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They had a great old-fashioned marquee which was hit by a truck sometime after 1966, when the theater featured the exclusive area showing of “The Sound of Music” for most of that year. They replaced the marquee with a smaller, abstract red one that didn’t hold any letters – a big disappointment compared to the one they had.
My family moved to Rutherford when I was 8, and I spent an incredible amount of time in the Rivoli. The first time I ever went to a movie all by myself was there: “The Great Escape” in 1963. Nowadays my friends who have kids would never dream of sending an 8-year-old to the movies alone. I guess it is a much different world.
One of the highlights out of the hundreds of movies I saw there: “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964, with big speakers installed in the back of the theater for that engagement only, and the teenage girls in the audience screaming for The Beatles as if it were a live concert.
Thanks, Warren, for posting all the facts about it. I can still see that chandelier in my mind …
In 2000, I saw The Day the Earth Stood Still here, and Patricia Neal made a personal appearance. Her opening line was a classic: “Where the hell am I?” I guess Boonton is kind of off the beaten track even for New Jersey.
When The Exorcist first played New Jersey six months after it opened its exclusive runs in New York City, it played here. I think it was called Cinema 35 then. The line to get in was probably the biggest ever seen in Paramus up to that time, at least until Star Wars came to town.
Vito: thanks for always putting on the best possible show at the theaters you worked in. Wouldn’t it be great if today’s theater owners and projectionists showed the same kind of dedication that you did?
I agree with YankeeMike, especially if they pay tribute to the height of this theater’s glory days and show the original “Star Wars”.
Last Friday night I went to a fireworks display in Montclair. I took the train, and the station was a block away from the Bellevue. As I walked toward the theater on my way home, I imagined myself as one of Rod Serling’s characters in The Twilight Zone who gets transported back in time. Maybe when I approached the Bellevue, it would somehow be 1961 again and “West Side Story” would be playing in 70mm in its exclusive North Jersey engagement. Unfortunately, I did not go into the Twilight Zone and the marquee did not say “West Side Story” but “Harry Potter”, “The Terminal” and two others. OK, it didn’t happen this time, but maybe it will happen in the future, maybe when I visit the New York City block where the Loew’s Capitol once stood? :)
On Saturday morning I went to the Astor Plaza for what looks like the last time, to see Spider-Man 2. I sat in the balcony to get the full effect of that huge expanse of seats in front of me. And when the credits were over, I stayed to watch the curtains close on the last big single-theater screen in Times Square. It was as if the curtains were closing on a part of New York movie history. Now the Ziegfeld is literally the last of a dying breed, and more precious than ever.
Peter K.: I also saw “Fantasia” at Radio City Music Hall in May 1978. I remember the huge audience applauding at the end of each musical segment – what a wonderful sound that was.
I think the drive-in speaker survived intact, but the car window sure didn’t! Another memory of that movie: Joan Crawford got star billing, but I think she was in it for about 10 minutes total.
Talking about the Biograph and the Hollywood reminds me of the Elgin Cinema, which was down around 19th St. It wasn’t the cleanest theater and it always had a funny smell, but they sure showed some great classic movies. The first time I saw “The Birds” in a theater was there – same with “Nights of Cabiria”.
“I Saw What You Did” will always live in my memory as the movie where my dad drove out of a drive-in theater with the speaker still attached to the window. It was the summer of ‘65 like Peter K. said, in Rutherford, NJ. I don’t think he liked the movie, and I guess he wanted to get away from it as quickly as possible.
Maybe it has to do with the number of seats in the theater? I always thought Film Forum 1 had the most seats, but that might be an optical illusion because the theater is wider than the other two. If a repertory film is really popular, maybe it gets moved over to theater #1 so they can sell more tickets.
Come to think of it, I saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller and La Dolce Vita in Film Forum 1 a few years ago. But Vincent is right: they should show all the scope films in that theater.
I loved the old Film Forum on Watts St. – the Gimmick-O-Rama festival was a real dream come true – and when they announced the move to a new theater, my hopes were high. I was disappointed to see the new theaters' screen size, and the narrow shape of the auditoriums themselves as opposed to the wider ones in the old building. Film Forum 1 has an actual wide screen, but I don’t think they ever show the repertory titles in there. On the other hand, the fact that Film Forum exists at all is one of the best things about New York City. I only hope they bring Gimmick-O-Rama back someday.
I’ve passed what I thought was the original site where the Lee stood many times on the way to Callahan’s (where you can get the best hot dogs in New Jersey). Is it still a vacant lot, still empty after more than 30 years? Hard to believe, as if the theater was torn down for no reason at all.
Thanks, Damien, for posting the link to that picture of the Lee. I saw “Pinocchio”, “Spartacus” and “The Dirty Dozen” there, to name a few. I always loved that theater. Now if only I could make out the name of the movie on the marquee in the picture. I will keep trying …
I mentioned the Capitol twice in the above post, but they’re two different theaters. The Loew’s Capitol in New York had Cinerama, but there was a Capitol in Passaic just another block away from the Central. This is where they had all the legendary rock shows.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see “Ice Station Zebra” in Cinerama, so when it came to the Central I sat in the very front row. It was definitely the next best thing. I also remember the Central as the place where I got to “go ape” – 5 Planet of the Apes movies in one day in 1973. A great place to see a movie. I loved their marquee, too – they used really big letters.
I have good memories of the Montauk. I saw “Mary Poppins” and “Hawaii” there, and also my first 35mm viewing of “2001: A Space Odyssey” after seeing it in Cinerama at the Capitol the year before. Like with so many other theaters on this website, it’s sad to consider its ultimate fate. It’s sad to see what’s become of the whole downtown Passaic area – the Central, only a block or two away, was another fine theater, and the Capitol was one of the greatest ‘60’s and '70’s rock concert venues in the whole country.
36 years ago today at this very minute (1:30 PM show) I was about to experience the ultimate trip, “2001: A Space Odyssey” on the Capitol’s incredible Cinerama screen. Just wanted to commemmorate the life-changing event.
Mikeoaklandpark asked about the two curtains at the Ziegfeld. The last time I was there (“The Day After Tomorrow”), the advertising slides were up on the exposed screen. But just before the movie began, they closed the two curtains, then opened them right up again. If you got ‘em, might as well use 'em.
Rhett: When you said:
We’re outnumbered and doomed to lose…but we’ll fight to the end.
I appreciate that you used a 70mm movie (“The Alamo”) to make your point.
I saw the new Harry Potter at the Astor Plaza on Friday night. It was a packed house, the screen was huge, the audience was enjoying themselves … if this was to be the last time I’d ever see a movie there, I’m glad it was a fine example of all that a big single-screen theater can be.
To Bill Kallay and Mike Coate: I’m sure all of us on this thread can’t wait to see your upcoming lists. We really appreciate the hard work you put into it and we’re grateful to you for even attempting it. Seeing a list like that will be the next best thing to seeing a beloved movie classic in 70mm.
William: I never thought of it that way. I just assumed that if they’re showing the movie at reserved seat prices, and exclusive to the area outside New York City, then they’d be showing it in 70mm just like the NYC theaters. I should never assume …
Vincent: Star Wars definitely played in 70mm in Paramus, NJ. This article has a link to a list of all the theaters that played the 70mm version:
Also, the ‘60’s roadshows in Montclair were 70mm, based on newspaper ads from the time. I recall an ad for Exodus at the Millburn Theater which said Panavision 70. And the only one I actually saw myself, The Shoes of the Fisherman at the Bellevue, was 70mm for sure.