Film Forum

209 W. Houston Street,
New York, NY 10014

Unfavorite 41 people favorited this theater

Showing 176 - 200 of 206 comments

PeterKoch on July 1, 2004 at 8:28 am

Bill Huelbig, I recall part of the live music then was “The Power Of Brass', in particular, the theme from "Rocky”, which has just come out the previous year. I recall an audience reaction similar to your memory.

I saw Tony Bennett at Radio City, with my wife and aunt, Friday September 28 2001, and saw “Wheel Of Fortune” being taped there, with my wife and son, around Sept. 11 2003 (a Sunday). Hokey, but fun.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 1, 2004 at 8:11 am

Peter K.: I also saw “Fantasia” at Radio City Music Hall in May 1978. I remember the huge audience applauding at the end of each musical segment – what a wonderful sound that was.

PeterKoch on July 1, 2004 at 8:05 am

I remember Joan Crawford in “I Saw What You Did”, now that you mention it. She played the mistress of the man who had just murdered his wife before the girls made their “fun” phone call. I think she deserved star billing. Anthony Hopkins was on screen only 27 minutes in “The Silence Of The Lambs”.

I heard about the Elgin from a friend but never went there. I thought it was near 23rd and 8th. My friend went there in 1973 or 1974 for a double bill of the Betty Boop festival and “Night Of The Living Dead”.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 1, 2004 at 7:54 am

I think the drive-in speaker survived intact, but the car window sure didn’t! Another memory of that movie: Joan Crawford got star billing, but I think she was in it for about 10 minutes total.

Talking about the Biograph and the Hollywood reminds me of the Elgin Cinema, which was down around 19th St. It wasn’t the cleanest theater and it always had a funny smell, but they sure showed some great classic movies. The first time I saw “The Birds” in a theater was there – same with “Nights of Cabiria”.

PeterKoch on July 1, 2004 at 4:31 am

Vincent, glad you liked the Biograph. So did I. What is your preferred scope screen to theater ratio for optimum viewing ? You read like the “El Exigente” of the cinema. Thanks for the bit about Frank Crowley and the Regency. I saw “Fantastic Voyage” and “Planet Of The Apes” on the same bill at the Regency in August 1985.

There was also a shabby little theater, called the Hollywood, on the west side of 8th Avenue between, I think, 49th and 50th Sts. where, pre-renovation, I saw a double bill of “Vertigo” and “The Birds” summer 1985.

OK I won’t watch Hennessy or Petrovka.

Bill Huelbig, thanks for the anecdote. Did your dad end up paying for the damaged drive in speaker ?

VincentParisi on July 1, 2004 at 3:31 am

I liked the Biograph very much but again the scope screen wasn’t large enough in relation to the theater.
The excellent programmer there Frank Crowley was the one who also made the Regency such a success.
By the way don’t waste any portion of your life watching Hennesy or Petrovka. I just saw them because they were playing at the Music Hall. At that point the Hall should have just played classic films because what they were showing was so bad they should have been ashamed.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 30, 2004 at 11:39 pm

“I Saw What You Did” will always live in my memory as the movie where my dad drove out of a drive-in theater with the speaker still attached to the window. It was the summer of ‘65 like Peter K. said, in Rutherford, NJ. I don’t think he liked the movie, and I guess he wanted to get away from it as quickly as possible.

PeterKoch on June 30, 2004 at 10:28 am

Vincent, I am glad you were not trying to insult me. It reads like we have a disagreement we can live with, between what constitutes a screening room and a theater. I understand what you mean about how what you consider a theater enhances the presentation of a film. What did you think of the Biograph revival cinema on West 57th St. in NYC ? That’s where I first saw “Psycho” on a movie screen Sunday July 10 1988. It was one of many blastedly hot days in that blastedly hot summer, so I stayed for a second screening of “Psycho” after the end of the second feature, titled (oddly enough), “Seconds”. I mention the Biograph, becaue it came closest to your hope of a full-sized revival movie house, complete with interior splendor, of any theater I know or have been in.

What suburb did you grow up in ? The last film I saw at Radio City was “Fantasia” in late May 1978. No, I have never seen Henessy or the Girl from Petrovka, but now that you have mentioned them, I will check them out on the Internet Movie Data Base.

Bill Huelbig, what I liked about Gimmick-O-Rama, besides the Castle films themselves, was the faithful and at times painstaking reproduction of the original Castle gimmicks. “The Tingler” went one better by having a staff member run around the darkened cinema with a
two-foot long rubber Tingler !

Speaking of William Castle, I saw his “I Saw What You Did” in its original run at the RKO Madison in Ridgewood, Queens, NY NY, summer 1965. I also read about it about that time in “Famous Monsters Of Filmland” magazine, edited by Forrest J. Ackerman.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 30, 2004 at 9:44 am

Maybe it has to do with the number of seats in the theater? I always thought Film Forum 1 had the most seats, but that might be an optical illusion because the theater is wider than the other two. If a repertory film is really popular, maybe it gets moved over to theater #1 so they can sell more tickets.

