Comments from HowardBHaas

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HowardBHaas commented about Prince Theater on Sep 4, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Such a contrast to today’s movie going!

You probably mean Mr. William Goldman, the owner of this and other theaters?

HowardBHaas commented about UA Grant Plaza on Sep 4, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Exterior shown last night during Fox TV Channel 29 news story about closure of AMC Orleans 8:

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HowardBHaas commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Sep 4, 2007 at 5:47 pm

Exterior shown last night on Fox TV Channel 29 news as part of story on closure of AMC Orleans 8:

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HowardBHaas commented about Mayfair Theatre on Sep 4, 2007 at 5:46 pm

shown last night on Fox TV Channel 29 news in its unfortunate state as a bank (during the story of the closure of the AMC Orleans 8):

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HowardBHaas commented about Benner Theatre on Sep 4, 2007 at 5:45 pm

shown last night on Fox TV Channel 29 news as an office building now, part of story on closure of AMC Orleans 8:
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HowardBHaas commented about Castor Theatre on Sep 4, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Shown on Fox TV Channel 29 news last night as a 99 cent store, as part of story on closure of AMC Orleans:
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HowardBHaas commented about Baederwood Stadium 4 on Sep 4, 2007 at 1:47 pm

In June 2002, I saw Insomnia (Al Pacino as a detective) in one of the twin auditoriums. I could tell how large the main auditorium had been. Even though some seats didn’t perfectly face the screen, there were many seats that had fine views. I liked the Baederwood as a twin and would have enjoyed seeing more movies there.

In November, 2005, I saw North Country and was surprised to see it on a reasonably large screen in of the smaller auditoriums of the then 4 screener. The screen was larger than often found in the smaller auditoriums of stadium seated megaplexes!
Hearing that the theater was going to close, I attended during its last weekend to experience a movie in one of the larger auditoriums. I saw the animated Cars.
The Baederwood was an even better theater than it had been as a twin. All four screens were decently sized.
The neighborhood had interesting shops including a Barnes and Noble bookstore. The strip mall had a deli since it opened, a pizza shop, and other eating choices. The exterior of the theater had the appearance of a single screen theater. The canopy that had been added gave people a sense of arrival at an elegant theater.

Here is my photo of the exterior from 2006 shortly before it closed:
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And, my photo of the soaring glass enclosed lobby:
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HowardBHaas commented about Tower Theatre on Sep 1, 2007 at 8:01 pm

These exterior photos are from The Exhibitor magazine:
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my 2007 photo:
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HowardBHaas commented about Plaza Theatre on Sep 1, 2007 at 3:00 pm

The “zone” of movie theaters which didn’t show the same movie at the same time included the Plaza, the nearby King and Queen, a movie theater at the Valley Forge Convention Center (possibly in the hotel), and the Gateway at Devon, which was a three screener operated by AMC.

HowardBHaas commented about Plaza Theatre on Sep 1, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Mainstream movies were shown. In September 1994, I saw Forrest Gump at the Plaza. The next month, I saw Quiz Show. In November 1998, I saw The Siege.

HowardBHaas commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Philadelphia Inquirer 8-30-07
photo 19 at slide show has photo of the theater:
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Greetings from Asbury Park
In his 1973 calliope rock song “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” Bruce Springsteen was already looking to put his adopted hometown in the rearview mirror.

“This boardwalk life for me’s through,” sang Springsteen, a native of nearby Freehold. “You know, you ought to quit this scene, too.”

That’s the thing about Asbury Park: The songs that romanticize the Jersey resort town’s honky-tonk charm are about getting out of town, as quickly as possible.

There’s a Promised Land out there, somewhere. But it’s located far “beyond the Palace,” as Springsteen put it in “Born to Run,” in a reference to the boardwalk amusement park that was demolished in 2004, but whose iconic clown face, Tillie, now looks out from a wall of the Wonder Bar, a few blocks north on Ocean Avenue.

But the faded beach town – whose onetime residents include Jack Nicholson, Stephen Crane, Danny DeVito, and wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow, who named his trademark over-the-shoulder reverse pile-driver move “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” after Springsteen’s debut album – has retained a ghostly allure as it has struggled fitfully to renew itself.

