Loew's Jersey Theatre

54 Journal Square,
Jersey City, NJ 07306

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swampdevil
swampdevil on November 27, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Sinatra weekend was great fun,always a treat to hear Foster Hirsch speak.
The holiday choices (Scrooge the musical and Muppets take manhattan) are disapointing to say the least, almost like they waited until Nov to book the films and thats all that was availible !

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on November 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm

[size=4][color=red]The Landmark Loews Jersey â€" The Wonder Theatre Of New Jersey[/color][/size]

The weekend of November 19th and 20th, The Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre located on Journal Square in Jersey City, New Jersey, continues its 9th consecutive year of classic films with a tribute to a local boy who made it big, Frank Sinatra.

The theatre is located directly across from the PATH subway station connecting Manhattan with Jersey City, it is also easy to reach from most area highways. Secure discounted parking is located directly behind the theatre. Have your parking ticket validated at the theatre’s boxoffice.

Unlike Some Other Classic Film Venues, All Our Show Are Presented Exclusively From High Resolution 35mm Motion Picture Film With Genuine Carbon Arc Projection On Our Giant 50 Foot Wide Screen.

Friday November 19th at 8:00pm â€" The Man With The Golden Arm (1955)

Starring Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Eleanor Parker, Darren McGavin
Directed by Otto Preminger (B&W, 119 Minutes)

Sinatra is riveting as a two-bit card shark and drug addict trying to go straight in this deep, very dark noir film that features razor sharp characters, great acting, a crisp jazz soundtrack by Elmer Bernstein and a stylish rendering of the post-war hipster milieu. Sinatra’s depiction of the agony of drug withdrawal remains one of the most chilling yet powerful scenes ever filmed. Director Otto Preminger released this groundbreaking drama without the sanction of a Production Code seal, and helped break the stranglehold the censorial Code held over American cinema. This rare big-screen presentation will be shown in a restoration print from the Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Saturday November 20th at 6:00pm â€" On The Town (1949)

Starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garret, Anne Miller, Vera-Ellen, Jumes Munshin.
Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly. (Color, 98 Minutes)

The kind of movie they don’t make anymore — great music, great dancing, fun, romantic, exhilarating. Three sailors go on a whirlwind, 24-hour leave in New York City. Sinatra is great as the one more interested in seeing the sites than chasing girls — but who winds up being chased by one. Dazzling on-location scenes of mid-century New York, including the now iconic “New York, New York” opening. Choreography by Kelly, music and story by Adolph Greene & Betty Comden, score co-written by Leonard Bernstein.

Saturday November 20th at 8:20pm â€" From Here To Eternity (1953)

Starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Ernest Borgnine.
Directed by Fred Zinnemann. (B&W, 118 minutes).

Extraordinary cast playing complex, engrossing characters, including Sinatra in an Academy-Award wining role that proved his power as a dramatic actor and revitalized his career. The story broke American cinematic ground — and taboos — with its frank depiction of ambitions, frustrations, personal conflicts, deliberate cruelty, sexual desire and adultery on a Honolulu Army base in the languid months leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack. The scene of Lancaster and Kerr in erotic embrace on the beach is legendary.

Visit The Landmark Loews Jersey web site for details.

[size=1]The Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre[/size]

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on November 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

This is what the Loew’s Jersey is about in large part. In 2010, it is an utterly amazing thing to witness. Note the complete silence of the 1,000+ person audience during the showing. This truly is a Cinema Treasure in the greatest meaning of the term:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLqEzL4Yfrg

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Easily the biggest turnout I’ve ever seen there! It was such a great thing to witness—and there were all kinds of people there. The audience seemed liked a good cross-section of the NJ population.

It should also be mentioned that this is by far the best behaved movie audience I know of, and I see it in show after show. They are very quiet during the movie (except for the expected film reactions) and the cells phones are put away once the movie starts. It must be the surroundings that bring out this good behavior in the audience. I have never heard 1,000+ people be so quiet before!

Although I suspect that part of this is due to the acoustical design of the auditorium. My theory is that the light coves under the balcony trap the sound of the orchestra audience; and the side wall coves trap the balcony audience sound. I would not put it past the architects of that time.

Movie was great! Organ was great! Theatre was fantastic! $1 popcorn. $1 soda. $6 to $8 to get in. How can you beat it?!

Rory
Rory on October 26, 2010 at 7:27 am

Well, those old vintage black and white films from the ‘20s and '30s match the interior of the theatre, as I imagine, since I’ve never been there, something like “Sunset Blvd.” would too.

