Showing 201 - 225 of 299 comments
Tinseltoes, You’re right, the map location is totally wrong. The Corona Theatre is (was) at Roosevelt Avenue & Junction Blvd. Besides Loews Plaza, which was at 100th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, the closest theatre is (was) the Polk Cinema at 92nd Street & 37th Avenue.
A little known fact was that the Corona Theatre was used by Mike Todd for a number of Todd/AO tests…go figure.
The description isn’t quite accurate. I worked as a projectionist at the DeMille Theatre in Manhattan until 1974 when it was closed due to a fire. In the beginning of 1975 I went to work at Century’s Prospect in Flushing. At that time it had recently been TWINNED. I was the projectionist in the downstairs auditorium, which was untouched after the twinning. The theatre had two projection crews, one for upstairs and one for downstairs and ran reels in both theatres. Sometime in 1977 I was asked to switch jobs with one of the projectionists at the RKO Alden in Jamaica (across the street from Loews Valencia) because the Alden was being turned into a quad and the projectionist who worked there was afraid to run platters (he had worked the Alden as a single for 40 years and was 90 years old). About a year after I switched with him they decided to split the Prospect’s downstairs theatre making it a triplex and installed platters in all 3 theatres. Now, there was only one crew for all 3 theatres, requiring the projectionists to run all 3 theatres going up to the original upstairs booth as well as running the 2 downstairs theatres. The climb to the upstairs booth could give a healthy person a heart attack, it was a pretty high climb. John Conway, the 90 year old projectionist I had switched with, having no choice, learned platters and worked at the Prospect, climbing the steps, with no problems until it closed. I believe he was about 99 when it closed.
PROSPECT – R-I-P
The last picture I saw just showed the entire lot with plywood around it. I sure that at this point there must be some kind of building there now. This whole city has been turned into real sh!t over the last 20 years. Maybe the carpetbagger, Bloomberg, and “Rudy the 9/11 hero” think it’s better, but I don’t.
Take my word for it, the Polk has been demolished. -R-I-P
It would have been sometime during 1975 I believe. I even think someone once posted a picture here of the marquee with MARK I, II and III on it. If I come across a picture of it I’ll post it.
bigjoe59, After I left the Demille I was only back to the theatre one time to see the tri-plexing job and after looking at it I had NO DESIRE to ever return to that abortion again. It did have the “Mark I, II and III on the Marquee, but, as I’ve said, it was only a short time before Elson took over and renamed it with the Embassy name.
edblank, The entire time I worked at the DeMille I NEVER saw any rats. However, we once had a power loss and I had to go down into a sub-basemant where the main fuses were and DID see a rat there. However, I don’t think there’s a builing in Manhattan that hasn’t or doesn’t have rats somewhere in the basements. But when you see them in a balcony, that’s an infestation. The theatre was kept VERY clean during the time Walter Reade operated the theatre.
As for the balcony, while it is (or was) VERY steep, it also gave every patron an unobstructed view of the screen, which was especially important when they ran 70mm. The balcony of the DeMille would have made a great Imax Theatre. I try not to think about all the beautiful theatres that have been destroyed here in NY, it’s a real crime. For the people that have never seen them, they don’t miss them.
bigjoe59, You could have missed it being called the Mark I, II and III because it was only open with that name for a short period of time. After that when Peter Elson took it over it was renamed the Embassy 2, 3 and 4.
Al, “Once Is Not Enough” could have run in September, but I wouldn’t call it a “move over” from the Astor Plaza since it played along with 25 other theatres listed in a film company ad.-LOL
As for the “Walking Tall”, the only thing I’m certain of is that it ran at the DeMille before the fire, while the theatre was still being operated by Walter Reade. After the fire, the theatre was closed for nearly a year and re-opened with “Once Is Not Enough”. Clark only had the theatre for a few months as I recall. Under a deal with the union he wasn’t supposed to use the balcony, but from day one there were more people sitting in the balcony then in the orchestra and was a constant battle. It was after the theatre closed under Clark that I left. At one point, Hank Rosenberg, the owner of the twin theatres (I can’t remember the name of the theatres) a few doors down to the left of the DeMille was also looking to buy the building and multiplex the theatre.
Peter Elson (Guild Enterprises) was the last operator of the Embassy 2,3,4 (former DeMille). After Clark was thrown out it was triplexed in the worst butchering of a movie theatre I’ve ever seen and for a short time before Elson took it over itwas called the Mark I,II and III.
All I can say is that with the exception of the Rivoli, which had Norelco AAII Todd/AO projectors, the DeMille had the second best 70mm projectors and had a great 70mm projection and sound with their Cinemamechanica Victoria X projectors. The sound was enhanced for the 70mm showing of “Concert for Banladesh”. None of the other roadshow houses mentioned were worth a damn after being multiplexed. Fortunately, the Capitol didn’t have to suffer that fate and was beautiful and had great 70mm projection until the end.
