Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre

707 Seventh Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

Unfavorite 28 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 1,059 comments

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 15, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Maybe you saw a dvd made from a bad public domain print, Joe?

According to TCM.com — “All the delays and extravagances sent Bird of Paradise far over budget. It had been budgeted at $450,000 and ended up costing at least $725,000. Though the film performed well at the box office, it did not make back its cost.”

That was an astronomical cost in 1932, and I would be very surprised if The fastidious Selznik would release a sub-par product. Unfortunately, the movie fell into the public domain decades ago. It reminds me of the Howard Hughes’s picture The Outlaw, where he fussed over every frame, and now all we have today are scratchy, blurry copies of his magnum opus.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 15, 2014 at 6:46 pm

to Ed S.–

thanks for your take on the subject. during the often pined for Golden Age of Hollywood I was always under the impression there was a distinct look and feel too an A film that would be different from that of a B film. so that’s why I’m kind of shocked BOP would have been classified as an A film when it opened at the Mayfair considering its very B film production values.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 14, 2014 at 2:01 am

Per Lamont Cranson’s comment under the very advertisement mentioned above for “Bird of Paradise” – King Vidor’s B&W version of a hugely popular stage spectacle opened simultaneously in New York at the RKO Mayfair in midtown and the RKO Albee in downtown Brooklyn on September 11th, 1932. 20th-Fox’s later Technicolor remake opened at the Roxy (with stage show) in March, 1951.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 14, 2014 at 1:14 am

With King Vidor at the helm, Selznick producing, and a budget that allowed for location filming in Hawaii (this was scrapped, according to IMDB.COM trivia, due to weather related problems), not to mention the fact that it was based on very popular stage material, I would say “Bird Of Paradise” likely constituted an “A” picture for RKO.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm

to Ed S.–

very interesting and depressing pics. the Mayfair/ Demille/Embassy 1-2-3 was in uneven shape sad to
say before closing. fortunately my parents took me
to as many roadshow films as possible so at least I got to see the theater when it was still in un-triplexed prime shape.

also when I looked at your pics in the photo section I noticed the ad for Bird of Paradise. i’m assuming it was the film’s 1st run premiere run and not a move over from another theater. which is where my question comes in- was BOP considered an A level as opposed to B level film? I purchased the blu-ray disc put out by Kino Video last year and thought it was a sub-par film both technically and artistically. I didn’t think King Vidor was capable of making such a crappy movie.

techman707
techman707 on April 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Ed, those pictures are just too depressing to look at. They’ve demolished all the great movie palaces, what are they going to destroy now for an encore? When it comes to movie palaces, New York City is culturally bankrupt!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 13, 2014 at 2:37 am

Just posted a couple of shots I took with my cellphone over the last week or two, through the construction shedding peepholes, to see the demolition in progress. The first shot shows a portion of where the old Mayfair/DeMille entrance used to be. The second is another storefront or two down towards 47th Street, but may reveal recesses (stripped to concrete) that may have been a part of the theater.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 25, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Bigjoe59: You can find lots of souvenir programs on eBay. I got one for It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World from there, and in excellent condition.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on March 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Hello-

I have often asked questions about reserved seat runs at this and nearby theaters. to which a question- does anyone know of a first rate store in Manhattan that sells souvenir programs? or possibly a website? there are many original roadshow films I saw in but at my neighborhood theater. usually souvenir programs were only sold in the initial exclusive 1st run theater.

techman707
techman707 on March 23, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Ed, As usual, you’re right on the money. It was JUST A MATTER OF LUCK that the Wonder Theatres are still there. When I worked at the RKO Alden, across the street from Loew’s Valencia (my personal favorite Wonder Theatre) I never thought that “The Tabernacle Of Prayer” would be the one to “save” the Valencia….I am really surprised at how well they have maintained it.

