. Many more great movie experiences followed (“West Side Story”, “Birdman of Alcatraz”, “Marnie”, “Help!”, “You Only Live Twice”, “Woodstock”) which is why I feel so sad whenever I pass by the location where it once stood.
The theater CConnolly, Pete and BoxOfficeBill are talking about, the Cinema I, is in the news today. It’s going to be torn down this spring, unless it can somehow be saved. I’ll never forget going there to see “The Exorcist” on its third day – the most frightened audience I’ve ever been a part of.
The closest I ever got to the Roxy was seeing the incredibly detailed scale model of its auditorium on display at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, NY. Even in miniature form it looks like one of the grandest theaters that ever existed.
And with Vito in the booth we’d have one of the best projectionists in the business right off the bat. I’d sure love to have the chance to put my money where my mouth is … if I actually had the money!
They’re holding a 50th-anniversary Todd-AO festival in Bradford, England in March. I wish Clearview would listen to what Vincent is saying – there’s no reason why we couldn’t have that same festival right here at the Ziegfeld. People would come from all over the world to see it.
“Phantom” was in scope and it did look great on the Ziegfeld screen, but something was missing from the whole enterprise compared to the Broadway version. Emmy Rossum sang beautifully, though. This was my second time seeing her at the Ziegfeld in 2004, the first being “The Day After Tomorrow”.
I agree with you, RobertR, about “Chicago”. That was a knockout when it played an exclusive run at the Ziegfeld. It felt like the good old days had returned, for a while at least.
Vito: I was there on New Year’s Eve and, sure enough, the control console is gone. It was replaced by the new seats. Phantom of the Opera was not so hot, unfortunately. What was dramatic and compelling on the Broadway stage becomes no big deal in the movie version. During the more boring moments I’m glad I had the Ziegfeld’s walls and ceiling to look at!
I don’t think anyone has actually operated the console in many years. I’ve seen lots of movies there and the only time I saw the console not closed up was that time in 1972. It might not even be there anymore – they may have taken it out when they replaced all the seats several years ago. I’ll be sure to check for it the next time I’m there. The Phantom of the Opera is playing there now – sounds like a good movie to see at the Ziegfeld.
Vito, that showing of West Side Story in 1972 was the first time I’d been to the Ziegfeld, and when I saw the console I was sure impressed. It seemed like the theater of the future – until we saw and heard the thing in action, doing more harm than good. I have to look for it the next time I see a movie there.
Vito, I don’t think I made myself clear when I mentioned the audience applauding. They clapped in the middle of the movie when he finally gave up, turned the console off and walked away. He was actually ruining the show, because all the sound glitches disappeared when he stopped whatever he was doing.
Vito, I wonder if he was the same guy that I saw 3 years later. I’m surprised he was still working there after all that time. I think I remember some people in the audience applauding when he walked away from the console!
Both those movies played in Cinerama at the Loew’s Capitol in New York. It was on Broadway between 50th and 51st Sts. When “How the West Was Won” played there, it was known as the Loew’s Cinerama, but it later reverted to its original name, the Capitol. It was torn down and replaced by an office tower in 1968.
Robert R: The theater in that picture isn’t the Capitol or the RKO/Warner Cinerama. It looks like the Warner Cinerama theater on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, also known as the Hollywood Pacific and the Pacific 1-2-3.
Don: I remember that console too. During a revival of WEST SIDE STORY in 1972 a guy was controlling the sound from there, and he kept making it worse. These really loud popping noises started happening – until he turned the console off and walked away, then everything was fine. I think the console is still there, only it’s boarded up.
To YankeeMike: The Arclight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood can also show 3-strip Cinerama. Too bad both 3-strip theaters are on the West Coast, far away from us in the East. The closest remaining giant curved Cinerama screen is, I believe, the Uptown in Washington, DC. They played “2001” three years ago and it was overwhelming.
I made a couple goofs in my last post: the highway it didn’t face was Route 4, as Pete pointed out, and the street it did face is called Spring Valley Ave., not Road.
CConnolly: The Bergen Mall theater’s entrance was in the back of the Mall, not the side facing Route 17. It faced Spring Valley Rd. I guess it was behind Stern’s – it was near the eastern end of the mall. I guess it qualified as an art house – I saw Bowie in “The Man Who Fell to Earth” there and also “Swept Away” (not the Madonna version).
Thanks CConnolly for the info on the mural. My niece goes to school at Bergen Community and I’ll ask her about it. Alexander’s has a connection to my all-time favorite movie: when I was 13, I was there with my family the day the review for “2001” was due to appear in the New York Daily News in 1968, and I couldn’t wait for the shopping trip to end so I could get home and read that review (which was not a good one). That was also the day Martin Luther King was assassinated.
Pete, I remember the theater in the Bergen Mall. I think it was called the Mall Theater back in the ‘60s. I saw “To Sir With Love” there, and it was so small and crowded that my family had to split up and find separate seats.
The Paramus Drive-In’s entrance was on Route 4 East, across the highway from the huge Alexander’s department store (which is now Ikea). Never got to see a movie there, unfortunately, but you could see the back of the screen from the highway.
Does anybody remember the really big BIG abstract painting on the front of Alexander’s? Wonder what ever happened to that – was it destroyed when the store was torn down?
I don’t think it would be difficult to imagine the Music Hall filling up if every now and then they showed worthwhile. And I don’t mean just classic films … But what movies do you think could or would fill up the Hall enough to warrant this?
The Music Hall showed Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” on a weeknight back in the 1990’s as part of a classic film festival. There wasn’t too much advertising for this event, but the word got out anyway. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Man, what a thrill that was!
It’s strange – when I talk about the modern Loew’s multiplexes all over Manhattan and northern New Jersey I pronounce it “Lows”, but whenever I go to the Loew’s Jersey movie palace in Jersey City, I can’t help calling it the “Loweez”, which is what I called it 45 years ago.
On Saturday, I saw my 20th classic movie on the Loew’s big screen,
SPARTACUS. Believe me, the last thing Jersey City needs is another
tacky store or office building. It’s incredibly sad how a wonderful
building like the Loew’s has to constantly struggle just to survive.
I sincerely hope Saturday wasn’t the last time I took a walk around
the beautiful lobby and its upstairs balcony, or climbed the grand
red-carpeted staircase, or sat in one of the front rows and gazed up
at the ceiling hundreds of feet above my head – all awe-inspiring
sights that can’t be experienced in any other movie theater in the New York area.
Jim: Sorry to tell you this, but Tom Pedler died on April 27, 2002. There was a memorial to him printed in the program for the James Bond festival held at the Loew’s Jersey in May 2002.
Maybe William would know for sure, but I remember giant tassels on the sides of the screen in the State 2 when the curtains were closed – unless I’m only imagining them. It was a long time ago. I saw “The Godfather” there in its opening week in 1972.