Showing 151 - 175 of 541 comments
Porter Faulkner: you confirm what I can clearly see from my office window above the Embassy 2,3,4/Mayfair/DeMille.
Regarding the original entrance to the Mayfair, if you look at the amazing picture that Warren offers (and I got) the entrance back in 1932 is pretty much exactly where it exsits today. It appears that the Mayfair had a sweet deal with the landlord in that it allowed them to have one helluva marquee covering the building. I don’t think the entrance was ever on the side street. I could be wrong.
But I don’t get the idea that the theater was originally inverted meaning that the screen was on 7th Ave. My office looks right down onto the Mayfair’s auditorium and it looks like the curtain building (forgive my lack of correct terminology but it’s the taller portion of the structure where, I imagine, the curtain would be stored UP while the movie was playing) is in the rear of the building, not on 7th.
On the listing for the Embassy, RobertR posted a very nice picture of the Embassy during it’s newsreel days but you can clearly see the marquee for the Mayfair as well. What intrigues me is where was the actual entrance lobby to the Mayfair itselft. Is it where it is (kind of…) today, in the middle of the block? Also, that great wraparound marquee I would say is where the Sbarro’s is today. Is this correct? Or was the original entrance to Mayfair different?
An article in today’s NY Times states that a new hotel will take over the site where the Beverly Theater now stands.
Here is a portion of the article dealing with the theater:
“For the city, the project solves a problem that had irked city officials for more than a decade: how to remove the empty and unusable buildings on the site. The most visible of those structures is the Beverly Theater, a 1920’s movie house with onion-shaped domes inspired by the Taj Mahal, and now fronted by an incongruous entryway of black glass added in the 1980’s.
After the theater closed in the 1970’s, the building served as a clothing store and a discount bank before shutting its doors in the early 1990’s. Five years ago, the city said that the building was structurally unsafe. "
As long as I have lived in northern NJ, there was no marquee on Route 4 showing what was playing here. There was a marquee showing that there was a theater, just not what was playing. This did not make much sense but Paramus has some very strict ordinances with regards to the signage. Probably the owners had to choose between showing the name of the theater or what was showing but not both.
TJ: the stairway scene is a total classic. Again, it’s melodrama to the extreme but the way Wyler photographs it is perfect. He actually places Marshall out of focus while maintaining the camera firmly on Davis. We read Davis' look as nervous anticipation. Without a single word of dialogue she conveys everything with her eyes and her stillness: she knows that if someone comes in, they will save Horace and her goose is cooked. But if they don’t….
It’s one of the finest performances captured on film and fine direction by one of the masters. I’ve heard that Davis' performance pales in comparison to Bankhead’s on Broadway but we’ll never know.
Again, sorry about the off topic film discussion but it’s all part of the same subject.
I have read every single one of Hellman’s plays as I happen to like her stuff a lot. Yep, it’s melodrama to the extreme and some of it, by today’s standards, is corny especially the original text of “The Children’s Hour” (Hellman revised some of it for a later production). So of the setups in that one are howlingly bad. But “The Little Foxes” is grand melodrama at it’s finest.
With regards to her changing the script for the movie, I saw a special on Samual Goldwyn and Hellman DID say that she did have to make changes though she was not specific. But she did say she liked Goldwyn very, very much because he appreciated writers and unlike other studio heads, respected their talents.
I find it hard to believe that Hellman would’ve willingly added that character. I believe she created Alexandra out of her own desire to create a strong, independent female character. In the play, there are no scenes showing Alexandra’s doubting of herself. When she realizes that her mother was/is responsible for killing Horace, she’s not horrified. She’s realizes that her mother is a monster and that she won’t be like her and leaves. The first time I saw the movie after reading the play in High School, I was stunned by the creation of the boyfriend character. I think it was Goldwyn and the Hollywood censors who asked to have that added for “moralities” sake.
