If “let’s go to a movie” seems a little bland for date night, change the suggestion to “let’s go to the Paris Theatre.” Across from the Plaza Hotel and within shouting distance of Central Park, this charming little arthouse theater makes movie-going glamorous again — it’s the perfect place to sit close together and get caught up in a great film. The Paris Theatre’s old-school charm isn’t an act: It’s been open since Marlene Dietrich cut the ribbon back in 1948, and little about it has changed since those bright postwar days. Its lone screen plays mostly independent and foreign films, with an emphasis on French movies, although you can catch a mainstream release there from time to time.
Walk hand-in-hand under the marquee with its jaunty yellow “Paris” sign and find yourselves in a fantastic little lobby, with black-and-white chessboard tiles on the floor and a sinuous, wrought-iron staircase leading up to the balcony.
The balcony seems like a cozier spot, so you head up the stairs and pick two plush seats in the center. No commercials play before the show starts — another old-fashioned element of this theater. The dark velvet walls mute the chatter from other audience members, but the movie’s sound system crisply conveys every syllable and swell of the background music. The faces on screen loom, larger than life, and you lose yourself in their expressions, the dialogue, and the story they’re sharing. When a big, emotional movie moment strikes, you and your date reflexively gasp and exchange glances with each other. You know you’ll have plenty to talk about when the credits roll.
As the lights come up and you emerge into the real world again, you decide to go walking in Central Park. Hand in hand, you cross the street and set off into the green pathways, talking about plot, characters, how you’d react if you were in those situations, how you really love the sound of French, and a dozen other things. Your movie date night, you’re happy to realize, has been anything but bland.