“The Most Lavish Temple of Entertainment in NJ” turns 85!

Imagine watching your favorite classic film in one of the few remaining grand movie palaces of yesteryear, the days before “they took the idols and smashed them, the Fairbanks, the Gilberts, the Valentinos!”   Only a relative few can have such an experience and I am one of them.

In celebration of the 85th anniversary of its opening on September 28, 1929, the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theater is featuring a weekend line-up of classic films with the theme, “Movies about Movies.”  Included in that program is Billy Wilder’s 1950 classic, SUNSET BLVD., one of my all-time favorite movies and the one that features the quote I included above.  I’ve seen SUNSET BLVD. countless times but never on the big screen.  Today is the day.  In a few hours I will be one of those wonderful people out there in the dark staring at the glory of old Hollywood and a magnificent face.  But, this post is not about me.  It’s about ensuring that future generations can have these experiences too.

In tribute to The Landmark Loews Theater and the Friends of the Loews organization, the group of volunteers that works tirelessly and have restored the screen, seats, projectors and even the Wonder Morgan Pipe Organ, which plays a vital role in the experience of this magnificent theatre, I am asking for your support.  Sadly, as is the case with other remaining classic movie palaces, The Loews Jersey is threatened on a continuous basis.  Please visit, volunteer and donate what you can.  We cannot allow the disappearance of such a place and should do what we can to see that in a hundred years someone else with a love of classics can blog about its 185th anniversary.

I should mention that preceding SUNSET BLVD. on the schedule today is SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, considered by many as the greatest musical of all time.  I will be there for that screening as well and am only less excited about it than SUNSET BLVD. because I’ve already seen it on a big screen.  The program starts at 6 pm, go here for details.

The Landmark Loew’s Theater is located in Jersey City, NJ.  Take a moment to check out the theater’s history here and if you’re anywhere in the New York City area, it’s a Path ride away.

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Happy anniversary to The Loew’s Jersey!  Built at what was then the impressive sum of $2 million dollars, the Loew’s was accurately called as “the most lavish temple of entertainment in New Jersey”. – Loews Jersey.

UPDATE:  It’s the morning after the events I describe above, what turned out to be one of the greatest movie nights of my life.  We sang “Happy Birthday” to the Landmark Loew’s Theatre, were treated to music on the magical organ before the screenings and during intermission and watched two of the greatest movies ever made in their respective genres.  The house was packed bringing the 85-year-old palace to life.  It was a movie night I will never forget.  And Norma Desmond?  She didn’t disappoint.  Before last night I suspected SUNSET BLVD. was one of the greatest motion pictures ever made.  Today I’m sure of it.

My friend Rich attended the first half of the night’s event, the screening of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and wrote a wonderful piece about the experience on his blog.  Check it out.

Images from last evening:

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A Landmark Loew’s Jersey gallery from the past:

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Related:  A Classic Saturday at Historic Loew’s Jersey, Save the Loews Wonder Theater of New Jersey, Sunset Blvd…It IS Big!, Still SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

12 thoughts

  1. I grew up going to theaters like this lots only in the LA area like the old Warner Theater on Hollywood Blvd, Grauman’s, The Egyptian and the marvelous Million Dollar Theater in downtown LA that opened in 1918. We had lots of 30s build Streamline Moderne movie houses as well and some little fun houses that were built just pre-WWII. I was a kid in WWII days and going to the movies was one of the big escapes (other than the newsreels they always showed) where you felt you could get away from the always present everything war effort going on around. We even had some of the theaters showing movies 24 hrs a day to accommodate lots of the folks in LA working in the defense industries – those were popular establishments that allowed those working shift work to get in to see the movies. I used to pay 15 cents to go to the Saturday kiddie movies and that usually included a small popcorn with your ticket for that price — they made the money on the soft-drinks and candy we would buy to go along with! Old movie theaters can be remarkable.

  2. I was there tonight with Aurora, and I feel I should mention that the crowd was big and it was enthusiastic. Part of the reason might have been that it was the first film weekend of the fall season, but I believe it’s also out of support for this place in general. I think the people of JC realize how much work Friends of the Loew’s puts into keeping this joint running, and I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before the powers that be in JC realize it too.

  3. I grew up in Flushing, Queens near the RKO Keith’s, one of the last movie palaces to survive in New York City. There were attempts to save and restore it, and all failed. Sad day when it was gone for good. Even in its faded glory it was wonderful to see movies there. I saw The Odd Couple when I was 8 years old, and GWTW when it was re-released during the 1970s. Sigh. I hope they can save this one.

  4. I went to college in Jersey City in the early 80s, and Loew’s was still a working theater then. (I think I saw “Raging Bull” there, among others.) Most theaters were even then the same bland, generic auditoriums they are now. I remember being awed by the lush interior of Loew’s, even though it was showing its age, and imagining being there in the 1930s and 40s.

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