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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.
Warren is right – the theater is listed under the name Movieland:
I think the Roxy Concert Hall was once the Forum 47th St. theater. At least that’s what it was called in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I think it had another name earlier than that. I saw “The Ten Commandments” and “E.T.” there.
My favorite is the Cinerama Dome. Something about that sky, and the jet plane flying overhead … it looks like a shot from Black Orpheus. One more reason: I finally got to attend a Cinerama show at the Dome last September (How the West Was Won).
The way all you guys are sharing your experience and reminiscences with us is the next best thing to having access to H.G. Wells’s time machine. Thanks!
Vito and Martin: Thanks for talking about the Fox CinemaScope fanfare. I’m grateful to George Lucas or whoever it was on “Star Wars” who was responsible for bringing it back. Speaking of Lucas, maybe it’s my imagination but has anyone else noticed that on the last two Star Wars films (Episodes 1 & 2), Alfred Newman’s Fox music sounds way too low, much lower than the Star Wars fanfare that follows it? Maybe this is Lucas’s way of keeping 20th Cebtury Fox in their place – they just distribute the movies but he creates them … I don’t know.
My favorite movie music to follow the Fox fanfare? There are two of them, both from the ‘50’s. “The King and I”, with that glorious Alfred Newman arrangement of the March of the Siamese Children, and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, a terrifying blast of percussion and pipe organ courtesy of the Master, Bernard Herrmann.
To Will: In 1970 I can remember seeing a short subject with “The Out-of-Towners” , and a trailer for the scheduled next attraction at the Music Hall, “Darling Lili”, playing with “Airport” (even though it wasn’t the next attraction. “The Out-of-Towners” was. Don’t know what happened there – maybe “Darling Lili” wasn’t finished on time).
I saw “Damnation Alley” here in 1977, shown in something called Sound 360. This was the second-rate sci-fi movie 20th Century Fox had higher hopes for than they had for “Star Wars” before it opened and became their highest-grossing film ever.
David: The #102. I haven’t thought about that bus number in years. It’s the #76 now, but of course there are no more Fox and Oritani to go to.
This theater is seen in the opening minutes of Steven Spielberg’s “Duel”. It goes by fast, but after a lot of freeze-framing I got to see what was playing: a triple feature of “The Possession of Joel Delaney”, “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Brotherhood of Satan”. And across the street at the Los Angeles Theater: “Buck and the Preacher”.
I care too, so make it six! I have an old (1972) xerox copy from microfilm of the original 1933 opening day ad for “King Kong” which gives the address of the New Roxy as 6th Ave. and 49th St. This confused me at first because I’d thought the Roxy was near 7th Ave. – this was before I learned they were two different theaters. I believe the ad lists “King Kong”’s two theaters as Radio City Music Hall and Radio City New Roxy.
My dad lived in Hoboken from 1928 to 1963. He told me this theater was so unsanitary they called it “The Scratch House”.
Thanks, Theatrefan. Those pictures are wonderful. I also never knew that the Winter Garden ever showed movies, and good ones, too (“Stairway to Heaven”).
On the “Psycho” DVD there’s an excellent documentary where you can see the outside of the DeMille as it was in 1960. And I mean all of it: the box-office booth with ticket prices posted, the lobby, all kinds of posters and displays, the marquee and the big corner billboard, the sidewalk outside where people waited in a special line(for the first time in movie history, probably) for the current show to be over and for the next show to begin, etc.
Longest run at the Astor Plaza: “Star Wars” – 65 weeks in 1977-78. “Grease” was supposed to open here but it had to change to the Loew’s State because of the ongoing popularity of “Star Wars”.
You can also get to the Lafayette by bus (Short Line) from Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan:
As big and beautiful as the Fox was, it was also the place where I had my worst-ever moviegoing experience. It was in 1975, the first week of “Jaws”, a matinee. The place was filled with kids who wouldn’t stop talking out loud – thousands of them. And apparently they’d all seen it already because anytime one of the big scenes came up they would announce it: “Watch this, his head’s gonna come out of that hole”, etc. It was so bad I had trouble following what was going on in the movie, and I left the theater feeling like I hadn’t even seen it. A happier Fox experience was the first time I ever took a bus away from my home town (Rutherford, NJ) by myself just to see a movie: “The French Connection”, 1971.
The Loew’s Jersey City shows classic movies about one weekend a month starting in September and ending in May (it has no air conditioning so it’s not open in summer). This year is their 75th anniversary, so I’m sure they’ll have something special planned when they reopen in the fall.
Thanks, Shade, for posting every detail (sad though they were) of the final night of the Astor Plaza. We can only hope that someday there will be a big single-screen theater in Times Square once again.
So much for my final trip to the Astor Plaza on closing day, August 5th. They closed yesterday. To all the Astor Plaza naysayers, I know it ain’t the Roxy and never came close, but I had so many good times there and I’m going to miss it.