Route 59 Theater

320 West Route 59,
Nanuet, NY 10954

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MovieMan____1952 on June 21, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Forgot one thing…the Premier night of “How The West Was Won” was canceled because of the assassination of JFK…Nov. 22, 1963. What a let-down after months of planning.

Ken Lehman, manager

MovieMan____1952 on June 21, 2014 at 5:19 pm

As manager of the Route 59 Theatre from 1963 to 1965 I ran reserved seat performances of “Mutiny On The Bounty”,“Lawrence of Arabia” as well as the 3-strip showing of “How the West Was Won in "CINERAMA.” We followed “West” with the original “This Is Cinerama” and “Cinerama Holiday.” In addition to the 3 Cinerama projectors we had to install a 4th projector for the Lowell Thomas “introduction” in the old format to “This Is Cinerama.”

These special Cinerama projectors have a 6 sprocket “pull-down” as opposed to the normal 4 sprocket pull-down.

I enjoyed seeing the newspaper ad for “West” in Bill Huelbig’s comments as well as the interior photos from Kencmcintyre’s comments.

This was a Skouras Theatre at the time later to become UA Theatres.

The CINERAMA neon sign was later taken down off the front of the building and left on the lobby roof. I wonder if it’s still there?

Ken Lehman, former manager.

Coate on May 9, 2008 at 3:14 am

Thanks, Bill!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 8, 2008 at 9:16 pm

“This is Cinerama” closed here on 3/10/64. “Seven Wonders of the World” opened on 3/11/64:

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Followed a month later by “Cinerama Holiday” on 4/8/64:

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Less than a month after that, “South Seas Adventure” on 4/28/64:

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By July 1964, the theater was showing the movie version of “McHale’s Navy” – quite a comedown from the glories of Cinerama:

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Coate on April 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm

Anyone have access to microfilm of THE JOURNAL-NEWS or another Rockland County newspaper? I wish to verify the closing date of the ROUTE 59’s run of “This Is Cinerama” and the title of the film that followed it. (I believe “This Is Cinerama” premiered there on Feb. 12, 1964.)

kencmcintyre on January 7, 2008 at 9:43 pm

This site has some interior photos:

kencmcintyre on September 29, 2007 at 9:48 pm

It’s a good bet that all theater were closed that night, as well as in the rest of the country.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 29, 2007 at 9:22 pm

Here is a 1963 ad for “How the West Was Won” in 3-strip Cinerama at the Route 59. Notice the date at the top. Most likely this big premiere never took place that night.

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shoeshoe14 on September 5, 2007 at 6:31 pm

I know that one was on West Maple, but I was on Route 59.

JeffD on September 4, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Shoeshoe14 –

You must be referring to the old Rockland Drive-In — NOT the Route 59 theatre. The drive-in was/is a few miles west up the road from the former Rt.59 theatre we’re talking about.
Best, Jeff D.

shoeshoe14 on September 4, 2007 at 4:32 pm

I was on a bicycle trip and passed by it yesterday. You can’t miss it as it’s on the main drag and the back of the screen is right there by the road, with 30 ft of clearance. (It’s technically in Nanuet with the Spring Valley town line sign bordering the property). Behind it to the right, some tractor trailers park there. It’s dirt and gravel on both sides into it and in the back you can see all the car speaker devices still there in rows. It seemed a bit small for a drive-in.

JeffD on May 3, 2007 at 3:31 pm

I would disagree that there’s not much memorable aout this site. Yes, externally it may have been a typical 1960s cinderblock “Box”, but I always thought the interior, albeit fairly “simple”, was very nicely done, and the layout was such that the people in the theatre itself were never disturbed by anyone in the lobby (due to a wall and a “lounge” area separating the two. Most importantly is that the
PRESENTATION QUALITY at the Rt.59 theatre was always IMPECCABLE in every respect, at least back in the 60s – early 70s, no matter if they were doing a 70mm ‘Roadshow’ engagement or a normal 35mm run
(although quality was simply a matter of course even at most of the
“regular” neighborhood theatres back then).

