Radio City Music Hall

1260 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020

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Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on April 15, 2013 at 6:55 am

Seventy years ago today, RCMH opened its 1943 Easter holiday package with RKO’s “Flight For Freedom” on screen. Starring Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray, the B&W patriotic thriller was loosely based on the disappearance in the South Pacific of famed pilot Amelia Earhart, which remains a mystery to this day. The Music Hall’s stage revue opened with the expected “Glory of Easter,” followed by “Easter Parade,” which included the Rockettes as war factory workers on the “swing shift.” The grand finale was a “stunning and realistic” enactment of “April Showers” (but minus Al Jolson).

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on April 7, 2013 at 9:16 am

Future legend Lana Turner played a tiny bit part as a harem hand-maiden, wearing a black wig and Oriental make-up. Many years later, when “Marco Polo” was re-issued, Turner received co-star billing with Gary Cooper in the advertising and on marquees!

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on April 7, 2013 at 7:26 am

Seventy=five years ago today, RCMH opened its 1938 Easter Holiday Presentation with the world premiere engagement of Samuel Goldwyn’s “The Adventures of Marco Polo,” a B&W historical epic starring Gary Cooper and introducing Sigrid Gurie. The two-part stage revue opened with the pious “Glory of Easter,” followed by “Mickey’s Circus,” in which beloved Walt Disney characters cavorted with RCMH’s resident entertainers. Disney’s “Silly Symphony” Technicolor cartoon, “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” provided a screen bonus.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I forget which movie attraction it was (maybe “Tom Sawyer?” or Disney’s “Robin Hood?”) but I can recall seeing the trailer for “Mame” at the Hall, and it was so long, that I remember my aunt rhetorically asking, “why come to see the movie, they’re practically showing the whole thing right now?!”

Ironically, we did go back and see “Mame” at the Hall, anyway!

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

Seventy-four years ago today, RCMH opened its 1939 Easter holiday show with the world premiere engagement of “The Story of Vernon & Irene Castle,” a B&W musical biopic that marked the final RKO teaming of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Leon Leonidoff’s spectacular revue, “Easter Greetings,” opened with the religious “Glory of Easter,” followed by “In Quaint Old Williamsburg.” Walt Disney provided a screen bonus with the Technicolor cartoon, “The Ugly Ducking.”

Vito
Vito on March 29, 2013 at 2:25 am

Thanks Robert I knew you would be the one to answer that trailers question. I recall loving the days when a new fresh box of snipes arrived from Filmack. Mike that “Curtain Raiser” term comes from the company that supplies many of the personalised trailers used today. But yes policy trailers are what they basically are.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 28, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Vito calls those strips “curtain raisers” but aren’t they also called “policy trailers?”

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on March 28, 2013 at 10:12 am

Since those snipes are so fondly remembered I thought I’d add a couple of comments about how they were produced. When I was a student at the U. of Ill. my film class visited Filmack in Chicago as it came as close to a “movie studio” as anything we had out there at the time.

The black and white snipes always featured white letters superimposed over an art background which could be a theatre auditorium, or as in the case of Radio City’s snipes just a pattern. In reality,they were black letters on a white card, with the “background” art in negative on a glass plate in a frame that closed over the card. To do an angled “wipe” another white card was put over the lettered card, and the camera operator slowly pulled it out of the bottom of the frame revealing the lettering. Since the snipe was actually the camera negative, everything was reversed and the foreground art became the background with the now white lettering on top. There were plates containing artwork as well as photos of feature’s one-sheets in a cart next to the camera and the operator could just select the one he needed as per the order. Filmack also had an extesive printing operation which contained type in hundereds of fonts to print the cards. (They also owned one of two Oxberry animation stands in Chicago at the time. The other owned by Sears.) While my teacher who had been a cinematographer in L.A. wasn’t impressed, I thought it was a remarkably cheap and easy way to create what looked like a fully animated clip.

A lot of the color ads with still images from local merchants were done at Alexander Films in Colorado. They had touring salesmen who would come into town, sell the spot, take the slides and then arrange for them to be shown in the theatre. Not as technically proficient as the digital clips used pre-show today, but not bad for their time.

DavidDymond
DavidDymond on March 28, 2013 at 8:36 am

VITO — I still play LET’S ALL GO TO THR LOBBY as a show starter — It’s real retro and our patrons also love it! I also use YUM YUM. The teenagers always thought the one where the hot dog slips into the bun was always suggestive!!

Vito
Vito on March 28, 2013 at 7:38 am

Aww, that’s nice to hear Bill, thanks

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 28, 2013 at 7:29 am

Whenever Vito and/or Rob Endres post anything on Cinema Treasures, it just makes my day. Thanks, guys.