It’s interesting to note that unlike many other cities throughout the country that STILL HAVE a few restored examples of a movie palace still existing, New York has DESTROYED ALL OF THEM. The only thing left that even comes close is the Music Hall and at one point they wanted to tear that down. If someone were to ask me of a good example of a movie palace in New York, the only theatre near the midtown area left would be the Beacon Theatre, which is like a mini Roxy Theatre. The preservation of historical theatres in NYC stinks!
Al, that’s definitely not correct. As I said, BEFORE it ever became the Embassy 2,3,4 (or whatever numbers they called them), it was reopened after the fire by Leonard Clark as a SINGLE theatre. As I said, he opened with “Once Is Not Enough”. The picture played along with a bunch of other theatres in a company ad. After Clark screwed the two owners, Koppel & Levine, the theatre closed again (which is when I left) and THEN was reopened as a (poorly designed) triplex. I am certain up until Clark was thrown out because after that, friends of mine had a deal to purchase the building from Koppel & Levine and were negotiating with Krim & Benjamin from UA to open the theatre and run UA product exclusively, but the deal fell through after a meeting with James Velde a UA V.P.
Al, Yes, the fire was not too long after “Walking Tall”. Your right about it being sub-run because I recall it being a used print. We usually got a new prints and a backup print. If you know when “That’s Entertainment” left the Ziegfeld, that was the night of the fire. It was supposed to be moved over to the DeMille the next day. The night before I had changed over all the gates and lenses to 70mm and the print of “TE” was supposed to be brought over in the next morning. When I came out of the subway that morning I saw there was nothing on the marquee and then the stagehand told me about the fire. Other than the smell of smoke, the booth and the projectors weren’t damaged at all. Most of the damage was in the second floor lobby.
Al, while I’m not sure of the exact date, I’m absolutely certain I ran the original “Walking Tall” at the DeMille and I believe it would have to be earlier than 1974. The reason I believe it had to be before 1974 is because in late 1973 or early 1974 is the year of the fire and the theatre didn’t open again until somewhere around June 1974 under the management of a guy named Leonard Clark who also ran one theatre on 42nd Street. When the DeMille reopened after the fire, the first picture was “Once Is Not Enough”, of that I am positive.
Garth, I know that I ran the original “Walking Tall” with Jo Don Baker at the DeMille theatre around 1972 or 1973.
tlsloews-I live not too far from the Queens Theatre and pass by it often, however, I’d like to remember it like in the picture posted on 1/18/2007.
Al-The only “M” I was aware of (besides the 1951 remake) was the 1931 version directed by Fritz Lang with Peter Lorre. Who was in the 1933 version of “M”?
Tinseltoes-Are you saying Walter the Reade Sr. had the Columbia Burlesque Theater built in 1910?
tlsloews – You must be looking at an OLD picture. Although the theatre is still there as a church, the entire marquee has been removed and the whole front “modernized”.
It has the Simplex XL projectors and XL soundheads like the Utopia had, but it’s hard to see anything in those pictures. There was virtually NO pitch or keystone at the original Utopia, it was a very shallow throw. In the posted picture it “appears” steeper than it was, but the picture was also taken tilted. As for the platter, after Ruth Wright lost the theatre and was taken over by the lawyer, Epstein, I never went back into the theatre after it was twined and a 5 tier platter installed.
“The Mayfair foreign phase was very short lived. Even "M” was dubbed into English by the third week and mainstream films were mostly the norm.
RKO had been the previous operator."
Al, I’m a little confused. Are you referring to the remake of “M” in 1951? Because the original German “M” was around 1931 and it was the RKO Mayfair at that time, so it couldn’t have been Walter Reade who had the theatre unless it was later.
BTW-At the top of this thread they say that the Mayfair became the DeMille in 1960 or “the early 1960’s”. The theatre was renamed the DeMille in 1959, a short time before Spartacus opened. There was a plaque with a bust of DeMille (just like the ones in Loews theatres of Marcus Loew) in the lobby as you went up the staircase to the mezzanine. It also had the actual day, but I just can’t remember the date it said.
“No longer affiliated with RKO Theatres, the Mayfair was now being booked and managed by its owner, Walter Reade, with a policy of "The Cinema of All Nations.”
Tinseltoes-What time frame are you referring to with the above statement? Loews was there before Walter Reade, who I worked for.
Nick, I’m sorry, but sadly I don’t believe I have any pictures. It the type of thing where it’s always there and you think it will ALWAYS be there. You just don’t think about things like pictures.
Yes, I was well aware of the 1967 Rivoli run (I can still see the GWTW marquee transparency at the Rivoli in my mind), however, it was re-released again in 1969. I remember the series that Bob recalls in 1975.
I can’t account for a newspaper ad any more than I can account for the head of MGM’s technical department doing any work for the “first” 70mm opening of a Universal picture.
In the end, it’s not worth aguing about since all the people that would back me up are, unfotunately, dead.
Ed, I totally agree with you, having watched all the theatres you mention were torn down WITHOUT a peep out of the NYC Landmark & Preservation Commission.
As for the Kings, I’ve heard that for the last 20 years. Since I won’t be around in 2014, I won’t be in a position to say I told you so, but I hope I’m wrong.