I have many fond memories of going to see films at the Rt.59, especially their showing of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, back in ‘68. It WAS a “Cinerama’ theatre insofar as the screen was most definitely curved
but, to my recollection at least, the place was never designed or equipped to show the original true 3-Strip format. Still, the 59's
showing of "2001” was probably the single most powerful film presentation I have ever seen anywhere to this day. I saw it there 3 times and it was basically burned into my mind & senses, even now so many years later. When it was re-released in 70mm a few years later, I went to see it at the Ziegfeld in NYC. Coincidentally, the screen at the Zeigfeld was about the same size as the one at Rt.59, (50 feet) but the Zieg’s was flat and its auditorium was more than TWICE the size of the ‘59’s, so while the technial presentaion at the Ziegfeld was of its usual perfection, the experience of “2001"
(and other films) at the Rt.59 theatre just BLEW the Ziegfeld away, since one was so much more "enveloped” by the screen at the '59.

Anyway, the Rt.59 theatre retained its curved screen up until sometime in the late 70s. The theatre was never twinned (with respect to Lost Memory’s post) and remained a single screen venue up until it closed in the late 80s — although there was a noticable decline in presentation quality in ALL respects during the Rt.59 theatre’s last years.

Sorry for going on so long, but I still very much miss this theatre, at least the way it was many years ago. I do have a recent photo of the exterior back wall (basically all that remains) if anyone’s interested though. ;)

reluctantpopstar on April 29, 2007 at 5:58 am

By the time I was able to go to this theatre, the area was falling apart. I saw several movies here including “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” and “Sleepaway Camp.” I think we also saw “The Seven Ups” here first run. I was very young, about seven. And I think that movie was rated R, too. I think I saw “The Towering Inferno” here too. This theatre was about a 10 minute drive from my house, and my dad would sometimes use the car wash in the same strip mall.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 10, 2006 at 11:44 am

Don, you’re probably right. That ad was from the picture’s 33rd week but in this one from the first week, the Cinerama logo is there and the Cinerama lens was no doubt being used:

View link

DonRosen on July 10, 2006 at 10:48 am

By the time “2001” came out, Cinerama was nothing more than a special lens. I doubt where anyone could tell the difference between “sper Panavision” and “Cinerama.” Maybe the Route 59 and Clairidge didn’t want to pay to use the Cinerama lens.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 10, 2006 at 10:23 am

Don: I wondered about that too. When “2001” played the Clairidge Theater in Montclair, some of the ads have the Cinerama logo on display and some do not. This one only says Super Panavision:

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DonRosen on July 10, 2006 at 9:34 am

I notice that there is no mention of Cinerama in the above ad for “2001: A Space Odyssey”, even though an ad (further up the ladder) mentions the theatre is Cinerama-ready.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 27, 2006 at 9:07 pm

For some reason this link is better – the image grows bigger when you click on the bottom right corner:

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 27, 2006 at 7:26 pm

12/18/68: The ad for “2001”’s exclusive Rockland/Bergen engagement at the Route 59. “A perfect gift for family or friend”:

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 25, 2005 at 8:41 pm

An excellent article on the Route 59 from Roland Lataille’s Cinerama website:

Here is an ad for its inaugural attraction, “West Side Story”:

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stgcomm on July 7, 2005 at 7:57 pm

Very interesting. I wonder what movie was playing there at the time. The castle was not a permanent fixture and was probably a tie-in.

stgcomm on February 6, 2005 at 11:37 pm

It was an OTB at one time but is now occupied by American General Financial. The high roof can still be seen in the rear but the facade is gone, blended into the rest of the complex.

joemasher on February 6, 2005 at 7:24 am

I believe this theatre is now an outlet for Off Track Betting. The lobby has been separated from the theatre, and one must drive around back to enter the OTB Parlor. When this was closed by UA, they renamed their twin up the street in the Kennedy Mall Plaza to “Cinema 59 Twin”.