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What an awesome photo, thanks for posting it Lost Memory! I too recognized it as the Rivoli from the columns in front, above the marquee.
I only saw two movies there, Easy Money and DC Cabb. Wish I had seen more, and I regret not seeing Moonraker there when it premiered in 1979. It only played for about two weeks then moved to the National.
When I passed by the theater in June or July of this year, they already had the sign up for the Chinese market on the marquee, but it hadn’t yet opened for business. I also saw an ad in a local paper indicating that the “second floor” was also available for lease.
I used to enjoy visiting this site and reading all the comments, but now it’s just sad coming here and being reminded of all these wonderful theaters that are now gone forever (except in our memories).
Thanks for the info Theaterat. It’s nice to know that at least it was kept as one theater. I rarely ever went to the Fortway after they spilt it into 3 and then 5 theaters, though I wish I had attended a screening there this year before it closed. Even though both theaters are now closed at least we still have our fond memories of the “good old days” to cherish.
I’ve never been to this theater as far as I know, but I wanted to say reading the comments on this site really makes me long for those “good old days!” Huge elegant theaters, CURTAINS actually opening up to reveal the screen, stucco walls and other decor, and sometimes even a cartoon or Three Stooges short! I even miss the old “pre-dolby” booming sound of these old theaters. I also checked out the Die! Die! My Darling ad, even the ads seemed better back then!
A couple weeks ago I saw Revenge of the Sith at the Empire 25 theater on Times Square. Nice little auditorium (very little), plus they ran this 15 minute reel of promos, live theater ads and actual commercials! God it was like being home watching cable tv. Then the lights went down and I figured the movie would start—no such luck! 10-15 minutes of mind numbing trailers! One or two would be okay, but they seemed to go on forever! Then after the movie ended and the lights went up, I stayed a moment to check my pager for the time, only to have an usherette politely telling me i had to “exit” the theater (like I really want to stay and watch that promo reel again!) Sheesh, hurry everyone out of the theater so the crowd of three can go in for the next “performance.”
You’re right talkinpix, the industry really has lost its sense of showmanship :o(
As far as I know I was in this theater only once. My older sister and her boyfriend took me to see The Sting there back in ‘74. I remember it was a pretty big theater. I’m planning to return the favor by giving them the new DVD edition of the movie for Christmas this year.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us MichaelAnthony. That image of the tickets soaring in the air while the bulldozers did their work would be a great image for a movie in itself! It certainly does seem like a sad memory.
This theater closed way before my time (I was born in ‘61), but my dad told us how he used to frequent it as a boy. Especially when we would watch The Four Feathers (the Alexander Korda, definitive version) and he told us when he saw it at the Endicott for a dime! After reading PhilPhil’s message and the list of SF classics that played there, I can tell this would have been my kind of theater!
The earliest business I remember there was a Bohack supermarket. It later became a Genovese drugstore, though that chain was bought out by Eckerd, which closed the store and opened a larger store across 13th Avenue. There are a couple other businesses there now but I don’t remember them, as I only passed the place briefly a few weeks ago. Fortunately most of the facade is intact. I would love to find photos of the place, if any exist.
One of my earliest Manhattan theater experiences was going to see The Spy Who Loved Me at the Loew’s State 1 in 1977. I remember how huge and clean the theater was, with nice curtains along the walls and comfortable seats. They played the soundtrack from the movie over the PA system before the movie, and the curtains in front of the screen opened to reveal a huge screen. Althoug it wasn’t stereo (Spy was a mono film), the audio was clear and booming, and Nobody Does It Better never sounded better. My only complaint was that they started the movie before the curtain opened fully, which was a bummer as the wonderful gunbarrel logo was projected partly on the opening curtain. Regardless, it was a perfect theater for seeing such a spectacular movie.
I’ve been to the theater quite a few times since, saw Kramer vs Kramer there in the State 2, an equally huge balcony theater. In the 80’s it was home to many summer blockbusters, including Star Trek The Motion Picture, Star Trek II (awesome picture and sound in 70mm and 6 track stereo), Time Bandits and Krull. I always liked that marquee with the front that had one half higher than the other. I always regretted missing For Your Eyes Only there, especially as it had a clever sound design. I did get to see it in the Walter Reade New Yorker, a small but decent twin theater near West 72 St.
Hi Vincent. Actually I had missed Superman II during its first release in the summer of 81, but for some reason it returned to the theater that fall, probably to make a few more dollars during Thanksgiving weekend. That’s when they moved it to Theater 2. I don’t remember any decor, I think it was just curtains and surround speakers, though I could be wrong as it was so long ago. I actually saw The Right Stuff there at a sneak preview, the sound design was rich enough to begin with, and the Cinerama’s awesome sound system did it justice. Personally I’m not too big a fan of all these new digital sound systems, they seem mainly to make the explosion sounds louder and are starting to sound so cliched as to be “canned” and not very realistic anyway.