But I also agree that “The Little Foxes” holds up extremely well over the years because I don’t think they took OUT much if any dialogue from the play. They kept the nastiness of the characters such as the stunning scene where Birdie gets viciously slapped. Potent stuff.
The last time I was at Roosevelt Field was during the summer of 2002 and the place was majorly depressing. Ok, so that was three years ago so I hope things have changed. It’s just that back in the 80’s, that mall was like Long Island’s Times Square without the seediness and such. It was a real cultural hub. It was a genuinely exciting place to be and it was maintained beautifully. Seeing it three years ago was very upsetting. Like I said, I hope it’s better now.
But RobertR, I have a serious question for you: what in God’s name would make you go see “Guess Who”? I’m a HUGE Bernie Mac fan but I still wouldn’t pay nearly $10 bucks to see this in a theater. I’ll wait for cable….
So it’s not part of the Loews theater chain now…how is this theater holding up? A big deal was made when it opened around 1990 as part of the re-emergence of Glen Cove’s downtown area.
Vincent, I was clicking through the channels last night and saw that “The Little Foxes” was on TCM. I don’t get that channel with my subscription (they won’t let you get only one channel…it has to be part of a package…stupid). Anyway, that’s a great one EXCEPT that I loathe some of the changes they made from the play like the creation of the boyfriend for Alexandra. His sole reason for being was so that at the end, Alexandra would have someone to go off with. God forbid the movie censors back then allow a woman to wander off without a man. In the play, Alexandra has no boyfriend and leaves her Mother defiantly alone at the conclusion. But still, Wyler and Davis kept most, if not all, of Hellman’s dialogue and did it in a grand style. It’s a great movie.
As for other changes, Goldwyn made Wyler shoot the scene at the very end of “Wuthering Heights” of the two ghosts of Kathy and Heathcliff. Wyler hated the shot but Goldwyn was a sentimentalist to the core.
“When did this become a forum for old movies? I thought it was about theatres. Only asking.”
I knew someone, sometime would bring this up. But in my opinion, you cannot have a discussion about movie theaters/palaces without it digressing naturally (and IMO, pleasantly…) into a film discussion as well. They work hand in hand. I personally LOVE to hear people talk about the movie palaces, what they saw there and what they thought of the films.
The fact that “Sweet Charity” was a box office disappointment has been discussed by film scholars. Many feel that it came at the end of the era of the big musical and that the time had past. Tastes had changed radically in films just the previous year with “Bonnie & Clyde” and “The Graduate”. Audiences thought that “Charity” was simply yet another bloated movie musical and they were collectively tired of them. They wanted the new realism that was just becoming terribly in vogue then (and seems quaintly but very dated now).
Ironically, Fosse would effectively put the final nail in the musical’s coffin just four years later with “Cabaret”. That film is best summed up by Pauline Kael when she stated “…it will be a long time before someone bursts into song while on a hayride.”
If I had to choose two films that could’ve and maybe DID finish the Roadshow concept, it has to be “Star” and “Hello Dolly”. These turkeys were/are so bloated and over produced. It was Hollywood at it’s most excessive.
However, “Sweet Charity” is definately not bad at all. Wildly dated, yes. But it’s got some great songs and most importantly, some of Fosse’s best dance sequences around. Like I mentioned above, there are some misguided film revisionists that try to make “Star” sound like a misunderstood, under appreciated masterpiece when it’s not. But “Charity” deserves far more recognition than it’s gotten over the years.
The worst thing that I do see in Manhattan that seems impossible to stop is the elimination of anything “organic”, meaning “stuff” that arises from the people who choose to live in a neighborhood and either attract or create their own “thing”. I know this sound ambiguous but what I mean is stores, restaurants, bars, galleries that are not corporate sponsered or ridiculously upscale. These 30 story condos they’re building do not create a neighborhood. In fact, they’ve just completed tearing down a historic (albeit NOT landmarked) building across from the Crown Plaza Hotel. And what’s going up in it’s place? A condo building.
