Symphony Space/Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre

250 W. 95th Street,
New York, NY 10025

Unfavorite 12 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 108 comments

WalterM
WalterM on June 26, 2014 at 12:51 pm
I was 14, and the world was 1957, when I saw my first Janus film – Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet – and the logo of the two-faced Roman god is forever twinned for me with the experience of sitting in the small Thalia Theater on Manhattan’s West 95th Street. For some reason, perhaps to do with the underlying geology, the floor of the Thalia slanted upward toward the screen, in direct contradiction of every other movie theater in the world. With that extra pressure on our backs, the audience at the Thalia was poised, like the crew aboard a rocket ship, to take off into another world. The flickering appearance of Janus was the countdown to launch.
              
                   My neighborhood theater, the Nemo, at 110th street and Broadway, showed the usual twice-weekly double-bills coming out of Hollywood. I went there often enough, especially when I was younger, for the Saturday showings of serials, cartoons, and newsreels presided over by stern matrons with flashlights for billy-sticks.
              
                   My reactions to the movies I saw at the Nemo were like my feelings about the weather, or landscapes glimpsed from a train: I liked some of them, and was disappointed, mystified or oppressed by others. But strange to say, I never thought of those films as the result of human effort: like any natural phenomena, they simply were and could not be otherwise.
              
                   Films with the Janus logo, however, began to awake something else in me which I couldn’t put my finger on, but over and over again they drew me back to the Thalia. Finally, in 1958, I saw Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, and things fell into place. Bergman’s vision was so distinctive that I left the theater shaken by the self-evident realization:  somebody made that film. Intellectually, of course, I had been vaguely aware of this, but now it hit me emotionally. with full force. I still can recall that twenty-block walk back home to 119th and Riverside, dazedly repeating: somebody made that film.
              
                   The unspoken corollary was that if somebody made a film, I could make a film. The Thalia had provided the crack in the cosmic egg through which I might be able to squeeze. But the idea was too much for a fifteen year-old with no family connections to the film industry, and so it lay dormant for a number of years until finally erupting.
                
mfarricker_1
mfarricker_1 on April 7, 2014 at 9:10 pm

I have fond memories of the Thalia theater. It was located on ninety fifth street around the corner from the Symphony theater, which was on Broadway. I frequented both these movie houses as a teenager. The Symphony showed mostly English films and many old classics. The Thalia showed mostly foreign films and some silent movies, too. I was enthralled with all of them and I learned so much about life and the world from them. I usually went by myself, because most of my friends were not interested in those films. It was not unusual to be sitting next to a celebrity, in the Thalia. I remember seeing Tony Randall and many other actors in that theater and around that area. Our neighborhood was full of people from the stage and screen. Sometimes, when I still walk past that corner I get a sense of loss when I don’t see the little Thalia, tucked in among the dull towering buildings. I know that the Symphony is still providing some civilized entertainment, with book readings, but my old celluloid friends are all gone and I miss them. Now, in the twilight of my life, I often wonder if the wrecking ball really was a good thing.

cblanc10708
cblanc10708 on August 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I was wondering if anyone has an old Thalia Theater program that can be scanned and emailed to me. Thanks

RRF
RRF on July 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I remember meeting Richard Schwartz when he was operating the Thalia. What a passionate person when it came to film. He had a bed in a storage area so I assumed he must have camped out in the cinema. I remember the old screen speaker ( Western Electric? ) in use….he said it was cheaper to keep it running than to endure the labor cost to replace it.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on November 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Isaiah Sheffer, a founder of Symphony Space, has died at the age of 76: nytimes

Logan5
Logan5 on July 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Malcolm Leo’s documentary “The Beach Boys: An American Band” (1985) showed here. Janet Maslin reviewed the film in the November 22, 1985 edition of The New York Times.

LesW
LesW on December 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm

That would be wonderful! If you can scan it and email it to me I would be most appreciative. My email address is Happy New Year!

TSB
TSB on December 30, 2011 at 9:01 am

LesW — I have a full program schedule from the Thalia’s summer festival from 1969. It’s good, totally readable. Do you want me to scan it and send it to you? Or photocopy and mail it to you? Let me know.

LesW
LesW on December 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I remember it well. I saw all of them since they were played every year, however, if I have any Programs(s) at all, I’m not hopeful that it would go back to ‘65. Keep in touch…..

