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Fatman, thanks for the pictures, what great memories they brought back.
The Nostrand was a big old theater on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. (I was married about 2 or 3 blocks away from the Nostrand.) It was large and had a balcony. My two most distinct memories of the Nostrand was when when my father’s car, which I was driving, was hit from behind during a snowstorm on my way to see Saturday Night Fever. I sat there the entire film wondering what I was going to tell my father. My second memory was going there with my wife and mother and father to see the original Halloween. The theater manager stopped us before we went in and advised that he had no ushers on duty and the crowd was rowdy. He said he would give us our money back before we entered the theater, but not after. We decided to go in anyway. It wasn’t too bad. Memories of another Brooklyn theater long gone.
Mike, the matrons were basically a bunch of angry old women who were hired basically to keep the kids in line, especially at weekend “kiddie matinees.” If there was a half-day school, a kid could not go to the movies alone without a matron on duty. (I think this was New York State law at the time.) The matrons dressed in white (like nurses) and carried flashlights. They were quite unpleasant and obviously despised the kids they were supposed to watch. If you tried to sneak into the adult section (because you wanted to watch the film in peace,) the matrons would shine the flashlight in your face and drag you back among the screaming maniacs in the children’s section. Needless to say, they don’t have the matrons in the movies anymore and they certainly wouldn’t last 5 minutes with today’s lovely children or teenagers.
This theater is probably the biggest dump of any theater currently opened on Staten Island. I went there a few times right after I moved here and wasn’t sure where the other theaters were. I saw Star Wars-The Phanton Menace, Space Cowboys and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas there. The last time I was there was a couple of years ago to see An American Carol, a film I was dying to see that wasn’t playing anywhere else. There were literally rows of seats that were roped off and broken. Terrible. They even showed just 1 trailer!! I would never go there again. As Bette Davis said in one of her films: (I think All About Eve,) “What a dump.”
I’ve been to this theater once or twice. There is nothing particularly memorable about it other than it having some of the smallest auditoriums that I have ever seen.
I’ve seen 2 concerts at this theater in the last couple years. The last one, featuring Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell, was last October. This is a magnificent golden age theater, the archetecture is beautiful beyond belief. Sort of reminds me of the Loews Kings in Brooklyn, which I went to numerous times growing up in Brooklyn. I hear that they are trying to renovate that for live performances as well. About time, I’ve thought that they should have done that years ago.
This was an okay theater. It was convenient to get to and never really crowded. I saw numerous films there including Spiderman, Batman Begins, etc. My wife, son and I went to see Polar Express there during the holidaay season with snow on the ground when the heat went out. It was as cold as the North Pole featured in the film. The employees weren’t that bright and I once had an incident with an obnoxious security guard and a not too bright assistant manager. I eventually complained to the United Artists Regional Manager and got some free tickets and a letter of apology from the manager of this theater. As stated, it was never all that crowded and I’m sure that there were many performances after 10PM where there was no one or one or two people in the theater. When the UA Regal 16 opened a few miles away, this theater’s days were numbered. I think there is a gym there now.
This is the only theater I currently patronize on Staten Island where I reside. It is an okay theater and I really haven’t had any major problems there, just the occasional lowlife loudmouth who could not care less about anyone else and just keeps on yakking like they are in their living rooms. There were several of these idiots there the time I saw “The Dark Knight.” But unfortunately, if you go to the movies nowadays you have to be prepared to run into dregs like these no matter what theater you attend.
In response to my own last comment, “Macabre” is now available on DVD from WarnerArchive.com
I drove through my old area of Canarsie yesterday. I made sure to drive down Avenue L, a street that I walked on many, many times. The entire building housing the Canarsie theater, including he luncheonette that used to be next door, was painted a wierd-looking pink color. The marquee was still up. However this was painted too. No longer were the letters there showing the last films playing (Lord of the Rings and Cheaper by the Dozen.) When a neighborhood goes downhill, the local theaters are always some of the first things to go. Its always very sad.
Mike, I think I practically grew up in this theatre. I can still remember the inside clearly even though the last time I was there was probably over 45 years ago.
hdtv, the showing I went to of “House on Haunted Hill” 2 Sundays ago was jammed also. (It was the first showing of that film since they only showed Haunted Hill/Sardonicus for one day.) Everyone was so enthused and friendly. It was great just talking to total strangers there about Castle and the films being shown. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see “Macabre,” “Homicidal” and “Night Walker there as well. I can still remember seeing all of these films, (with the exception of "Homicidal,” which I somehow missed, in the movies as a child.)
