Well, here’s a bonafide 2-for-1 treat: the legendary Paramount Theater in Times Square at 44th and Broadway–and it’s showing Pola Negri’s “The Woman on Trial,” Paramount, 1927.
The Paramount opened in 1926 as the new flagship house for the Paramount-Publix Theater Corp. (the merger between Paramount and the Chicago-based exhibitors Balaban & Katz). Designed by the Chicago architectural of Rapp & Rapp, it was a French style jewel from its beautiful curved marquee and stained glass main window to its Versailles chapel-inspired lobby. There was classical statuary and a Hall of Nations featuring native stones from around the world. There were stage shows and concerts before every picture and the Paramount had organist Jesse Crawford and the most-acclaimed Wurlitzer organ ever built. Boasting over 3,500 seats, it wasn’t bigger than the Capitol or the late Roxy, but it had a luxury that made it the “paramount” Paramount. During the 1940’s it was the site of bobbysoxer riots during Frank Sinatra’s appearances and boasted appearances of everyone from Duke Ellington to Elvis Presley. The end came in 1967 when the theatre was closed and completely gutted for office space. Today, the Paramount Building still stands as the last survivor of an almost mythical Times Square that is still much loved and much mourned today.
Pola’s “The Woman on Trial,” ironically, is also lost.