A Life At The Movies: Dan & Toby Talbot,The New Yorker & Other Scenes in The Dark

In the 1960’s and early 1970’s The New Yorker theater was THE repertory theater in New York City. Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the New Yorker was a haven for film lovers. Patrons included Peter Bogdanovich who lived in the neighborhood. At eighteen years of age the ever forward Bodganovich asked for a job writing program notes. The theater became a temple for cinephiles, Vincent Canby, Jonas Mekas, Andrew Sarris, Stanley Kauffman, Manny Farber, photographers Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon were among the devotees. Early films included Von Strohiem’s “Foolish Wives” and “Nanook of the North” with live piano accompaniment. Foreign films from Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer, Chabrol were programmed as well as Hollywood directors like Hitchcock, Ford, Fuller, Hawks and Welles. Classic films with W.C. Fields, The Marx Brothers, Mae West, and Bogart were audience favorites.   

Toby Talbot’s book “The New Yorker Theater” is an interesting though somewhat rambling account of the Talbot’s adventures in running The New Yorker and other theaters (Cinema Studio and the current Lincoln Plaza Cinemas).

Dan Talbot founded New Yorker Films as a means to acquire foreign film titles to show at The New Yorker. His first acquisition was Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Before the Revolution.” He would soon after acquire the distribution rights to more than 400 other films including Godard’s “Breathless.”  

After the closing of the New Yorker, the Talbot’s opened up the Cinema Studio in 1977, located on 66th Street and Broadway (a Barnes & Noble is now there). The Talbot’s premiered such foreign films like “An American Friend”, “Perceval”, “The Marriage of Maria Braun” and “Shoah”. In 1981, the Talbots opened the current Lincoln Plaza Cinema on 63rd Street and Broadway continuing their tradition of introducing International and First Run Independent Cinema.

Below is an interview with Toby and Dan Talbot at The New School. 

Times Square Revisited – Astor Theater

The Astor Theater began life as a legit theater converting to a movie theater in 1925 which it remained until 1972. For the next ten years the lobby was used as retail space. In 1982, the Astor and some of its neighbors were demolished  to make way for the construction of the Marriott Marquis Hotel which included the Marquis Theater.

One of the things I miss about the Times Square scene of old are the grand movie advertising signs. I caught the end of this era in the 1960’s and remember well the gigantic block long sign advertising John Huston film, THE  BIBLE. I hope you enjoy these photos below.

The Astor Theater presents Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”

Elia Kazan’s “Baby Doll” written by Tennessee Williams

Another Williams work, “The Rose Tattoo” is being presented

That is “Kismet” playing at the Astor.

MGM used The Astor to showcase its biggest films 

Lloyds of London

Grand Hotel

In 1954 Jules Vernes “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”

In 1936, “The Great Ziefeld” 

KiMo Theater – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The KiMo Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico is located on Central Ave (Old Route 66) in downtown. The theater opened in 1927 and remains in use today for live events. 

Here is a link to some historical information on the KiMo Theate. 

Here is a link to the KiMo page on Cinema Treasures.

Here are some photographs I took in 2007.