Alpine Theatre

6817 Fifth Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11220

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Theaterat
Theaterat on April 20, 2005 at 10:53 am

Thany you Box Office Bill! You are a wealth of infomation. I remember the Park, even though I never went there. I remember being in that neighborhood probably in Oct 1965 with a friend. His grandmother(wno was Norwegian) lived in the Sunset Park area.The theater was about to be torn down. We asked the workers if we could go inside and take a look. They told us to be careful.I remember a mid size house with 3 blocks opf seats and a small balcony.Another friend who currently lives on 48th. st off 5th av lived in this area in the late 40s. The theater on 3rd av was called the Alben- not to be confused with the RKO Albee. It was a hole in the wall and showed last run fare. Another friend of mine who calls himself PhilPhil{he does not have a computer, so I post his entries under my screen name}recently described the Ratz..sorry, ment the Ritz on 8th. av and 46th.st Qv. Another nabe. He also recalls the Berkshire on 60th.st and 8th.av wich is now a Muslim mosque, and the Center…never heard of it…on 6th av and 55th.st. I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and experience some of these long forgotten theaters , who knows, maybe someday.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on April 15, 2005 at 2:13 pm

Theaterat—

I checked the Film Daily Year Book for 1952 about the Sunset. It appears that, with the reported address of 4705 5 Avenue, the theater stood on the southeast corner of 47 Street, not on the NW corner of 55 Street as I reported above. Unless I’m just mad north-by-northwest, I still hold to my mind’s-eye image of it as a squat greystone building. And my guestimate of its size appears reasonable: FDYB reports a capacity of 564. Since FDYB discontinued listing such theaters around 1956, when the theater still appeared functional, I can’t trace the date of its closing.

FDYB lists the Park at 4322 5 Avenue (that one then definitely on the NW corner of the avenue) with a big capacity of 1,308 (never been there, never imagined that size; can only wish the neighboring comic-and-mag store such stability). And it lists the Coliseumâ€"I’d forgotten that one!â€" with a capacity of 1,102, at 5205 4 Avenue (and so blurring into my image of the Sunset as standing on 55 Street).

Here’s yet another that just occurred to me (and matter for further checking in a yet older FDYB): the Ritz (I think), beneath the Belt Pkwy on 3 Avenue in a mid-‘40s block. I recall it as a hole-in-the-wall, with a marquee designating “Top Fotoplays” but with no space for specific titles. I’ll bet that it started its life as a nickelodeon or silent-film parlor and didn’t survive much into the 1950s.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on April 14, 2005 at 3:24 pm

Theaterat — You’re right: the Sunset Theater stood at the southwest corner (or was it northwest corner?) of (I believe) 55 Street and 5 Ave., with its rear-exit wall on the side-street. I’d check the exact address in Film Daily Yearbook. I remember it as a low greystone building, with a blue-neon-framed art-deco-ish marquee. To judge from the size of the building, I doubt that it had a balcony. It probably sat 500 patrons. Its fare consisted of subsequent runs, and its demise might have occured in the late ‘50s or early '60s. I never entered it.
Thanks for recalling the Park. To this kid in the early '50s, the world’s most wonderful secondhand-comicbook-and-magazine store stood a few doors away. It was a terrific treat for me to go there with a few nickles and exit with an armful of vintage comics and mags, especially ones with coverage of WWII.

Theaterat
Theaterat on March 31, 2005 at 9:23 am

Box Office Bill- Thanks for the info on the Electra and the Stanley theaters. Tell me, Box Office Bill. Other than the Park theater at 41st and 5th av, and the Coliseum on 4th av, were there any other theaters on 5th av.in the Sunset Park area? My memory may be hazy(comes with age0 but I think I remember another theater on th av, probably at about 53 or 53st.This had to be in the early 1960s.Thanks.