HomegaMan on June 30, 2004 at 9:31 am

I saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller there as well so we were in the same audience probably same nght too.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 30, 2004 at 9:29 am

Come to think of it, I saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller and La Dolce Vita in Film Forum 1 a few years ago. But Vincent is right: they should show all the scope films in that theater.

VincentParisi on June 30, 2004 at 9:13 am

Bill the wide screen in 1 is not so bad because of the placement of the screen but to tell you the truth they might be the same size. But unfortunately the only widescreen revivals there that I know have been Contempt and Rochefort. They should do all scope in that theater. But the Watt screen in 2 was much larger. Bye Bye Birdie in that old theater was sensational. Haven’t seen it that good since and it is one of my favorites. To have seen it at the Music Hall…

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 30, 2004 at 8:49 am

I loved the old Film Forum on Watts St. – the Gimmick-O-Rama festival was a real dream come true – and when they announced the move to a new theater, my hopes were high. I was disappointed to see the new theaters' screen size, and the narrow shape of the auditoriums themselves as opposed to the wider ones in the old building. Film Forum 1 has an actual wide screen, but I don’t think they ever show the repertory titles in there. On the other hand, the fact that Film Forum exists at all is one of the best things about New York City. I only hope they bring Gimmick-O-Rama back someday.

VincentParisi on June 30, 2004 at 7:53 am

Peter I honestly was not trying to insult you, however my swipes at Film Forum are genuine.
I consider a real theater to be one that is architecurally mean’t to be more than a modest sized screening room. One that is meant to enhance the presentation of a film. A theater that gives a film size and scope and at the same time is a pleasure to sit in as one waits for the lights to dim and for the curtains to part. A real theater lends the occasion excitement.
For documentaries and contemporary art films the Forum is fine as these films would be as well presented on a DVD. However for many of the films Bruce likes to show(not all but most) the size of the auditoriums and the screens often diminish a film.
Screen two of the old Watts St had a really good head-on scope screen that I miss. Now the scope screen puts the letter into letterboxing.
In a way I’m glad you were insulted as you revealed to me some of your youthful movie experiences.We are about the same age and being that I grew up in the suburbs I can only say that I envy you your
trips to the Music Hall during the 60’s. I started going to the Music Hall in ‘70 and by that time the films were pretty much dreck. (Has anybody else alive seen Henessy or the Girl from Petrovka?)
With Cablevision in charge the Music Hall is a lost cause. The rock concerts in no way utilize the potential of the place and now they’re using the greatest theater in the world for basketball games!!
I wouldn’t call the Forum a bunker but I would say they are shoeboxes with a screen attached at the end. And I would still say Bruce G and Steve Stern deserve better. Long may they be part of New York’s cultural life!

HomegaMan on June 30, 2004 at 7:32 am

Tell Him Petey!
Take that Vinny!
The Film Forum Rules!
Nuff Said!

PeterKoch on June 30, 2004 at 7:16 am

Vincent, do not insult me by condescension, lazy or careless assumption, or pedantry. There is no need to GUESS at my age. I am 48 years of age, and saw my first films at age 5 in 1960 or 1961 in what you would call the “real” Ridgewood and RKO Madison Theaters (q.v. on this site) in Ridgewood, Queens, NY, NY, which had separate ticket prices for orchestra, loge and balcony. Among my first few films in those “real” theaters were “Morgan The Pirate” starring Steeve Reeves and “Swiss Family Robinson” in the summer of 1961 when I was 5 going on 6. Two or three years later I saw shows at Radio City Music Hall of “The Singing Nun”, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “The Chalk Garden”. I saw “True Grit” and “Winning” at Radio City in the summer of 1969. I KNOW what a real movie palace is as opposed to what Jay Leno has referred to as “a concrete bunker at the end of the shopping mall”.

My hobby of urban archaelology is, in part, about finding and collecting images of these old, now mostly gone, movie palaces, in part, by “cross-pollinating” and cross-referencing this site with, which is often the only place I can find images of these older theaters, such as Loew’s Valencia, RKO Bushwick, Loew’s Gates, the Colonial, the Dekalb / New Casino, the Decatur, the Empire, the Monroe, to name a few in Queens and Brooklyn.

I asked you what you meant by a “real” theater" so as to know EXACTLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY what you meant, as I cannot read your mind.

I found Film Forum at 57 Watts Street to be adequate to the material I saw presented there. I consider 209 W Houston to be adequate also, even though I preferred the larger screens of 57 Watts. I did not experience, and therefore know nothing about, the screen sizes at the earlier 80 Wooster Street location. I was a frequent patron of Thalia Soho in the late ‘80’s and early 1990 and therefore remember the screen size at 15 Vandam (tiny !)