Thank you William and KenRoe for the info on this theater, that’s another interesting page. I’m pretty sure both The Right Stuff and Superman II were 70mm prints, which seemed to be a specialty of this theater. Even though I hardly see current movies anymore (I prefer revivals at the Film Forum), and I am aware that with today’s economy it’s more practical to open mulitplexes with 200 seat auditoria, I still really miss these huge movie palaces.
By the way, I recently read The Best Remaining Seats by Ben M. Hall, which got me interested enough in movie palaces to find this site. It was a very interesting read, and I like Mr. Hall’s sense of humor, which makes it more entertaining while still being respectful of the subject. I have the Da Capo trade paperback edition, which seems to have printed a “color” photo section in black and white. It’s currently out of print, but I just checked amazon.com and found they have a few copies available. I strongly recommend it to anyone not familiar with it.
Does anyone remember the RKO Cinerama, which sometime in the ‘80’s was renamed the RKO Warner? It was on Broadway in the upper 40’s, either 47 or 48 Street. I was only there twice, once in 81 to see Superman II, and then in 83 to see The Right Stuff. I actually saw Superman II in a brief re-release around Thanksgiving, it was a twin theater by then, and I saw it in the balcony theater, which I remember was HUGE. The Right Stuff played in the lower, orchestra theater. I recall it being large but a bit smaller than the balcony theater. The sound was a little better than the upstairs theater, and the screen seemed to be curved, like the old Cinerama screens were reported to be. I don’t remember when the theater was closed and demolished, I would assume it was late 80’s or early 90’s.
Anyway I didn’t see this theater listed on this site, so I was wondering if anyone remembers it or has any info on it. Thanks.
Hi Bill, I remember that screening at the MOMA, that was in ‘87 for the 25 Anniversary of the Bond series. I think it was also missing the scene in M’s office during the pre-title sequence. I wrote to the person at the museum in charge of the exhibit telling her how much I enjoyed the program~~they also featured many props, photos, artwork and posters from the movies as well as a tv monitor that showed pre-title sequences from many of the movies. I also mentioned the missing footage. She actually wrote back thanking me for writing and said she was aware of the missing scenes, and they were in the process of restoring them. I don’t know if they were ever shown at the museum again, so I can’t say if they restored the scenes. All the same, it was a wonderful exhibit, and I wish I could have been able to see all the movies (I only got to see OHMSS, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker).
Thanks all for the posts. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see Moonraker at the Rivoli, where it premiered in NYC back in 79. I just came from part of a Bond program at the Museum of Modern Art with my youngest brother, and we walked to the Rivoli and were tempted to buy tickets, but the line went around the block! Then in 83 Moonraker again played for a week with From Russia With Love, but again I missed it.
I recall seeing only two movies there, DC Cab with Mr. T and Easy Money with Rodney Dangerfield.
By the way, the Bond program was a two day event, on opening day of Moonraker they showed You Only Live Twice and The Spy Who Loved Me, followed by a panel with Lewis Gilbert, Albert Broccoli and Ken Adam. The next day was a series of TV shows about the making of Spy Who Loved Me (which unfortunately I missed) followed by an appearance by Maurice Binder, who showed the titles for the Bond films he worked on, as well as trailers and titles for non-Bond movies.
What a nostalgic site this is! I’m so glad I found it!
I remember the Deluxe, and going there a few times as a child. My family lived in Bay Ridge so my dad would have to drive us there. I have vague memories of seeing Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, and another time seeing a movie featuring Topo Gigio. And once my dad drove me and my mom and younger brother there to see one of those Man From U.N.C.L.E. movies, in fact I think he stayed to watch it with us.
Even back then I remember it being a small theater. Although I never had a desire to go when it was in its porno period, I do know it was cut up into I think 4 small theaters, so I was always curious to see how tiny they were!
I was sorry to see that theater go. It was a modest, not very ornate theater but it was always clean, and I usually went to the discounted matinee shows. I remember seeing a headline early this year about the property being used for a new multiplex, but I haven’t heard anything new since then. I think the big problem with these theaters is the lack of nearby parking space, which is probably what helped make the UA Sheepshead Bay so successful. God knows how the Alpine manages to stay afloat.
I wish I had the money to buy the theater, I’d fix it up like the old time movie palaces and devote one of the auditoria to showing only classic movies at discounted prices. Nice dream….
The end of an era. Thanks for the post Brian. I visited the Fortway so many times as a child, in fact my dad told us stories about going there with his friends in his youth. Although I have not attended shows there in years, I will miss the Fortway, especially the old Fortway, before it became a multiplex, with its mosaic tiling, lavender porcelain fountain in the lobby, the ornamental opera boxes and orange lights decorating the walls, and that bathroom vending machine with those wonderful little novelties.