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I remember this great little place from my college days in the late 70’s. I saw The Marriage of Maria Braun, Taxi Zum Klo, Nosferatau, Remember My Name, just to name a few. It got the best domestic and international art films at the time.
When I worked for Cinema 5 in the late 70’s I would sometimes usher at the Plaza. While it was not a comfortable theatre, it had beautiful architecture including a gorgeous wood panelled lobby you would enter descending down a staircase from the front lobby.
This was a really weird duplex that Cinema 5 took over in the late 70’s. I remember when RKO had it I saw “The Boyfriend” with Twiggy there.
I think it never found it’s own personality but got an audience from the sold out shows around the corner at the Cinema1 and 2 complex as well as the Baronet/Coronet theatres.
For a while it showed gay porn and had a dark/room maze in the lobby.
The Festival was part of the Walter Reade chain in the 60’s and 70’s. It did have a horrible sight line and was always kind of dingy. I saw the Pasolini film “ Salo” there in 1977.
Cinema 1 and 2 were probably the most prestigious screens in NYC during the 60’s and 70’s. If you got an exclusive run there, your film was set to be noticed.
The 1988 renovation was shameful. Not only has the architecture been destroyed but the current management has changed the fare to much more commercial viewing.
As for the above comment, Nashville was a Cinema 2. I saw it there in the summer of 1975. The first film I saw at Cinema 1 was A Clockwork Orange in January of 1973
I worked here from 1977 to 1981. It was the first NYC theatre to take phone reservations when Julia opened in late ‘77. Donald Rugoff still owned the Cinema 5 chain at the time and it was a class act. It showed big releases alternating with quality “art” fair.
People always confused it with the Plaza Theatre on 58th street and with Cinema 1 and 2 on 3rd and 59th street.
Celebrities liked it since there was a private entrance through the hotel.