Film Forum

209 W. Houston Street,
New York, NY 10014

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Showing 151 - 169 of 169 comments

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 30, 2004 at 12:49 pm

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.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on June 30, 2004 at 11:53 am

Peter I honestly was not trying to insult you, however my swipes at Film Forum are genuine.
I consider a real theater to be one that is architecurally mean’t to be more than a modest sized screening room. One that is meant to enhance the presentation of a film. A theater that gives a film size and scope and at the same time is a pleasure to sit in as one waits for the lights to dim and for the curtains to part. A real theater lends the occasion excitement.
For documentaries and contemporary art films the Forum is fine as these films would be as well presented on a DVD. However for many of the films Bruce likes to show(not all but most) the size of the auditoriums and the screens often diminish a film.
Screen two of the old Watts St had a really good head-on scope screen that I miss. Now the scope screen puts the letter into letterboxing.
In a way I’m glad you were insulted as you revealed to me some of your youthful movie experiences.We are about the same age and being that I grew up in the suburbs I can only say that I envy you your
trips to the Music Hall during the 60’s. I started going to the Music Hall in ‘70 and by that time the films were pretty much dreck. (Has anybody else alive seen Henessy or the Girl from Petrovka?)
With Cablevision in charge the Music Hall is a lost cause. The rock concerts in no way utilize the potential of the place and now they’re using the greatest theater in the world for basketball games!!
I wouldn’t call the Forum a bunker but I would say they are shoeboxes with a screen attached at the end. And I would still say Bruce G and Steve Stern deserve better. Long may they be part of New York’s cultural life!

HomegaMan
HomegaMan on June 30, 2004 at 11:32 am

Tell Him Petey!
Take that Vinny!
The Film Forum Rules!
Nuff Said!

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on June 30, 2004 at 11:16 am

Vincent, do not insult me by condescension, lazy or careless assumption, or pedantry. There is no need to GUESS at my age. I am 48 years of age, and saw my first films at age 5 in 1960 or 1961 in what you would call the “real” Ridgewood and RKO Madison Theaters (q.v. on this site) in Ridgewood, Queens, NY, NY, which had separate ticket prices for orchestra, loge and balcony. Among my first few films in those “real” theaters were “Morgan The Pirate” starring Steeve Reeves and “Swiss Family Robinson” in the summer of 1961 when I was 5 going on 6. Two or three years later I saw shows at Radio City Music Hall of “The Singing Nun”, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “The Chalk Garden”. I saw “True Grit” and “Winning” at Radio City in the summer of 1969. I KNOW what a real movie palace is as opposed to what Jay Leno has referred to as “a concrete bunker at the end of the shopping mall”.

My hobby of urban archaelology is, in part, about finding and collecting images of these old, now mostly gone, movie palaces, in part, by “cross-pollinating” and cross-referencing this site with nycsubway.org, which is often the only place I can find images of these older theaters, such as Loew’s Valencia, RKO Bushwick, Loew’s Gates, the Colonial, the Dekalb / New Casino, the Decatur, the Empire, the Monroe, to name a few in Queens and Brooklyn.

I asked you what you meant by a “real” theater" so as to know EXACTLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY what you meant, as I cannot read your mind.

I found Film Forum at 57 Watts Street to be adequate to the material I saw presented there. I consider 209 W Houston to be adequate also, even though I preferred the larger screens of 57 Watts. I did not experience, and therefore know nothing about, the screen sizes at the earlier 80 Wooster Street location. I was a frequent patron of Thalia Soho in the late ‘80’s and early 1990 and therefore remember the screen size at 15 Vandam (tiny !)

Have you expressed your wish to the management at Radio City ? If not, its probability of being fulfilled will most certainly remain ZERO. If you do, it will have some chance of being fulfilled, however small. Your results, as you know, will most probably be in proportion to your efforts. I wish you success, but, in the meantime, will take what I can get.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on June 30, 2004 at 6:49 am

Peter, If you have to ask me how is Film Forum not a “real” movie theater well then I guess you’ve never been to one. I guess you’re pretty young and grew up going to the plexes. Let’s just say that Film Forum is nothing but a collection of small screening rooms and they in no way do justice to Bruce’s programs and the quality prints he often shows.
This wish has as much chance of fufillment as my wish of seeing the Music Hall present a summer festival of film classics along with a complete stage show with the Rockettes, ballet company, symphony orchestra.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on June 29, 2004 at 3:11 pm

Reads good, Vincent. How is Film Forum at 209 W Houston not a “real” movie theater ? How close is Bruce Goldstein to fulfilling your wish ?

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on June 29, 2004 at 2:46 pm

Bruce Goldstein is the best. He is second to none. I only wish he had a real movie theater in which to show his programs. If I had my wish there would be a American Cinemateque in the old Mayfair in Times Square along with a smaller theater where he would curate to his and our hearts content.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on June 29, 2004 at 9:45 am

CoolGuyCarl, I couldn’t agree with you more. I will merely add that, in 1988, the William Castle material was a “Gimmickorama” in the fall, after, and separate from, the summer sci fi / horror festival that year. I attended that festival in 1987, 88 and 89, to be a kid again, and to enjoy, and be in awe of, all that great ‘50’s sci-fi and horror I grew up with, know by heart, and love so much.