While not a Wonder Theatre, I only wish they could have saved Loew’s Triboro.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 23, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I’ve commented before that theater preservation under the NYC LPC (after the Marriot Marquis demolitions) has always been all about the legit houses, without any regard to any of the premiere movie houses in the Times Square area. The rich history of motion picture exhibition in this town, and the important architectural wonders in which that history took place, were completely ignored by the LPC. Not a single house on Broadway or Seventh Avenue survives – with the lone exception of the Embassy newsreel theater.

I know that many of the cinemas were shorn of much their original interior design with the wholesale streamlining and updating that occurred during the dawn of the widescreen roadshow era, but seems to me that enough beauty remained in the Rivoli, Loew’s State, Strand, DeMille, and Forum to warrant serious consideration. I suppose we should be thankful for the conversion of the Hollywood, Broadway, and Globe Theatres to legitimate use – surely those transitions played a part in the preservation of those buildings.

It is nothing short of miraculous, that all four of the original Loew’s Wonder Theaters, situated within NYC limits, are still standing and open (or soon to be open) to the public. And that number five is still alive and surviving as an actual movie palace, across the Hudson in Jersey City!

techman707
techman707 on March 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Mike (saps, I agree, that is probably the WORST picture to depict this theatre….unless you just want to show how low things became in NY.

Bob Endres, You’re right it belongs on the Music Hall page. The Roxy (Radio City Roxy, not the Seventh Ave, Taft Hotel Roxy-probably even sadder.), later called Centre, etc., was a 3,400 seat beauty. The remark “Well two out of three isn’t bad!” just makes me feel even madder! Compared to MANY other cities around the country, they just have NO RESPECT for theatres in NY City and even LESS RESPECT for movie theatres.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I really don’t love the photo above, and wonder how it could have over 20,000 views…!

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on March 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm

technman707This really belongs on the Music Hall page, but in response to your last comment: I was asked by the comptroller of Radio City to take a look at a theatre in the Bronx that was asking Rockefeller help in establishing a dance company. We rode up on the subway with the Rock Center lawyer and he was talking about the public hearing for Radio City. Some woman in the audience said, “You destroyed the Roxy and you destroyed the Center Theatre and now you want to destroy the Hall.” To which he replied, “Well two out of three isn’t bad!”

techman707
techman707 on March 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

RobertEndres,

The ONLY reason the building is still there is from that “last minute” burst of action you refer to. Just remember what happened to the RKO Center (Rockefeller Center “ROXY”), which to date, is the ONLY building in the complex to be torn down. It was a SAD DAY.

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on March 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Actually,the marquee was put up for the Mark I-II-III incarnation. When they triplexed the theatre, they also chopped up the lobby to add storefronts. The entrance under the marquee led directly to the downstairs house, and to the right was the staircase leading up to the upper lobby and the two upstairs screens. The rest of what had been a lavish lobby was cut off from the theatre by the stores.The marquee for the DeMille was removed and that small triangular marquee replaced it.

I think the porn people did the triplexing and added the storefronts. I met the contractor a few times and think he had also done work for the operators in other houses they had.

techman707: there was a great deal of attention to the Radio City situation. I had just come back from vacation to pick up the Daily News the next morning and see the huge headline that Radio City was closing. Later that day Alton Marshall the president of Rockefeller Center called all of us to a meetin in the large rehearsal hall to tell us about the closure. The Rockettes made headlines by picketing out in front of the theatre in costume in January. There were also public meetings to protest the closure. Today the Rockettes are largely given credit for saving the Hall, although a friend of mine who was a vice president at the Hall had lunch with Marshall a few years later and was told that they really didn’t want to close the Hall, but had to shake loose from the movie/stage show policy. A deal was made with the state to help save the Hall and it was announced from the stage on what was to be the closing night that it would be saved.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on March 20, 2014 at 9:13 pm

to Robert E.–

thanks for the info. if I understand your reply correctly the name Mark I-II-III was on the marquee briefly. it must have been really brief with a capital B since as I said I never remember that name being on the marquee.

