City Cinemas Cinema 1, 2, and 3

1001 3rd Avenue,
New York, NY 10021

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Showing 176 - 200 of 271 comments

RobertR on September 27, 2005 at 8:22 am

Not only were they great theatres but I had forgotten those legendary block marquees. They should have added a 3rd one for the triplexing but instead put that abortion that is there now. At this point it’s all over anyways, its days are numbered.

dave-bronx™ on September 27, 2005 at 3:29 am

Thanks for the response. Probably that one exterior was taken in 65, for some reason. The others all have the same odd quality to them, including the arcade view, where the Cinema I marquee has the title ‘Boccaccio 70’, which was the opening picture in both theatres.

CelluloidHero2 on September 27, 2005 at 2:39 am

These are great photos Dave. Appreciate very much you sharing them with us.
One correction. The 1962 photos had to be taken in 1965. “How To Murder Your Wife” is being shown at the Cinema 1. I assume the 1962 date refers to the completion of the theater being built and not when the photos were taken.
Never the less, these are splendid photos. As I view the photos wonderful memories flood my head reliving the many times and terrific movies I saw at these theaters.

Mikeoaklandpark on September 27, 2005 at 12:50 am

Great pics Dave. When did they install curtains in this theater. When I lived in NYC 76-83 they never had curtains or even masking.Seemed to be a Rugoff policy. Do they use the curtains now?

frankdev on September 26, 2005 at 9:12 pm

Dave Thanks great job as always Frank

dave-bronx™ on September 26, 2005 at 8:29 pm

I have made a photo gallery of the Cinema photos that I have. The ones labeled “1962…” are scans of 3.5"x5" snapshots given to me by Abe Geller, the original architect. They are reductions of his original 8"x10" photos taken when the theatre was completed in 1962. Since this was one of the earliest 2-screen theatres (the AIA guide to New York refers to it as a “piggy-back pair”), Mr. Geller drew up the cut-away view, probably for architectural and theatre trade publications, to show how the 2 theatres were configured into such a tight lot – 75' frontage x 110' deep.

The photos labeled “1988…” are scans of of 8"x10" photos, also given to me by Mr. Geller upon the completion of his renovations.

View link

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on September 1, 2005 at 2:16 pm

Playing at Cinema 1, 2, 3 this past week: The Brothers Grimm, Must Love Dogs and Wedding Crashers.

BobT on August 7, 2005 at 7:57 am

In the ‘70’s, it was definitely the must book theatre. Of course in those days exclusive engagements meant the film was special as opposed to today where an exclusive is usually a contractual obligation before a DVD release. As Peter Damian says above, this is were “The Exorcist” became a phenomenon. I also remember the full page ads opening day for “A Clockwork Orange”. They also did displays in their windows like the department stores did. For “Dog Day Afternoon, they had the one sheet and a rifle, pizza boxes and a six pack of Coke. In the '80’s they were Disney’s flagship and they would premiere their annual animated musicals there. Some of the films I saw there were, "Beaches”, Altman’s “Short Cuts”, “Seven”, “Beauty and The Beast” and “Aladdin”.

Astyanax on July 14, 2005 at 3:04 pm

I recall having seen Carnal Knowledge at the Beekman.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 14, 2005 at 11:41 am

About the most obscure film I ever saw at Cinema II was the 1963 Ladybug Ladybug, about a rural school that believes there is a about to be a nuclear attack. It was directed by Frank Perry, of David and Lisa fame, but it bombed at the boxoffice and was hardly seen much again.

moviesmovies on July 14, 2005 at 11:32 am

Also at Cinema’s 1 & 2
Fellini’s ‘Orchestra Rehearsal’ Wertmuller’s ‘Travolti Da Un Insolito Destino Nell'Azzurro Mare D'Agosto’ aka ‘Swept Away…'and Fellini’s 'Casanova’.

moviesmovies on July 13, 2005 at 12:49 pm

I do recall seing Resnais' ‘Providence’ at The Cienma 3 at a lower level alongside The Plaza Hotel.

moviesmovies on July 13, 2005 at 12:46 pm

I was Cinema 1 & 2 only when I saw these at one or the other.
‘Carnal Knowldege’, ‘Swept Away By An Unusual Destiny In The Blue Seas Of August’, ‘Visions Of Eight’, ‘The Story Of Adele H.’, ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Nashville’, and ‘Cries & Whispers’…
It seems I frequented these cinemas more.

RobertEndres on June 10, 2005 at 5:58 am

Dave: The V-8’s at the Murray Hill came from Cinema I originally. They were installed for “Heaven’s Gate”, and then moved to the Murray Hill for the first “Superman” film. They were installed at the Murray Hill by Altec Service, and I remember one of the men on the crew telling me how they worked all night to get the projectors ready for the first show early the next morning. They started the show for a house full of kids and when they changed to the second reel there was no sound. They went crazy trying to find the problem, and finally threaded the second reel on the first projector to discover that someone on the West Coast had not sounded the reel! The showings were cancelled until another reel could be shipped in. There may have been a second set of V-8’s installed in Cinema I after that, so both theatres could have had them at the same time. I seem to remember “Oklahoma” playing there as a re-release at 30 f.p.s.

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 10:22 pm

We had the original SDDS units (trash @ $15G ea.) in all the auditoriums at our place and last year replaced half of them with Dolby, though I don’t recall the model number. We are putting additional Dolby’s for replacement of the remaining Sony’s on our cap ex wish list for the new year.