People on this site and other places (New York Times, architectural writings, etc.) make statements about how the old Times Square is being destroyed and this new Times Square is somehow not as good as the old, etc, etc., blah, blah, blah.
I am sure that if you were to go back 50, 60, 70 or so years ago and more, you would find the same arguements made about Times Square and other areas of NYC (or any metropolitan area).
I know this is going to sound simplistic but areas change and keep changing IF they are in demand and considered valuable. Sure, to some, what’s happening in Times Square may seem poor. But the area 20 years ago was in need of some kind of revitalization. Putting up office towers and inviting in tourism and chain stores may not seem to many to be the way to go. But it has worked to a degree.
Last week, I had to go down to 30th Street between 7th & 8th Avenues in Manhattan for a business meeting (a construction firm…). Anyway, afterwards, as I was leaving the office, I walked down the street and noticed how almost all the stores on this particular block were NOT commercial establishments but Mom & Pop like stores. In particular, there was a hobby shop there that was decent and the kind of store that used to be all over the city. I wondered how long a place like this was going to be around with the city changing so much.
So you see, I’m not saying I’m 100% in favor or in love with all the changes but this is what cities go through when they are considered viable. All this change means that NYC, despite all it’s ups and downs is still a treasured city and commodity.
70 years from now when the demolition of the Morgan Stanley building is in the headlines because preservationists want it declared a landmark, people will say then what we’re saying now: the old Times Square is being destroyed. It’s all relative.
Funny Girl…classic. Deserves all the praise it gets and more.
Oliver!…underrated, somewhat forgotten musical classic. One of the best. Great direction by the late, great Caroll Reed.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…a poor attempt to redo and perhaps overdue “Mary Poppins”. This is one of the movies that began to destroy the Roadshow concept (IMO).
Shoes of the Fisherman…dull, plodding.
Star…major turkey. Can be and IS cited for bringing down two institutions: the Roadshow and Julie Andrews. Some revisionists try and make a stand that “Star” is under rated. It’s not. It’s a really poor movie. Andrews is wildly miscast.
Ice Station Zebra: not bad but not classic either.
Finian’s Rainbow…amazing considering it didn’t kill off Francis Ford Coppola’s career. If it had, we’d never had gotten our “Godfather” films. This baby’s a surreal trip. Check out the “funky” rendition of “Old Devil Moon”. Too funny…
Perhaps go back only four or five years when “My Fair Lady” and “Sound of Music” were around then I’d have to agree with you on “Wow”.
The batch of films cited above, while some are good to excellent, were obviously the waning days of the Roadshow. And as I said, they were representative of what killed the concept off.
But does anyone have any ideas of their own how and why the Roadshow concept died? You cannot blame home entertainment like VCRs because they weren’t around until the mid to late 70’s.
Some interesting photos of the movie palaces of Brooklyn including the Kings.
Is the Loews Pitkin in there as well? It’s not labeled but it look like it…
HERE’S AN INTERESTING/FUNNY ARTICLE FROM THE APRIL 17 NY TIMES ABOUT THE NY MOVIE GOING…
‘The Aristocrats,’ Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
By DAMIEN CAVE
INUTES after I arrived at an Upper West Side multiplex on the opening weekend of “The Passion of the Christ” last year, a 40-ish man sitting beside me threatened to knock out a gentleman who had cracked into his knees by leaning back in an obviously broken chair. Both of them cried through the film and exchanged dirty looks afterward.
In the past year I’ve witnessed an array of such outbursts at theaters around the city. I’ve watched demanding young couples ask entire rows of people to move so they could sit together and neck. I’ve listened to teenagers talking on cellphones, crazy people talking to themselves, and not-so-crazy people talking to the screen.
As much as this boisterous expression often makes me long for a DVD and a large-screen television, it also makes me proud. At any moment, New Yorkers are likely to form an ad hoc community, booing at lame dialogue or confronting people who try to cut in line. No other city where I’ve watched a film, save perhaps Havana, can match New York for its active audience participation.
