Bellevue Cinema 4

260 Bellevue Avenue,
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043

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Showing 1 - 25 of 38 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 13, 2014 at 6:05 pm

John H. Phillips, architect of the Bellevue Theatre, also designed the original building of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.

RHETT52
RHETT52 on December 27, 2013 at 9:11 am

It was a grand palace back in the day. Now it’s a shoebox. Will never go there again

BarryM
BarryM on May 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Great description of THE SOUND OF MUSIC experience, JOESAVANA. And thanks, PBUBNY for answering my question from years back about the Bellevue noise problem. Sorry I only got to see this cinema in its cut-up state.

joesavana
joesavana on January 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I saw the ‘Sound Of Music’ at the Belleview during its Todd AO 70mm roadshow engagement in 1965. WOW!! I was 16 then and whenever I could scrape up enough money, I’d see it again and again. It must have played there almost 2 years. The Belleview had a humongous screen, very high and very wide. The bottom of the screen began at the stage and the top went almost to the high ceiling. There was a big beautiful blue curtain. Tickets were sold at the box office and seating prices varied. Music from the ‘Sound Of Music’ would be playing as people were being seated. The lights dimmed slowly and as the 20th Century Fox logo appeared, the big curtain opened, from the side as I recall. I can only describe the feeling I got during the scene of the helicopter approach to Julie Andrews before the ‘song on the hill’ as the closest thing to heaven.. chills running up my spine. The Belleview had great audio and a beautiful screen image. In those days the projection was illuminated by arc lamp and the image popped off the screen, unlike the dull theater images of today. The ‘Sound Of Music’ had an intermission, and the curtain closed when the word ‘intermission’ was on the screen. You never saw a ‘bare’ screen at the Belleview, the curtain always hid it until the movie started. When the intermission was almost over, the lights would flash to warn patrons that the film was about to start. It’s true that the Belleview was right next to the Montclair train station and a passing train was quite noisy. Still, the Belleview had class that has not existed in movie theaters for many years. It was a sad day when the Belleview was divided up into a multiplex. It is barely a shell of what is used to be.

pbubny
pbubny on December 27, 2010 at 7:05 pm

A delayed response to Barry M’s question of more than two years ago: yes, due to the Bellevue’s location near the Upper Montclair train station and a commuter line running about one hundred feet away, outside noise was an issue even in the single-screen halcyon days. I noticed it, albeit intermittently, from my first trip there (a “Sound Of Music” revival when I was about 13). Reminds me of the old Astor Plaza near Times Square (now the Nokia Theatre, a live venue), where the sounds of the subway trains below the auditorium made their presence felt.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

Thanks Alex great info.

Oleksij
Oleksij on September 30, 2010 at 9:48 am

I first went to the Bellevue Theatre on New Year’s Day 1965 to see “Mary Poppins.” It was the most elegant theatre I had ever been in. It exuded class with its Tudor décor, the ushers in bright yellow blazers, and from the fact that you had to purchase tickets to assigned seats, just as in a live theatre. I found it all so impressive and exciting, and still did so the following year when we went back to se Julie Andrews again, this time in “The Sound of Music.”

The Bellevue was the place which held roadshow engagements, and sold souvenir booklets filled with photos of the films being presented. (Does anybody do that anymore?)

The Bellevue was a place where, for many years, they played “The Star-Spangled Banner” before each showing.

The biggest hit I remember the Bellevue having was “Fiddler On the Roof”, which played for half-a-year back in 1972.

The Bellevue lost its aura once it was split up into a triplex. I still frequently went there because they had bargain matinees, but stopped once they ended that policy. I’ve only been there a couple of times since they remodeled it completely. I stopped going not so much because of the remodeling but because the same films are playing at theatres closer to my home.

Here is the current irony. In the old days, when theatres showed only a single film, you got to know a lot of theatres, because if you wanted to see Film A, you had to go to one theatre, but to see Film B, you had to go to a different theatre. Then changing economics demanded that these beautiful old theatres be cut up into several smaller cinemas in the hope that the profits from one hit film playing would make up for the deficits from the flops.

Now, however, I think these old cut-up theatres are going to do because so many big multiplexes have been built. Why sit in an old, cramped, charmless theatre when you can go to a multiplex? It too may be charmless, but at least it is big and modern. Especially when all the theatres are showing exactly the same movies. I think that’s what happened to the recently closed Cinema 23 in Cedar Grove. It couldn’t compete with the bigger, newer and equally convenient AMC at the Essex Green Plaza a couple of miles up the road.