Theaterat
Theaterat on March 28, 2005 at 3:44 pm

Box Office Bill….Thank You thakk you.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on March 28, 2005 at 11:54 am

Born in Bay Ridge in 1942, I lived there (except for some university years) until 1967. And, yes, I recall with gargantuan appetite a good deal about that neighborhood, Park Slope, the Heights, and Flatbush in those years. Especially about movie theaters therein.

The Stanley occupied the space of a present-day mini-supermarket on Fifth Ave between 74-75 Streets. Q.v. my contribution to the Stanley page on this site. Its mate, the Electra, occupied a similar space on Third Avenue and 75 Street. Q.v. the Electra page on this site.

Theaterat
Theaterat on March 28, 2005 at 11:12 am

Box Office Bill….You seem to be a bit older than I. A friend tells me there were movie theaters on 5th Av and 74th St and 3rd Av and 75th St in Bay Ridge. If that is true. please tell me the names and give a description of them, As you can probably see, I am fascinated by them and as a lifetime movie goer and Brooklyn resident, I am trying to compile a complete listing of movie houses in Brooklyn. Thank You.

Theaterat
Theaterat on March 6, 2005 at 5:12 pm

To Box Office Bill. Always looking to take the cheap way out, there is a suspended celing in the hallway and in the mini theaters too. After all this is UA in the 21 century and not Loews in their glory years.Theaterat 3 6 05

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on February 28, 2005 at 4:22 pm

AT the end of the HALLWAY the back room still has the stage area now used a stock room .pretty big area maybe theater 8 some day …lol

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on February 8, 2005 at 7:44 am

Theaterat— when you walk though that directionless funhouse today, do you find they’ve dropped a new ceiling to cover the multiplexes? The original height was several stories.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on February 8, 2005 at 7:14 am

Theaterat: Sorry to hear about your walk through the funhouse. One advantage to having a regular rear-row right-aisle seat by dint of reaching the Children’s Section before anyone else (as I wrote on 3 Feb.) is that, in case of emergency, family members would know where to find you. In Spring ’54, “Julius Caesar” finally played at the Alpine. I had seen it the previous summer during its reserved-seat run at the Booth, from which it had moved on to continuous showings at the Plaza for the rest of the year. On the Saturday morning of its stint at the Alpine, I set out as usual, pencil behind ear, to re-view that MGM triumph. It was a fine Spring day, and my aunt decided that it seemed a shame for a twelve-year-old boy to be cooped up indoors with a Shakespearean film. So she summoned my cousin and with him headed toward the theater, where they persuaded the ticket-taker to allow them inside to retrieve me. Alas, my cousin knew exactly where to look, and he and his mom bribed me away by proffering a trip to Coney Island. All this occurred during the premonitory storm sequence in act 2, scene 2, so I never got to see the actual assassination a second time. The big attraction at Coney Island that season was an enormous blue whale named “Miss Hispaniola.” It had washed up on the Maine shore, had died, and was then embalmed and shipped to NY for public viewing. As I gazed upon its rotting flesh, all I could think was that by now Marlon Brando had reached the plains of Philippi and was pursuing Brutus and Cassius to the death. By the end of the day, however, I would experience my first ride on the Cyclone, having reached the age of twelve and the requisite height for admission. At the top of the chute, I thought fractionally of the storm scene in act 2. O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet!

Theaterat
Theaterat on February 6, 2005 at 5:48 pm

Went to the Alpine recently. The theater is absolutely the worst Cinematic experience I ever had.Inside you loose all sense of direction. The theater is bisected by a long narrow corridor with ultra mini theaters on either side.It reminds one of a walk mthrough a funhouse,but it aint fun.Each mini theater has too many broken seats and a flypaper sticky substance on the floor from spilt soda and other things they sell to eat.The sound was inaudible and the heat was turned all the way up. It was so filthy that it gave me the creeps.I swear that I will never go again even if they give me a free lifetime pass.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on February 3, 2005 at 7:48 am

Unless you worked at Loew’s Alpine, I doubt whether you could have spent more time there than I did in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. My parents got a huge bang out of going to the movies, and they took me a lot, frequently to B’way first-runs. But the Alpine was our neighborhood house of choice, since it showed the great MGM, Paramount, and Columbia films that seemed superior to any RKO, 20C-Fox, and Warners fare at the rival RKO Dyker. I won’t rehearse the scores of films I remember seeing with them as a tiny kid.

