Imagine a movie theater that can transport people to the golden age of Hollywood, when powerful film studios built extravagant palaces to showcase their upcoming releases. A movie theater where classic films like “Gone with the Wind” were accompanied by a live orchestra, and the stage alternated as a venue for legendary performers like Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Cab Calloway. Today, many of these historic theaters have been demolished to make room for plain-looking multiplex cinemas, which have emerged along highways and nearby malls. But for local movie patrons keen on rekindling the glamor of that era, The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre is one way to feel the classic, grand vibes of the 1920s and 1930s.
In the early 1920s, movie theaters resembled grand opera houses with tall marble columns, high ornate ceilings, crystal chandeliers, intricate tapestries, and plush carpeting. These extravagant theaters were equipped with full stages, orchestra pits, dressing rooms, and projectors. Sometimes new films were presented on a double bill with live elaborately choreographed stage shows. These palatial venues were the opening act for much anticipated feature presentations, where thousands of movie patrons were transported from their ordinary lives to the most sublime fantasies.
The Loew’s Jersey City Theatre opened its doors on September 28, 1929, with a feature presentation of “Madame X.” The film was accompanied by a live musical performance by Ben Black and his Rhythm Kings, and the Loew’s Symphony Orchestra. Tickets for the double bill were sold for $0.35. The theater was also equipped with a Wonder Morton pipe organ that could imitate the sound of a full orchestra. The overall construction cost for the theater in 1929 totaled $2 million according to reports from the local press.
Today, The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre serves the Hudson County community as a not-for-profit arts and entertainment center, presenting a diverse range of quality programming, which includes: Jazz, Swing, Rock, R&B, Folk and Country concerts, classic and independent film screenings, musicals, dramatic plays, as well as multi-cultural and children’s programs. The theater’s commitment to the community dates back to 1987 when a determined group of local residents spearheaded a six-year crusade that saved the theater from being demolished. This group, known as The Friends of the Loew’s, has also undertaken a unique volunteer-based construction program to ensure the ongoing restoration of the theater.
Cultural programming has resumed this October, and will be showing a scary assortment of flicks from Carrie to Rosemary’s Baby. For a complete listing of events, to schedule a tour of the theatre, or to volunteer for the theater’s restoration projects, refer to the details below.
How to get there: Take the path train from 34th or Christopher Street. The theater is located at 54 Journal Square, across from the Path Transportation Center on Kennedy Boulevard. (Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre, 201.798.6055, firstname.lastname@example.org, loewsjersey.org)