Murray Hill Cinema

160 E. 34th Street,
New York, NY 10016

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Showing 1 - 25 of 51 comments

Jack Theakston
Jack Theakston on February 24, 2015 at 12:26 am

Saw many, many films here in the ‘80s and '90s. At that time, most of the buildings in the area were still three-story tenements from the old days, but the writing was on the wall when they started tearing those down.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I saw no evidence of an organ as the building was being stripped to the four walls and roof in 1989 or 90. With the exception of the balcony structure and the concrete box that was the projection booth, everything else, including the closed restaurant, was down the first day.

AndrewBarrett
AndrewBarrett on December 28, 2014 at 3:23 am

*The organ had a Kinetic blower, not a Simplex blower, sorry!

AndrewBarrett
AndrewBarrett on December 28, 2014 at 1:18 am

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, pg. 630, the “34th Street Th.” in New York, New York, had a Seeburg-Smith organ installed in 1920.

This organ had a Simplex blower, serial #I134, which was 2 horsepower and delivered 10" of static wind pressure.

The organ’s size (# of manuals/# of ranks) is not given in the book (was not known at time of publication), but from what little I’ve learned about Smith organs so far, the 2 horsepower blower would indicate probably around a 6 rank organ, maybe 5 or 7 ranks, but probably not any larger or smaller than that.

It is a shame to hear about all of the tragedy associated with this theatre, and then about its demolition (and the demolition of the more recent theatre built on the site), but that’s the way it goes sometimes I guess.

Does anybody know where this organ, or its parts, is/are today?

jackbauer24, do you know if there was a pipe organ or any organ parts in the theatre when your father was the manager?

Smeeglereegle, do you remember anything about an organ in this theatre during the time you worked there, or a story of where it went?

Thanks!

Logan5
Logan5 on September 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

“The Rocketeer” showed at the [City] Murray Hill in 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo SR beginning on Friday June 21, 1991 (the film’s nationwide release date).

jackbauer24
jackbauer24 on February 9, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I remember my father used to work as a manger there back in the mid 1970’s. I remember seeing many films there including the movie Rollercoaster. I liked how the Murrary Hill had there outer doors painted to match the film they were showing at the time. Does anyone remeber my father who worked there in the mid 70’s and was the manager?

SeaBassTian
SeaBassTian on September 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm

I used to patronize this place quite often in the 90’s. By the time I arrived the decor was very white, stark, almost clinical. Ironically, I believe it’s now an NYU Medical Center. I caught Here on Earth in spring 2000.

Smeeglereegle
Smeeglereegle on November 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I worked at the Murray Hill from ‘79 to '82 along with my friend peterdamian (see earlier posting), in the years that I attended film school. I started with the film “JAWS 3-D,” and then “Animal House.” I shot part of my thesis film in the main entrance and outside of the theater. (Someday I’ll post the footage!) Even though our boss, Mr. Bradley was very strict, we really were a family there. There was also quite a history of tragedy at that theater. Aside from the fire in the earlier days of the building, and the ceiling collapse during Psycho III, our friend and co-worker, John, committed suicide there on May 21st, 1980. So sad.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 24, 2011 at 12:32 am

This Boxoffice Magazine has photos and an article of the remodel;

View link

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on February 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm

This is where I saw “2001, A Space Odyssey” in the late 1960’s. While I did visit this theater several other times, I will always remember it for providing me with the tremendous eperience of viewing this very special film.

Astyanax
Astyanax on January 17, 2011 at 8:22 am

Had been to the Murray Hill several times before it was turned into a quad. In its early years as a Rugoff house it showcased foreign filsms – saw a bouble feature of Repulsion & il Bombole (the Dolls). Later it became a Premiere Showcase outlet daydating the Astor & the Trans-Lux East for United Artist product.

Don’t recall the original seating, but never visited th MH after the quadding since I imagined that the theraters would have been too cramped. Makes sense now that the first renovation only occupied half of the theater.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm

October 9, 1959.

