Comments from techman707

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techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Al – Your explanation is exactly the same as what my understanding was.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm

It’s too bad to hear about the Egyptian. I guess it’s not just NY that has NO RESPECT for beautiful old theatres. Well, at least they still have the Cinerama Dome still operating…..I hope.

All the 42nd st houses would be the only “grind” houses by that definition then. They all ran 3 & 4 shifts a day.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

William-I didn’t know the Egyptian was closed, too bad.

Chris-A grind house is a theatre that runs continuous showings all day 7 days a week. The last time I was in the Chinese theatre was in 1978 and they were a grind house then running “The Boy’s From Brazil”.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 27, 2011 at 5:42 pm

If you mean theatres that have “continuously” run regular movies since their opening, that would be a tough one.

While the Chinese theatre in LA would be one, it’s still a “grind” house. Maybe the Egyptian theatre might also qualify. There are probably others in small cities throughout the U.S.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Thanks Al I’ll check it out.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Peter, the first link you posted just indicates “Premiered reserved-seat policy May 15, ‘58, Royale, N.Y.”.

The second link also just says “GIGI' , but DUE TONIGHT ON ROYALE SCREEN; Legitimate Theatre to House M-G-M Movie”.

Al indicated it ran 6 months before moving over to the Sutton. It’s that time frame that I’m trying to authenticate. I know that Arthur Freed arranged for the opening premiere at the Royale, there seems to have been a question of the quality (for lack of a better word) of the presentation at the Royale (although in my opinion the Sutton, while a nice “little” theatre for Woody Allen movies, it’s not a great venue for good musicals). That’s why I’d like to find some kind of accurate documentation of the exact length of time it actually ran at the Royale. The time frame doesn’t seem to match some of the documentation I have.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm

“Gigi did have a roadshow engagement at the Royale with overture, intermision, etc.
The info is in this link, scroll down to Gigi.
posted by AGR on Jan 25, 2011 at 9:53am”

“GIGI” ran at the Royale for almost six months before moving to the Sutton.

posted by AlAlvarez on Jan 25, 2011 at 12:21pm"

AGR- I looked at the link, however, all it says is what I agree with, namely that it “had its grand premiere at the Royale Theater”

Al- Where did you get the info on Gigi at the Royale? The film opened at the Royale in May 1958. I have all the print records from Gigi. They were part of the literally thousands of documents I inherited when I bought Bill Nafash’s service business in 1972. They ran 4 track mag prints at the Sutton and had trouble with ALL the prints warping and causing focus problems. In a letter from Bill Nafash to MGM’s “Metrocolor Lab Division”, he believed it was caused as a result of the way they were striping the prints and the magnetic oxide they used. Also, while it’s not clear in the documents I have, it appears that they were NOT dual mag/optical prints. I concluded that from a memo where they had to use a backup print because someone had magnetized the projector by improperly degaussing the penthouse and projector, causing virtually all the sound to be erased.-lol

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm

William, I don’t believe there were roadshow performances of GIGI at the Royale Theater. Only the premiere was there.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 25, 2011 at 9:22 am

I think they used one of those magic “eight balls”. They shake it and hope for the best. “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” also opened at the Music Hall and “Gigi” at the tiny Sutton theatre, go figure. In the case of “Gigi” they had a Gigi flag that hung above the marquee. It hung there SO LONG that after a couple of years it was in taters. I wonder how long “Gigi” would have played if it had opened as a roadshow in a Broadway theatre?

