Normandie Theatre

51 East 53rd Street,
New York, NY 10022

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Showing 1 - 25 of 26 comments

rivest266
rivest266 on September 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Correction for AlAlvarez’s posting of February 16th, 2011: link moved to http://movie-theatre.org/usa/ny/NYC/readmanhattan

Astyanax
Astyanax on February 16, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Thanks Al. Quite a treasure trove. Will spend hours going through it.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Geri,

There is a photo on Mark Rivest’s site here;

View link

Astyanax
Astyanax on February 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Posting additional photos on site would be appreciated.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on February 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Geri, if you contact me privately, I can point you in the right direction:

Geri
Geri on February 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm

My Dad, David Nolan was the theater manager at the Normandie for many years. Each week they published a hand bill outlining the upcoming films for the week along with local advertising and a commentary written by the manager. I have loads of these publications and I enjoy reading about days gone by and what Dad had to say about the films. I have not been able to find any photos of the Normandie Theater and would love if anyone knows where to find one.

Astyanax
Astyanax on June 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm

The opening day ad had incredible snob appeal. Nonetheless I regret that this theater was not around long enough for my adult enjoyment. I pass Lever House with some frequency, and there is occasionally a tinge of resentment that this landmark replaced the original Normandie.

TPH
TPH on November 6, 2009 at 11:39 am

Whenever I catch a showing of Hitchcock’s the Rope, I imagine this theater and the Manhattan location of that particular period frequented by the so-called “carriage trade”.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on July 10, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Phil Smith of Boston, mentioned in the previous post, was the founder of Midwest Drive-In Co. and Smith Management Co., predecessor companies of General Cinema Corp. Smith opened his first 2 drive-ins in 1938 in Cleveland and Detroit and then concentrated efforts on development of more drive-ins. They retained several indoor theatres that they were already operating, but abandoned development of more indoors until about 1951 when they developed the suburban shopping center cinema concept.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 10, 2006 at 8:26 am

The Normandie first opened on the evening of November 30, 1938. Here’s an ad from The New York Times:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/normandieopener.jpg

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 11, 2006 at 8:33 am

The Normandie operated from December 1938 until May 1950. The new one on 57th Street opened in December 1951 as a first run house.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 11, 2006 at 7:02 am

Here’s a photo of the auditorium on the French superliner SS Normandie, which was the inspiration for this theatre as well as the second Normandie (now DGA Theatre) on West 57th Street:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/ssnorm1935.jpg

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 8, 2006 at 8:50 pm

The Normandie is mentioned in the NY Times article about its architect.

View link

Hre’s the excerpt:
(1936) must have seemed like Champagne â€" first a 200-foot-wide store and theater complex on the west side of Park Avenue, from 53rd to 54th Street (now the site of Lever House). The trim little swank-modern stores had bronze and marble detailing, and the lusciously Art Moderne movie theater, the Normandie, was of sculptured concrete. Eric Gugler and Ben Schlanger also worked on this commission.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on September 20, 2005 at 7:45 pm

I’m astonished! I have no memory of it whatsoever. My mom had worked at Best & Co. on 51 Street and Fifth in those years, and I thought I knew the area pretty well as a kid in the ‘40s and '50s. Yes, I recall seeing ads in the NYT alongside those for the Plaza and the Sutton and the Baronet and the 55th Street Playhous. But I never thought to track down the address. It’s a shock how these things creep up on you.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on September 20, 2005 at 6:34 pm

The interior is very similar to that of the 57th Street theatre – the cove lighting in the ceiling drops and the procenium – were duplicated in the newer theatre. Ben Schlanger, the associate architect mentioned in Warren’s post above, was also involved with Abe Geller in the original designing of the Cinema I – Cinema II (now C1,2,3) here in New York. He is also credited as the architect of ‘The Cinema’ in Washington DC.

Astyanax
Astyanax on September 20, 2005 at 5:46 pm

During which years was this theatre in operation?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 7, 2005 at 7:34 am

The Normandie was on the north side of East 53rd Street, between Madison and Park Avenues. Rosario Candela was the architect, with Benjamin Schlanger as associate. The auditorium, which had a stadium section of seats at the rear, was built on an angle to the entrance and lobby to make maximum use of the small land plot, which measured only 94' wide x 97' deep. Robert Walton Goelet was the Normandie’s original owner and operator. I don’t know why the theatre had such a short life, but it probably felt the pinch of TV’s arrival and became more valuable as real estate than as a cinema.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 27, 2004 at 7:57 am

Dave, in the listing for the 57th Street Normandie, Warren posted a comment stating that it was named after the former one on 53rd Street one.
/theaters/7049/

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on July 27, 2004 at 7:09 am

I was not aware of the theatre on 53rd St., thought it was a typo. I had been the manager of the theatre on 57th and in the former coat-check room we had coat hangers and tags engraved with ‘Normandie Theatre’ with the address. I also found photographs of the theatre on the Normandie liner and compared them to my auditorium and many of the architectural elements matched. The painted designs on the walls didn’t match, but that had been just a recent paint job. So I guess NYC had 2 theatres designed after the ship.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 27, 2004 at 2:19 am

Dave-Bronx, that 57th Street Normandie you talk about is not to be confused with this earlier Normandie on 53rd Street. The 57th Street Normandie/Playboy/Cinema Rendezvous that you describe is now listed under the Directors' Guild of America Theatre. It is a different theatre from this one. The DGA still exists. The Normandie of this listing is long-gone.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on July 26, 2004 at 7:13 pm

57th Street Playhouse
110 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Originally called the Normandie, the interior was designed to look like the art-deco theatre aboard the French ocean liner Normandie. It was an orchestra-stadium type auditorium with 586 seats. It had several incarnations over the years, including being 4-walled by Hugh Hefner and called the Playboy Theatre. In recent years it was operated by City Cinemas. The landlord is the Directors Guild of America which owns and occupies the office building upstairs, and it is now used by them as a private screening room and named The Directors Cinema.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 22, 2004 at 8:57 am

By 1948, the Normandie was showing mostly sub-run Hollywood movies, in competition with the Plaza on East 58th Street. “The Swordsman” had previously opened at a Broadway house, and then moved on to the Loew’s circuit as the top feature with “Her Husband’s Affairs” (both Columbia releases). The Normandie and Plaza catered to “the carriage trade” and usually didn’t present double features.