Myself, unless I’m going to independent/at film at the Claridge in Montclair, I pretty much keep to the Clifton Commons or the Allwood, but they’re near my home. (And with all its faults, I often favor the Allwood because it is cheaper and usually less crowded. However, I get the feeling the Allwood is on its way out as well.)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I know why they Chop up beautiful theatres,but why this one?

larry
larry on January 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm

The theater is a shell of it’s former self. Surprised it is still around.

roxy1927
roxy1927 on June 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Was there in the 70’s for revivals of Disneys Sleeping Beauty in 70mm and was very annoyed that the full stereo was for the final reel.
Also 70mm GWTW and a not very good 35mm print of Camelot which did not utilize the entire screen.
Don’t remember any outside noise.
Hypothetically speaking if one had the money would it be possible to convert the theater back to the great single screen theater it once was?

BarryMonush
BarryMonush on March 19, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Unfortunately I’ve only been to this theatre since it was chopped up, so I wasn’t too thrilled with it. I have a question for those who had been there in its heyday – could you ALWAYS hear the sound of the train through the walls? Considering this was such an exclusive venue for years, I was surprised that it suffered from this problem.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 28, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Here is a 1976 ad from the New York Times;
http://tinyurl.com/28svyd

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 12, 2007 at 8:20 am

I said bad things about the Bellevue as it is today a few posts above, and now I feel I should defend it. The downstairs auditorium #2 is actually quite nice, with a good sized screen and excellent sound. The seating was comfortable too – I saw “Grindhouse” there last night and considering that movie was about an hour and a half too long, at least I couldn’t complain about my seat. If it was cramped or too small in any way, believe me that movie would’ve made it even more aggravating.

RobertR
RobertR on April 6, 2007 at 3:58 am

The Bellevue proudly announced the exclusive Todd-AO showing of “South Pacific"
View link

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 27, 2006 at 4:34 pm

This ad from 2/12/69 announces the exclusive NJ engagement of “The Shoes of the Fisherman”, with the premiere benefiting the people of Biafra:

View link

teecee
teecee on March 2, 2006 at 5:00 am

Listed as part of Rapf & Ruden in the 1956 Film Daily Yearbook.

pbubny
pbubny on October 28, 2005 at 11:45 am

Haven’t been to the Bellevue since it was converted from a triple into a quad, and have no desire to do so. At least when it was a triple, the upstairs auditorium (the former balcony) still had the big screen from the theatre’s glory days as a single-screen showcase house, which used to run exclusive New Jersey engagements before the movies went into wider release (“The Sound of Music” played there for more than a year in the mid-‘60s, I believe). This was a glorious venue before it was subdivided. One of the first movies I saw there was the cheesy sci-fi flick “Logan’s Run”—but what a riot of futuristic Todd-AO images and stereophonic sound it seemed to be on that massive screen!

teecee
teecee on August 4, 2005 at 8:35 am

You can buy an old postcard with this description:

UPPER MONTCLAIR (ESSEX COUNTY). “HIGHGATE HALL/ Bellvue Theater Building/Est. 1922” showing tables & a mural in the interior, unused chrome post card made by Dexter Press, rounded corners as issued, light toning in back message area. $1.00 nt NEW/NY/NOUVEAU/ÚJ

extracted from http://www.judnick.com/NewJersey.htm

teecee
teecee on July 5, 2005 at 3:58 am

An Austin organ, opus 1027, was installed in this theater in 1922.

umbaba
umbaba on July 3, 2005 at 4:03 am

does anyone know of or have any photos of the Bellevue and it’s marquee from when it was a single screen theater??

cinemaguy
cinemaguy on June 29, 2005 at 4:31 pm

The Bellevue has been showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturdays at midnight since August of 2003, when The Screening Zone, another Clearview theatre, closed in downtown Montclair.

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on December 1, 2004 at 8:22 pm

Rhett, There are 2 problems with the masking issues. The first problem is that a lot, if not most of the theaters, do not have movable maskings so 1:85 flat fits fine but scope gets chopped off. The second problem is that clearview and other chains are using non union operaters (Managers) to run the booth instead of real union projectionists. They go in, start the machine and walk away and assume everything is fine.