I think they had to have real confidence in a picture to release it as a two a day roadshow, as opposed to saturation booking. With saturation booking, by the time the word gets out that it’s a loser, its already made all the money it’s going to make.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm

“As a kind of sad tribute to the days there that Techman remembers, the five stage channel Altecs that were hung from the ceiling for (I believe) "The Concert For Bangledesh” to cover the balcony remained there until the end. No one wanted to go to the expense of getting them down.
posted by REndres on Jan 21, 2011 at 1:34pm"

Now you’re getting me depressed. I was there when the stagehands were hanging those speakers. They punched holes in te ceiling and hoisted them up with chains. It’s not just the DeMille that’s sad, it appears to be virtually EVERY THEATRE I ever worked in or installed.

techman707 commented about Palace Theatre on Jan 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Bob, I only worked a few shifts at the Palace. One of my partners (Louis Romeo) at the DeMille came over from the Palace and worked there for many years. My other partner, Jack Linn, was ALSO a stagehand at the Music Hall, and would frequently leave to run up the block to the Music Hall to do his shift.

It’s funny you should mention the short focal length lenses at the Palace. I can’t remember the specific name of them at the moment, but Bill Nafash installed these giant lens magnifiers (like Magnacoms only five times the size)in front of the prime lenses. After “Mr. Chips” finished, he took them back and left them wrapped in brown wrapping paper in the store, which is where I found them. When the Oceana Theatre in Brooklyn was being triplexed (it was later turned into a sixplex), we built a projection booth on the front of the first 3 rows of the loge. The throw was only 45ft, but the scope screen was 42ft wide. I used those magnifiers in front of the shortest focal length lenses Schneider made at the time. Like in the Palace, it required the lens to be slipped forward to open the gate on the XL’s. However, we had a vignetting problem with scope when using regular anamorphic lenses. In the end, Schneider wound up making us special short focal length lenses that NO LONGER required the lens to be moved forward to open the gate. For Cinemascope, to gave us what they said was the last set of “Cinemascope 55” anamorphic lenses that they still had in Germany. With the new prime lens, they fit the FULL XL lens mount without an adapter. I would mention the cost of those Schneider lenses, but it’s too obscene to put in type. However, that’s when I learned that you can do anything if you have enough money.-lol Cost aside, Schneider makes the BEST lenses I have seen to date.

techman707 commented about Palace Theatre on Jan 21, 2011 at 3:01 am

Chris, There were many film that “premiered” at the Palace, although the last couple you mention were roadshow openings, many were just premieres with continuous showings.

Although I worked as a projectionist across the street at the DeMille, I recall the 70mm projector installation for Ben-Hur and the premiere of “Goodbye Mr. Chips” at the Palace. The projection throw was just too steep for 70mm projection (they were already using custom made lenses to help correct for the keystone and focus problems with 35mm films). They finally decided to install a temporary projection booth in the balcony for the 70mm run, with Cinemechanica projectors, which were removed, along with the balcony booth, after the run of “Goodbye Mr. Chips”.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 21, 2011 at 1:33 am

I’m not aware of ANY roadshaows at the DeMille before Spartacus. Neither Loews or RKO did any roadshows when it was called the Mayfair.

Al, I disagree that the Mayfair was “bigger than most roadshow houses…”. Loews State, Rivoli, Capitol, Warner (Strand), and Criterion Theatre’s, were all bigger or as big as the DeMille. If not for the great balcony, there wouldn’t have been much of a theatre at all. The Orchestra was nothing to write home about. The glass “party room” (as Walter Reade referred to it), took up a BIG chunk of the Orchestra. The bslcony alone would have made a GREAT UMAX Theatre.

As for the best roadshow theatre, I liked the Rivoli the best. Tearing it down was a crime. It just goes to show that the NYC Landmarks Commission is worthless.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

“…Thanks also for confirming the story about being able to take an elevator up to the electrical closet. By the time I worked there the electrical panel had been removed and the port used by the stagehand who operated it had become the port for the third machine. The room behind it (where I assume the opening from the electrical closet was) had been pretty much cleaned out.
posted by REndres on Jan 19, 2011 at 8:36am”

Hi Bob, we met some years ago at an SMPTE meeting. Ben Olevsky worked with Bill Nafash at the Music Hall. When Bill passed away in 1972, I bought his shop and equipment in Brooklyn. His files had information on virtually every theatre in Manhattan. When I moved to Florida in 1989, I donated most of it to the Museum of the Moving Image.

