The Duffield, in downtown Brooklyn, is often criticized on cinema websites by those who only remember the theatre’s last years of operation. In some cases they repeat stories told by their parents.
The Duffield’s early importance forgotten and ignored.
Motion Picture News, April 11, 1914:
“The front of the theatre is composed of tapestry brick with tile trim; an elaborate electric sign at the side lends distinction without being garish.
“The lobby is finished in mission effect. The patron procures a ticket from an automatic ticket seller and enters the theatre.
“The last row in the orchestra is distant at least sixteen feet from the entrance. The management has sacrificed all this seating space to make it a comfortable lounging place where one may stroll while viewing the pictures.
“The house is about 74 feet each way. Its seating capacity is 842. The orchestra is sixteen rows deep and the columns supporting the balcony are so arranged that in no instance are they in line of screen vision. The slant is a decided one, so that a clear view is always possible.
“There is an excellent orchestra, composed of five pieces with piano and organ, which is placed below the stage well out of the line of vision. They play consistent music, which quite often is classic.
“Aisle space has been given careful consideration; there are four on the orchestra floor, all of which are wider than required by law.”
“The house is surround by alleys upon which fourteen exitis open; there are two more fire doors that are required by law, and a full house can be emptied in one minute without undue crowding.
“Consideration of patrons is shown on every side. The retiring rooms are models of cleanliness; the thick, rich carpets yield gratefully to the feet; there is a counter where a desire for sweetmeats may be gratified, though candy is not hawked through the audience.
“Programs and souvenirs containing the weekly bill are distributed to all patrons.
“The projection booth contains 132 square feet and is built of concrete, steel and masonry. Extreme cleanliness prevails, the machines are thoroughly scrubbed twice a week. The throw is about 50 feet upon a white plaster wall screen tastefully draped; the size of the picture is about 11×14 feet.
“The quality of projection is furnished by three Simplex projectors and is in keeping with the high standard of the house.”
The Duffield opened December 5, 1913. A patron was shot during a screening of “New Jack City” in 1991. Closed by the NYPD for investigation, the space was later sold and demolished.
Cezar Del Valle is available for theatre walks and talks in 2013.