Altoblanco
Altoblanco on October 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Still awaiting attendance figures from Saturday’s screening of “Nosferatu”, but it MAY have been a record-breaking turnout for a classic film screening (surpassing “Frankenstein” and even “Phantom of the Opera”) – amazingly, some of the biggest FOL movie shows have been SILENT films. For certain, Loew’s Jersey customers surely love horror films. Box office sales figures for this show estimated at around 10 grand! No one could have imagined such success.

Initial crowd expectations were 500-600, but actual turnout appeared to be well over 1000. Even with a short-handed (for a large event) “skeleton crew”, the capable, tireless volunteer staff took just under an hour to get an enormous queue (which stretched down the side and past the rear of the theatre) through the doors and seated. An unbelievable team effort!

All of this just two days after The Village Voice’s “Best of NYC 2010” issue (Oct. 20-26, 2010 / p.67) proclaims Loew’s Jersey as “Best Movie Theater”. Remarkable, considering that it’s in New Jersey!

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 25, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Hi LuisV, Hope you made it to the Loew’s Jersey. If you did, any thoughts? It’s quite a place, isn’t it?!

LuisV
LuisV on October 20, 2010 at 7:27 am

Out of the 10 theaters listed; the only one that appears to be a “True” movie palace is our very own Wonder Theater; the Loew’s Jersey. The Oaks in Berkeley appears large enough but the description is scant and it doesn’t appear to be anywhere in the same league as the Jersey. It appears that it is safe to say that the Loew’s Jersey is the best of the this country’s historic Movie Palaces whose main function continues to be showing films. We can argue that many other theaters are grander (The Loew’s Paradise, Loew’s 175th Street, Loew’s Valencia, Loew’s Kings, Radio City, New Amsterdam, Atlanta Fox, Oakland Fox, Uptown in Chicago, etc.) But none of these theaters show movies consistently anymore (if at all). We’re very lucky to have this theater.

Can’t wait to see Nosferatu on Saturday night!

T228
T228 on October 19, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Today The Huffington Post listed “10 Beautiful Old Movie Theaters Around The Country,” and the JC Loews is listed among them:

“Beautiful movie houses are, unfortunately, a thing of the past. The idea of sitting amongst such history, where silent and black and white films have been played, is truly amazing. Here are 10 restored and beloved movie theaters in communities around the country.”

View link

RobMinichino
RobMinichino on October 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Actually, the balcony is about 1200 seats, so there are somewhat more seats downstairs.

AC is completely absent (the existing system is not repairable), so that will have to be reinstalled. The AC is probably more important for capacity than the balcony as the amount of heat 3000 people throw off is absolutely staggering. Regardless, at least part of the balcony (the loge) will likely be open before AC is installed.

The balcony is waiting on some life safety work (fire escape maintenance, sprinklers, etc.) to get done before we can open it, which is tempering the rate at which we work on the balcony compared to other, more pressing building maintenance work. We thought it would have gone faster than it is, but the recession has slowed down funding in all quarters.

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Spectrum, once they open the balcony (which is more than half the capacity of the theatre), the Loew’s Jersey is really going to take off. Opening that balcony is going to offer so many new possibilities.

Another important “must do” is to get the A/C working full tilt in the summer. All of this will happen. I’m sure of it. Doing so will increase the capacity of the theatre by another 25 percent. The balcony should take priority since that represents about 60 percent more capacity. These improvements aren’t cumulative but rather geometric. Once the momentum gets going, it goes only upwards and very quickly at that.

The Loew’s greatest asset is location. “If you build it they will come.” Think of the potential audience just within 10 miles of this theatre. It boggles the mind. It is easily accessible by car, bus, rail, and air. What’s left?!

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 19, 2010 at 5:28 pm

LuisV, I am listening to the Loew’s Jersey organ via YouTube tonight. Listening through YouTube is like trying to fit Niagara Falls through a drinking straw. I’m glad you’re going to hear it in person. You are going to be utterly amazed. I will be there too. Between the organ, the theatre, and the film, it brings back a lot of what the experience was like in the 1920s—not that I was there of course, but I have a extra sense about these things.

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

The original Loew’s Jersey marquee—with the French curve. It was quite distinct and beautiful — even better looking at night with the milk glass back lit letters.
Have you seen this?
View link
Ah, those were the days!
It’s very nearly the same marquee that was on the New York Paramount:
View link
The Loew’s Jersey tower sign was also very impressive. It must have been 100 feet tall, and it also had elegant curves.

LuisV
LuisV on October 13, 2010 at 9:55 am

I dream of the day that a replica of the original marquee is installed and the unfortunate current one is dumped. Then the Loew’s Jersey will truly have been restored!

spectrum
spectrum on October 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm

One unique thing about the Loew’s Jersey is it is by far the largest remaining Movie Palace with ALL of the following:

Regular showings of silent films…
With live theatre organ accompaniment
with original organ (actully a twin of the original)

Other unique features:

Most of the original plaster walls and decor have never been repainted
Many of the original draperies remain

It is also by far the largest entirely volunteer-run theatre in the country

The best place for people who love both silent films and the theatre organ. You get both here.

