Comments from HowardBHaas

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HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on May 2, 2006 at 5:11 am

Vince, how interesting on all counts!

I knew GWTW was at both, but didn’t realize the prestige showing was at the Boyd.

Both the Trans Lux and the Arcadia have recently “reopened” as stores, after decade long closures. I’ve been meaning to link my photos to those pages, and will eventually.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on May 1, 2006 at 10:16 pm

Thanks William & Vince for the very informative and interesting postings as to the ticket prices. Now, I’m curious as to what were the most expensive tickets? The (3 strip) Cinerama shows because they were uniquely only ever at the Boyd in 3 strip? Or, road shows of epic films like Cleopatra? I’m wandering whether there was any one particular film (such as The Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben Hur, etc) that had the most expensive of the high end tickets?

HowardBHaas commented about Blow out for the Boyd on May 1, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Thanks Patrick for listing our event!
This is my favorite website!!


HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on May 1, 2006 at 7:48 am

A “Mary” wrote that “My mother passed away a couple of years ago, and last week my dad gave me the trunk she used to store all her special treasures. In going through it tonight, I found a ticket stub for seat U 101, Good Only Wed. 8:40 P.M. June 16, 1954 at the Boyd Theater, Orchestra, National Ticket Company. The seat cost $2.60 and is torn so I can’t tell what the show was. Is there anyplace I can get this information?”

I answered “This is Cinerama” which ran for one or two years at the Boyd? Her ticket price works out in inflation adjusted dollars to $17 or $18 today. Were road show features in the 1950’s & 1960’s also just as expensive?

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Apr 30, 2006 at 9:09 am

At the Loews Jersey on Friday eve, volunteer usher Myron told me that in early 1968 he saw GWTW in a “pan and scan” 70 mm version on the Cinerama screen at the Boyd. It is possible his recollection is confused with the Randolph?

HowardBHaas commented about Mayfair Theatre on Apr 15, 2006 at 2:42 pm

It is SAD that we can’t preserve even the notable exterior features such as a marquee! It would’ve been even better to also have preserved for public enjoyment notable interior features such as the Mayfair’s murals.

The current draft of my pending Weekly Update email for Friends of the Boyd includes as its concluding paragraph:

Other theater news: The former MAYFAIR movie theater in the Northeast is losing its marquee as it changes from a drugstore to a bank. The Mayfair, featured in John Gallery’s book on Philadelphia architecture, is important for being our first Streamlined Moderne theater. We in Philadelphia have not done a good job of protecting and landmarking our cinemas. That’s all the more reason why we need ensure the Boyd is restored, reopened, and once again enjoyed!

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Apr 13, 2006 at 3:25 am

I don’t know. GWTW was often reissued, so if you are positive, you are probably correct. In 1971 the Boyd’s Cinerama screen was taken down, but 70 mm projection was used.

Many of the movie theaters on this site in NYC, DC, and elsewhere, have a list of movies that played, from newspapers. The list seems to be from one gentleman. I’d love such a list to be posted on this site, of all movies that played at the Boyd, and the dates they played!

Also, the email address HowardB isn’t me, that’s another correspondent.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Apr 12, 2006 at 3:23 pm

The Boyd didn’t have live shows because it opened with Paramount’s 1st talkie. Talkies being ten times more popular than silents, so they didn’t need stage shows to help draw in patrons. The Boyd also didn’t have a huge stage. Most of downtown Philly’s stage presentation movie palaces were on Market Street, and they had much larger stages.

The Friends of the Boyd do plan 70 mm classics. We can’t do 3 strip Cinerama do to the need for a wider screen, and 3 projector booths on the orchestra level. We have said since we organized in 2002 that film classics, film festivals, and movie premieres can, and should, be held at the Boyd. For the theater to survive, and to entertain, musicals and concerts will be presented by the theater’s new owner. Musicals and concerts will be a great reuse of the Boyd. Movies are an art form, and we will strive to present them as discussed above.

The Bridge deserves its feature in the Cinema Treasures book, and is world class for what it is.

HowardBHaas commented about Kent Theatre Moving to Japan on Apr 3, 2006 at 10:14 am

Very funny April Fool’s joke!

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Apr 2, 2006 at 8:34 pm

When the “Sameric” as it was then named, closed in 2002, there was a sign in the Grand Lobby leading to the historic auditorium which proclaimed “Philadelphia’s largest movie screen.” Having seen numerous movies there, I can attest to the fact that the screen was large enough to truly excite any cinema lover. I say “was” with some hesitation because I understand the screen is still there, but we no longer see it since the Fire Curtain was lowered a year ago. The screen could not be reused, and its removal will happen when major work starts. In the meantime, the Fire Curtain with its triangles and original paint colors, is much more fun to look at than the screen, which became torn & written on after the theater closed.