Have you expressed your wish to the management at Radio City ? If not, its probability of being fulfilled will most certainly remain ZERO. If you do, it will have some chance of being fulfilled, however small. Your results, as you know, will most probably be in proportion to your efforts. I wish you success, but, in the meantime, will take what I can get.

VincentParisi on June 30, 2004 at 2:49 am

Peter, If you have to ask me how is Film Forum not a “real” movie theater well then I guess you’ve never been to one. I guess you’re pretty young and grew up going to the plexes. Let’s just say that Film Forum is nothing but a collection of small screening rooms and they in no way do justice to Bruce’s programs and the quality prints he often shows.
This wish has as much chance of fufillment as my wish of seeing the Music Hall present a summer festival of film classics along with a complete stage show with the Rockettes, ballet company, symphony orchestra.

PeterKoch on June 29, 2004 at 11:11 am

Reads good, Vincent. How is Film Forum at 209 W Houston not a “real” movie theater ? How close is Bruce Goldstein to fulfilling your wish ?

VincentParisi on June 29, 2004 at 10:46 am

Bruce Goldstein is the best. He is second to none. I only wish he had a real movie theater in which to show his programs. If I had my wish there would be a American Cinemateque in the old Mayfair in Times Square along with a smaller theater where he would curate to his and our hearts content.

PeterKoch on June 29, 2004 at 5:45 am

CoolGuyCarl, I couldn’t agree with you more. I will merely add that, in 1988, the William Castle material was a “Gimmickorama” in the fall, after, and separate from, the summer sci fi / horror festival that year. I attended that festival in 1987, 88 and 89, to be a kid again, and to enjoy, and be in awe of, all that great ‘50’s sci-fi and horror I grew up with, know by heart, and love so much.

Seeing Allen Ginsberg and Herbert Hunke at the February 1988 Beat Festival was great also.

I don’t think there was a sci fi / horror festival in the summer of 1990. When I returned to Film Forum in late August 1991 for the Hammer “Curse of Frankenstein” and “Horror Of Dracula” it was at its new location at 209 W. Houston and wasn’t the same anymore. Perhaps because I had changed, and was now about to be married. Ditto mid-September 1992 when I returned for “The Blob” and “World Without End” and had been married a year. The ambience wasn’t the same as it had been at 57 Watts Street, no more excited and talkative lines of fans waiting outside one show in advance, up against original color lobby cards mounted on the wall.

My last time to Film Forum was November 1 or 2 1998 to see “Lenny Bruce : Swear To Tell The Truth”. Some of the old ambience seemed to have returned then.

My only beef with Film Forum was a cut in 1987 from Forbidden Planet : when the monkey steals fruit from the Morbius table and Robby gently zaps him away.

HomegaMan on June 22, 2004 at 4:27 am

The Film Forum is the best revival house in the city and has showcased some of the best films of the past century. With their retro showcase of Film Noir, 70’s films and Sci-Fi Horror Festivals, the Film Forum beats out any other Reveival house in New York (and dare I say…The World?). Film Forum got me through my Film classess at Brooklyn College with their Annual (not anymore-but why not bring it back?) Sci-Fi/Horror Summer Festival where they have shown everything from the William Castle Gimmick classics to the recent Anime explosion of the 90’s. Film Forum is where I took my wife on one of our first dates to see “Dr. Strangelove”. It is also where I saw the classic Pacino film “Cruising” for the first time. It is also where my friend Frank and I got to see Brooklyn Classic “The Warriors” over and over again. There should be a Film Forum all over the world.

YMike on April 23, 2004 at 1:20 am

When they screened the Donavan Affair they had a full cast reading of the script with sound effects. I was there and it was really something. They just had a 3D festival and it was great to see films in that format.

br91975 on April 22, 2004 at 4:39 pm

The Film Forum has always been an independent operation, from its beginning at 80 Wooster Street to 15 Vandam Street (which was later the home of the Thalia Soho; co-founder of the former Bleecker Street Cinema Jackie Raynal’s short-lived Le Cinematheque; and is now the Vandam Playhouse) until the late 1980s at 57 Watts Street (the since-demolished structure having once served as, I believe, either a garage of some sort or a fire station) and now at 209 W. Houston, which I’m pretty sure WAS a garage in a previous life.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 22, 2004 at 10:46 am

This theatre has some of the best programming in American, much of it under the tutelage of Bruce Goldstein. I should add some accolades to the ones above by mentioning the enormously popular and virtually complete Fellini festival they put on, the retrospective of the films of Frank Capra…which included an exceedinly rare 1929 film called THE DONOVAN AFFAIR, for which the soundtrack was lost. It was shown here anyway. I believe that the dialogue was read aloud from a script! The Film Forum is not a trend follower but rather a trend setter.

PeterKoch on April 22, 2004 at 10:27 am

I also have one of the old programs in my desk drawer at work, from the 1989 summer sci fi horror and fantasy festival.