7415 Fifth Avenue,
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Architects: Joseph Orlando
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Colonial Theatre
Built in 1933, on the site of the Colonial Theatre(1910-1932). The Stanley Theatre occupied a narrow space on the east side of Brooklyn’s 5th Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets. Its Art Deco style design featured a dark burgundy granite exterior with a jazzy marquee framed in running yellow lights around a red neon Stanley name plate.
It was an independent theater and received the very last run of current double features in the 1940’s and 1950’s. (In its Bay Ridge neighborhood, Loew’s Alpine Theatre and the RKO Dyker Theatre got the product first, which then funneled to Loew’s Bay Ridge Theatre, the RKO Shore Road Theatre, Interboro’s Harbor Theatre, the Fortway Theatre, and then finally the Stanley Theatre.)
The lobby was a small clearing space with a ticket taker who stood just steps from the exterior box office. Past the doors sat a candy-seller at a small dimly-lit stand. The house was otherwise cheerfully lit with blue Art Deco style side-wall fixtures, and the walls were covered with pale-blue drapes. Designed for sound-films, the proscenium was just high enough to accommodate a standard-ratio screen at approximately 9 by 12' and just wide enough to accommodate the later CinemaScope screen at approximately 9 by 22', its 1950s' wide-screen might have measured 9 by 15'. The sleek proscenium sidewalls curved in to meet the CinemaScope screen. Before that innovation, pale blue curtains draped the picture, with just a thin mask surrounding the screen. Even with the larger format, however, there was still enough room for a travelling curtain to operate. The seating area held a wide center-section (about twelve seats) and narrower right-and-left side sections (about six-to-eight seats each). A shallow balcony held at most six or seven rows for those who smoked.
Because the house was so small, the projection appeared bright and crisp and the sound carried no echoes. But because the films arrived literally at the end of the line, their prints were often scratched with lines and mended with splices. Kids who filled the orchestra for Saturday matinees didn’t mind. And in an age before VCR and DVD, movie enthusiasts welcomed the chance to catch a film before it disappeared forever. Prices, too, were a few nickles cheaper than at the Alpine Theatre or Dyker Theatre. Each double-feature played three days (Wednesday through Friday from the RKO chain, and Saturday through Monday from the Loew’s chain), with a lay-over on Tuesday that presented a recent revival double-bill (“Last chance to see … now together on the same program … at regular prices!”).
I recall that its very last show featured the Bergman/Brynner/Hayes “Anastasia” on March 11, 1957. Located next to the Lincoln Savings Bank, the Stanley Theatre became a supermarket, but in recent years has become and Apple Bank.
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