Manhattan 1 and 2

220 E. 59th Street,
New York, NY 10022

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mharmon999 on June 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Both theatres had lower level and upper level seating, I always sat upstairs, some films I saw there were National Lampoons European Vacation, Better Off Dead, City Heat and The Protector

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Opened late March 1969 with “LA PRISONNIERE” at the Avco Embassy East and “CAN HEIRONYMUS MERKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS?” at the Pacific East.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

The Office for Metropolitan History’s Manhattan NB Database says that the theater at 220-222 E. 59th Street was designed by Norman L. Wax. There is an architect of that name currently practicing in Lawrence, New York, but I don’t know if it’s the same one who designed this theater in 1968.

If the house opened in 1967 (per our introduction), then the 1968 project must have been a remodeling for RKO Stanley Warner, listed as the owners. If it was a remodeling it must have been fairly extensive, as the Database gives the budget as $100,000, which was still a considerable sum in 1968. The Database has no earlier entry for the original construction.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Garth was correct. The Manhattan-1 was going by the name RKO 59th Street East at the time of THE SAVAGE IS LOOSE. That name would later be revived at the D.W. Griffith by Cineplex Odeon when they found out they owned no legal right to continue using the Griffith name.

fred1 on August 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Garth, if memory served me correctly The Savage is Loose had its year long engagement at the former D.W. Griffith theater down the blockfrom Manhatten Twin.

Garth on August 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Al I only know that when I saw “The Story of Joanna” here in 1975 the other theatre was showing “The Naughty Victorians”. That was also a hard-core film. I believe it was 1978 when I was dragged here by a girlfriend to see “The Savage is Loose”, but that arrangement was a private one year lease with the film’s star/ Director.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 5, 2012 at 8:06 am

During its late seventies porno incarnation Twin One went back to mainstream subrun as the “RKO 59th St East” while Twin Two still played strictly adult sex films as the Spartan. Does anyone know if RKO itself was actually operating this as a hard core porno theatre?

rivoli157 on November 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

December 1971, MGM releases Ken Russells “The Boyfriend” starring Twiggy at the RKO 59th St Twin

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I think it is Dennis!

TLSLOEWS on August 8, 2010 at 11:43 am

Yeah it looks like Dennis.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 7, 2010 at 8:09 pm

In the 1971 photo it looks like Dennis Hopper under the marquee. Can’t believe no one else noticed.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 2, 2010 at 7:03 am

Operating as the all-male Spartan theatre in 1978 with male dancers and “3 male erotic films” while Eastworld was the other screen.

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GaryCohen on January 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I went there a few times during the 1980s. I saw “Superman II,” Clint Eastwood in “Sudden Impact,” Connery as Bond in “Never Say Never Again,” and the first “Scream” film. (I remember I had to wait on a line outside for Connery’s return as Bond. Too bad it was such a mediocre film.) I don’t remember that many specifics of the theatre although those pictures Ed put up did bring back some memories. I do remember that the theaters were not that big and I’m not sure just how comfortable the seats were.

Garth on December 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm

KingBiscuits is correct. Actor George C. Scott leased one of the theatres for 1 year to show his movie. The girl I was seeing at the time dragged me to it. I also saw “Story of Joanna” here. it was a decent theatre from what I recall.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 13, 2009 at 9:24 am

As the Manhattan 1 & 2.

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KingBiscuits on January 12, 2009 at 12:30 am

This theatre played a reissue of George C. Scott’s The Savage Is Loose for a really long time.

kencmcintyre on March 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Here is a December 1967 ad from the NYT:

wally 75
wally 75 on October 20, 2007 at 12:32 am

roadshow…ed posted some pictures of auditoriums on june 19th o6

don’t know if you saw them…both i and 2 the same…do they look like you remeber it?

br91975 on October 18, 2007 at 1:40 pm

The Manhattan 1 & 2 was showing Bollywood films in 1998; Cineplex Odeon’s run ended in October of 1997 with the Tupac Shakur-Jim Belushi flick ‘Gang Related’ running on both screens. The theatre, I seem to remember, sat empty for about two years before being demolished sometime around 2000 or 2001; for the longest while before then, while the property owner was either trying to lease the cinemas or gather interest in their planned redevelopment, the marquee (at least on the side facing 3rd Avenue) gave a phone number prospective leasees/tenants could call for information.

exit on October 18, 2007 at 12:48 pm

I remember passing by this cheesy looking place between late sixties and mid seventies… finally got inside when C5 cleaned it up. Like most C5 theatres, it felt sleek and classy… Typical C5 interesting 3D window displays (real TV with snowy picture and child figure looking into it for Poltergeist… what did they have for Cruising – A leather sling?)

But the auditoriums… I can’t imagine why anyone would design a place like that. Screen so high that it was several feet above the heads of the downstairs seats, which I think sloped up because they knew you’d have to lean back like at a Drive-in to see the screen. Only the top had direct sightlines to the screen. And the strange sloped stage thingy built in front of the screen… I always wondered what they were thinking when they built the place.

wally 75
wally 75 on August 18, 2007 at 11:37 pm

just want to jump in here…when i was with rko and worked 59th street east, after they closed madison,rko leased out porno side…

i think also,RobertR, when you said porno chic,it could mean the lobby..also..they loved blue and red lights…
when the warner did a flip to cinerama and penthouse..half the
marque soffit lights were blue for cinerama and red for penthouse..
when you worked inside they had smoked mirrors with gold vains..
the rest rooms were marked king and queens…in nyc that could really
make people think before picking a door..
oh yeah, naughtyvictorians…true art….i kid..
don’t chic-out…

RobertR on August 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm

This played day & date with the Rialto
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RobertR on August 12, 2007 at 1:33 pm

RKO was big into this kind of porno chic in the 70’s.
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bazookadave on July 9, 2007 at 8:12 am

Wow it even shows Alexander’s! That’s a blast from the past indeed. So few movie theaters left in this area. Thanks for that ad image, Al.