I read Castle’s autobiography about 20 years ago and if you have not read it, I highly recommend it.
And thanks to this Castle retro, I take back anything I’ve ever said negative about this theater. (See my previous post some months back.) I now look forward to seeing the remastered “Psycho” there at the end of October.
hdtv, I was there for the first showing of “Sardonicus” and “Haunted Hill” on Sunday. I originally saw these films when they played in my neighborhood theaters in Brooklyn when I was a kid. I haven’t had a better time all summer. I enjoyed the fact that the older audiences (like myself) were laughing and chuckling at some of the scenes that scared us silly as kids. I also enjoyed the fact that some people brought their own young children to see Castle’s films. I’m sure that they were a lot more entertaining than most of the garbage that passes as horror films today.
I went last Sunday to see “The Tingler” and missed sitting in the wired seats for the second time in 50 years. Oh well, wait til next time. I’m not sure if you were there but it was hilarious to see the skeleton from “Haunted Hill” make a re-appearance during the LSD sequence in “The Tingler.” I had such a great time that I’m only sorry that this Castle tribute didn’t last another week.
N. Dimaggio, I’m not sure what the print was. I assume 35mm. My only disappointment was that,for the second time in the last 50 years, I missed sitting in the wired seats for “The Tingler.” I really thought I had it this time, but it was the woman 2 seats away that wound up getting buzzed. Oh well, perhaps I’ll see it in the movies again in another 50 years. (Only kidding.)
The biggest laugh was when the skeleton from “Haunted Hill” was lowered again during the LSD scene in “The Tingler.” Seeing the skeleton twice in 1 week was a riot. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see Castle’s first horror film “Macabre” again. This film is not out of DVD and never shown on tv.
Once again, everyone had a great time.
All last week, the Film Forum in New York City did a tribute to William Castle, showing his films including the gimmicks. I went twice seeing a double feature of “House on Haunted Hill” and “Mr. Sardonicus” last Sunday and “The Tingler” yesterday. I originally saw House on Haunted Hill with my father in 1958. I remember when that skeleton came down from the ceiling, the kids pummeled it with soda cups and popcorn boxes. It was a thrill to see it revived last week. (The skeleton made a reappearance during “The Tingler” yesterday when it was lowered again during Vincent Price’s LSD sequence.)
The audience was made up primarily of film buffs, many of whom remembered seeing these films in the theaters as children, as I did.
However there were some children with their parents and some younger film buffs, like some young woman from Ohio who could not possibly have seen these films in the theater, but loved old black and white horror films.
The interesting thing was to hear the chuckles and laughs from the audience during more of the more preposterous scenes (that probably terrifed them as children.
I had a great time.
Grease was the word in summer ‘78. As one who was growing up during the 1950s, I never tire of that film. I can’t even count all the times my wife and I have seen it.
The original 3D required you to wear little cardboard glasses that many found uncomfortable. Now you pay a high price for 3D glasses that you can wear like sunglasses. However I feel that predictibly the studios are going too far. I just heard that the upcoming “Green Lantern” and “Green Hornet” movies will be in 3D. I would see them under any circumstances. “Clash of the Titans” was made originally in 2D and turned by computer into 3D. I saw it in the original 2D and it was fine. And 3D cannot save a film if it stinks, like Avatar. (Yes I know that thanks to 3D and IMAX, it is the highest grossing film of all time. However I still thought that it stunk.)
For years those of us who work in lower Manhattan had hoped for a movie theater to be built in this area. And this one filled the bill. I sometimes go there after work or take off a few hours early if there is something I really want to see. The first film I remember seeing there was Schwarzennegger in “The Sixth Day.” I have seen several films on their first day at this theater: last summer’s Star Trek, the last 3 Bond films, Superman Returns, etc. It is actually fairly impressive. After you buy your ticket, you take an escalator to the first floor. There are no theaters there, only an enormous shoe outlet. You then take an enormously long second escalator to the second level where half the theaters are. If you are unlucky, you have to take another long escalator to the rest of the theaters on the third level. This theater is so high up that the lobby and concessions stand area offers an impressive view of the West Side Highway.
