Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Showing 151 - 175 of 674 comments

RobertEndres on May 4, 2011 at 5:47 am

I’m sorry, but the urge to weigh in on the VistaVision discussion is irresistible for an “old timer” who’s been hanging around projection booths from B.C. to A.D. —“Before CinemaScope” to “After Digital”. Not only was I very much aware of the VistaVision process when it started in 1954 with “White Christmas”, I was later to spend 25 years in the theater that first ran it in New York, Radio City Music Hall, and was a VistaVision dailies projectionist for three features: “Men In Black”, “Michael” and “Jungle 2 Jungle” all of which used VistaVision plates in their production.

The confusion above is thinking that two frames of 35mm equal 70 or 65 mm image size. Since VistaVision is a horizontal process, the frame width of 8 perfs is less than two normal 35mm frame widths. If you hold 8 perfs of 35mm up against a 70mm frame, they will cover about 2/3 of the width. While a few theatres did run VistaVision on horizontal machines, most of the prints were reduction prints to 35mm as noted above. In 1954 the non-anamorphic ratio of 35mm could vary anywhere from 1.5 to one to 2.1 depending on the amount of cropping of the frame by the aperture plate in the projector, thus the multiple framing reference marks at the start of each reel of a VistaVision release print made in conventional vertical orientation.

In 1954 CinemaScope had been introduced,and Paramount decided to go for a less radical image in terms of width, and with better resolution than could be obtained with the anamorphic lenses used for CinemaScope at the time. As a know-it-all 15 year old I remember commenting to the manager of our local theatre that someday someone would combine the width of CinemaScope with image clarity of VistaVision, and a year later they did with the first 70mm Todd-AO releases of “Oklahoma” in 1955 and “Around The World In 80 Days” in 1956.

The horizontal VistaVision print of “White Christmas” at the Music Hall was run with an interlock sound track printed on conventional 35mm and played on the Hall’s normal 35mm projectors,as were the mag tracks for the dailies I ran starting with “Men In Black”. Running VistaVision is a trip since it is still running at 24 frames per second and thus the film speed is 180' a minute, twice the normal speed and faster than even a 70mm print.

One more note to fire up even more heated debate: the argument might be made that Super Technirama is the equivalent of 70mm in terms of image size. Technirama is an 8 perf horizontal system with a 50% anamorphic squeeze. Thus the image unsqueezed is equal to 12 perfs of 35mm film. If you hold 12 perfs of 35mm against a 70mm image, you’ll find that they match almost perfectly (try it). The process was used as recently as Disney’s “Black Cauldron” and yielded the 70mm release print we ran at the Hall.

(And yes, hdtv267 this really does have very little to do with the Capitol — sorry about that!)

BobbyS on May 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I do not believe VV was 65 or 70MM. I considered it more a 35mm stretched. I saw many films in VV in the theater presentations in the 50’s and they were never the same size as a cinemascope release!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm


I think you are simply wrong and need to stop now.

AGRoura on May 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm


Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Although I think Wikipedia is always suspect, their simple description is pretty good.

Coate on May 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm

AGR: The 70mm information for Vertigo is in reference to the film’s 1996 re-issue, not its original release. VistaVision was a 35mm process. Deal with it.

AGRoura on May 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I had seen that before. Look at this part, and I quote:
“Using whatever sources were available, the restoration team created a new 35mm 8-perf negative from which a 65mm inter positive was generated. Although not noticeable on the screen, some elements were as many as eight generations away from the original negative. Both 70mm and 35mm prints were then made for theatrical showing.”
65mm interpositive — 70mm prints for soundtrack etc. — doesn’t that makes it a 65mm process? It was probably that way for the original Vertigo which is what they are talking about. I think it is very simple explanation. Anyway, I am not going to spend the rest of my life discussing if VV is 65mm or 100mm or whatever. Over and out.

Coate on May 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm

AGR, you’re not even close!

I find it too difficult to explain aspect ratio and film gauge concepts with words alone; I think it best to use visual examples for the concept to really sink in. Check out Page 5 of the VistaVision wing of the WidescreenMuseum for some VV frame samples that might clarify things for you.

View link

AGRoura on May 2, 2011 at 9:49 am

OK, technically VV was 70mm since it was a horizontally filmed two 35mm frames. But if a theater showed the horizontal print, the film image in the double frame would be 65mm since the other 5mm were for the sprockets and soundtrack(s), just like ToddAO and other 70mm systems. Can a CT commenter who is a projectionist or film technician clarify this? Or can you be more specific, Michael? I will appreciate a more detailed response.

Mark_L on May 2, 2011 at 9:16 am

The unique Vistavision Framing Guide appeared at the start of the reel after the changeover.

View link

Coate on May 2, 2011 at 8:47 am

VistaVision was not 65mm!!!

BobbyS on May 2, 2011 at 8:15 am

Thanks so much for the link. Enjoyed reading. I lived around the corner from the B&K Paradise in Chicago. The theater installed a taller screen, not cinemascope size to present VistaVision films I believe in the 1950’s. The Marbro theater around the corner got a huge Cinemascope treatment with “The Robe” and was the talk of the neighborhood. It didn’t make much difference for the Paradise was closed and razed in 1956, much to my distain!

