Survey No. 5: At the Movies

Milton didn't realize how prophetic his Paradise Lost would be for those of us who grew up in the Bronx. Going to the movies was certainly the most popular form of entertainment for us, and the Paradise, with its opulent lobby, baroque statuary, and unforgettable, star-festooned auditorium was the undisputed favorite movie palace. This poll has taken the lead for the most responses (127) and has certainly shown the neighborhood movie theater to be as important a part of the Bronx culture as any other. In the days before the multiplexes, before the micro-screens and the thundering Dolby® stereo sound, there were the single-screened, second-run local movie houses. These were our escape routes from the hot summer days and nights. For a quarter we got two features, a newsreel, cartoons, and coming attractions. Can you imagine growing up in the Bronx without it? Based on the results, none of us can. However, several folks admitted that they'd have a hard time now sitting through that much movie fare, assuming they'd have that big a block of time to spend anyway.

As usual, I leave it to you to render your own analyses based on the returns. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The total number of unique, usable responses was 127.

When you lived in the Bronx, how frequently did you go to the movies?

Rarely (less than once/month)129%
Regularly (once or twice/month)6854%
Often (once/week or more)4737%

Where was the theater that you usually went to?

Right around the corner2822%
In the neighborhood8466%
A short ride away1310%
On the other side of the Bronx11%
In another borough11%
Out of town00%

What was the name of the movie theater in the Bronx that you most frequently attended?

We received an enormous number of different responses for this question, so rather than provide counts, I'll just list the theater names. I can't verify that all of these theaters existed or were located in the Bronx, so forgive me if any don't belong here.

AceAllertonLoew's AmericanArt
BainbridgeLoew's BoulevardBoroBurke
CasinoLoew's Castle HillRKO ChesterCircle
Cinellies(?)City CinemaCraftCrest
DaleDavid Marcus (formerly Tuxedo)EarlFairmont
FleetwoodRKO FordhamGlobeHaven
Loew's ParadisePark PlazaPelhamLoew's Post Road
RaymondRiverdale CinemaRKO RoyalSavoy
Loew's Spooner(?)StarrSurreyValentine
VictoryWakefieldWardWhitestone Drive-In

What was the name of your favorite Bronx movie theater?

In hindsight, I realize that this question could've been phrased "If your favorite theater wasn't The Paradise, what was it?". The results are certainly not surprising.

Loew's Paradise8869%
Loew's American117%
RKO Fordham76%
Whitestone Drive-In21%
RKO Royal11%

Did you typically go to a specific movie theater because a particular movie was playing, or did you simply go and see whatever was playing?

Went because a particular movie was playing5443%
Went "just to go" and see whatever was playing6652%
Sometimes one, sometimes the other54%
Not Sure21%

Did you typically find out the schedule and arrive for a complete show, or more often arrive "in the middle"?

Usually went according to the schedule7055%
Usually went at whatever time was convenient5644%
Not Sure11%

What features of your favorite Bronx movie theater made you like it so much?
(Multiple answers were allowed, so the sum of percentages will exceed 100.)

that agreed
Price of admission9373%
Ambience and atmosphere7055%
Variety of movies, shorts, cartoons, etc.8466%
Proximity to home10180%
Matrons and Ushers21%
Candy counter6854%
Air conditioning5241%
Sitting in the balcony4334%
Screen size4334%
Comfort of the seats4939%
Opulence of the interior6551%

Here's a sampling of some "other" favorite attributes:

Do you think local Bronx movie theaters were different from local theaters anywhere?


Here's a few reasons that accompanied the "Yes" responses:

If it were available today, do you think you could sit through two features, coming attractions, shorts, cartoons, and a newsreel?

ResponsesPercentage (of responses)
Not Sure65%

How come no one mentioned The Lido? Was it too "artsy" for the Bronx masses? Just kidding. How many of us said "Low-eez" in our inimitable Bronxese, and how many knew the correct pronounciation was "Loze"? There's a question I neglected to include.

I was pleasantly reminded by the one response that mentioned "seeing the movie again if we wanted to". Of course we could see it again! That's where the phrase "This is where we came in" originated, isn't it? I wonder what would happen now if I hung out after the end of Men In Black and told the guy with the Jimmy Fund can that "I missed the first five minutes and I'm waiting for the next show to start"...

Thanks again for participating. Our next survey topic will be Street Games.


©1997 SofTech Consulting
Chappaqua, N.Y., USA