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Sad to report that screenwriter Michael France, the owner of the Beach Theatre, passed away on April 12, 2013. I wonder what will happen now to this great and nostalgic venue.
That photo was taken from a vantage point way in the back of the house with a wide angle lens. I’ve seen 70mm presentations here, the screen is more than adequate for the job.
So … . any firm dates for the three-strip Cinerama shows in September? I mean, travel plans have to be made …
ETX has a 50,000 watt sound system, compared to the 12,000 watt system of IMAX? Here’s the thing about that: the 12,000 watt system is already ear-splitting loud. The presentation of *TRON: Legacy * in the AMC Garden State IMAX theater #2 is deafening as it is, the auditorium sound bleed is severe and the structural rumble and vibration is intrusive and annoying. Why on earth do you need another 38,000 watts of sound?
Just to clarify some things from my original description … John is correct, the newer “replacement” theater was originally a Hoyts operation, it was they who first built the cinema on the second floor, with he box office on the first near the escalator. Regal took over after Hoyts ran into their difficulties. The original GCC Cinema On The Mall (the one that this article refers to) was on the first floor in the space that is now occupied by the Gap and the Hallmark store.
I’ll tell you a great classics line up for the spring, something I would only love to see: all the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals back to back: We’re talkin':
[i] South Pacific
The King and I
Oklahoma! [/i] (I know for a fact that there is still a TODD-AO print in good condition available)
State Fair (both versions), and
* The Sound of Music* (but please, not the lame-o “sing-a-long” version).
In fact, double up Carousel and Oklahoma! and make it a Shirley Jones tribute. Huge business, I tell ya. Huge!
This is a rare still existing example of the â€œshooting galleryâ€ style of theatre construction occasionally seen in the late 1920s. The Manlius has a long narrow auditorium with a fixed size screen that is barely 1:1.85. At one time, scope films were shown thru a Magnacom and â€œletterboxedâ€ on the screen, although quite often the film spilled over on the walls. I donâ€™t know if this is still the practice.
The theatre was very popular in the mid-to-late seventies and early eighties, during the last great art film era. It was at the Manlius that I was introduced to films like The Tin Drum, Eraserhead, Wifemistress, Return of the Secaucus Seven, Tree of Wooden Clogs and many others. By the late 80â€™s, owner Nat Tobin sold the screen to a local grocery store owner who switched the programming to sub-run. He couldnâ€™t make a go of it, though, and attempted to auction the theatre off in 1990. I attended the auction hoping to buy it. However, it was obvious that none of the few bids submitted would be sufficient, so he wound up buying it back himself for a bid of $90,000.
The last time I was in the theatre, which was many years ago, it was in deplorable condition with a large puddle of water covering the carpet in the first few rows of seats (but it was still open nonetheless). I believe Nat Tobin has the house back now; he also had the Westcott until a few years ago.
After hearing a great deal about this theatre, I finally drove over from Passaic County last night to see a movie. I had high hopes because they are running a great deal of art-house and independent fare on a sub-run basis of late, and also because the theatre is run by the same folks behind the wonderful Lafayette.
As has been mentioned, this is a former large single screen now cut up into four. Multiplexing a house like this is always regrettable, but in this case it seems to have been done with a modicum of taste. The downstairs center screen retains a good deal of the original theatre; at least you can get a sense from it what the place looked like before it was cut up. To me, this is always better than boxing off the original walls to create more screens. The place was immaculately clean as well. I bought a ticket for the 7:30 show in the large downstairs theatre, sat down in one of the original seats and was so far happy with the experience.
Then the movie started.
I can say, without exaggeration or hyperbole, that itâ€™s been a long time since Iâ€™ve experienced a more inept projection of a movie. The daters, trailers and feature were all filthy and horribly scratched, the booming, bottom heavy sound brought new meaning to the words â€œwowâ€ and â€œflutterâ€, the picture drifted in and out of focus several times accompanied by a horrible grinding noise in the soundtrack, as if the film were trying to weave its way out of the gate and soundhead. Again, I am saying this without any overstatement whatsoever. I walked out after about twenty minutes, went home, and put what seemed like a funny film (â€œIn Brugesâ€) into my Netflix queue.
I have a feeling that had I confronted the young manager about all this, I would have gotten the old â€œWhat do you want for $4.50?â€ line. Well, I want decent projection. I want a clean, scratch-free print and intelligible sound. I donâ€™t want to see any leader on the screen, and I donâ€™t want to have to plug my ears every time a poorly made splice goes thru because of the thud.
I have been, am now, and will remain a supporter of classic cinemas. But at the end of the day, I go to see the movie, and I’d rather see them with some degree of technical proficiency. Thatâ€™s the shame about this place; if they keep up with their current film selection policy I would have been a steady customer. Now, never again.
