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Oh yeah, and with my Mom we went on a Friday late afternoon in the winter of ‘76 to see some new boxing movie with buzz called “Rocky”. ;–)
Saw many movies there, coming over “the border” from nearby New Hyde Park. A few memories: seeing “The Towering Inferno” with my Dad on a Sunday night, and coming out to the parking lot in the back, the nearby relatively-new North Shore Towers visible in the distance seemed like they were from the film! Also, seeing “Yellow Submarine” there after loving it at the Park East (and waiting til the double feature it was paired with, “The Pink Jungle”, ended before going in)…and deep into my love of monster movies, seeing the double bill of “Sssss” & “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf”.
I worked there in its final year, I believe (I recall us showing “Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip” and “Four Friends” and “Personal Best”) and even helped with its conversion to a legit live theater again. Helped scrape off old paint on the railings, and loved helping it come alive again. I got to walk on the stage, and up above were old scenic flats!!! Could they have been holdovers from the 1920s when the Marx Bros, some who lived in town, staged “The Cocoanuts”??
The one time I went to this theater (lived in New Hyde Park with plenty of other Century theaters closer)…was to “Go Ape For A Day” when the Planet of the Apes marathon happened when “Battle For the Planet of the Apes” got released (but needed help). Nice memory.
Saw “Howard the Duck” on its infamous brief run during my 1986 stopover in Jackson Hole…and I was reminded of that when I saw this pic in the NY Times recently, and it looked awfully familiar: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/11/07/us/SKI-1/SKI-1-articleLarge.jpg
The closest theater to my home, the Alan was my own “Cinema Paradiso”, and i’ve paid it homage. In my screenplay “Shooting Star” (hopefully a future film), which has a subplot about a neighborhood theater in danger of closing, when writing it, i was stuck for the name of my lead male character. So…he’s now called “Alan”. How perfect…how many theaters ever existed with a person’s first name as its own name?
Keeping it going, I’ve named many other characters in the script after movie theaters i went to in my formative years on Long Island, and you can find some of them on the list of this website: Glen Oaks (spelled with only one “N” by the way), Syosset, Squire, Manhasset, Herricks, and Roslyn. (And i found a way to squeeze in the Park East theater into the dialogue!)
Went to a revival screening of “Funny Girl” here not too long ago…and during the intermission (remember those??), I laughed at the realization that it was the perfect place to see this film, as not only is Flo Ziegfeld portrayed in the film by Walter Pidgeon, but as previous posting writer Ed Salerno wrote, the antique programs of the Ziegfeld shows are behind glass in the lobby, and one can find the listings for Fanny Brice in some of them! Going back for the rest of the film after intermission, it was like having absorbed a DVD supplementary program!
An odd personal side note: the night John Lennon was killed less than 20 blocks north, I passed the rear of the theater that has its own vertical marquee, and the Ziegfeld was showing “Rock Show”, a little known Paul McCartney concert film! I was drunk on sake from a nearby sushi bar, when i took in Paul’s hitting-a-note look on the poster…and then i got home to the news. Freaky! (I think the film only showed that week.)
I worked on the underrated Alan Alda film “Sweet Liberty” at this theater, which is seen in the closing moments of the film as the premiere site of the film-within-the-film, on a 7pm to 7am shoot. (For the last actor shot coming out of the theater to cheering people on the sidewalk, which was then-rising-star Michelle Pfeiffer, a black cloth had to be secured around the marquee to block out the early morning sunlight!)
As a P.A. on this shoot, i was aware that movie royalty was there, in her trailer in the parking lot behind the theater: Lillian Gish!!!! Too bad my placement was somewhere else when she did her scene. She passed away about a year or so later.
The unassuming Mini Cinema, set back in a bland suburban parking lot, (it is now a church I believe), was supposedly only the second theater in the US to play “Rocky Horror Picture Show” after its groundbreaking new life started at Manhattan’s Waverly. (Creator and co-star Richard O'Brian visited once, watching the film in front of the rock-concert-sized speakers in the rear corners of the auditorium.)
Run by counter-cultural types, this theater had its own four-page monthly schedule you could pick up in colleges and record stores all over Long Island, (much like NYC’s Film Forum does, though on newsprint), and it was nicknamed “SAM” after the Marx Brothers' father (yes, all the Marx Bros. films showed there too.) And the place showed every cult, classic, and hoping-to-be-cult/classic film throughout the 70s and early 80s. (It was where i first smelled pot, during a showing of “The Harder They Come”.)