But the city’s moviegoing experience may be poised for a change. In the past few years, a trend of so-called first-class moviegoing has begun to spread. Amenities like assigned seats, waiter service and even piano bars are migrating from London and Tokyo to places like Los Angeles and even Louisville.
In New York, where a taste for pampering is part of our urban DNA, first-class cinema would seem a perfect fit. In fact, the market has already been cracked: since 2003, three theaters in the Loew’s 34th Street multiplex have had two rows of assigned, red leather seats that cost about $5 extra, a price that includes access to an usher who delivers concessions.
To a certain extent, the city already tried such an approach decades earlier. In the 1930’s, special seating was common at picture palaces like the Roxy, and for decades ushers made sure people sat where they belonged. During the 70’s, an upscale theater was installed in the basement of the Plaza, with assigned plush green seats available for an extra $1.50. The Ziegfeld tried assigned seating in the 1990’s.
These last two efforts failed. New Yorkers were unwilling to pay extra, or unable to abandon a first-come-first-served mentality. But the climate may be changing. National Amusements, one of the nation’s largest theater chains, plans to equip every new multiplex it builds with some form of premium seating; cities from Toledo to Philadelphia already have such amenities.
Could New York be next, I wondered. And if so, would it be treason for me to try to taste the future?
With Loew’s 34th Street the only option for a test run, I bought two tickets on Fandango.com for the 8:05 p.m. showing of “Hitch” on the night it opened, and felt prepared to be impressed. Maybe it was nostalgia for the picture palaces. Maybe, despite paying $30.98 for two tickets, I liked knowing that my wife and I could arrive late without fear of kinking our necks in the front row, or fighting our way through the eggbeater of legs and grumbles to reach the only remaining empty seats.
When we saw that the movie was sold out, we felt particularly pleased, though we did wonder a bit sheepishly if we would have to kick people out of our seats. An usher was standing at the two “guest express” rows, so that concern disappeared. Then we showed him our tickets.
“H7 and G7,” he said. Then, pointing to my wife, he added: “O.K., you’re in this row, and you’re behind her.”
“Wait,” I interrupted. “The seats are not together?”
“No,” the usher replied. “I’m sorry.”
My wife and I complained. We hemmed, we hawed. We asked if we could sit together and then ask the people who came afterward to move. The usher told us to inquire at the guest services desk. It simply offered us a refund. We declined.
Later, I asked another usher if this sort of thing was common.
“Did you buy your seats from Fandango?” she asked.
“That’s the problem,” she said. “They just assign you the best seats available. If you want to pick your seats, you have to come to the box office.”
Worse, we weren’t even allowed to rejoin the general population. And a few minutes after we sat down, a group of three people hammered home the inadequacy of our “premium” choice. The three asked several people to move, and for $5 less per person, they managed to arrive later and sit together in a row only two feet behind me.
Art Levitt, the chief executive of Fandango, said that premium seating was “a pilot program only” and that the company and Loew’s were still working out the kinks.
Perhaps my experience was an anomaly. I asked a couple in front me for their opinion. “We love it,” the woman said, sipping a $4 soda. Turns out they were from Texas.
Actual New Yorkers were far less complimentary. Out of two dozen people I interviewed, most said they wanted nothing to do with perks like assigned seating.
“If I had all the money in the world, I wouldn’t do it,” said Carl Goodman, a curator at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. “Once you’re in the theater, there should be no hierarchy.”
Devon McGoldrick, a graduate student at Columbia University who was waiting for “Million Dollar Baby” at Loew’s West 68th Street theater, added: “I think it’s ridiculous. They bring you concessions, right? From a public health perspective, how much lazier can we get?”