Vito
Vito on March 28, 2013 at 2:00 am

Oh yes Robert I remember fondly those Filmack strips we all used them all thru the 50s and before my time as well. They were as you wrote cheaply made but they always had wonderful musical accompaniment lovely little march like bounce your head to the music sort of thing. Most common use was to insert before the trailers things like “Previews of our coming attractions”, “Coming Soon” or specific dates like “Starts Wednesday”. The trailers would end with be “also selected short subjects” Now a days they use highly produced what are called “Curtain Raisers” with Welcome to the show please don’t smoke or use your phone and visit the concession stand that sort of thing. Not to sound like the grumpy old “In my day” guy but the ones use today don’t have the charm of those old fashion Snips Many of you may recall seeing one of the old concession snipes in the movie “Grease” where the hot dog jumps into the bun. Yup that was real we actually showed that one which was so darn cute.In addition, we would show small advertisements from the local merchants in town, just a still shot with once again that wonderful music, and we would splice three or four of those together to show prior to the trailers. Theatre advertisements are nothing new we did it back then and no one seemed to mind and it brought us a little extra revenue form the local diner or hardware store. Ah the neighborhood theatre who could ever forget those.

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on March 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm

We did run some trailers when I was at the Hall, and I found a trailer for “Cowboys” which played before I worked there, in the film cabinet. (I remember that one because there was a question about light levels on “Harry and Walter Go To New York” and I spliced the normal density “Cowboys” Tr. to one of their reels to show that it was a film problem, not a light problem with our projectors.)

We also ran the trailer for “That’s Entertainment” with the thought that we were going to get the picture which MGM ultimately gave to the Ziegfeld.

The snipes you refer to which promoted special shows at individual theatres were common in the industry. In Illinois the Filmack Company turned them out quickly and cheaply and I have a whole reel of them I saved from a theatre I worked in out there. The Hall used them as noted to not only promote the upcoming feature, but also plug the stage show that accompanyed it. While cheaply made (image you saw projected was actually the camera negative so there was no print cost)the personalized snipes added a touch of class and individuality to a promotional presentation.

DavidM
DavidM on March 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

I recall seeing a trailer at the Hall, followed by the scroll advertising the name of the stage show with the upcoming feature film.

Vito
Vito on March 27, 2013 at 2:22 am

I would imagine our resident RCMH expert REndres has the answer to the trailer question. In addition to the trailers the Music Hall also made up their own news reel; rather than just show one from a major studio they would take bits and pieces from many of the news reels from Paramount, MGM and Fox and make up a special RCMH newsreel.
I suppose one might say the answer as to why they did those things would be, hey, we are Radio City Music Hall and we are very special in everything we do :) 

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on March 26, 2013 at 10:59 am

It’s funny that you mention that. I don’t know the answer but I was going through the film vault a few weeks ago and found that snipe along with many others.

StanleyNorton
StanleyNorton on March 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

For years I have enjoyed all the comments from people who have intimate knowledge and information about RCMH. I have attended the theatre many, many times when it was operating as a movie theatre ( and for the last some 30 years as a concert venue and for the Christmas show). I have a very trivial question to ask. Why did they run a specially made trailer (rather than the studio trailer) to advertise the next feature to play? If I remember correctly it was a simple graphic presentation or scroll accompanied by the organ. Was it to personalize the information and to also say something about the next stage presentation? Just wondering. I mean it was not an introduction to a studio trailer (as most theatres did at the time) but and entity to itself.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 22, 2013 at 6:57 am

Sixty-eight years ago today, RCMH opened its 1945 Easter holiday show with the world premiere engagement of MGM’s B&W comedy, “Without Love,” which reunited Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy and provided Lucille Ball with a scene-stealing supporting role. The two-part stage spectacular opened with the religious “Glory of Easter,” followed by the secular “Spring Is Here.”

Ian
Ian on March 15, 2013 at 2:15 am

A view of the foyer taken in 2000 here:–

RADIO CITY FOYER

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

Both “Gunga Din” and “Stagecoach” are bona fide all-time greats. Two bright and shiny jewels in the magnificent crown that was 1939 for the motion picture industry. “Made For Each Other,” its legendary stars notwithstanding, perhaps not so much.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 5, 2013 at 7:26 am

A letter from Lassie: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

For the curious, “Stagecoach” did not follow “Gunga Din” into RCMH. In between was Selznick-UA’s B&W “Made For Each Other” (Carole Lombard-James Stewart) with stage show.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Seventy-four years ago today (3/2), John Ford’s “Stagecoach,” now considered one of the greatest American movies of any genre, opened its NYC premiere engagement at RCMH. Produced by Walter Wanger for United Artists release, the B&W western had a cast of rising stars and character veterans, including Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Andy Devine, John Carradine, and Thomas Mitchell. Russell Markert’s stage revue, “Wedding Rhyme,” followed an overture of Charles Gounod’s classical melodies. Walt Disney’s Technicolor cartoon, “Farmyard Symphony,” provided a screen bonus.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on January 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Seventy-four years ago today (1/26), RKO’s “Gunga Din,” a B&W adventure directed by George Stevens with Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. topping the cast, opened its world premiere engagement at RCMH. The stage show, “The Waltz King,” was entirely devoted to the beloved melodies of Johann Strauss.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on January 9, 2013 at 9:38 am

This Friday (January 11th) will mark the 80th anniversary of RCMH’s re-launching with the policy of an outstanding feature movie and spectacular stage revue. Four complete shows were given daily during the week, and five on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. I’ve posted an ad in the Photos Section with more details.