I have seen screens in front of proscenium arches, though I think only in places still used as daily moviehouses. There needs be a place for the screen to go, whether in the floor or the ceiling. It won’t be the ornate ceiling. And, it would be expensive, complicated, and take some room, no doubt, for it to go into the floor.

Fortunately, the Arch is wide and big enough for a very large movie screen. It wasn’t wide enough for Cinerama, but for other format films, 35 mm- incuding Scope, and 70 mm, the Arch will house a screen big enough to impress film audiences. I’ve seen movies in numerous historic movie palaces from Boston to California, and Europe, too, so I do believe I can say that the screen will be appropriate.

And, I’m not saying that we have no appreciation for an even larger screen. I love the Uptown in D.C. and can only imagine that the Boyd with its Cinerama sized screens (at least two different sizes says Vince Young above) compared. However, the Boyd can have a movie screen within the Arch that people will very much enjoy. And, perhaps in the future, people can figure out an affordable way to have an even bigger screen present itself, if that’s what they want! As you say, the critical need is the survival of the last movie palace.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Apr 1, 2006 at 11:25 pm

The Cinerama screen, the circular marquee, and Ben Hur were all products of their time, half a century ago, as movie palaces sought to survive in the TV era. We’re in a different era now. The Boyd, with its original Art Deco features restored, will once again entertain audiences.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Apr 1, 2006 at 3:09 am

The Cinerama screen was taken down in 1971, revealing then & ever since then, the beautiful Proscenium Arch. Fortunately, the auditorium was designed very wide, so that a large Cinemascope screen entertained audiences since 1971.

Buildings especially movie palaces, do stand proudly on their own. They don’t try to ape their neighbors. The original marquee will blend with the rest of the Boyd architecture, exterior and interior.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Mar 31, 2006 at 4:10 pm

The Boyd was built, and viewed from the start, as a downtown showplace movie palace, not a “large-sized nickelodeon” Hollywood stars regularly arrived with the films. Alexander Boyd intended it to be the flagship of a movie circuit empire. He probably had to sell it to Warner Bros because the national studio also was purchasing the Stanley Co theaters, and he couldn’t compete against a nationwide firm- same problem many companies have today.

When the Boyd reopens with many of the magnificient Art Deco features that it originally had, people will once again enjoy its true glory!

As to W. H. Lee, he was a great theater architect who didn’t get to design a downtown Philadelphia movie palace. Much of the Boyd was simplified in 1953, a common post-WW2 trend, but that didn’t make it better. Many remember a huge curved screen in front of the Proscenium Arch, but that-like the 3 orchestra projection booths- likely was built for the specifications of the Cinerama company. I’ve always liked the circular marquee, but it seems more appropriate for a 1950’s Penn Center building. The original French Art Deco marquee will fit better at the Boyd.

HowardBHaas commented about Merben Theater on Mar 30, 2006 at 9:23 am

Sam’s son Merton ran the Sameric Corporation after Sam died. A grandson, Eric died young & was memoralized by the naming of so many of the theaters as Eric. I don’t about others.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Mar 30, 2006 at 9:02 am

In 1991, I enjoyed the restored 70 MM 6 track print of Spartacus on one of the two large (40 foot wide) screens at the Worldwide Plaza, before that theater went 2nd run. It was presented fine there. I had missed it at the Ziegfeld & at the Uptown in Washington. I’d love to see it in 70 MM at the Uptown and I’m sure many people would love to see it at the Ziegfeld. I’ve not seen the Alamo. On vacation, I did see a 35 MM print of Mad World at the Castro in S.F. More 70 MM prints of classics please!

HowardBHaas commented about Merben Theater on Mar 30, 2006 at 8:57 am

Magaziner was the architect. Shapiro was the client. The Boyd theater later knew Shapiro as he who bought it in 1971 for the Sameric Corporation. Irv Glazer’s hardback book on Philadelphia theaters makes clear that Shapiro was the client.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Mar 28, 2006 at 8:33 am

I attend first run films at the Ziegfeld, and do NOT have any problems with the presentation, and I’m picky.

The Godfather was perfect!

It does sound like at least a couple crappy prints were sent by studios: certainly Alien, and possibly this very spliced print of Lawrence of Arabia.

From what I can read, Clearview has learned much & improved for some of these “classics” concerns of intermissions, etc.

So, let’s not get down on Clearview. MANY people appreciated the classic film festival. One matter they can improve- those 2 week passes need more time, even if they happen to be good at their other venues. People need time to find something they want to see.