When I reached the age of nine in Spring ’51, I was allowed to go to the movies by myself, and at that point I became a screen-crazed addict. The first solo film I saw there was “Father’s Little Dividend,” and I went back almost weekly after that. Even when I had already seen a film at the Capitol or RCMH, I’d revisit it at the Alpine (“Quo Vadis?” “Ivanhoe”). By Summer ’52, I made sure to arrive at the head of the box office line for the first show (“The Quiet Man,” “High Noon”), and then I’d race to the Children’s Section for the rear-row right-aisle seat, which had an unobstructed view of the screen owing to the curve of the aisle and the angle of the seat. I did that nearly every Saturday during the school year (except when the Dyker offered a film that grabbed my attention, such as a Disney live-actioner or the occasional Doris Day romp). During summer and holiday vacations (“The African Queen,” “The Prisoner of Zenda”), I switched my shift to Wednesdays when the new programs opened. Children under twelve paid thirty cents.

By Fall ’53, I began to complain that other kids were a noisy distraction, so I decided to attend noteworthy films after school in an emptier house, usually on Friday (the main feature started conveniently around 3:20 pm, but I’d skip the co-feature to arrive home before supper: “The Blackboard Jungle,” The Desperate Hours”). In the eighth grade, I fell in with a bunch of tough kids and would occasionally go with them to the Alpine on Sundays (though I still reserved serious films for private showings: “The Rose Tattoo,” “Picnic”). Often we would evade the matron in the Children’s Section (after all, we’d paid the adult price of sixty cents) and head off to the opposite side for the Smoking Section, where we’d puff on Lucky Strikes or Kool cigarettes. I can still taste tobacco when I think of Martin and Lewis in “Three Ring Circus” and “Artists and Models.”

That all ended when I reached high school in ’56 and hung out with a bunch of like-minded cinephiliacs. On Saturdays, we’d take the subway to B’way first-runs which cost ninety cents before noon, or else we’d go to MoMA or to assorted revival or foreign films shown around town (“The Lady Vanishes,” “Rififi,” “The Seven Samurai”) and eventually to live theater (day-of-perf. standing-room mat. $1.50) and music (Met Opera family-circle standing-room $1.25). I financed these expeditions by turning my thirty-cent school-lunch money into subway tokens and movie tickets. Like most addicts, I grew very pale and certainly very thin. For many years afterward, I hardly went to the Alpine (though I recall standing on line there for “Psycho” when they denied admission after the feature had begunâ€"a gimmick associated with this film’s release in Summer ‘60). Certainly appropriate, the last film I saw at that theater was “Midnight Cowboy” in Fall ‘69.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 29, 2004 at 2:50 pm

whoops — that’s “neighborhood,” not “naborhood.”

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 29, 2004 at 2:46 pm

RobertR wondered what the Alpine’s interior might have looked like before it was subdivided. It looked like a gigantic oven. At least to my childish imagination, that’s how it compared when, one day in the late ‘40s, I peered into our kitchen stove and asked whether anyone could show a movie inside it. The Alpine was big and boxy, and it appeared all the more so because it had no balcony. Neighborhood lore had it that the builders discovered a structural flaw in construction and so, instead of adding a balcony, they extended the length of the building to accommodate a larger orchestra. You can in fact see two distinct stages of construction if you examine the building on its 69 Street side, walking east from 5 Avenue: the larger unit close to the avenue has a darker-toned brick; then there’s a cement pilaster, and the second, smaller unit in reddish brick continues eastward in a distinctively different, aesthetically mismatched style.