I am looking forward for the fire escapes to be repaired at which point the balcony can be reopened. The web page indicated some time ago they were beginning to reinstall the refurbished balcony seats. Once regular concerts can be held and sold to the full 3,000+ capacity that will bring in revenue to speed up restoration. Ir has really come a long way over the past few years; the “zorro” presentation was excellent (Yay to Chris Elliott, the Organist), and their was a very large crowd for the show.

LuisV
LuisV on October 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Yes, I forgot about the Brooklyn Paramount. I predict that, eventually, this theater will be restored as well. It has too much history for LIU to be able to destroy. Now that they have built a new Athletic center they have no more need for this space, but the question of course is always “How much would a restoration cost?” and “Who is going to pay it?”. Brooklyn continues to develop and I think it will eventually happen, but the Kings has to be absorbed first.

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Bolorkay, I couldn’t agree more completely. I grew up in the Loew’s in the 1960s-1980s. It’s second life is truly amazing, isn’t it?! I’ve heard that Marcus Loew once said, “we sell tickets to theatres, not movies.” There was/is some truth in that.

LuisV, hope you enjoy the organ and “Nosferatu.” I think you’re in for a big surprise! Another still existing theatre that I think has a lot of potential is the old Brooklyn Paramount. Much of it is still intact. This theatre has one of the best prosceniums going. Just that was a show in itself. For some reason, it reminds me of the Wonder Theatres.

LuisV
LuisV on October 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

Thanks Gabe, I want to make sure that you don’t think that I was denigrating the Loew’s Jersey by putting it at number five. It is actually a testament to the incredible collection of theaters that the Loew’s Wonder Theaters consist of. I agree with you that Loew’s Jersey is probably the greatest movie palace in the country that still shows movies as its primary purpose.

I also whole heartedly agree with you that it is really impossible to compare theaters like The Jersey, The Loew’s Paradise, Loew’s Valencia, Loew’s 175th Street, Loew’s Kings, Radio City, The Hollywood and The New Amsterdam. They are so different from one another and represent the top of the fields in their respective styles.

Check out the Loew’s Canal page on CT. This hidden gem on Canal Street in Chinatown is about 2,200 seats and has been closed as a theater for decades. Per comments the interior is remarkably intact though all of the seats have been removed. The exterior was just declared a landmark and it’s current owner says that he wants to restore it into a community arts center. My fingers are crossed, but this theater has the potential to be one of New York’s most beautiful restored theaters.

I’m bringing several friends of mine from Manhattan to see Nosferatu at the Loew’s Jersey. I can’t wait to hear the organ!

bolorkay
bolorkay on October 9, 2010 at 7:20 am

I think, for myself at least what makes the wonderful Loew’s Jersey such a significant theater is that for those of us in the New Jersey/New York area this theater is right “in our own backyard”.
As a kid in the 1960s I would travel to the Loew’s as often as I could…. so there are some major memories associated with the Loew’s. Now that the Loew’s is in it’s second life, so-to-speak as a film and cultural center its importance is even greater to me.
I often laugh when I think that I visit the Loews, not so much for the films (although the film programmers always present terrific film weekends!) but more for the chance to “soak up” the atmosphere of this beautiful place. (And now that I understand it is one of the five remaining Wonder Theaters in the U.S., makes this even more important to me.

Without a doubt, “it’s all about the experience..”

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 8, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Hi LuisV, The Loew’s Jersey seems to be building momentum as an important classic film venue. If they play their cards right, this could be THE classic film venue for the entire country.

I don’t know. It’s hard to compare the 5 Wonder Theatres. The Kings is quite possibly more beautiful than the Jersey; however the Kings is somewhat remote and the years have not been kind to it. I think it will eventually be restored. The 175th St. is totally different in style from the Jersey and it too is beautiful. How can they be compared, really? Again, the Paradise attempts to evoke an Italian courtyard which it does very successfully—again a real beauty. The Jersey is a “hard-top” opera house inspired palace. The Valencia is another atmospheric and the “restoration” has not been kind or appropriate.

Give the Jersey another look. Have you seen the 1929 photos at their website? It may be a matter of taste. Only the Jersey has a theatre pipe organ. Have you heard it? As you mentioned, only the Jersey is showing classic film, which is what the Wonder Theatres were built for in the first place.