Movieguy718 on June 9, 2005 at 1:26 pm

Thanks DAVE…The Dolby 500 and SDDS 3000 are both equipped with this feature. They work in a slightly different fashion from each other, but offer the same results – lower for the trailers, proper volume for the feature.

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 1:05 pm

I’m not an expert on projection/sound. Where I’m at we have Sony and Dolby digital processors, and I’m not aware that they have that capability, but i’ll ask around. The studios claim all the trailers and features have the same equalization, but I don’t buy it. In a multiplex the single operator can’t stand by the fader in each auditorium adjusting for each trailer, so the level is usually set for the main feature.

Movieguy718 on June 9, 2005 at 12:46 pm

Hey DAVE – Totally off subject. But since u seem to know what you are talking about… The newest sound processors are capable or storing many sound (volume) cues. ie: one for commercials, one for trailers, one for the feature. Why do projectionists refuse to use this feature? I’ve been in plenty of theatres where the trailers are screamingly loud and people complain to turn it down which they invariably do, but then when the feature starts, it’s WAY too soft. And honestly, the trailers and features have been pretty much equallized in recent years. Do they really not know that this feature is available to them? Or are they just lazy??

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 12:33 pm

When I worked there, Cinema I had Cinemeccanica V8 35/70 machines, Cinema II had Simplex XL 35’s, and the Murray Hill (prior to the ceiling collapse) had Cinemeccanica V8 35/70, that were later installed in the 57th St. Playhouse.

RobertEndres on June 9, 2005 at 5:50 am

dave-bronx: The reason General Cinema was able to get such a sharp edge with their aperture plates was that they used special plates. The General Cinema projection package consisted of Century projector heads which had the gate rails notched out in back over the aperture area so a thicker plate could be used which put the face of the plate closer to the film. Since aperture plates can never be in the same physical space as the film, there is always some fuzz line which varies with the depth of focus of the projection lens used (that in turn is also affected by the focal length.) The disadvantage to that system is that the closer to the film the plate is, the more the danger of scratching the film if it buckles from the heat of the lamp. My predecessor as Head Projectionist at Radio City Music Hall was Bill Nafash who was a master at cinema installation and did work for Rugoff. Those masking strips may have been a solution he worked out to provide a sharp edge to the picture. I remember seeing the strips used at the Murray Hill, and I think there were two or three sets of them for 1.85, 1.66 and 1.37. They may have also used the special “thick” Century aperture plates as well.

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 12:52 am

The original 2 auditoriums here were actually General Cinema-style auditoriums, i.e. the white box around the screen lit with red and blue cove lighting, and the gray Alpro panelling (corrugated, perforated aluminum panels with fiberglass insulation behind it for sound control) on the walls, all plain and no draperies or other decoration.

When I worked for General Cinema, I recall a published interview with Mel Wintman, then the GCCs Exec.VP – where he was asked, among other things, about the design of the auditorium. He said that it was all very plain, with the front-end “splayed” into the screen to focus the movie-goers attention on the picture and eliminate as many distractions as possible.

The only slight difference in design here was those silly masking strips we used on the edge of the flat picture, probably to satisfy the New York film-philes. At General Cinema we didn’t use masking – but we had very precise aperture plates cut (something that nobody in New York seems to be able to do), and nobody ever complained about an un-masked picture.

RobertR on June 3, 2005 at 2:45 pm

Sept 27, 1972 when the Cinemas were the pride of Cinema 5, they were presenting two world premiere engagements. In Cinema 1 “The Ruling Class” and in Cinema 2 “A Seperate Peace”.

Mikeoaklandpark on June 1, 2005 at 11:26 am

When I lived in NYC 76-83, Cinema ! & 2 were upscale beautiful theaters. Cinema 5 kept them as premier showcase theaters of the east side. I am sure once City Cinemas took over and made a 3rd theater it was downhill from there. I am only sorry that I never went to the Beekman.

RobertR on June 1, 2005 at 11:02 am

I would not give City Cinemas a dime of my movie going money. To me Cinema 1 & 2 is long dead.

br91975 on May 26, 2005 at 6:57 am

I sent the following e-mail yesterday to Lou Lumenick, a NY Post film critic who wrote articles on consecutive days this past winter, discussing the demolition threats looming over the Cinema 1-2-3 and the Beekman; I’ll post his response as soon as it arrives in my inbox.

Dear Mr. Lumenick,

During the winter, you wrote two excellent articles, bringing to the public’s attention the threat of demolition looming over the Beekman and Cinema 1-2-3. While that threat seems to have temporarily subsided in the case of the Cinema 1-2-3 (the deal for a high-rise to be built on the property having temporaily fallen through, giving the Cinema 1-2-3 an apparent reprieve of a few years, at least), the Beekman is still in imminent danger (word has it that the Beekman is scheduled to close sometime in June). Meanwhile, little or no news has come about efforts to preserve either of these theatres and to spare them from the wrecking ball. As you well know, we’ve lost too many valuable cinemas and/or past or present filmgoing venues over the last few years (the Sutton, the Art Greenwich, the Murray Hill, the Gotham, and, as I type these words, the Variety, downtown on 3rd Avenue near 14th) and too few people seem to care or are aware of the character this city is losing when one of these theatres closes its doors for good.

Anything further you can do (i.e., perhaps in writing another article, somehow spreading the word otherwise, or maybe contacting Harvey Weinstein again as a follow-up; his passion and his influence can truly go a long way towards saving the Beekman and Cinema 1-2-3) would be much appreciated.

Keep up the great work and thank you for your time.