I am pretty sure it was Variety.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on January 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Wow I never saw that ad. Do you know the date and what paper it was published in? Thanks.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Thanks for that Dave-Bronx.

Here is a relaunch ad:

Note the claim about the birth of NYC exhibition having occurred on 34th Street.

View link

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on January 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Not quite a gut remodel, Al. They built a smaller auditorium within the old opera house. The first time I was in there was the night the ceiling fell down, I was working at CI&II we got the news and rushed down there. The ceiling over the balcony had come down and a large section of that then slid down the incline into the orchestra. I couldn’t see much at that time due to the heavy cloud of dust and there were no lights operable.

Several months later, I was given the key and sent down there to retrieve a buttermat and some other stuff. I took a big flashlight because nobody knew if Con Edison had shut off the power. By that time the entire ceiling was down in the orchestra. At the top of the side walls there was a vast amount of space between where the ceiling had been and the roof. There was enough space that another auditorium could have been built up there. Also, along the sides were the side sections of old horse shoe balcony of the ancient theatre. Snooping around further, I found that in the projection booth there was an old rickety wooden stairway going up to that balcony. That whole structure up there was made out of wood and there was evidence of past fire damage. There was old fabric wall covering straining to stay on the walls along with the old light fixtures. Below this balcony was another, but it was hidden behind the side wall of the cinema. Below that, on the ground level was the exit alleyway from the cinema. This was all on the west side of the building, the east side was similar, but inaccessible, and the ground level was the men’s room, ushers and porter room.

When they readied the place for temporary operation I drew the short straw and was assigned to be the manager. A new ceiling had been installed but instead of putting it in its original position they put it all the way up near the roof, leaving the old balcony’s exposed. In addition to installing the screen we had Geo. Moulinos mask off all that upper area and walls with drapery.

When that was finally shut down to be made into the quad, THEN they did do a complete gut, I was in there when it was just 4 walls and the roof.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

According to a January 1957 Variety article, the 1959 Rugoff & Becker remodel was a total gutting that kept only the shell of the original 34th Street theatre building.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 29, 2010 at 2:29 pm

A chain called Associated Prudential Theatres, Inc. ran this in 1953 along with the Superior and the 28th street Regent.

TPH
TPH on January 19, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Back in the 60’s the MH was on the original United Artist Premiere Showcase string for Manhattan along with the Astor & the Trans Lux East. Was a hard house to book alternating between commercial and art house fare. Saw my first Polanski film there, Repulsion on a double feature with Il Bambole (the Dolls). All the 34th St. houses were done-in when Loews opened the Kips Bay complex.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 27, 2009 at 2:10 am

The architect for the conversion of the Murray Hill into a quad in 1990 was John W. Averett, Averett Associates. He also designed the renovations for the City Cinemas Village East, opened the same year, and City Cinemas' East 86th Street Cinemas, Completed at the end of the 1990s.

moviejunkie
moviejunkie on July 12, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I used to work for the Rugoff Theater chain, back when I was in college. The Murray Hill was my assigned theater, but I also did part-time duties at Cinemas I and II, The Sutton, The Beekman, The Plaza and the Gramercy. I think Bill Legro was our manager, at the time. Working for the chain enabled me to see a lot of great movies back then… Swept Away, Bingo Long and The Traveling All Stars, The Hindenburg, Blazing Saddles, Animal House, Network, The Conversation, and Last Tango In Paris… just to name a few.

The Rugoff chain were all prime movie theaters that featured the very best in cinematic entertainment at that time!

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on August 17, 2008 at 6:00 am

Before the reopened quad opening, they had charity screenings the night before. The films running were The Adventures Of Milo and Otis, The Jungle Book, The Bear and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 30, 2008 at 10:46 am

This first shows up in the NYT movie section as the 34th Street in 1923.

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on March 27, 2008 at 6:51 pm

The quadded Murray Hill opened on December 21st, 1990 with The Bonfire Of The Vanities (on two screens), The Sheltering Sky and The Field.