Warren was also involved with Omar Freeman, but, Omar who once did a lot of work for RKO became a projector butcher later on. Warren was making those automation systems under the name “Raven Laboratories” that Omar installed in so many theatres he installed….along with those RGM sound systems.
Ryan’s Daughter opened at the Zeigfeld.
Maybe I’ll be able to find the letter Warren sent to me. Bill Nafash was involved in so many different projects it’s no wonder he burned out. Theatre installation and service isn’t for the faint of heart, since when a theatre has a problem they think that they’re the ONLY theatre in the world and you’re just waiting for their problem.-LOL
Ed, I’m aware of Loews 175th St. being turned over to a church because I was asked if I was interested in buying the projection equipment years ago. I forgot about it, I know I’m getting senile. It works like this, either I remember EVERYTHING, including the most minute details, or NOTHING.-LOL I was talking with someone a short while back and I was explaining how to fix a projector the person was working on and all of a sudden I couldn’t think of the word “sprocket”. It could be any word and it just happens. Because I have COPD/Emphysema and use oxygen and my doctor thinks it’s due to a lack of oxygen, which has gotten worse in the last year. Loews 175th St was also what I call, a SUPER theatre. A friend of mine who is a member of AMICA (a group of crazies that collect & rebuild organs) told me about ten years ago that the organ at the 175th St still had its organ. Unless the church is still using it, one of the crazies has probably pulled it out (and set it up in their basement, running the pipes up through the roof-LOL).
The Kings has been destroyed. It was “given” to a group called “Flatbush Development Corp” by the City for $1.00 a year. Another friend of mine was involved with them about 15 years ago and helped clean and spruce it up. They held a “gala event” and NEVER did another thing. My friend said that the roof started to leak, ruining much of the beautiful wood and a lot of the ornamental plaster. A short while after, thieves broke in and striped out every piece of copper and anything else they could steal (it DID have a pair of Simplex XL’s and a dubber that still worked when I checked it out before the “gala”. I don’t know if you were ever through the theatre, but, they had a FULL BASKETBALL COURT & GYM as well as a screening room (that was larger than some multiplex theatres) located in the basement.
As for the Jersey Theatre, I think I was there once, but I’m not very familiar with too many theatres in Jersey. Years ago I did some work at the Lakewood, obviously in Lakewood NJ, but as I recall, it wasn’t anything to write home about. I know that the ST. GEORGE THEATRE in Staten Island is still there and in one piece. While not a Loews theatre, I recall it being a very large good looking theatre, something like the Fabian’s Fox in Brooklyn.
While I could think of other theatres that still exist and haven’t been torn down….yet, my real point is that in a city that had hundreds of theatres, when it comes to a premiere or running a 70mm film, the best NYC can come up with is a dump like the Ziegfeld, which I was involved with the original installation of the Zeiss Ikon 35/70 projectors. Because they had delicate turrets, every time someone slammed the turret closed, the pin that kept the turret perpendicular with the film plane changed, causing the picture to shift on the wall and when the operator tried to move the projector to straighten it out, they couldn’t focus evenly across the screen. It was really a bad design, but if they took more care it wouldn’t have happened. I tried locking the turret closed, but they finally decided to change the projectors. They cost Walter Reade a lot of money for the time. They would have been MUCH better off with Cinemechanica projectors, like the DeMille had.
Thanks, I’ll check it out. Loews seemed to have two basic theatre types. The pre 1928 theatres and the post 1928 theatres. While ALL their theatres were beautiful, the theatres built between 1928 – 1935 were, in my opinion, spectacular. There is still one left in New York. It’s located in Jamaica, Queens, Loews Valencia. Loews gave it to a church for nothing, which wound up saving the theatre from demolition. It had a Spanish style outdoor design and with the sparkling stars and moving clouds, it made you feel like you were really sitting in an outdoor theatre.
“When I started there in 1974, the first 70mm picture I ran was "Gone With The Wind” in 70."
You are absolutely correct about the 1974 run of GWTW, I remember it was part of a series. Around that time the Warner and Zigfield also scrambled to run 70mm series. I can’t remember if it was the Warner or Zigfield that ran a musical series that included West Side Story and at the time I was thinking that was the first time I saw a 70mm print of West Side Story since it originally played at the Rivoli.
However, when you ran GWTW it was the SECOND time it ran at the Music Hall. In fact, Bill Nafash had a bunch of XL 35/70 sprockets that the inner 35mm teeth got sheared off. Howard himself machines hand filed and finished the 70mm traps & gates specifically for that run. When you ran it, it wasn’t an official re-release, it was just a special run for that 70mm series. The 1969 was an actual re-release that went into regular theatres afterward.
Warren Jenkins, who worked with Bill, sent me a letter at the time, which I’m looking for. Do you know if Warren is still alive? He can certainly confirm the ‘69 run.
It’s interesting that you mention Rain Tree County (a picture that was razor sharp even in 35mm), they should re-release it in honor of Elizabeth Taylor, if they can find the negatives and they are still in one piece. Speaking of 65mm, the opening of Ben-Hur at Loews State was run in 65mm on Bauer U2 projectors that were specially installed for the opening and the sound was interlocked to a dubber.