Nelson Page gets a lot of happyjoy on this site because of the Lafayette. He should pay attention to his other screens.
Some shots I’ve taken in upstate NY are here.
I’m right there with you on that, BradE41. Possibly the finest single screen theatre still in existence, IMHO.
I suppose that at some point in the future we will see the closing or multiplexing of this theatre, given the unfavorable economics of operating a large single screen (does any one have any idea when the current lease expires?). I’m sad that the National closed, but for the Village to give it up would be devastating, a true “end of an era”. I hope the day is far into the future, but when it comes, this is the one theatre that I would seriously consider chaining myself to the doors to as the backhoes approach. Anyone with me? ;)
I am in NY for the foreseeable future, but you are welcome to get in touch with me. Be advised, though, that the part of my brain that holds my memories of this period has pretty much shut down for good. But I’ll remember what I can for you. My e-mail is mcogdenAToptonline.net.
I was the relief projectionist in this theatre (as well as the Genesse, the East, the Westvale, and the North and Dewitt D.I.s) for a few years in the early eighties, while a fine old gent named Gary Bender was the head, and it was a delight to work in. The booth had two Simplex E-7 projectors that Gary kept in immaculate shape, older carbon-arc lamps, mono sound and an eight-track player for non-sync music. In the room down the hall from the projection booth was a huge popcorn popper that was used by CinemaNational to pop the corn for all the theatres in town. Whenever I went upstairs, there were large garbage bags full of popped corn in the hallway. About 1981, when the 3-D film craze re-emerged for awhile, the screen was painted silver to accommodate the process. I remember I ran * Parasite, Cominâ€™ At Ya, House of Wax * and a few other 3-D pictures here. I wish I could remember the managerâ€™s name from this era, I recall that he was another fine old veteran.
CinemaNational folded and the theatre changed hands several times after I left. At the end, it was leased from Northern Lights by a local contractor named Dan (I canâ€™t remember his last name) who also leased the Genesse and the Auburn Twin and still kept them running for awhile. Eventually he wanted out, and I had a brief conversation with him about buying the business and assuming the leases, but it didnâ€™t pan out. Shortly after that the end came, the building was cleaned out, and a giant R/C slot-car track took over, which folded quickly.
Sadly, the Westcott must now be listed as closed. Nat finally thru in the towel on the 18th of this month, the last feature was In The Shadow Of The Moon. It was hard for the theatre to get films protected from the Carousel Mall screens, even arthouse programming. Also, the building is getting pretty old, needed new HVAC and other improvements.
The theatre first opened in 1928 as the Harvard, then changed its name to the Studio sometime in the seventies, and was part of the CinemaNational chain for a while. After they pulled out, it ran porn as an independent for much of the late seventies, then sub-run fare in the early eighties after changing its name to the Westcott. They finally switched to art/alternative sometime in the nineties under leaseholder Nat Tobin, who also runs the Manlius Cinema. Russ Percival was Natâ€™s manager/operator here for much of this era, he was the only union projectionist left in Syracuse after the closing of the cityâ€™s older single screens and multiâ€™s.
Sad to see this one go after so long.
Really, there isnâ€™t a whole lot of difference between this and the last so-called Directorâ€™s Cut. Some scenes are shorter, some are extended (Tyrell and Prisâ€™s death scenes are longer and a little bloodier), a little bit of new footage is in the nightclub scene. Some continuity errors and mistakes have been cleaned up, many others left in. The crane cables lifting up the flying police cars have been erased, and everybody knows about the newly shot footage with Joanna Cassidy to fix her death scene. Battyâ€™s death scene with the dove flying away has been reshot as well. No narration. Ridley Scott gave an interview to Wired Magazine in which he confirmed that Dekkard is absolutely a replicant, which still doesnâ€™t make a lick of sense given what happens in the movie. Oh well.
It looked great though. I understand all the effects plates were rescanned at 8K resolution and recomposited. Itâ€™s amazing how much well photographed miniatures can look so much more convincing than CGI cartoons. Whether or not itâ€™s all worth another pop for the DVD, well, thatâ€™s up to you. Iâ€™m not a bit convinced that this will really be the last version of this title.
Can’t say. I came in during the pre-show. They did not close after the credit roll, and were not closed for full house lights.
Interesting. It was plenty loud at the 1:00pm show, almost too loud, I thought. I was seated about one-half way back in the center.
Both pre-show material and the feature are being shown from the same NEC digital projector. The 1:00 presentation was very clean and bright, with excellent sound. It seems clear that the soundtrack has been remixed for this, the backround effects are much more foward that I remember them.
There was no curtain close between the pre-show and the feature, I assume the projectionist is busy calling up the correct video files from the server or otherwise has his hands full.