As previously stated, when I go in the afternoon it is never super-crowded. I only had one bad experience there when some lowlives found their way to the theater I was in showing “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” They had obviously came out of another theater and decided to make our lives miserable by talking and making noise at the top of their lungs. Fortunately these fools got bored and left after about ten minutes. I don’t blame this incident on the theater though. It could’ve happened in any theater in any large city in America.
My wife and I spent a rainy Xmas eve. 1978 sitting with hundreds of others in the Kings Plaza Mall waiting 2 hours for the next showing of “Superman-The Movie.” at the Kings Plaza theater. From the wonderful nostalgic black and white opening to John Williams' stirring theme, this film remains (along with Superman II) my favorite comic-book movie. I loved the Superman comic books I read as a child throughout the Silver-Age and I love this film. That evening remains a very pleasant memory
I was at Radio City again 2 weeks ago to see Celtic Woman in concert. It always gives me a thrill to be back in this beautiful theater and brings back memories of the films I saw here with my family and friends during the 1960s. We were seated in the third row orchestra and you don’t realize just how big this theater is until the lights go on and you look back. Absolutely enormous.
I saw virtually all of Castle’s horror films in the movies with the exception of “Homicidal.” I received the little piece of cardboard advising me that I was insured by Lloyds of London in case I died of fright during his first horror film: “Macabre.” (I survived.) I saw “The Tingler” in the movies but was not lucky enough to sit in one of the wired seats. I saw “House on Haunted Hill,” my favorite Castle, and saw the skeleton coming down from the balcony. The kids threw soda cups and other junk at it. For “13 Ghosts” there was the ghost viewer and “Mr Sardonicus,” the punishment poll. (Poor Sardonicus never got a break, he was always suitably punished for being such a bad guy.) Finally, for Joan Crawford in “Strait Jacket,” they gave out a little cardboard axe.
Along with so many others like Ray Harryhausen and Vincent Price, I tried to see all of Castle’s films. He was the greatest showman ever. I read his autobiography many years ago and enjoyed it greatly. I thought John Goodman did a very nice job of playing a Castle-like character in “Matinee,” a very enjoyable film that not many people saw.
The summer of 1963 was my all-time favorite summer of movies. So many films that became all-time favorites I saw that summer: Connery in “Dr. No,” Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” John Huston’s “The List of Adrian Messenger,” Charlton Heston in “55 Days at Peking,” Ray Harryhausen’s greatest achievement “Jason and the Argonauts,” and Harryhausen ripoff “Captain Sindbad,” the first “Beach Party” film, guilty favorite “King Kong Vs Godzilla,” little -remembered but excllnt film Rock Hudson and Rod Taylor in “A Gathering of Eagles.” and I believe I saw my favorite film (other than the Bonds) which hit my local theater that summer: Darryl F. Zanuck’s “The Longest Day.” I know I saw other films that summer and am probably leaving something out, but the summer of 1963 was it for me.
Come to think of it 1963 was a great year in general for movies. 2 of my other all-time favorites also premiered that year: Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in “Charade” McQueen in “The Great Escape” and one of my top 10 favorites “How the West Was Won.” What a year.
I went there several times when this theater opened in the mid-1960s. I remember seeing Peter Sellers in “After the Fox,” “Yul Brynner in "Return of the 7” and Rod Steiger in “No Way to Treat A Lady.” I never particularly liked this theater and it was a mistake to build it in an area that was already starting to go downhill. I went there once when it started showing softcore porn. Those films were more memorable than the legitimate films I saw there.
The Brooklyn Paramount was the first of the beautiful golden-age downtown Brooklyn theaters to go under. I remember my father taking me there in about 1958 to see the Alan Freed rock and roll show. While I was too young to have any specific memories of the show, several years ago I came across the program and the names listed as being there were quite incredible: Frankie Avalon, The Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, etc. I think I might have been there once to see a movie, a Jerry Lewis flick “Cinderfella.” I saw about three movies at the Brooklyn Fox and many films at the RKO Albee and Loews Metropolitan, the 3 other beautiful golden-age theaters Downtown Brooklyn. Now, sadly, they are all long gone.
Ken, if Nimoy has retired from acting, hes been quite busy. He was terrific in the new Star Trek film last summer and has appeared in a couple of episodes of the tv show “Fringe.”