The electrical closet wasn’t in the booth. After you came off the elevator in the office building, you needed a key to the door to get into the 5th floor electrical room. You then had to go through all the electrical equipment to the door on the other side, which came out at the top of the balcony. It couldn’t be removed since it held ALL the electrical equipment for the big rap around sign on 7th ave, as well as the marquee. It had mechanical sequencers for all the chaser lights. But you STILL had to walk up the last flight of stairs from the top of the balcony up to the booth. Without that elevator none of my partners would have made it to the booth alive.-LOL

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm

“Why would there have been a 30fps print of Spartacus? The film was made in Technirama, which used standard 24fps.
posted by PeterApruzzese on Jan 19, 2011 at 9:32am”

I can’t answer that since I wasn’t working there when Spartacus ran. One of my partners (Jack Linn)who worked the premiere of Spartacus told it to me and it was confirmed by another partner (Louis Romeo) who worked with Linn at the opening. They say the Vic X’s looked like they were going to take off when running 30fps, which is why I like the Norelco AA2, since its whole design was based on 30fps Todd AO.

Who knows what Technicolor did back then. Technirama used a 1.5 anamorphic squeeze on the 8 perf horizontal pulldown. However, the 70mm prints that they called Super Technirama 70 were still made from a 35mm negative blowup. Maybe they used a reverse 3:2 pulldown to print 30fps.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 19, 2011 at 1:56 am

The theatre was re-named the DeMille in 1959. The three Cinemechanica “Victoria X” 70mm projectors were installed for Spartacus, although it wasn’t the first picture run after their installation. In fact, the original 70mm print of Spartacus that was run was 30fps, but shortly after the opening they changed the print to a 70mm 24fps print because of problems. There were only 6 other Victoria X projectors ever imported into the U.S. While I like the Norelco AA2 (Todd AO) projector the best, the Victoria X is right up there with it.

techman707 commented about Queens Theatre on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm

“How Biblical, all the people in the fiery furnace (aka former theatre) a la Shadrack, Mishak and Abendigo.
posted by rvb on Jan 16, 2011 at 4:52pm”


However, in all seriousness, it’s VERY sad to see the butcher job they’re doing on the front of the theatre.

Did anyone go to JHS 109? They used to have the graduation ceremonies at the Queens Theatre. I still have 16mm movies from the 1955 graduation ceremony. Back then, Antun’s was still a VERY fancy restaurant.

techman707 commented about Queens Theatre on Jan 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Maybe they have different occupancy laws for a church. The laws in this city are VERY strange. In newer projection booths they no longer require fire drop shutters when a theatre is multiplexed if filed under the “new code”. They must figure people burn differently depending on what “code” the theatre is operating under.-LOL

techman707 commented about Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre on Jan 16, 2011 at 1:33 am

“posted by REndres on May 11, 2005 at 3:40pm
The Mayfair/DeMille/Embassy 2-3-4 entrance may well have changed from the side street to 7th Avenue. ……… Ben Olevsky at the Music Hall told me once that at one time the auditorium was exactly reversed from the way it is now, with the stage and screen at the 7th Avenue end. I mentioned this to the contractor when it was being triplexed and he said, "That explains it.” Apparently none of the architctural drawings they could find made any sense because they were from the earlier (Mayfair?) era……"

Techman- The entrance of the Columbia/Mayfair/DeMille was NEVER changed. The entrance was always on 7th ave and NEVER on 47th street. The OLD Marquee from the Mayfair only wrapped the corner onto 47th street, but the entrance always remained in the same place until it closed. Although I was told that when the theater opened as the Columbia Burlesque the stores were not there and that was part of the lobby.

