Sunnyside's Silver Screens
by Josh Lehman
In Sunnyside as kids, we enjoyed an abundance of entertainment riches. The Bliss, The Sunnyside. The Center. Each was unique. All provided hours of welcome escapism.
The Sunnyside Theater featured retail space at street level, though I can't remember what was housed there. I do remember the lowbrow cinematic fare: Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley's screen debut), Mister Sardonicus (any redeeming merit?), Sink the Bismarck (stirring, predictable war drama.) The Sunnyside was in turn demolished for an A&P as neighborhood tastes and priorities changed.
The Bliss was grand and featured an ornate faux-Egyptian decor. At Greenpoint Avenue and 45th Street, it felt more like a neighborhood anchor than an outlier. Our JHS 125 graduation class of 1960 felt its timeless presence. Now a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall, it was once an imposing movie palace, with features such as The Long, Long Trailer (Luci and Desi), and The Blob (Steve McQueen.)
The Center was cast in a different mold: on the Boulevard, modest, immersed in retail surroundings. Best described as an "art house," akin to Manhattan theaters, it screened such different fare as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, More, and Life Upside Down. The Center eventually changed from single-screen to multi-plex; its fare changing as well as its format.
Once there were three; now there are none. Life goes on. How fortunate I felt to have these movie houses a short walk away.
Bliss Theater at Greenpoint Avenue and 45 Street