44th Street Theatre

216 West 44th Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Agreed John. The only question that remains is just exactly what constitutes “some cinematic history.” I know that there was an argument about this very matter on one of the theater pages several years ago. In the end, either Patrick or Ross (I forget which) chimed in that even if the theater had but a single verified cinematic engagement, it should be considered for inclusion. Then we have to decide if a “single cinematic engagement” means a one-night only showing or an actual booked engagement, such as the lengthy road show run of “Gigi” at the Royale Theatre – an otherwise legitimate stage facility.

I, for one, think the Royale should be included on this site. However, I would not be as enthusiastic about including every playhouse that has held a single special event screening.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on September 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm

While I agree with Ron and Ed on this point – and believe that this theater has easily passed the eilgibility bar – I also believe that SOME cinematic history needs to be shown before a site can be added to this list. Recently, I added a couple of theaters in Williamsburg, NY, but only after receiving documentary evidence that movies had actually been presented there. In both instances, the cinematic history was scant – but it did exist. If such an inquiry is not made, many – in some cases wonderful – theaters would be added as Cinema Treasures that had nothing cinematic about them. But, as long as this finding is made, we should be more than willing to be as inclusive as possible. 

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 24, 2011 at 1:04 am

Agreed, Ron Salters. In fact, I believe that is one of the guiding principles of this website – regardless of dissenting opinions.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm

The more venues in this database, the better! – Even if the 44th St. Theatre exhibited only one movie on one day during its entire existence.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on September 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm

The Internet Broadway Data Base shows lots of “legit” activity in those years. Perhaps the films were squeezed in between stage bookings. I will try to research it at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, which should have files on the 44th Street Theatre. Books on NYC legit theatres by historians Mary Henderson, Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, and William Morrison, cite no cinema usage for the 44th Street Theatre.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm

This showed mostly movies from 1913 to 1924. It was the premiere road show house for RAMONA (1916), JOAN THE WOMAN (1916), HEARTS OF THE WORLD (1918), WAY DOWN EAST (1920), MONTE CRISTO (1921), SCARAMOUCHE (1923), AMERICA (1924), ALIBI (1929), and SONG O MY HEART (1930), all showing for long runs before that MAEDCHEN move-over.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on September 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Listing this as a “cinema treasure” must be someone’s practical joke. When “Maedchen in Uniform” played there, it was only for 32 days (12/8/32 thru 1/8/33) and also a SECOND-RUN MOVEOVER booking. The German import previously had a very successful premiere engagement at the Criterion, from 9/20/32 thru 12/7/32 (replaced on 12/8/32 by Paramount’s “A Farewell to Arms”). After “Maedchen,” the 44th Street closed to prepare for the January 31st opening of Irving Berlin’s stage revue, “Face the Music,” which was followed later in the year by the Jerome Kern musical, “Very Warm for May.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm

There is a plaque at the eastern edge of the building that commemorates the site of the “American Theater Wing Stage Door Canteen,” which occupied the theater’s renovated basement level from 1942-1945. It reads, in part, “This tablet is dedicated to the men and women of the entertainment world who brought cheer and comfort to the soldiers, sailors and marines of America and her allies.” As best as I can determine from internet sources, the plaque was dedicated around 1950.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

Internet Broadway Database has three photos from the Shubert Archive depicting the 44th Street Theatre.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm

The last movie shown here was “Maedchen in Uniform” in 1933.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 27, 2008 at 10:23 pm

The 44th Street roof showed movies in 1920 as the NORA BAYES.