posted by REndres on May 12, 2005 at 6:14am
“……. (This was the first house in New York to use Pott’s platters rather than Christie — the concept was still pretty new.) As a practical note: Short of climbing from the orchestra of the Music Hall to the booth (the Hall has an elevator to that level), the booth in the DeMille requires the most arduous cllimb of any booth I’ve worked in. The balcony is very steep, and even when you get to the top lobby level, there are another set of stairs going up to get to the booth (you can see the booth windows from 7th Avenue and get an idea of the climb). At one point the projectionists could go into the office building entrance on the street side of the building and take the office elevator to a level just below the booth, then enter a closet and climb the emergency booth exit ladder up one flight to the booth. Eventually the office building management rescinded that courtesy and the crew had to climb up from the street level entrance. Once you got up there you didn’t want to leave until your shift was over!”

Techman- I assume you’re referring to the point in time that the theatre was tripled. All the years that I worked there as a projectionist, we used the elevator to the 5th floor and had a key to the electrical room (that belonged to the theatre) that went through to the top of the balcony. None of the regular operators ever walked up the stairs to get to the booth (except the last flight from the balcony up to the booth). Also, the Embassy 2 3 4 wasn’t the first theatre in NY to have potts platters. Unless by New York you mean only Manhattan, I installed them in a number of theatres in Brooklyn, including a set of endless loops made by Potts shortly afterward.


“posted by REndres on May 13, 2005 at 5:07pm
Porter Faulkner: The fire was set (one rumor was that it was by a disgruntled projectionist) probably in the back of the balcony (that’s where I remember the smoke damage when I was in the house when it was the single screen dollar house and during the triplexing.) One of the men on my crew at Radio City was working there as a relief projectionist at the time, and said that they had stayed to convert the three projectors over to 70mm since they were going to start the move-over run of "That’s Entertainment” from the Ziegfeld the next day. There was enough smoke and soot to cause the theatre to close, and that was when Walter Reade walked away from it. Perhaps their lease was up and they realized the difficulty of keeping a venue of that size going. The damage (at least what I could see) didn’t appear to be great, although the north end of the back of the balcony was smoked when the house reopened as a low-price theatre. The projectionist’s union gave them a reduced rate with the caveat that the balcony remain closed, thus reducing the seating capacity to match the lower booth cost. There were people in the balcony when I was there, but I suspect they just wanted to sit there and snuck up, the house certainly wasn’t full.

I was in the house once when it was run by Walter Reade and was their showcase house. I was still living in the Midwest and came up from a technical conference in Washington D.C. to spend the weekend in New York. “Shoes of the Fisherman” had just opened and was running roadshow in 70mm. Reade even had a VIP section in one corner of the orchestra completely walled off from the rest of the seating area which had its own speakers and which may have been vented to allow smoking. At intermission I also went up to the booth. As you have pointed out, there was no stage presentation (or much of a stage) and the house lighting and stage lighting board was in the booth (as it was at the Criterion in its one screen days.) Thus there were two projectionists and a stagehand since the lighting was under the jurisdiction of Local #1. The theatre was really beautiful in those days.

The reason I didn’t go into the orchestra when I worked there was that when I came in I headed directly up to the booth. As I mentioned that is a very large climb, and once I got there I stayed there, although I did go into one of the balcony auditoriums to see what Wharhol’s “Frankenstein” looked like in 3-D (quite bad as it turned out). You don’t see a lot of the auditorium from the booth — the projection and viewing ports are cut into the decorative molding you noticed around the top of the theatre, and it curve out and down, so it looks like you’re watching the screen through a tunnel even when they were running 70. One thing Elson did do was to keep the curtain in the downstairs house, and it had to be closed and opened at end and start of every show. If Wednesday White Man gets the house and lowers those hanging speakers and if the lines they are anchored by are anchored by are tied to building steel above the auditorium ceiling he’ll have the lines for a good sized lighting truss for his shows. Let’s hope someone can the place open again — there aren’t many spaces like that left in New York these days."