AGRoura on May 2, 2011 at 7:19 am

Bobby, as I said on the March 30 post above, all VistaVision films were shot in 65mm, and only 1 or 2 theaters in NY and LA could show the 65mm horizontal prints, all other showings were in reduced 35mm prints and theaters did no have to use a different projector. The “changeover” signal at the right top of the screen indicated to projectionists the width of the projected film they could use depending on the size of the screen since main action was usually centered when shooting the film. Recommend you take a look at the VistaVision page on the American WideScreen Museum website. Here is the link:
View link

BobbyS on May 2, 2011 at 12:01 am

Thanks for the information about VistaVision. I often wonder why in some theaters I would watch “White Christmas” in wide screen and other theaters it seemed smaller. Did it depend if the theater had the right projector? Could it be the same movie was filmed in different formats at the same time?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

43 years ago today at the Capitol: the press screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, with Stanley Kubrick in the projection booth.

Paul Noble, who was there, posted the following 3 years ago:

Three nights in advance of the NY premiere, I attended the first press screening of 2001 at the Capitol at its full-length. I believe it clocked in at 161 minutes. The place was packed, but after intermission several hundred people were missing. During the closing credits, there were just two of us left, the other being Gene Shalit who was “conducting” “The Blue Danube”. I turned around at the end and waved to Kubrick in the booth and gave him a thumbs up. In the lobby, I joined a heated conversation with Judith Crist, Bruce Bahrenberg and other critics, who were loudly putting the picture down. I told them about “The Sentinel,” the landmark Clarke short story, and what the possible meaning of the picture was. They laughed me out of the lobby! The director cut the film, supposedly on the print, over the next few days, and the shortened version was the one which opened at the premiere. I’m still a great fan of 2001 with its enormous impact on future motion pictures, and the Capitol Cinerama as it was on that night with that gigantic curved screen, even in sharp focus from my third row seat!
posted by PaulNoble on Apr 3, 2008 at 1:54pm

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 30, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Sorry for the intrusion, just want to re-link to notifications on this page. The Widescreen Museum site is endlessly fascinating, by the way. I could (and have) lost myself for hours within its pages.

AGRoura on March 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Mike: In the VistaVision section of the American WideScren Mujseum look at the ad for Strategic Air Command’s LA opening which will give you an idea of the screen Paramount Pictures' VistaVision used for the proper horizontal showing of this process. Here is the link:

View link

AGRoura on March 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

Mike: VistaVision was a 65mm process in which the film was filmed and projected horizontally and the image projected was taller than CinemaScope. Only a few theaters had 65mm horizontal projectors, I think in NYC only the Paramount and Radio City had it. The general releases were 35mm prints projected vertically in regular wide screens, if it was a scope screen it only covered the center part of the screen like any other 35mm wide screen film. However, the fact that VistaVision films were shot in 65mm, the reduced 35mm print was very sharp. The “change” signal at the right top of the screen indicated to projectionists that the projected film could be bigger or wider, since main action was usually centered when shooting the film. Recommend you take a look at the VistaVision page on the American WideScreen Museum website.

Mikeoaklandpark on March 30, 2011 at 10:39 am

I have a question. What was Vista vision? Was that another name used instead of cinemascope?

WilliamMcQuade on March 12, 2011 at 7:35 am

Interesting story re the Hollywood. What is now the entrance was originally the side entrance. The original entrance (art deco I believe) was on Broadway in the middle of the block. If you walk by you will see what appears to be an entrance to a small office building . That was the original entranceway. They jettisoned it as they had to pay separate rent for it and decided it was not worth it. No idea when this took place however.

AGRoura on March 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I agree William but also, Cinerama was born here at the Broadway theater and we don’t have a Cinerama Theatre as LA and Seattle do.
Tinseltoes, thanks for all the info you enlighten us with.

WilliamMcQuade on March 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

When it was remodeled for the 2 3 strip Cineramas, a number of rows were taken out from the rear of the orchestra & replaced with a japanese garden with bridges & ponds. It was really nice, The staircase as soon as you cam in was there but the steps .ere replaced with a gold colored escalator.Once the Roxy went, it was only a matter of time before all of the Times Square Palaces went down. Most cities have 1 or more of palaces left. Only in NY, the entertainment capital of the world do we knock them all down. Lamb theaters really took a hit.

Mark Strand

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

This photograph of the Capitol Theatre was taken in 1930 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

bigjoe59 on January 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm

to Michael C. i apologize for the repetitive nature of my
questions. as you suggested i looked at the Grauman’s Chinese
page and the Cinerama Dome Page. i did find my answers. i will
be sure in the future to browse the comments section for each theater before i ask further questions.

Coate on January 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

ChrisD…If you are aware that many roadshow films were 35mm, why then are you focusing only on the 70mm era of 1955-1972? (Roadshows began long before ‘55 and went on beyond '72.)

And, Chris, did you even see my response to your comment on the Grauman’s Chinese page?

And regarding your question posed on the Cinerama Dome page, had you bothered to scroll through the existing comments, you would have found the answer to your question (see my comment of Feb. 4, 2008) and thus would not have needed to ask it.

Frankly, at this point, your questions are getting annoying since you’re essentially posting the same question on multiple pages and then not always bothering to check up on subsequent comments.