BUT a handful disagreed. Several parents said they welcomed the service because it meant they could arrive later and spend less money on baby sitting. Margaret Jones, a manager at Macy’s who was waiting to see “Meet the Fockers” in a nonpremium theater at the Loew’s 34th, added: “I’ve been a New Yorker for 30 years. I’m tired of it. I’d rather have some special attention.”
My own experience made me side with the critics. But I also left the theater strangely encouraged. The beauty of New York audiences is such that no single gimmick seems to radically alter why we go to the movies or what we do once we get there.
The words of Pauline Kael, the New Yorker critic, came to mind. In 1971, she described a Times Square theater in which an audience was enthralled with the film “Billy Jack.” It was a bustling place, she wrote, electric in expectation, and when a character “said there was no place people could get a square deal – not in this country, not in the world – a voice bellowed ‘New York!’ and the theater shook with laughter, and with solidarity.”
“flush with the arrogance of Modernism”
You have no idea how that one statement pretty much says it all.
From talking to my parents and architects and my own humble research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the post WWII years, architecturally speaking, were one in which they threw the baby out with the bathwater. What I mean is that, yes, there were structures that frankly had oulived their usage and should’ve been destroyed. But there was eventually a wholesale destruction, especially during the 1960’s where too many viable structures were simply destroyed for money’s sake.
People thought that the sleek modernism was somehow reflective of a new hope…a new brighter future. This generation was fed this propaganda during the 1939 World’s Fair. They pictured these old structures (including Victorian homes) as gloomy places and out of date. Unfortunately, the lack of maintenance on these places (as one poster for The Roxy states above, it looked “tired” in the late 50’s) only helped to convince people that placed like the Roxy should be gotten rid of. And what was put in place of the Roxy? Has anyone ever seen it? I see it every single day and I still cannot believe what a pedestrian and completely unimaginative building they put in it’s place. Truly pathetic.
If anyone is interested, a new book out called “The Big Picture” goes into rather extraordinary detail about how movies today are “made”. It’s a somewhat depressing read but in a nutshell, these days its all about home entertainment especially DVD.
Just one more comment about popcorn at the Rivoli during “Around the World…” Was anything sold at the concession stands? Was there a concession stand? And if so, how much were Milk Duds?
brucec: actually I always understood that “Cleopatra” nearly killled off Fox to the extent that they had to sell off some of their properties (I believe Century City in LA) is where the Fox backlot once was and was sold because of the cost of “Cleopatra”. Fox endured years of financial constraints until “The Sound of Music” roared into existance and literally saved the studio. Yes, I’ve read that “Cleopatra” eventually turned a profit near the end of the 60’s but it took awhile, obviously.
I saw “Cleopatra” about 10 years ago when it came on one of the cable stations without commercials. I had no intention of watching it but after about an hour or so, the damn thing sucked me in. I was very, very surprised at how genuinely good it was. It was shown in letterbox and I tried to imagine how this must’ve looked on the screen.
It literally blows my mind to think that people would willingly schleep miles to see a big picture and think it’s such an event! I’m not putting this behavior down. Rather I think it’s so sad that today’s audiences are content with either seeing the dreck they’re offered by the “studios” in these wee little theaters (with a whopping max of 500 seats!) or waiting for it on DVD to watch in their home theaters which so many claim is just as good as seeing it in a theater.
To DennisZ: Regarding what seems like astronomical costs of movies today, remember that “Cleopatra” cost the unheard of price of $40 million dollars back in 1963. That was an outrageous amount that effectively sank 20th Century Fox for years even after it rebounded tremendously with “SOM”. But one thing that one critic says about “Cleopatra” (I forget exactly who…) is that if you compare the opulance in “Cleopatra” with today’s $140 million epic (Christ, did anyone see “Troy”? Ugh..don’t) with “Cleopatra” you could SEE where the $40 million dollars went. No digitalized extras, no cheapo-special effects. Yes, “Cleopatra” is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long and it’s a tad plodding at times but it’s made to be a spectacle.