Truly the only theater i’ve ever been to, where the hippie manager’s dog walked around with a kerchief around its neck in the lobby, and there was a Dannon yogurt dispenser!
Just like the Syosset down the block (see my comments for that one too), this theater was practically the only SUPER LARGE theater to see blockbusters, and i sure did, everything from “2001” to “Brainstorm” (what a perfect theater to watch that film with its shifting aspect ratios!)to “Showgirls” (what a perfect theater to see Elizabeth Berkley lick a metal pole…hee hee)to “Titanic”, and I think my last film there was “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”, which was so appropriate….as Natalie Portman grew up in Syosset! It HAD to be her neighborhood theater.
As an addendum to that last statement…i meant driving by on Jericho Turnpike, not the World Trade Center site. (A totally different version of wincing…)
Ah man….memories of seeing great films on that LARGE screen: “Alien”, “Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life”, “Pink Floyd: The Wall”, “Outland”, “The Killing Fields”, “The Shining”…and years before those films, a school bus trip to see a matinee of “Godspell” (an underrated musical that shows an empty Manhattan thru much of the film…and a then-brand new World Trade Center still unfinished, with the end of a song on top of the first finished tower!)
I wince every time i drive by….
Ah, but memories of working there in the early 80s, in its last days as a single screen theater (with the historic Playhouse across the street…see “Playhouse” listing with a comment from me as well), such as a packed house of adults having hearty laughter watching “Victor Victoria”.
When it was triplexed (main auditorium sliced in two, and the balcony being the third), I still worked there, and losing the ambiance of a large single screen theater was mollified by the (then)new Dolby Stereo system, which i loved hearing as “The Black Stallion Returns” played in theater 2.
And when one works in a theater, if a blockbuster is opening the next day, the practice is usually to run the film once to an empty theater after the Thursday night movies were over with, to make sure there were no problems with it. So, my friends and I brought our lawn chairs with side tables of pretzels and beer, and we plopped in the center aisle, and watched “Return of the Jedi” at midnight as a sort of private screening before anyone else had a chance to see it. I believe we had to sit in the center aisle vertically with our respective lawn chaises. Too bad the ending sucked….
This amazing survivor, one of only a handful of single screens left on all of Long Island, it is the perfect place to see a film set by the sea…as there’s a musty smell to the place, and no surprise, the bay leading to Peconic Harbor is just down the street. (Too bad I didn’t see “Whale Rider” there recently, as Sag Harbor was once a whaling port that Herman Melville lived in during his early days as a whaler.)
Shows independent and foreign films only.
It’s now a Charlie Brown’s steakhouse restaurant.
To see what this theater looked like before the Disney organization restored it for “The Lion King” Broadway show, watch the Louis Malle film “VANYA ON 42ND ST.”, which is a fascinating version of the Chekhov play “Uncle Vanya” where actors such as the not-yet-famous Julianne Moore, Wallace Shawn, and some other great actors, meet on the sidewalk, and go inside the decrepit theater, where they segue into the play seamlessly from their everyday dialogue, wearing their modern-day clothes.
They actually met for years before this film was made, rehearsing this play as they all loved it, but i’m not sure if they met in this very theater, or was the decision to use it only for the movie? Regardless, it is cool to see a movie palace in between its decrepitude and restoration….in a movie!
This was a gorgeous old theater, with a sloped balcony, that i worked at in its last years as a movie house. (I think its last film was “Four Friends”, or “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip.”)
It was originally a live theater, where the freakin' MARX BROTHERS!!! supposedly performed either “Cocoanuts” and/or “Animal Crackers” in a pre-Broadway tryout in the 1920s, as Groucho had a house nearby. (Great Neck was “the Hamptons of the 1920s”.) When it stopped showing films around 1983/84, i volunteered to spruce it up for its re-debut as a performing arts theater, and i walked onstage behind the movie screen, and saw old theater flats from some forgotten show STILL HANGING FROM THE CEILING!!
Alas, it didn’t last as a performing arts theater, and it closed and became condominiums apartments and retail stores at its base. But, God, what history!