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Funny coincidence that you mention Camelot tonight as I spent New Years Eve eons ago at the Strand.
Terribly sad about the Bellevue, a state of the art, comfortable venue. A loss to the surrounding community and the movie going experience.
Remember this site when it was a boarded up warehouse. No idea behind its famed past. The opening of the Sunshine was consistent with the rapid transformation and gentrification of the LES which caused shockwaves across Williamsburg & Bushwick. Will miss its neon frontage.
Any sign of the Hirshfeld mural?
I’ve just come across the link provided by jflundy. Truly addictive, and potentially expensive. Thanks!
Along Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal there is a workshop that gives lessons in glassblowing and creating neon signs. I hear that the signage involves quite an intricate process. Could we possibly hope for a neon sign comeback?
Always fascinating insights into street life of over a century ago. Neon signage played a major roll in illuminating the urban streets-capes whether through bright retail signs or movie marquees. Promoting a particular brand, and developing immediate recognition was achieved through lighting. It seems that East 86th St. was never dark. Can’t imagine the sight from any of the elevated subway lines as you pulled into the station.
Attended a family funeral at nearby, majestic Holy Trinity RC Church. There is a gaping hole from the corner of Meserole St/Graham Ave, to where the Rainbow once stood. Despite the highly touted gentrification of the area, it all seems quite desolate without the Rainbow. Similarly, the Broadway site where the Commodore once stood also remains undeveloped.
When Rugoff acquired the Plaza he installed stereophonic sound for the preniere engagement of Gimme Shelter, a Cinema 5 release.
When the Plaza joined the Rugoff – Cinema 5 group, the roster of theatres also included the Murray Hill, the 5th Avenue Cinema, the Art & the 8th St. Playhouse. There was fierce competition with Walter Reade Sterling in the showcasing of the international “art house” films. As jay58 has mentioned in earlier posts, the Rugoff corporate offices were around the corner from the Plaza at 595 Madison Ave. Oh, what I would have given to have lived next door to the Plaza!
When it opened in the 60’s the Essex filled the gap as the sole neighborhood theatre that was once served by movie palaces like the Loews Canal, the Loews Delancey as well as the Apollo, the Winston, the Ruby and even the New Delancey. All those theatres gave the LES its unique character.
Lived briefly in the area and saw Lady Sings the Blues in its showcase run. Regretfully, didn’t have a chance to admire the sumptuousness of the theatre, not realizing that it would be my one and only visit.
Years back, my kids went to a dance studio on the block. Never went in, and by then it was already a triplex. Was it privately owned or ever under one of the chains such s Randforce?
Can’t imagine a more fitting venue for the red carpet premiere given the theatre’s location in the heart of what was once a center of counter-culture satire. Hopefully, in defiance of the N. Korean gangsters the premiere will soon take place here.
Of course RCMH was always in a class by itself, but how was it that durring this period movie palaces like the Paramount or the Roxy were not selected for roadshow presentations?
A memorable experience seeing El Cid on the Warner’s big screen. Romance between Heston & Loren was anemic, but the battle scenes were the real spectacle.
Curious artifact of by-gone entertainment dinosaurs. No more RKO, no more Century, no more twin theatres, no more MGM/UA as a major studio, no more movie theatres on mid-town Broadway. Only Warner Bros. survives.
I couldn’t agree with John more. The shell that’s left bears no connection to the neighborhood gem that along with the Alba, the Commodore & the Republic afforded Williamsburg a respite from the hardships faced during the Depression & WWII. At least the twin spires of John’s alma mater, MHT remain in the background watching over the dwellers of remaining tenements and now the condos.
The appearance of the Alhambra with the rounded corner tower, reminds me of the architecture of the Foley, built about 20 years earlier on Graham Ave. Was there an architectural connection?
Now that Bow Tie has become the new operator can we hope for some upgrades? The marquee shows some effort at improvement with the addition of the new corporate signage.
Staff remain welcoming and the product is always top-notch. It’s just that nest of claustrophobic, catacomb theatres that make you want to keep your eyes shut until the feature begins. In any case, I remain a loyal fan of this venue.
In all fairness, I cannot offer an opinion on the characteristics of the individual screens. However, the marquee could not be any blander. Walking by, it’s easy to ignore the theatre’s existence. Many of the local merchants have more eye-catching neon. In comparison, the previous marquee on 86th St. was a beacon, that could be seen for blocks up and down the street. Regardless of the product that was playing you could not possibly ignore the marquee as your eye was drawn to the wattage. Would anyone notice if the 3rd Avenue marquee went dark?
This venue was unique in its ability to showcase foreign films as well as serious commercial fare. Women In Love, Day for Night, the Duelists, Stolen Kisses & Le Voleur all premiered here. The Walter Reade Organization’s Continental Releasing unit used this screen as a prime outlet.
Throughout this rigmarole of bankruptcies and name changes does anyone recall the brief period when the Paris came under the Loews’s banner?
Somewhat ironic that Famous Dave’s BBQ survives the demolition of the DeMille and the re-purposing of the Liberty. Can’t say that I would ever identify the signage of the restaurant, while the memory of the DeMille marquee is hard to erase.
That theate directory, at it’s zenith would also include the Astor, the Victoria and also the Waverly. Curious how Walter Reade Jr., the consummate showman, would have adapted to the changing era, had he not perished in a skiing accident.