I agree that it is incredible that the 5 Wonder Theatres still remain. It really defies the odds. Of course the loss of these buildings would be simply unacceptable. “We’re going to raze the theatre.” “But you can’t” The “can'ts” have won—and they HAVE TO be restored. We’re winning when it comes to the Wonder Theatres.

Agree about the Uptown, and the defunct Chicago Paradise and the SF Fox—the best.

The Hollywood is lovely but smaller and more awkward than the Wonder Theatres. The New Amsterdam is a Broadway theatre and not a movie palace, but it is lovely. Radio City is in a class by itself. It is the klieg-lit pinacle (to borrow Ben Hall’s words).

Wasn’t aware of the Canal Theatre. I will look into it.

From a fellow theatre lover,

Gabe

LuisV
LuisV on October 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Hi Gabe DF, it’s so wonderful to see such enthusiasm for this theater. I went about 3 years ago to see The Day the Earth Stood Still. Patricia Neal actually came out on stage after the movie for some Q & A. It was a wonderful evening but it was apparent that there was still much to do in the theater. I think the Loews Jersey is one of the most beautiful theaters in the country, however, I respectfully disagree with your view about how beautiful.

Among the 5 Loew’s Wonder theaters, I would put the Loew’s Jersey at number 5. I think the Loews Kings (which I have visited in its unrestored state) will blow all other theaters away after its multi million dollar renovation is complete. The Loew’s Paradise in the Bronx and Loew’s 175th Street are both fully restored and are spectacular. Even the Loews Valencia (while currently serving as a church) IMO is a more beautiful theater. That said, I am eagerly looking forward to see the recent renovations. I will be attending the October 23rd showing of Nosferatu.

How incredible that ALL FIVE Wonder theaters survived and all have been restored or in progress.

I would also put the Uptown Theater in Chicago on the most beautiful list; even in decay.

In Manhattan, The Hollywood theater is amazing, as is the New Amsterdam and, of course, Radio City. Even the Loew’s Canal, whose exterior was recently landmarked may prove to be another gem. New York is blessed with a great many remarkable theaters that still exist even though only the Loews Jersey still shows films.

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

MDB, the 1929 photos are great! Thanks so much for posting them. They answered many questions for me.

GDellaFa
GDellaFa on October 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm

You’re welcome, Rob. I cannot help but gush when it comes to something as rare and unique as the Loew’s Jersey.

I agree with you partially about the brightness of the photos. In addition to what you said, I think the nicotine stains, general grime, and darkening lacquer of 50+ years has a lot to do with the present dark appearance of the theatre. I’m sure the interior walls will eventually be cleaned, and this alone would make the theatre much brighter.

I would think that the lighting scheme (I found your discussing about LEDs fascinating) would be different depending on the old surfaces vs. the restored.

It’s incredible just how many scenes there are in this theatre. Every turn and every few steps bring with them a completely different and interesting view. As you know, it was planned that way to “keep ‘em moving.” There’s only so much time to change audiences between shows (in the good old days). My favorite view was always coming into the auditorium from the mid-balcony level lobby. Used to sneak up there when I was a kid in the early 1970s—before the theatre was tri-plexed. The theatre seemed more intact back then, except that the lobby mezzanine promenade and Music Room had been blocked off. Much of the art work was still around back then.

Isn’t it amazing how the architects managed to design a completely symmetrical lobby and auditorium on such an oddball site? The design is extremely efficient and makes the best use of the space available. I’m also amazed by the sight lines (every seat is perfect) and the acoustics. I know for a fact that one can hear a person talking on the stage from the projection booth.

Any chance you could post those 1929 auditorium photos? Please?

What a place!

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on October 8, 2010 at 6:02 am

Those historic photos are from early November 1929, about a month after the theatre opened.

RobMinichino
RobMinichino on October 7, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Thanks for the gushing, Gabe. :)

The medallions that we took down are not going to be restored just yet; they’ll be reattached as-is when the replacement drapes arrive.

The theatre looks so much brighter in the 1929 photos because there was additional light added for the photography and because the exposures were relatively long. If you look at the lights that are visible in some of the photos you can get an idea of just how much brighter those photos are than the real thing. Also, in one of the auditorium photos (this one isn’t on the website yet) you can clearly see temporary lighting, and you’ll also see the exit signs are much brighter in the photos than they are in real life.

We have been working with an architectural lighting consultant in our restoration planning to determine how to add lights to both highlight architectural features and improve the utility of the theatre. The key is to do this in a historically-sensitive way. Somewhat paradoxically, modern lighting technologies such as LEDs make it easier to hide additional lighting in architectural elements and existing fixtures. The goal is to have a lighting control system that will allow for a number of different “scenes,” so we can have the appropriately dim atmosphere for movies, and brighter atmospheres for lobby events and concert intermissions, etc.