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

bobob,

The Village Voice carried ads for the Thalia back in the sixties. It may take some google archive searching but this issue, for example, shows “THE TITAN”, “THE IDIOT”, “THE ETERNAL MASK”, “ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO”, “THE NIGHT WATCH”, “BLACK ORPHEUS”, “LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD”, ANIMAL FARM", “CHARLIE CHAPLIN SHORTS”, “THE LEOPARD”, “NIGHT AND FOG”, “THE LAW”, and “THE DOLL” one week in July 1965.

View link

LesW
LesW on December 22, 2010 at 11:29 am

No luck yet. I asked my Mother who also worked the Box Office on occasion and she hasn’t got anything. I’ll try a few more places. I’m anxious to find something also. It would bring back some fond memories. I’ll keep in touch if I find something.

bobob
bobob on December 21, 2010 at 8:18 am

LeslieW…Hav you had a chance to see if you have one of the old programs from the Thalia Summer festival of double features??

LesW
LesW on December 4, 2010 at 7:55 am

I believe I might! I’ll have to go through some boxes over the next week or so. Please remind me if you don’t hear from me by mid-month. Regards…

bobob
bobob on December 4, 2010 at 3:53 am

LeslieW
Do you have a copy of the summer festival at the Thalia, back in the ‘60’s? I have been trying to find one for a very long time

LesW
LesW on December 3, 2010 at 2:27 pm

My Grandmother, Gladys DiPillo, managed the Thalia for 20 years. In the late 60’s and early 70’s I ushered there in the Summer and changed the marquee every night for the Summer Film Festival. She was delighted because I wouldn’t misspell anything as others had done in the past to her great embarrassment as it would stay up there all day! When she played Fellini’s “8 ½” the marquee would read “812” since she didn’t have a “½”. I couldn’t stand for that so I fashioned a “½” by sawing other pieces and gluing them together. It looked great! She loved it. As an Usher I remember having to urge patrons only to smoke in the last 10 rows which was the smoking section. Making them either put the cigarette out or making them move to the back didn’t win me any popularity contests. I have such stories of the place and really miss it. It’s nice that so many of you feel the same. If you have any questions, I would be happy to try to answer them.

RRegan
RRegan on September 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Thank you again.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

By the way Robert, Cinema 16 was a club that screened films at different venues all over Manhattan. “Pandora’s Box” may well have shown at the Thalia through Cinema 16 in the fifties and sixties.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 9, 2010 at 10:49 am

It was shown as “LULU”.

View link

RRegan
RRegan on September 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

Thank you, Mr. Alvarez. I’m looking for evidence that Pandora’s box, particularly, was screened in NYC during that time. Cheers, Bob

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 9, 2010 at 8:36 am

Robert,

The Thalia ran some Pabst films in 1952 and 1960.

View link

RRegan
RRegan on September 9, 2010 at 8:17 am

Does anyone remember, or have evidence of, Pabst films screening at the Thalia in the fifties and early sixties? I’m thinking of Pandora’s Box, The Diary of a Lost Girl, and Secrets of a Soul. My memory has been questioned. Help!

Astyanax
Astyanax on September 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

In the mid 60’s you didn’t have to leave a six block stretch of B'way to feast on the schedules of both the New Yorker & the Thalia. There was little need to go beyond the neighborhood.

edblank
edblank on September 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

I, too, collected and devoured the rep schedules from several Manhattan sites – Thalia, Elgin, Bleecker Street (as I recall), Gramercy (briefly), Carnegie Hall Cinema, Hollywood Twin, 80 St. Marks (where fixed combinations tended to play together whenever they returned) and, by far the best, the Regency (and later Frank Rawley’s scheduled for the Lincoln Art, or whatever it was called when he moved there from the Regency).

I loved reading the descriptions, scrutinizing the feature times, spotting the occasional error in show times and keeping them all handy so that at any hour of the afternoon or evening back here in Pittsburgh, I could envision what was going on on every screen.

When my semi-annual two-week trips to NYC were on the horizon, I especially looked forward to the schedules, knowing I’d soon get to partake in the rep house banquet.

Now the only schedules are from Film Forum, and I pay $25 every three (or two?) years to receive those.

It’s great having a home video collection, but it’s somehow not the same as knowing that when I got to NYC I’d see the long-available “Sudden Fear” at the 80 St. Marks, the long-unavailable “Call Me Madam” at Lincoln Art, “The Whisperers” at the Regency or “Burmese Harp” at the Thalia.

And then to pick them off in double bills all day every day while scurring around Manhattan on subways and awaiting a Broadway show in the evening.