I left the theatre thinking back on the last time I saw this film (the last theatrical release, the so-called “Director’s Cut”) on a big sheet, it was on the upstairs screen at the old Uptown Theatre on Bloor Street in Toronto, one of the nicest balcony conversions I’d ever been in. Rick Long was the projectionist. Long gone, sadly.
I was a relief projectionist at this theater for a few years in the early eighties, having been recruited into the union by business agent and head projectionist Chuck Nelson (this was during the Bob Rodman era at CinemaNational, a fellow about whom you should not get me started). I began there during the original run of Superman 2, and worked at the chain on a part-time basis as I was holding down another full-time job at a local TV station. I also relived at the Cinema North, Westvale and Genesee Theaters, and Dewitt and North D.I.s
For the longest time, the East was the only theatre in Syracuse that was capable of stereo sound; they had a four channel Kintek audio system in the booth, along with two Simplex XLs and Ashcraft carbon-arc lamps. There was also an eight-track player in the booth for non-sync music. There was a large storage area upstairs behind the booth, and the chain wound up moving their offices there about 1981 or so, after they pulled out of the Carrollâ€™s building on James Street. Eventually (and after I was gone), the place went manager/projectionist, with the two projectors being converted from the original 2000â€™ reels with manual changeovers to 6000â€™ reels with the same lamps. The manager was expected to run across the parking lot and do the same job at the Mini. I came back to see Rainman here under this set-up and it was very obvious that they were having trouble keeping the carbons burning evenly for an entire hour, very dim projection and a lot of flicker.
As usual for lists like that, the author has published unsubstantiated â€˜factsâ€™. Contrary to popular myth, the Ziegfeld does NOT have the largest screen in NYC. The AMC Kips Bay screen #11 holds that title, at 60+ feet.
The listing of 1500 seats for this theatre is way off; it was a fairly small building, all mezzanine and no balcony. I think that at maximum it probably held 500, probably less.
Dipson use to book all the bigger prestige pictures into this house, which I always thought was strange, given that they also had the much larger Elmira just down the street. * Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Godfather, Rocky * all played long runs here.
Last renovation was 1980; the theatre was closed for three weeks for new seats, new projection and new Dolby stereo sound prior to reopening for * The Empire Strikes Back*.
Contrary to what it says at the very top of this page, this was never an RKO house, the theatre has always been independently owned. It was built in 1924 by Albert DiBella, and was run for most of its life by his daughter Frances, who was present almost every night that it was open (In 1990, I joined the list of people who thru the years made her an offer for the place, to no avail). When she passed a few years ago, it was handed down to her nephew Mike, who threw some money into cleaning it up and refurbishing. Currently itâ€™s running as a combination single screen sub-run house and live concert venue. It joins the Westcott (used to be the Studio in it’s early days), Manlius and Hollywood as Syracuseâ€™s still running independents. The Franklin is long gone.
Wilson “Bob” Tucker, former Castle Theatre projectionist, passed away Friday 10/6/06. Bob was also a stagehand and electrician for touring shows that came to Bloomington/Normal. He was also a pioneering and hugely respected author of mystery and science fiction novels in the 40s 50s and 60s, and is credited with coining the term “space opera” as it relates to large, sweeping science fiction sagas like “Star Wars”. He was living in St. Petersburg, Florida at the end. R I P, Bob …
A recent Newark Star-Ledger article on what’s happining with the theatre:
Was in the National a few weeks ago for Brokeback Mountain, and man, (or should I say Mann), has this place seen better days. The auditorium was pretty run down looking, seriously in need of refurbishment. Moreover, they made a huge mistake with the seats here, putting after-market plastic cupholders on them instead of buying new, a move I could see for a dollar-house but not in a theatre with this prestige. I have never seen this done successfully in a way that retains the comfort of the seat, it takes away about an inch or so on either side of the patron, and if you have a few extra inches on your behind as many of us do you are in for an uncomfortable few hours. The projection and sound was still very good, though.
Iâ€™d be very sorry to see this go. It would be great to see some money thrown at this wonderful and historic screen, with some work it could be the pride of Westwood film-going, but I suppose the bean counters will out. Hell, let the guy who bought the Crest take it, heâ€™s doing a bang-up job over there.
Just donâ€™t mess with the Village or the Bruin, thatâ€™s all I ask.
There is a sign on the front door of this theatre that says â€œthe showing of movies at this location has been suspended until further noticeâ€. Iâ€™ll just bet.
This was a pretty ramshackle operation in its latter years, but it had a great funky quality, plus that wonderful popcorn oil/disinfectant/mildew smell that I get so nostalgic about. The thing I will always remember is that whether from laziness or lack of letters, the marquee always featured drastic truncations of movie titles, often just one key word. The best one was While You Were Sleeping, which on the marquee was reduced to just â€œWhile (PG)â€. Thatâ€™s it!