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The way all you guys are sharing your experience and reminiscences with us is the next best thing to having access to H.G. Wells’s time machine. Thanks!
Vito and Martin: Thanks for talking about the Fox CinemaScope fanfare. I’m grateful to George Lucas or whoever it was on “Star Wars” who was responsible for bringing it back. Speaking of Lucas, maybe it’s my imagination but has anyone else noticed that on the last two Star Wars films (Episodes 1 & 2), Alfred Newman’s Fox music sounds way too low, much lower than the Star Wars fanfare that follows it? Maybe this is Lucas’s way of keeping 20th Cebtury Fox in their place – they just distribute the movies but he creates them … I don’t know.
My favorite movie music to follow the Fox fanfare? There are two of them, both from the ‘50’s. “The King and I”, with that glorious Alfred Newman arrangement of the March of the Siamese Children, and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, a terrifying blast of percussion and pipe organ courtesy of the Master, Bernard Herrmann.
To Will: In 1970 I can remember seeing a short subject with “The Out-of-Towners” , and a trailer for the scheduled next attraction at the Music Hall, “Darling Lili”, playing with “Airport” (even though it wasn’t the next attraction. “The Out-of-Towners” was. Don’t know what happened there – maybe “Darling Lili” wasn’t finished on time).
I saw “Damnation Alley” here in 1977, shown in something called Sound 360. This was the second-rate sci-fi movie 20th Century Fox had higher hopes for than they had for “Star Wars” before it opened and became their highest-grossing film ever.
David: The #102. I haven’t thought about that bus number in years. It’s the #76 now, but of course there are no more Fox and Oritani to go to.
This theater is seen in the opening minutes of Steven Spielberg’s “Duel”. It goes by fast, but after a lot of freeze-framing I got to see what was playing: a triple feature of “The Possession of Joel Delaney”, “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Brotherhood of Satan”. And across the street at the Los Angeles Theater: “Buck and the Preacher”.
I care too, so make it six! I have an old (1972) xerox copy from microfilm of the original 1933 opening day ad for “King Kong” which gives the address of the New Roxy as 6th Ave. and 49th St. This confused me at first because I’d thought the Roxy was near 7th Ave. – this was before I learned they were two different theaters. I believe the ad lists “King Kong”’s two theaters as Radio City Music Hall and Radio City New Roxy.
My dad lived in Hoboken from 1928 to 1963. He told me this theater was so unsanitary they called it “The Scratch House”.
Thanks, Theatrefan. Those pictures are wonderful. I also never knew that the Winter Garden ever showed movies, and good ones, too (“Stairway to Heaven”).
On the “Psycho” DVD there’s an excellent documentary where you can see the outside of the DeMille as it was in 1960. And I mean all of it: the box-office booth with ticket prices posted, the lobby, all kinds of posters and displays, the marquee and the big corner billboard, the sidewalk outside where people waited in a special line(for the first time in movie history, probably) for the current show to be over and for the next show to begin, etc.
Longest run at the Astor Plaza: “Star Wars” – 65 weeks in 1977-78. “Grease” was supposed to open here but it had to change to the Loew’s State because of the ongoing popularity of “Star Wars”.
You can also get to the Lafayette by bus (Short Line) from Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan:
As big and beautiful as the Fox was, it was also the place where I had my worst-ever moviegoing experience. It was in 1975, the first week of “Jaws”, a matinee. The place was filled with kids who wouldn’t stop talking out loud – thousands of them. And apparently they’d all seen it already because anytime one of the big scenes came up they would announce it: “Watch this, his head’s gonna come out of that hole”, etc. It was so bad I had trouble following what was going on in the movie, and I left the theater feeling like I hadn’t even seen it. A happier Fox experience was the first time I ever took a bus away from my home town (Rutherford, NJ) by myself just to see a movie: “The French Connection”, 1971.
The Loew’s Jersey City shows classic movies about one weekend a month starting in September and ending in May (it has no air conditioning so it’s not open in summer). This year is their 75th anniversary, so I’m sure they’ll have something special planned when they reopen in the fall.
Thanks, Shade, for posting every detail (sad though they were) of the final night of the Astor Plaza. We can only hope that someday there will be a big single-screen theater in Times Square once again.
So much for my final trip to the Astor Plaza on closing day, August 5th. They closed yesterday. To all the Astor Plaza naysayers, I know it ain’t the Roxy and never came close, but I had so many good times there and I’m going to miss it.
“2001” had a fine presentation at the Astor Plaza, good and loud! The only thing they did wrong was leave out the intermission, but they played the overture over closed curtains, and there were no commercials or previews to spoil the show. It was like 1968 all over again. At the end of one show they left the theater lights off when the credits were over while the exit music played, so you had to find your way to the exit doors in the dark. Whether it was a mistake or not, I don’t know, but it was effective. One of the Friday night shows had a fairly big crowd with the center section almost completely full, amazing in spite of practically no advertising (one tiny ad in the New York Times was all I could find). It was total word of mouth, and the faithful fans came. I also saw it there on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve 2001, for obvious reasons.
The Spectacular Science Fiction film festival is coming! Get a load of this lineup:
If the picture won’t open, try this:
Go to Kubrick Media Mentions, then click on Pictures, then click on 2001 in 2001.
Another tribute to the Astor Plaza: I could be wrong, but I think the Astor Plaza has more comments on its page than any other theater in Cinema Treasures, even more than Radio City Music Hall! Here’s one more …
One Astor Plaza memory that just came to mind: during the first showing on the first day of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a small section of the ceiling fell in. No one was hurt, fortunately. I guess they had their great sound system turned up a little too loud :)
Thanks, Theatrefan, for posting Loews' farewell to the Astor Plaza. I guess it’s better than nothing, but instead of shilling for popcorn and plugging The Village it sure would’ve been nice to see Star Wars there one more time.
Here’s a picture of the last real glory days of the Astor Plaza, almost 3 years ago, when they showed their final 70mm film:
Pete, not only do you put on those great shows at the Lafayette in the present day, but you were also directly involved in one of my all-time best movie experiences from 22 years ago! My anticipation for “E.T.” was so high that I didn’t think “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” was ever going to end. And I’m sure I was being unfair to that movie. It was probably good. But “E.T.” was something else. I and my brother and my friends all came out of Cinema 46 with one of those great-movie highs that are all too rare these days, and we couldn’t wait to spread the word about the movie. But nobody seemed to care, or to get what we were talking about. Then, about two weeks later, the movie opened and the rest of the country caught up with us.
I saw Rocky III there in May 1982. I guess it was 70mm but the screen was too small for it to make the same big impact you’d get from something like Lawrence of Arabia. Another thing I remember about it was seeing the sneak preview of E.T. that same weekend at Cinema 46, a couple of weeks before it opened. I still have the “I SAW E.T.” button they gave out.
I saw Earthquake at the Cinema 46 also, and I also heard the test of the Sensurround system at the Ziegfeld in NYC before a showing of “2001” in 1974. The Sensurround speakers were set up the same way in both theaters. I think it made it scarier to actually see the speakers as well as to hear and feel them.
Does this theater appear in “Annie Hall”? There’s a scene where Diane Keaton meets her date in front of the Plaza Theater. It’s supposed to be some suburban theater in Wisconsin or somewhere, but I always thought it was filmed at the Plaza in New York. I don’t remember what the theater looked like now, and I had only been there once, for Fellini’s “Amarcord”.
I’ll take a guess and say “A Tale of Two Cities” (1935).