Dan Talbot, a New Yorker and His Love for Independent Films and World Cinema

The Daniel Talbot papers are processed and the finding aid is now available.

“I distribute and show films for a living–sometimes precariously. But when I ‘discover’ a new director, I want to sing out to everyone that something new has come along–a work of art that is fresh, different, exciting. The really good stuff makes me want to grab passerby by the collar, like a barker, and rave about my ‘offspring’.”–Dan Talbot, from In Love with Movies.

Photograph of the New Yorker Theater, 1962, Box 327 Folder 1. Dan Talbot papers.

Dan Talbot is a notable figure in art-house cinema in the United States and the founder of New Yorker Films. He founded the New Yorker Films in 1965. The company was a means to distribute and exhibit foreign independent films at the New Yorker Theater which he operated. Talbot first acquired Bernardo Bertolucci’s Before the Revolution, which led the way for New Yorker Films to acquire over 400 film titles. New Yorker Films held the rights for theatrical release to theaters and colleges, as well as to distribute films in commercial VHS and DVD format in the 1980s. New Yorker Films was sold to Madstone Films in 2009. 

New Yorker Theater’s Lobby Poster of Marat/Sade, 1967, boasting the longest title in the history of theaters. Box Flat 71. Dan Talbot papers.

Dan Talbot also operated multiple theaters in New York’s Upper West Side: New Yorker Theater (1960-1973), Cinema Studio (1977-1990), Metro Theater (1982-1987), and Lincoln Plaza Cinema (1981-2018). Talbot was honored in 2004 by IFP/New York with the Gotham Award for Industry Lifetime Achievement. Through his exhibition and distribution activities, Talbot provided moviegoers in the United States with access to a vast array of international filmmakers, including Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, Claude Chabrol, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Federico Fellini, Werner Herzog, Yasujiro Ozu, Ousmane Sembene, and Wim Wenders, among others. Many of those associated with the New Wave movement in film history on an international level. The New Yorker Magazine deemed the New Yorker Films as “crucial to the formation, sustenance, and perpetuation of film culture in … the United States.”

In 2009, RBML purchased the Dan Talbot Papers. The collection was previously deposited in various locations prior to the sale: storage room of Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, MoMA’s offsite storage facilities, offices of New Yorker Films, Dan Talbot’s home, University of Wisconsin’s Center for Film and Theater Research. The collection mainly documents the business operation of the New Yorker Films and the movie theaters in the Upper West Side Manhattan which he operated, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1960 to 2008. It is of particular relevance to New Yorkers as the Talbots operated the New Yorker Theater, Cinema Studio, Metro, and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, in the upper west side as popular venues to view independent and foreign films.

Jean-Luc Godard Press Kits and Ads for Breathless, Box 8, Dan Talbot papers.

The collection demonstrates a wide range genre of films with over a thousand unique titles that were acquired and distributed by the New Yorker Films and exhibited at his theaters in nearly five decades from 1960 to 2008. While parts of the collection are filled with tedious administrative papers such as producer reports and financial records, the amount of correspondence and publicity files of the film titles are the gems of the collection. It contains a large amount of correspondence with international filmmakers, producers, studios and so on, providing a full image of how Dan Talbot worked closely with them on a personal level. There is also abundant publicity and research materials on the films they were distributing, such as reviews across the US and worldwide for the film titles that the company acquired and distributed, as well as photographs, artworks, ads, posters, and so on, which the firm used for promoting the film to the general public. The collection overall sums up Dan Talbot’s legacy in bringing together a repertoire of independent films from around the world and sharing them with the audience through distribution and exhibition, in turn offering them a broader worldview and perspectives through the films created by cutting-edge directors.


Talbot, Daniel, Toby Talbot and Werner Herzog. 2022. In Love with Movies : From New Yorker Films to Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. New York: Columbia University Press.

Talbot, Toby. 2009. The New Yorker Theater and Other Scenes from a Life at the Movies. New York: Columbia University Press.