Considering the subject matter, it’s amazing that the low budget, Who Killed Teddy Bear was released in 1965. The film is a smorgasbord of Production Code taboos broken one after another: incest, masturbation, homosexuality and more. It all set in the seedy lurid world of 1960’s slime filled Times Square. It’s an oddity for sure, and a definite bump up above the typical sexploitation movies that decorated the deuce and Times Square back in the day, if for no other reason than the cast includes Sal Mineo, Juliet Prowse, Jan Murray and Elaine Stritch. One other reason to watch is due to the gritty, noirish cinematography provided by Joseph C. Brun (Odds Against Tomorrow, Edge of the City). One word of warning. Though over fifty years old and not as graphic as films today, Who Killed Teddy Bear may still be unsettling for some. Continue reading
Back in the glory days, Times Square had more movie theaters than there were peanuts in a peanut factory. The bright lights of the theaters were part of what lit up the Great White Way. Today, there is not one movie theater to be found in the Broadway area. Some of those now long gone palaces were huge like the Roxy that had close to 6,000 seats. As big as the theaters were, the signs advertising the movies were even bigger. Sometimes they were ever better than or at least as interesting as the movies themselves. Continue reading
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”
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
In 1954 Jules Vernes “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”
In 1936, “The Great Ziefeld”
In Part 2 still more theatres that made Times Square a mecca for moviegoers.
The New York aka Globe Theater and the Big Apple
As the Times Square district deteriorated, the theaters began to reflect the times. By the time the New York/Globe was renamed The Big Apple the theater was reduced to a porn house.
Rko Palace – 1962
The Roxy – Called “The Cathedral of the Motion Picture”, The Roxy was THE theater on Broadway with a multi-tiered balconey and close to 6,000 seats!
With the decline in movie attendance in the 1950’s The Roxy closed it doors in 1960. Below is Gloria Swanson standing in the rubble of what was once The majestic Roxy Theater.
In the early 1950’s The Strand was renamed the Warner Theater and a few years later renamed the Warner Cinerama playing films like “Exodus” (see ad below). In 1963, the theater was equiped for 70MM films like “It’s A Mad, Mad , Mad, Mad World”, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “Camelot.” Another name change followed to the RKO Cinerama and then two screens were added turning the theater into a triplex with the names the Penthouse and the Orleans. The theater closed and was demolished in 1987.
Once upon a time Times Square was not just the center of the theater district it was also the center for the great majestic movie palaces with magical names like The Roxy, The Strand, The Astor, The Capitol and The Rivoli, all with huge billboard advertising the latest cinematic spectacle. Today there are no movie theaters on Times Square. All that is left are two cinemaplexes on 42nd street. Here is what it used to look like when movie theaters ruled.
Times Square -1955 – that is the Criterion Theater underneath the Pepsi sign.
Times Square 1958 – Loew’s State
Times Square – 1962
Ben-Hur is playing at the Loew’s State. On the left at the Astor Theater is Inherit the Wind
Astor and Victoria Theaters
Paramount Theater – The Paramount was one of the premiere theaters of its time. Frank Sinatra had thousands of young bobby soxers screaming in the ailes in the 1940’s.
In 1956, Elvis Presley’s first movie “Love Me Tender” premiered at the Paramount where a new generation of young girls were screaming.
Rivoli Theater – Roadshow engagements were common back then. Big attractions like “West Side Story” played for more than one year. Two shows daily at 2pm and 8pm.
Mayfair Theater (Many theaters changed names over the year’s. The Mayfair became the Loew’s Mayfair and then The DeMille and eventually the Embassy 123 before closing its doors for good.