For me, growing up an hour down the Garden State Parkway in Ventnor, Asbury was a place to escape to, a destination where there was a music scene, unlike the rest of the culturally barren Jersey Shore. We made pilgrimages to the still-active Stone Pony – the gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello plays there Oct. 15 – in hopes of catching a Springsteen pop-in. Sometimes, we hit the jackpot. Others, all we got was Gary U.S. Bonds.

In director John Sayles' Baby, It’s You, Asbury Park – always regarded with suspicion by the Methodist community of Ocean Grove, just to the south – is where Vincent Spano and Rosanna Arquette play hooky from a Trenton high school in search of teenage kicks.

And in the new memoir Greetings From Bury Park, Pakistani-born British author Sarfraz Manzoor gets Springsteen fever and finds himself on a strangely abandoned beach, delighted to see that Madam Marie’s fortune-telling booth still stands. (Bury Park is the name of the neighborhood where he grew up in Luton, England.)

This decade, a revival is under way in Asbury, whose heyday as a vacation getaway for New Yorkers came in the years before World War II, though it has hardly transformed the place overnight. There’s a thriving gay community, and downtown, posh Portuguese and sushi restaurants.

A row of condos stands where Tillie used to entice couples to risk a ride on the Tunnel of Love. There’s a $200 million development plan to preserve the town’s cultural heritage in the form of a rehabbed Convention Hall, as well as the art deco Paramount Theatre and the (non-gambling) Casino, along with a couple of thousand condo units.

But when I drove there on a hot Sunday afternoon in July – stopping on the way into town at what seemed like the loneliest Starbucks in the world – I saw the same Asbury that Eric Mencher captures in these photos, the same one Springsteen wrote about in “My City of Ruins,” with a handful of people on the beach, a spooky stillness in the air.

All shore towns have a touch of sadness about them, because summer is forever ending, and good times disappear along with it. So looking out at forlorn empty lots and an all-but-abandoned boardwalk in Asbury in high season can be doubly heartbreaking.

You get a sense of being lost in time in a place trying valiantly to hang onto what’s best about its past, while telling itself that there really is a brighter future ahead.

HowardBHaas commented about Temple Theatre on Aug 31, 2007 at 8:20 pm

8-30-07 photo by Rob Bender of exterior:

HowardBHaas commented about Rialto Theater on Aug 31, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Beautiful photo by Rob Bender of exterior, 8-29-07 here:
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HowardBHaas commented about Pantages Theater on Aug 31, 2007 at 8:17 pm

8-27-07 photo by Rob Bender of exterior especially vertical blade sign:
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HowardBHaas commented about Beach 4 Theatre on Aug 31, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:
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fight for the Beach
By Jacqueline L. Urgo

Jerry Gaffney hopes his committee can save the Beach Theater from destruction.
CAPE MAY – Preservationists in this Jersey Shore town, where Victoriana has long reigned as the architectural sensibility, are mounting a surprising fight to save a 1950s-era movie theater.
Beach Theatre – built in a Neocolonial Revival style that merged a flashy red neon marquee with Early American lanterns and wainscoting – is as much a part of the colorful fabric of this resort as the 600 Victorian houses that line its narrow streets, according to those looking to save the structure.

“People love this theater. It’s been here for years and it’s a big part of this town, both for the people who live here and for visitors,” said Jerry Gaffney, a member of the board of directors of the Beach Theatre Foundation Inc., a nonprofit group that has collected about 1,300 signatures on a petition seeking to preserve and restore the theater.

The group’s vision for the property, which is just across the street from the Atlantic Ocean, is to create an art-house style theater that would show varied genres of films – including animated, indie and foreign – on its four screens. The dozen or so retail stores and eateries that surround the theater, which was built in 1950, also would be upgraded.

But Frank Investments, a Florida-based entertainment and real estate development company, earlier this year obtained permits to demolish the 860-seat theater and adjacent stores to build an upscale condominium and shopping complex.

Gaffney said preservationists might be able to stave off the development – at least for a year – if the Cape May City Council approved a $100,000 payment to Frank Investments.

The payment would give the foundation control of the theater for a year; in that time, the foundation would try to come up with $12 million to buy the property or find an investor who would agree not to tear down the structure.

A public hearing and City Council vote are scheduled for Sept. 4 at 1 p.m.