Techman- The rumor of the fire being set by disgruntled projectionist is a new one on me (unless it’s something that D'inzillo would say). I was one of the projectionists that changed over the projectors for the 70mm run of That’s Entertainment. The only releif projectionist that I recall at the time was Ben Lieberman. In any case, when I came out of the subway the next morning I saw the marquee hadn’t been changed by the stagehand. When I found him in the lobby, he told me of the fire. The owners of the building were two partners named Koppell and Levine. I gave them the name of a seat man who they used to recover all the seats. Almost a year later they made a deal with Leonard Clark, who owned a theatre on 42nd street. He’s the guy who made a deal with the union to only usr the ground floor at a reduced rate. He opened with Once Is Not Enough and from day one used the balcony in violation of the agreement. After he closed the theatre, I decided not to go back.

techman707 commented about Queens Theatre on Jan 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Warren, I noticed at the beginning of this thread you said that the Queens was similar to the Prospect. The Queens was much narrower than the Prospect and the balcony of the Queens practically covered the orchestra. The Prospect was a larger theatre and was much wider. In the Queens, if you didn’t sit down, you couldn’t see the top of the screen in the last row of the orchestra.

techman707 commented about Community Twin Theatre on Jan 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I worked as a relief projectionist at the Community, Queens and Glen Oaks Theatre in the 60’s and 70’s and when my regular job at the DeMille Theatre in Manhattan burned down in 1973, I went to work full time at Century’s Prospect in Flushing.

Living near the Queens and Community, until today, I also went to the Community, Queens and Belair Theatres on Jamaica Avenue as a child. What I remember MOST about the Community Theatre was the Chase Manhattan Bank next to the theatre. They had a clock outside and when you had to wait outside in the rain, the clock dripped down on whoever was unlucky enough to be standing there on the line.

It’s very sad to see ALL the theatres gone now.

techman707 commented about Glen Oaks Theater on Jan 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I worked at the Glen Oaks a number of times in the 1960’s. The first time I worked there around 62 or 63 I ran West Side Story. The last time I worked there on Xmas eve 1968 I ran a double feature of Dr. No and From Russia with Love. It was sad to see it close since it had a clean modern projection booth. The Glen Oaks never did make to being converted to xenon lamps, they still had Peerless Magnarcs when they closed.

techman707 commented about Polk Theater on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Warren G. Harris – “This was another case of "r” before “e” in the last two letters of the “t” word— Polk Theatre (not Polk Theater). I grew up in Queens, and I don’t recall any cinemas that used the “er” ending. “Theatre” was always used, not “Theater.”"

Warren, You’re correct, movie theatres almost always used “tre” and not “ter”. In the case of the Polk, the owner who’s a friend of mine,(who someone above correctly described as a “little old man in his 80’s”) referred to the theatre on its stationary as the Polk Cinema (Polk Cinema Enterprises). I worked as a projectionist on Wednesdays in the early 60’s. The last owner bought the theatre from Sidney Drier around 1961. The theatre ran second run pictures until about 1969. After running a movie called “Man & Wife”, a softcore sex picture that was considered “main stream” at that time, was the beginning of the end for running regular movies at the Polk. In the mid 70’s, they stopped running 35mm soft core porno and started running 16mm porno and then finally, video projection. If you see old newspaper movie listings for the Polk, it might have been listed under Brandt Theatres, who was the film booker for the Polk.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1 Theatre on Jan 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Hi Al,

It’s Bruce, the projectionist from the Alpine. I know you were once at the Meadows, but I wasn’t sure if you were also at the RKO Alden when I worked there. I know the DM for the Alden was Richie Einiger, but I was told that he passed away.

techman707 commented about Embassy 1 Theatre on Jan 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Are you the same Al Alvarez that worked for Cineplex Odeon (or was it RKO Cnetury)?