HowardBHaas commented about Uptown Theater on Mar 27, 2006 at 8:02 pm

I met Steve at the Uptown when he was showing The Aviator and the platter had arrived. I’m sorry he’s gone.

I don’t disagree that the Uptown is great for 70 mm, but those of us who love this theater do enjoy 35 mm and especially Scope films there.

Steve is correct in that there seem to be fewer movies worthy of adult patronage in movie theaters. It almost seemed that Hollywood issued better movies in 70 mm 6 track, and when a decade ago that format died when DTS arrived, Hollywood stopped trying. There arestill some worthwhile films, but fewer.

70 mm classics have often returned over the years, so I hope the current exhibitor (AMC) presents more 70 mm classic films. Hollywood doesn’t seem to be issuing any new movies in 70 mm or blowups from 35 mm, but classics look & sound great on the Uptown!

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Mar 27, 2006 at 3:07 pm

I’m guessing they did NOT remove the second platter. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that for classics, a platter should never be used? The prints are rare & the studios & archives don’t want theaters to use platters for the rare prints, right? When we retrieved film equipment from the closed Boyd in Philadelphia (to reinstall later in the upstairs original booth), we retrieved the two 35-70 mm movie projectors (and an extra one from an adjoining auditorium) and told management to toss the platter!

I wasn’t at Lawrence, but agree that it was unacceptable to run the sound out of sync with the visuals. The paid projectionist should have known how to put the film back on track after it burned, but since he didn’t, I see nothing wrong with audience members who were
evidently projectionists helping out. Those of us who aren’t projectionists wouldn’t have volunteered.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a collector’s original 1956 print of The Ten Commandments at the Loew’s Jersey in Jersey City. There are comments at that site as to how impressed everybody was. As much as I love the Ziegfeld, it is an even greater experience walking into the Grand Lobby, Auditorium, and other public areas of one of the grandest neoclassic 1920’s movie palaces ever built. The Loews doesn’t have a working curtain, or side and back sound, so we should appreciate those features even more at the Ziegfeld.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Mar 21, 2006 at 8:14 am

Hal, I’d love to see 70 mm film festivals, and that includes some of the recent Ziegfeld classics that weren’t presented in 70 mm but were issued that way.

As to new releases, there’s another problem. 70 mm presentations are expensive, as you know. They was more of an effeciency of scale when they were presented in single screen flagship houses in the cities. One 70 mm print was shown in an auditorium that ranged from 500 seats (such as the Paris) to 1000+ seats. Unfortunately, there’s very few such screens left! The blockbuster movie is often presented in a multiplex every half hour, requiring several prints, and at the same time throughout the city & suburbs since there’s no more downtown exclusive for maintream movies. The cost of making, shipping, and showing all those 70 mm prints would be high.

No doubt the old days were better: 70 mm 6 track on giant screens in single screen moviehouses!

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Mar 20, 2006 at 12:50 pm

Thanks, Dennis, and Mike.
“Philadelphia” had its premiere in the historic Boyd, then known as the Sameric, but its actual run was at Sam’s Place I and II, where I saw it.

HowardBHaas commented about Mastbaum Theatre on Mar 16, 2006 at 2:07 pm

The Milgram family, owner of Fox, Milgram, and assuming the Stage Door was the auditorium created from the Fox stage, sold. I don’t know if PNB was the developer or merely the tenant, but if not them, somebody else would have leased the office building that arose in its place.

The late Willard Rouse was the developer of Liberty Place. From what I hear, the Duke and Duchess were no great loss. The Regency wasn’t a single screen past half a decade. I was in it as a twin, and in that capacity, it, too, was no great loss.

I believe that it was in 1953 that the original Stanley Warner company, which belonged to Warner Bros, was divested from Warner Bros due to antitrust law. So, it wasn’t the Hollywood studio that demolished the Mastbaum, which was a “white elephant” from the start. The Mastbaum was closed more often than opened, and cost more to keep it closed than to open it. It was too huge, and too costly to staff, heat, etc. Regardless, it was one of the greatest movie palaces ever built, and those who recall it speak of it with awe, a “cathedral” or “opera house” setting that was glorious.

HowardBHaas commented about Capital Theatre on Mar 9, 2006 at 9:19 pm

Movie theaters did indeed change with the times, and they have indeed evolved- into multiplex theaters.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Mar 8, 2006 at 7:26 pm

The Randolph page says 2001 played there. So, the local premiere was at the Boyd, but the run was at the Randolph? Do you have a date for the premiere being at the Boyd? We are working to document the Boyd’s history.

HowardBHaas commented about Capital Theatre on Mar 8, 2006 at 7:23 pm

That’s a big difference.
It is possible that the Capital Theatre’s box office was redone by that firm. Many theaters had exterior remodels in whole or part.