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West Side Story played at the Bellevue in Upper Montclair NJ for 35 weeks, 5 days (4/13/62 through 12/19/62).
It played the Route 59 Theater in Nanuet NY for 18 weeks, 4 days (6/28/62 through 11/5/62).
It had an intermission when I saw it at the Route 3 Drive-In, Rutherford NJ in April 1963. I believe it was right between the songs “One Hand, One Heart” and “Quintet” (not really the best place for a break). The new 70mm print shown in Seattle this month had an intermission right where Ken said it was on the Blu-Ray, and the intermission card even had the Saul Bass graphic design of an abstract Manhattan as seen during the overture. It looked great.
Hey Jeff: I’m glad you posted your grandfather’s theater. I’m surprised I didn’t see this sooner. I hope someone who saw movies there will add a comment soon.
I think I’d go back to Seattle just for Ryan’s Daughter. Doctor Zhivago was considered for this year’s festival, but ultimately rejected because it was shot in 35mm Panavision and then blown up to 70mm.
There are at least two movie palaces in the New York City area: the Lafayette in Suffern NY (opened in 1924) and the Loew’s Jersey in Jersey City NJ (opened in 1929). I’m happy to say they are both still showing classic movies on a regular basis.
I also think it’d be a welcome addition to the Loew’s State page. You should post it again there. I’ve seen posts that were far longer than yours.
Dave: all I can say is that it was worth waiting for. I was only 5 when Ben-Hur opened at the Loew’s State, and I didn’t get to see it till more than a year later, in 35mm at the Loew’s Jersey City, but reading your wonderful account made me feel like I did see it at the State in its glorious 70mm presentation. You describe everything so well, it was easy to visualize what it must’ve been like. Thanks so much!
I was lucky enough to attend that New York Philharmonic performance. It was outstanding. So was the intermission, when the following special guests were introduced: Robert Wise’s daughter, Leonard Bernstein’s son and daughter, orchestrator Sid Ramin, executive producer Walter Mirisch, several of the actors who played Jets and Sharks, Marni Nixon, Russ Tamblyn and George Chakiris. I was in West Side Story heaven.
Michael’s article has been posted:
It’s up and running now:
Here’s a comment I just left on the Rivoli page:
I was six years old on 10/18/1961. The soundtrack album was played in my house several times a week for years. I was aware that it was playing at the Rivoli and I really wanted to go, but couldn’t find anyone to take me. My Aunt Connie saw it there and told me how great it was. I almost saw it in its exclusive North Jersey run at the Bellevue in Upper Montclair NJ in the summer of 1962 with my older cousin, but that fell through. I had to wait till April 1963 to see it in 35mm at the Route 3 Drive-In in Rutherford NJ, but it was worth the wait. Just two weeks ago I finally saw it in 70mm in Seattle. That too was worth waiting for, even if it took 50 years.
58 weeks at Grauman’s Chinese must be the longest run for one movie at that theater.
Saps: I was six years old on 10/18/1961, so any memories I have will be second-hand. The soundtrack album was played in my house several times a week for years. I was aware that it was playing at the Rivoli and I really wanted to go, but couldn’t find anyone to take me. My Aunt Connie saw it there and told me how great it was. I almost saw it in its exclusive North Jersey run at the Bellevue in Upper Montclair NJ in the summer of 1962 with my older cousin, but that fell through. I had to wait till April 1963 to see it in 35mm at the Route 3 Drive-In in Rutherford NJ, but it was worth the wait. Just two weeks ago I finally saw it in 70mm in Seattle. That too was worth waiting for, even if it took 50 years.
Looks like there are technical problems at CT. The photos at the top of each theater page are gone. Maybe this has something to do with Michael Coate’s West Side Story page not being posted yet?
By the way, today is the day it opened. So, happy 50th birthday, West Side Story.
Vito: I believe the print I saw in Seattle had the Todd-AO sound setup. It sure sounded better than I’d ever heard it, and I’ve seen West Side Story more times than I can count, in theaters and on TV and video. I was hearing instruments I’d never noticed before, and the five different vocal lines in the “Quintet” number before the rumble had never before sounded so clear and distinct. I sure hope this is the soundtrack they used for the upcoming Blu-ray release in November.
It took me a full 50 years, but I finally saw West Side Story in 70mm on 10/7/11 in Seattle, and now I know exactly what Vito is talking about. One of the greatest moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had.
It was an 8K presentation, and looked like 70mm. It filled a 50-foot flat screen beautifully, at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.
Gary: the article mentions “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm”, but wasn’t the negative for that destroyed somehow? I’d really love to see that in Cinerama, even if it’s simulated Cinerama.
Ben-Hur starts here next weekend. It’s a new digital restoration. I wonder if they’ll be using the curved 90-foot screen or the flat 70-foot one? I saw it in New York City a few weeks ago and it was quite spectacular.
“2001: A Space Odyssey” was the first Cinerama show at this theater, starting on June 26, 1968:
go to page 12.
That’s what I said after seeing The Sound of Music: I finally got to see it on a huge curved screen, under real Todd-AO conditions.
I posted some pictures this morning. What a surprise to see original costumes from Planet of the Apes on display in the lobby.
Wow Greg – too bad that had to happen. The next time the Cinerama shows some generic 2011 release, the sound will probably be perfect. But when they show West Side Story and The Sound of Music, there are problems. What can you do?
I will post pictures from the festival tonight. I even snuck a couple of shots off the screen during the West Side Story credits. To my surprise, they actually came out!
Enjoy it, Greg. The soundtrack uses the original 1961 stereo music mix that was just recently rediscovered, and you really can hear the difference. Everything sounds clearer, you’ll notice instruments you never heard before – it really was a great show!
I attended six movies at the 70mm festival, from Thursday 10/6 through Saturday 10/8. “The Sound of Music” was a good print, but there were terrible problems with the soundtrack. The entire opening of the film played silent, up until near the end of Julie Andrews' title song. From then on, the sound would intermittently cut out, most unfortunately during “My Favorite Things” all the way into the middle of “Do Re Mi”. It happened about 6 or 7 times. The theater was clearly embarrassed by all this and offered refunds. Later that night, “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” played perfectly. Looked like a new print too.
The next three I saw, “West Side Story”, “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Cleopatra”, were also excellent prints, and the shows went off without a hitch. “Lawrence” was a Friday night sell-out. My final show was “2001” on Saturday, a near sell-out. This print was a little more beat up than the others, but I’m sure it’s gotten the most use over the last few years.
If I had to pick one show that stood out above all the others, I’d go with “West Side Story”. It’s been a favorite of mine since I was 8 years old, but I’d never seen it on that scale before, the way it was designed to be seen. I waited 50 years to see it in 70mm, and thanks to the Seattle Cinerama that dream was realized. Well worth the trip from New Jersey.
Seattle is a really cool city, too. The Space Needle and the Monorail are 49 years old, but they still look like the future to me. The theater itself has the same effect: built in the ‘60s, but looks like a vision of the future.