another question. was the tri-plexing of the theater done by the people who wanted it has an adult house or was it done by an independent contractor and then the lease snatched up by the
porn people? which of course never came to pass.

techman707
techman707 on March 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm

bigjoe59,

Besides the old Newsreel Theatre, Peter Elson (or maybe it was his dad) also had a thing for the “Guild” name. I guess because of the little Guild 50th Theatre he operated, which was a “side hole” to the Music Hall-LOL The Guild 50th used to get the overflow during Radio City’s Xmas show from the people waiting online that didn’t make into the Music Hall after waiting nearly 2 hours. The Guild 50TH usually ran Disney Pictures around Xmas….just like the Music Hall did for many times for Xmas.

They make a big deal over Radio City TODAY, however, at one point when some Japanese Group owned it not that long ago, demolition seemed A REAL POSSIBILITY! I don’t recall ANY groundswell of protection and not as word from the Landmarks & Preservation Commission.

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on March 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Bigjoe59: Mark I-II-II did appear on the marquee very briefly before Peter Elson took over. I can’t remember the name of the operators, but I was told they had some other porn houses in the city. When Peter took over he changed the name to Embassy I-II-II. He had a thing for calling his theatres “Embassy” after the original one (now a city tourist center)which he also operated.

techman707
techman707 on March 20, 2014 at 12:07 am

bigjoe59,

Many of these properties have an intrinsic value that can’t be judged based on standard values used for plain old real estate. That was purportedly the reason that the LANDMARKS & PRESERVASTION COMMISSION WAS CREATED!

The Rivoli is (was) a perfect example of a free standing GEM!!! If that wasn’t worthy of being “landmarked” than WHAT IS?

I know that nothing will ever change, however, I can at least express my DISGUST with the system….even if it’s only here. There’s really nothing left to fight for, since the damage has already been done and in reality, THEY ARE ALL GONE.

If anyone is interested, there is still a theatre in Queens, that although deteriorating, The RKO KEITH’S, FLUSHING, is one of only a handful of “atmospheric theatres” that still exist in the U.S. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the title of “atmospheric theatre”, it’s a theatre that gave the illusion that you were sitting outside while watching the movie. It did this by using twinkling stars and a cloud machine that slowly moved changing cloud shapes across the blue background ceiling. IT WORKED REALLY WELL. You can see what’s going on with the fight to save this theatre here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/220242754654213/

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on March 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm

to texhman707-

like you I miss the great old movie theaters of the Times Square Area. fortunately the Capitol was never twinned like the Rivoli of triplexed like the Demille. as much as these theaters were loved by movie buffs isn’t the primary reason for their demolition is they were economically unviable as a single screen movie theater. for instance the Roxy’s huge size was great for 1927 but by the spring of 1960 said size was its own worst enemy.

techman707
techman707 on March 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Ed, Just ANOTHER SAD DAY in the history of New York’s Movie Palaces. I’m still mourning Loew’s Capatol, Strand and the Rivoli. These were TRUE landmarks and should have been preserved. But then again, I miss the Automat.-LOL

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 19, 2014 at 9:51 am

I walk by this building every day, on my way to the office. It is completely covered in scaffolding and dark mesh construction netting, so, impossible to really see what is going on, but from what can be viewed through the peepholes and gaps in the street level shedding, they are stripping all vestiges of ornamentation from the facade. I presume this is in preparation for the dismantling of the building, as I also presume that the any remaining architectural detail within the structure is being carted away as rubble.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on March 18, 2014 at 10:20 pm

to Al A.–

thank you for your thoughts on the book “Movie Roadshows” by Kim Rolston. would you happen to know if “Roadshow: The Fall of Musicals in the 1960s” by Matthew Kennedy is better researched and more accurate than “Film Roadshows”?

i am writing to you on this page because i can’t seem to find the page for the 58th St. off of Lexington Fine Arts.what does one type in the search box?