The interior likewise divided into two large, squarish units. The bigger one was dimly lit by four orange-tinted stained-glass light fixtures high on the ceiling. The smaller one close to the screen was even more dimly lit by four tiny gray light fixtures, whence my comparison to the family oven. The floor plan followed these unit-divisions, with a trans-horizontal aisle paralleling the division. Five vertical aisles produced four sections of seats. The matron-supervised Children’s Section occupied the far-left section in the front part of the house. The Smokers’ Section occupied the entire right-half of the house.

Because of the orchestra’s forward sprawl, the pre-CinemaScope screen appeared quite small from the rear sections. Except for a small apron in front of the screen, there was no stage, and instead of a proscenium, the area around the screen was draped with dark maroon curtains. The curtains parted just enough to reveal the screen and its thin black border. Both apron and curtains were eliminated to make room for a curved panoramic screen in Fall ’53. The latter, quite sizable but in the old 1.33 ratio, was replaced the following Spring by a wider but flat CinemaScope screen, which Loew’s management advertised as the largest in Brooklyn. In that dark, cavernous space, hardly any screen could have been large enough. In this same space, the sound echoed off the smooth, undecorated walls, especially when the house was empty. Though to this kid’s eyes, the single-screen Alpine might have looked like an oven, it had a super air-conditioning system and none of the musty smell that I remember at other naborhood theaters.

Scholes188
Scholes188 on December 25, 2004 at 10:52 am

Thanks for the update.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 24, 2004 at 2:04 pm

The Alpine does not take a bow in SNF. The opening scene occurs on 86 Street and 20 Avenue near the Benson theater. You might discern Loew’s Oriental in the distance. The sociological distinctions in this film are exquisite. Vinnie’s girl-friend lives near 4 Avenue, and a key scene in her neighborhood takes place on 86 Street between 4th and 5th Avenues in front of a Key Food supermarket (is it still there? Century dept store now dominates this block), across the street from the long-gone RKO Shore Road theater. The Odyssey Disco stood on 65 Street and (I’m not exactly sure) 10 Avenue?

Scholes188
Scholes188 on December 24, 2004 at 12:21 pm

Is this the theater that is seen briefly in the movie Saturday Night Fever during the opening scene with John Travolta?

RobertR
RobertR on December 11, 2004 at 11:32 am

What a huge orchestra this must have been as a single screen.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 11, 2004 at 8:30 am

As I mentioned in the introduction, the Alpine was the first Loew’s theatre to have all of its seats on the ground floor, without a balcony. That later also became true of Loew’s Woodside in Queens, which is now a Roman Catholic Church with much of the original auditorium decor still visible.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on December 11, 2004 at 7:00 am

There is a small hallway in the center, that slopes down. Off to the left of the hallway there are two large auditoriums numbers 1 & 2, To the right of the hallway are five much, much smaller theatres, numbers 3-7, the screens for these smaller theatres face a different direction than the two main ones. The Alpine never had a balcony so all the theatres are on one main level of the theatre.

RobertR
RobertR on December 8, 2004 at 6:31 am

What is the layout of the auditoriums here?

irajoel
irajoel on December 8, 2004 at 6:17 am

Since moving to bay ridge a few years back, I’ve been to the Alpine twice, the 1st time was ok, only 5.00 to get in for the 1st show, however the 2nd time was terrible, they keep the lights on near the screen, and when I finally got fed up and went to complain the teenagers working there looked at me like I was nuts. Needless to say I have not been back since.

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on August 26, 2004 at 7:20 pm

THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST MULTI PLEX JOBS, ALWAYS WEAK BOX OFFICE # HERE

gzoltowski
gzoltowski on July 15, 2004 at 7:43 pm

I agree with CoolGuyCarl, let’s rmember what was good about the Alpine. Some Good Memories. I remember staying in line in 1965, which went around the corner, around the furniture store, to see “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. The Sean Connery James Bond Movies, “A Hard Days Night”, “Cat Ballou”. “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming”, etc.. Couldn’t beat the popcorn !