Fine Arts Theatre

128 E. 58th Street,
New York, NY 10022

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Showing 1 - 25 of 51 comments

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 18, 2014 at 11:08 am

Bigjoe59, I do know the book, and while it makes for very entertaining reading, it does have some sloppy research. Perhaps Rolston can produce an updated version with a errors corrected and a more consistent definition of what he considered a “Roadshow” and in what country.

bigjoe59 on March 18, 2014 at 8:19 am

to Al A.–

as always thanks for your assistance. I knew my memory wasn’t that faulty. just out of curiosity do you know the book? its fascinating for me since i well remember reserved seat runs. as I stated there are many inaccuracies in the book. whether this is a result of inadequate research or the proof reader being drunk, who knows? for instance in the chapter on the 60s author Rolston states that Gypsy(which looks and sounds great on blu-ray) opens on roadshow runs but doesn’t state where. it certainly didn’t in Manhattan.

if I could contact Rolston I would ask why was The Trojan Women left out? there is an appendix which lists films that during pre-production and production were intended for reserved seat runs but weren’t released that way. so obviously he did a certain amount of research which makes the omission of The Trojan Woman bizarre.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Yes Bigjoe59, it was three shows a day with reserved seats and should probably have been included.

bigjoe59 on March 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

to Al A.–

you have been most helpful in the past so i have another question for you.i know time does funny things with one’s memory but i am 99% certain that “The Trojan Women” starring Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Genvieve Bujold and Irene Papas open at this theater on a reserved seat engagement or at least a reserved performance engagement Nov.of 1971. i just read the book “Movie Roadshows: Limited Run Reserved Seats Engagements 1911-1972”. the author Kim Rolston includes reserved performance engagements as well. yet TTW is nowhere to be found in the book. unfortunately its not the only inaccuracy in the book.

Garth on August 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

Thanks to Astyanax for mentioning “The Duellists”. I saw the film when it first premiered in 1977, and since according to the Ny Times archive it only played here, I now know I visited the Fine Arts at least once. The description says it closed in ‘78, if true, it’s a shame.

bigjoe59 on June 9, 2013 at 11:01 am


i’m wondering how many of my fellow posters attended all 3 roadshow engagements hosted by this theater-A Man for All Seasons, The Charge of the Light Brigade and The Trojan Women.

The Fine Arts is the only art house that i can
think of that hosted more than 1 roadshow engagement.

Astyanax on June 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

This venue was unique in its ability to showcase foreign films as well as serious commercial fare. Women In Love, Day for Night, the Duelists, Stolen Kisses & Le Voleur all premiered here. The Walter Reade Organization’s Continental Releasing unit used this screen as a prime outlet.

SethLewis on June 8, 2013 at 10:45 am

The Fine Arts had some interesting first run bookings in the 60s and 70s…the very first run of Mel Brooks' The Producers (my mom and I went on the first Monday at 11am), The Charge of the Light Brigade in road show (school trip on a Saturday morning), Fritz the Cat (day dating with the Victoria on Broadway), Truffaut’s Two English Girls… A neat little cluster of theatres with a similar purpose and audience – the Plaza, the Festival and the Fine Arts

dave-bronx™ on June 8, 2013 at 7:10 am

Once Pathe exited the theatre at 4 W58 it went to Loews and was re-named Fine Arts, but the Loews name was never on the sign, unlike every other Loews theatre in the history of the world.

dave-bronx™ on June 8, 2013 at 6:59 am

Al, that zoning restriction did indeed apply, but I don’t think Pathe was aware of it at the time. They knew of its past as a theatre, which is why they inquired about it.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm

The Paris became Loews Fine Arts and then Loews Paris from 1990-1992.

Astyanax on June 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Throughout this rigmarole of bankruptcies and name changes does anyone recall the brief period when the Paris came under the Loews’s banner?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

My understanding is that the zoning laws for the areas around Park Avenue had been changed and Walter Reade was unable to re-open it when their sublease ran out on the archdiocese the first time. Pathe would have faced the same problem even if the location had been available.

dave-bronx™ on June 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Once Pathé Cinema lost the lease on the Paris Theatre in 1990 they were interested in re-opening elsewhere and looked into this former Reade house. It had been converted into the chapel but appeared to be unused, windows filthy, trash accumulating in front of the entrance. Inquiries were made but the Archdiocese of New York was not interested in giving the place up. Early in 1991 Pathé Cinema went through bankruptcy reorganization and lost interest in pursuing a New York location. If the stars and planets had lined differently it’s possible that the former Fine Arts Theatre at 128 E58 would have been renamed Paris after the former Paris Theatre at 4 W58 had been renamed Fine Arts.

Astyanax on May 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm

The coffee service in the art house chains was only practical when they were specializing in the showcasing of foreign language art films. When they started day & dating the Broadway houses with mainstream product and broad appeal, the free coffee was no longer practical.

bigjoe59 on May 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

i remember the Walter Reade theaters serving coffee so its nice to know the Rugoff theaters had a similar policy. i’m guessing the primary reason they were able to pull it off was because of the manageable size of the theater’s audience.

Astyanax on May 19, 2012 at 5:10 am

Was just commenting yesterday standing on line in the freezing winter to see “They Shoot Horses Don’t They”. Back in the 60’s the Rugoff theatres were serving coffee in most of their lounges.

bigjoe59 on May 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm

i liked the Fine Arts. one thing that the theater did in the 70s and maybe early 80s was offer free coffee in the downstairs lounge from i think 5p.m till closing. i believe other Walter Reade theaters did so as well. can you imagine that being done today?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I think the failure of the latter two may explain why they stopped doing it more often.

Astyanax on March 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm

It’s fascinating that the filmgoing economics of 35-40 years ago allowed for the specialized handling of serious films on a roadshow basis. The major studios backing those films must have made reasonably good business to have gone through with such arrangements at a small venue such as the Fine Arts.

bigjoe59 on March 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

its interesting the Fine Arts is the only art house in
Manhattan to have hosted 3 roadshow films-A MAN FOR ALL
WOMEN. all three films also had souvenir programs.

Mikeoaklandpark on February 17, 2011 at 10:46 am

Any update on what is in place of this theater now since the church closed

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 23, 2010 at 5:09 am

Samll photo of front of Fine Arts Theatre, with marquee. Also a discussion of the “Curtain at 8:30” (not 8:40) idea.
From Boxoffice magazine, April 5, 1952:
View link

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm

The Fine Arts closed in 1978 with “THE DUELLISTS”. The landlord refused to renew the lease and Walter Reade was forced to close the site and move the film to the Waverly.