Bruce C. Frank, president of Frank Investments, has said that if his company moves forward with the project, it will be “posh, in the Ritz-Carlton style,” providing something that “is missing in Cape May.”

“People want luxury. They want high end,” Frank told the New York Times earlier this month.

Since the 1970s, the town, which in its entirety is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has followed strict architectural-preservation codes within its downtown district. Home and business owners are required to adhere to historically accurate paint colors, exterior trims, doors and fences.

What has evolved is an enclave of Victorian architecture known nationwide for its numerous bed-and-breakfast inns.

There are signs, however, that Frank may be right about an appetite for the high life.

When a group of investors spent $22 million five years ago to remake the closed Congress Hall into an upscale establishment charging as much as $950 a night for a room, longtime Cape May residents said it wouldn’t fly.

But now Versace-clad New Yorkers and Philadelphians sporting Hermes luggage arrive by the luxury SUV-load for stays booked months in advance. The hotel’s 106 rooms and suites have consistently been booked solid during prime vacation times since the facility reopened in 2002.

“I think since they redid Congress Hall, you really can feel a change in the air when you walk around the [Washington Street pedestrian] mall,” said Terry Wilkins, 48, of North Cape May, whose family has been in the area since the 1860s.

“People are much more urbane, better dressed than they used to be,” Wilkins said. “But I think, in a way, it’s eroding the small-town feel that Cape May always had. I don’t think a lot of people like the word upscale when they hear it used in relation to Cape May.”

Some people simply like Cape May the way it is. A few years ago, officials proposed a parking garage to alleviate congestion, but it didn’t get far.

“We don’t need a parking garage,” said Fred Jones, 77, who has lived in the area his entire life. “Imagine what that would look like here. Talk about ruining the character of the place.”

Those fighting for Cape May’s lone movie house also talk about the town’s unique character.

“It’s a David and Goliath situation when it comes to the idea of preservation vs. condos,” said Lelah Eppenbach, executive director of the Beach Theatre Foundation. “But it’s a defining moment for the town, and I think that people are in favor of saving the theater. There’s a lot of potential there, and I think people realize you can upgrade the space without completely demolishing the theater and building condos.”

HowardBHaas commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Aug 28, 2007 at 11:18 pm

well informed sources inform me that the AMC Orleans will close soon (within a month or so?) for demolition, to be replaced by a Target.

HowardBHaas commented about AMC Neshaminy 24 Theatres on Aug 28, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Vince, I would look forward to reading your own movie theater reviews on these pages! We shouldn’t expect local magazines to be as expert as you are!

HowardBHaas commented about Newtown Theatre on Aug 27, 2007 at 7:40 pm

also from theater’s website (which also features year by year which films have played!)

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The Newtown Theatre has an extensive history dating back to 1831. It is, in fact, the oldest movie theater in the United States with it’s first movie being shown in 1906. Originally built to be a hall for town gatherings and a “non sectarian” church for traveling ministers, it soon became a center of entertainment in Newtown.

By the early 1850’s the “Newtown Hall” (As it was then called) was used regularly for performances. These ranged from social dances to concerts, to theatrical productions, and magic lantern shows . In 1883, the building was reconstructed, larger than the first, and designed with stage performances in mind. However, a fire escape from the balcony was not added until 1904.

In 1906 the first movie was shown. In 1936, the interior of the building was redone and new equipment was purchased to enhance the movie-going experience. With the coming of Television and modern movies, Newtown Hall movies were becoming outdated. Rescued in 1953 by the Newtown Community Welfare Council, who now serve as trustees, the little theatre survives complete with the flavor and posters of a bygone era. In 1972, Amos Farruggio, a movie buff and licensed projectionist, rented the hall from the Council, spruced it up, and kept the theatre alive in Newtown until his death. The theatre was then ably run by his wife, Mrs. Farruggio until her death in June of 2005.

Change came again to the theatre on April 29, 1999 when after years of use one of the Theatres old Carbon Arc lamps broke, and the old two projector system was rearranged to accommodate a newer xenon lamp system, and a platter, no longer will the projectionist have to change from machine to machine every 20 minutes, but all things being equal, the original flavor of the theatre still remains.

