It took us far too long to see Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which we of course loved. First, there was a wonderful profile of Anderson in The New Yorker in November that had me excited. Shortly thereafter, we went to look at bits of the sets in the Christmas windows at Bergdorf Goodman (excitement doubled). And yet for some reason, we never actually made it to the movie until a few weeks ago. Up was wonderful, but I totally think Mr. Fox should have won the animated feature award at the Oscars.
This particular trip to the movies was enhanced by the fact that we found ourselves in Cinema One for the first time at the nearby Village East/City Cinemas (on 2nd Avenue). Whereas most of the screening rooms there seem to be just that–diminutive screening rooms–it turns out that the main theater is this wonderful old space with a huge, gilded dome (featuring a giant star of David)! We’ve been to this place over a dozen times and I can’t believe I had no idea the room existed. It prompted me to do a little digging to find out more about this spot around the corner…
Apparently, the 1200-seat main auditorium was originally a Yiddish theater, built in the 1920s; it hosted burlesque for many years and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The building didn’t add the six smaller screens to become a multiplex until 1991.
Walter Matthau was a counter clerk at the popcorn stand. Carol Burnett starred in Once Upon a Mattress here in 1959. Marcel Marceau had his first American performance. The Night They Raided Minsky’s was filmed here, and Grease and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas made their debuts here.
(Production photos from here; historical photo from the NYPL, call no. AZ 05-546)