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I remember The Closing of the Capitol being talked about on NBC’s Today Show in September 1968, but I was too young to attend. By the way, CConnolly, was the Anne Baxter “Ten Commandments” line you mentioned, “Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn splendid adorable fool”? There were so many, but that one came to mind first. During one long-ago annual TV showing, my brother kept track of how many times the name “Moses” was spoken in the film. It ran into the hundreds.
I agree with CConnolly. In 1989 “The Abyss” was shown at the Music Hall for one night only prior to its official opening day (in 70mm I think), and the place was packed. And didn’t Bob Furmanek say he saw the latest Harry Potter movie there last year? Was that open to the public or was it an invitation-only event?
Gee I don’t know, CConnolly … “Psycho” (1960) filled the entire orchestra section of the hall – thousands of seats, and on a weeknight yet! – while when I saw both “Kill Bill” movies on first run they each played to half empty theaters. But you can’t go by me – I’d go see any movie that played the Music Hall.
Before “The Exorcist” started that night, Friedkin told a great story relating to what CConnolly and R.H. said: in 1973 he and writer/producer William Peter Blatty were editing the film at Warner Bros' editing facility at 666(!) Fifth Avenue. They took a break for food at a nearby deli, and passed Radio City. Friedkin said to Blatty, “Well, there’s one theater our movie will never play!”
About the beat up print of The Exorcist REndres told us about: there was a splice during an early scene with Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn, creating a jump cut where Linda Blair seemed to teleport across the room from one place to another. It got a huge laugh from the patrons in the Hall.
Ron: I was wondering about that myself. When the WB series began, it was advertised as the First Annual Classic Film Festival. One year later the Universal series was the Second Annual, then it just died. I figured they’d get to RKO eventually, and then I’d fulfill a longtime dream of seeing “King Kong” at Radio City.
I’d like to second what R.H. and RobertR said about the classics series shown at Radio City in the ‘90s: some of those shows I attended (Psycho, Jaws, The Exorcist, My Fair Lady) looked like complete sellouts to me. There was a struggle to find seats, even down near the front. I’m sure if the Hall did what Valencia suggested (old time movie/stage show combination with the Rockettes) and charged 2004 Christmas Show prices for it, they’d sell out the house for sure. I know I’d go, along with every New Yorker who posts on Cinema Treasures.
“Ben-Hur” at the Loew’s Jersey on March 5th – 44 years after I first saw it there when I was 6 years old. I was hoping this day would come someday.
In recent years I only remember the curtain being used for “Lawrence of Arabia” in 2002, and now “Raging Bull”. It was definitely not used for “The Phantom of the Opera” on New Year’s Eve – it might have made the movie a little better than it was.
I saw “Raging Bull” at the Ziegfeld last night and the crowd was bigger than I expected, and very much into the movie as well. The presentation was quite good too – only 3 commercials and one trailer, and they opened and closed the curtains. It was also my first time seeing black and white on the Ziegfeld screen. I’m glad I went. Now let’s see if they extend the exclusive engagement beyond the originally announced ten days – I’m sure they’ll do better with this great classic than with the latest Hollywood dud they’ve got booked into the theater next.
I saw THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI here last weekend, and they put on quite a show: newsreel, cartoon, audience singalong, etc. And the theater itself was beautiful. I’ll be going back again for sure.
This link will take you to some great pictures of the theater’s Cinerama screen when it was known as the Casino. How wonderful “How the West Was Won” and “2001” must have looked on that screen:
SJL: I’d say the first time a Star Wars film played at the Ziegfeld was the Special Edition of “Star Wars” in 1997. You’re right about the Astor Plaza – that was always the big-screen home of Star Wars in New York when the films were new. I think I would’ve tried to see them at the Ziegfeld if any of them had played there as a reissue.
I saw my first movie here, a reissue of “Bambi” in 1957 when I was 2 or 3 years old. Many more great movie experiences followed (“West Side Story”, “Birdman of Alcatraz”, “Marnie”, “Help!”, “You Only Live Twice”, “Woodstock”) which is why I feel so sad whenever I pass by the location where it once stood.
The theater CConnolly, Pete and BoxOfficeBill are talking about, the Cinema I, is in the news today. It’s going to be torn down this spring, unless it can somehow be saved. I’ll never forget going there to see “The Exorcist” on its third day – the most frightened audience I’ve ever been a part of.
The closest I ever got to the Roxy was seeing the incredibly detailed scale model of its auditorium on display at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, NY. Even in miniature form it looks like one of the grandest theaters that ever existed.
And with Vito in the booth we’d have one of the best projectionists in the business right off the bat. I’d sure love to have the chance to put my money where my mouth is … if I actually had the money!
They’re holding a 50th-anniversary Todd-AO festival in Bradford, England in March. I wish Clearview would listen to what Vincent is saying – there’s no reason why we couldn’t have that same festival right here at the Ziegfeld. People would come from all over the world to see it.
“Phantom” was in scope and it did look great on the Ziegfeld screen, but something was missing from the whole enterprise compared to the Broadway version. Emmy Rossum sang beautifully, though. This was my second time seeing her at the Ziegfeld in 2004, the first being “The Day After Tomorrow”.
I agree with you, RobertR, about “Chicago”. That was a knockout when it played an exclusive run at the Ziegfeld. It felt like the good old days had returned, for a while at least.
Vito: I was there on New Year’s Eve and, sure enough, the control console is gone. It was replaced by the new seats. Phantom of the Opera was not so hot, unfortunately. What was dramatic and compelling on the Broadway stage becomes no big deal in the movie version. During the more boring moments I’m glad I had the Ziegfeld’s walls and ceiling to look at!
I don’t think anyone has actually operated the console in many years. I’ve seen lots of movies there and the only time I saw the console not closed up was that time in 1972. It might not even be there anymore – they may have taken it out when they replaced all the seats several years ago. I’ll be sure to check for it the next time I’m there. The Phantom of the Opera is playing there now – sounds like a good movie to see at the Ziegfeld.
Vito, that showing of West Side Story in 1972 was the first time I’d been to the Ziegfeld, and when I saw the console I was sure impressed. It seemed like the theater of the future – until we saw and heard the thing in action, doing more harm than good. I have to look for it the next time I see a movie there.
Vito, I don’t think I made myself clear when I mentioned the audience applauding. They clapped in the middle of the movie when he finally gave up, turned the console off and walked away. He was actually ruining the show, because all the sound glitches disappeared when he stopped whatever he was doing.
Vito, I wonder if he was the same guy that I saw 3 years later. I’m surprised he was still working there after all that time. I think I remember some people in the audience applauding when he walked away from the console!
Both those movies played in Cinerama at the Loew’s Capitol in New York. It was on Broadway between 50th and 51st Sts. When “How the West Was Won” played there, it was known as the Loew’s Cinerama, but it later reverted to its original name, the Capitol. It was torn down and replaced by an office tower in 1968.