Seeing Allen Ginsberg and Herbert Hunke at the February 1988 Beat Festival was great also.

I don’t think there was a sci fi / horror festival in the summer of 1990. When I returned to Film Forum in late August 1991 for the Hammer “Curse of Frankenstein” and “Horror Of Dracula” it was at its new location at 209 W. Houston and wasn’t the same anymore. Perhaps because I had changed, and was now about to be married. Ditto mid-September 1992 when I returned for “The Blob” and “World Without End” and had been married a year. The ambience wasn’t the same as it had been at 57 Watts Street, no more excited and talkative lines of fans waiting outside one show in advance, up against original color lobby cards mounted on the wall.

My last time to Film Forum was November 1 or 2 1998 to see “Lenny Bruce : Swear To Tell The Truth”. Some of the old ambience seemed to have returned then.

My only beef with Film Forum was a cut in 1987 from Forbidden Planet : when the monkey steals fruit from the Morbius table and Robby gently zaps him away.

HomegaMan
HomegaMan on June 22, 2004 at 8:27 am

The Film Forum is the best revival house in the city and has showcased some of the best films of the past century. With their retro showcase of Film Noir, 70’s films and Sci-Fi Horror Festivals, the Film Forum beats out any other Reveival house in New York (and dare I say…The World?). Film Forum got me through my Film classess at Brooklyn College with their Annual (not anymore-but why not bring it back?) Sci-Fi/Horror Summer Festival where they have shown everything from the William Castle Gimmick classics to the recent Anime explosion of the 90’s. Film Forum is where I took my wife on one of our first dates to see “Dr. Strangelove”. It is also where I saw the classic Pacino film “Cruising” for the first time. It is also where my friend Frank and I got to see Brooklyn Classic “The Warriors” over and over again. There should be a Film Forum all over the world.

YMike
YMike on April 23, 2004 at 5:20 am

When they screened the Donavan Affair they had a full cast reading of the script with sound effects. I was there and it was really something. They just had a 3D festival and it was great to see films in that format.

br91975
br91975 on April 22, 2004 at 8:39 pm

The Film Forum has always been an independent operation, from its beginning at 80 Wooster Street to 15 Vandam Street (which was later the home of the Thalia Soho; co-founder of the former Bleecker Street Cinema Jackie Raynal’s short-lived Le Cinematheque; and is now the Vandam Playhouse) until the late 1980s at 57 Watts Street (the since-demolished structure having once served as, I believe, either a garage of some sort or a fire station) and now at 209 W. Houston, which I’m pretty sure WAS a garage in a previous life.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 22, 2004 at 2:46 pm

This theatre has some of the best programming in American, much of it under the tutelage of Bruce Goldstein. I should add some accolades to the ones above by mentioning the enormously popular and virtually complete Fellini festival they put on, the retrospective of the films of Frank Capra…which included an exceedinly rare 1929 film called THE DONOVAN AFFAIR, for which the soundtrack was lost. It was shown here anyway. I believe that the dialogue was read aloud from a script! The Film Forum is not a trend follower but rather a trend setter.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on April 22, 2004 at 2:27 pm

I also have one of the old programs in my desk drawer at work, from the 1989 summer sci fi horror and fantasy festival.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on April 22, 2004 at 2:26 pm

I think an at least ten story office building. I would have to go take a look to be sure. It’s not hard for me, as it’s close to my place of work. Perhaps Film Forum itself can give you more information.

RobertR
RobertR on April 22, 2004 at 2:24 pm

We should do an entry then for that theatre, whats in it’s place now?

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on April 22, 2004 at 2:11 pm

Yes, the old Film Forum was a twin. I am not sure if Walter Reade programmed one side. I remember one screen (Film Forum 2)was revivals and the other (Film Forum 1) was avant-garde, foreign, anything else non-revival and unusual, like the Beats Festival in February 1988 where Allen Ginsberg and Herbert Huncke showed up in person !

RobertR
RobertR on April 22, 2004 at 2:07 pm

I was trying to remember information on the old Film Forum, was it a twin and didnt Walter Reade program one side?

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on April 22, 2004 at 2:04 pm

The original gimmick of “The Tingler” was “spine-tingling percepto”, (seats wired for mild shocks),that of “House On Haunted Hill” was “bone-chilling ‘emergo’”(skeleton comes out of screen and passes over audience’s heads). Both were done at the old Film Forum on Watts St. west of 6th Avenue, late Sept. 1988 “Gimmick-O-Rama”, which was somehow more fun than the new one on W. Houston just east of Varick. Glad to read they’re still doing “Tingler” and “House” in the summer sci fi fantasy and horror festival in the new location.

I quite agree, it’s one of NYC’s BEST theaters !

RobertR
RobertR on February 10, 2004 at 9:32 am

The film forum is a triplex with three small screening room type theatres. The lobby is the best thing about it, and the popcorn is always fresh and you can buy coffee and cookies. One screen is always revival and often features brand new prints. The Film Forum has revivied The Tingler a few times during its summer schlock festival and actually wired the seats. They also ran The House on Haunted Hill in Percepto. The only complaint here is the screens are small, but this is one of the last places to see revival films in a town that once had more then a dozen theatres doing it.