Bruno Barreto remembers The Paris Theatre

Legendary Manhattan cinema has closed

by Anne-Katrin Titze and Bruno Barreto

Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands, starring Sônia Braga, opened at The Paris Theatre in 1978
Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands, starring Sônia Braga, opened at The Paris Theatre in 1978 Photo: Bruno Barreto

The Paris Theatre, one of the most prestigious cinemas in the US, is no more. A notice of closure was posted in August for what was the last remaining single-screen cinema in Manhattan. Ron Howard's documentary Pavarotti on Luciano Pavarotti was the final film shown at the 581-seat palace located on West 58th Street off Fifth Avenue near The Plaza Hotel. The ribbon for the opening of The Paris Theatre was cut by Marlene Dietrich in 1948.

Bruno Barreto: "The final scene of what I think is one of Sydney Pollack’s best films, takes place right across the street from The Paris Theatre, at the entrance of The Plaza Hotel."
Bruno Barreto: "The final scene of what I think is one of Sydney Pollack’s best films, takes place right across the street from The Paris Theatre, at the entrance of The Plaza Hotel." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

In 2013, Bruno Barreto's incandescent Reaching For The Moon, starring the formidable trio Miranda Otto, Glória Pires and Tracy Middendorf had its premiere at The Paris Theatre. On the opening weekend I moderated a post-screening discussion with the director, co-screenwriter Matthew Chapman, and producer Lucy Barreto.

35 years earlier, in 1978, Bruno Barreto's Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands, starring Sônia Braga, opened at the Paris and an after party was held at Studio 54 with guests including Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli.

Bruno sent the following remembrance when I contacted him on this great loss for New York City:

"The beautiful lyrics - see below - Marilyn and Alan Bergman wrote for the theme song of The Way We Were came back to me when I heard the sad news. The final scene of what I think is one of Sydney Pollack’s best films, takes place right across the street from the Paris Theatre, at the entrance of The Plaza Hotel. What a coincidence!

"'Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-coloured memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we?
Could we?'"

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