The old play props are now covered with dust behind the screen at the Newtown Theatre, relics of another era…

The theatre had Air Conditioning installed in 2002 for the Gala showing of “Signs” that was filmed in part in Newtown. The theatre now has upgraded sound with the installation of Sony SDDS and DTS, and recently updated the older optical sound system to a Red Light Reader to accommodate the newer film formats.

HowardBHaas commented about Newtown Theatre on Aug 27, 2007 at 7:38 pm
Movie Screen Size:
24 feet 3 inches wide by 10 feet 9 inches (Scope)
19 feet wide by 10 feet 9 inches (Fixed flat masking in place)

Distance From
Projector Gate to center of the screen 56 feet
from Edge of Balcony to center of the screen 40 feet

Simplex E7 35 mm

Orchestra 274 Seats
Balcony 82 Seats
Total 356 Seats

HowardBHaas commented about UA Riverview Plaza Stadium 17 on Aug 27, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Yes, years ago, none of us Philly natives what have believed it!

Yet, that’s reality, and why starting last weekend, and this past weekend, I added 13 multiplexes/megaplexes in Philadelphia & its burbs (on the PA side) to this site including this theater. All the others in the newspaper on the PA side had already been entered.

of course, this is also good reason to ensure the Boyd is restored and reopened including for movie premieres, film classics & film festivals, and live shows the rest of the year. Many people experience movies in stadium seated auditoriums in plexes, but people should still be able to experience them some time during the year in Golden Age Hollywood style movie palaces!

HowardBHaas commented about Rialto Theatre on Aug 27, 2007 at 12:18 pm

I really enjoyed reading the name origins posted by Joe.

HowardBHaas commented about AMC Neshaminy 24 Theatres on Aug 27, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Eddie, in regard to these two theaters, you may be correct. This one continues to be very well patronized, much better per seat than the Orleans. I’ve not heard of any other in the Philly area with a 590 seat auditorium and 61 feet wide screen, and this one has two such auditoriums!

However, the magazine’s evaluation of many other theaters (and I posted most) seems to have been on point. Of course, it may be time for a new evaluation by the magazine especially since some theaters like the Bridge and UA King of Prussia weren’t then open, others have changed hands, etc.

HowardBHaas commented about Goldman Theatre on Aug 27, 2007 at 2:29 am

Nah, there’s a photo of it being demolished and a Feb 24, 1984 letter to the editor of Philadelphia Inquirer by Irvin R. Glazer reprinted (and referring to the photo) on back cover of 3rd Q 2003 Marquee of the Theatre Historical Society of America. It would be improper if I scanned & posted it, but as a THS member, I can tell you that most of the back issues are avail for purchase. THS has its own website. That issue has an entire section on the Goldman including the Stairway image which I posted above. (independently of THS, I have an original print of the Stairway image). Gorgeous photos of some Philadelphia movie palaces, and write-ups, are also in the same issue.

HowardBHaas commented about Rialto now dark on Aug 27, 2007 at 12:08 am

There’s an Alex film society hosting a film series at the Alex.

The Rialto isn’t a moviehouse either anymore. It is a closed vacant building. And, unless it is chopped up into small auditoriums, it won’t likely reemerge as a daily moviehouse!! People dreaming that the Rialto will reemerge as a restored single screen daily moviehouse like the Castro can keep on dreaming, but it probably isn’t going to happen. If people don’t want to see the building demolished or used for non-entertainment purposes, then other solutions including mixed entertainment use (concerts, shows, etc) might be considered.

There are still movies at the Alex, and even more at the Warner Grand (foreign films, classics, etc) so people can still sometimes enjoy films in an authentic Golden Age Hollywood movie palace. Live shows help to pay the freight. Nonprofit status helps in those two theaters.

HowardBHaas commented about UA Main Street 6 on Aug 26, 2007 at 7:34 pm

The June 1999 Philadelphia Magazine rated the UA Main Street 6 a “3” on a 1 to 5 scale with comment: “Manayunk deserves better” A high rating was awarded in the Seating category. Instead of the characterization “First-run mainstream” applied to other mainstream moviehouses, the term “Lame mainstream” was used.

From November 2006 Philadelphia Weekly:

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Most Hit or Miss
If you catch a flick on one of the United Artists' Main Street 6’s two giant screens, you’re in for an enveloping treat. If you get stuck in one of its four smaller houses, well, you’re screwed.