Friday, January 21, 2011

Répertoire Cinémas

Growing up in Boston we had an embarrassment of riches when it came to repertoire cinema. I have so many memories of going to see movie after movie... sometimes 3 a day, sometimes watching the same films 2 times in day. Each place seemed to have it’s own little world of film and specialities. Below, a small sample of some of the best.

The Orson Welles Cinema:
The name alone brought cinephiles in. Not only did it show a variety of classic and foreign films but was the centre of «midnight madness» for years, showing up to 3 cult films each Saturday night at the witching hour. Quite a few John Water’s film’s had their out of Baltimore premiers there. A class act all the way.

The Harvard Square Cinema:
2 or 3 films changing daily, usually themed in some way. Sure you might not want to see one or two on the list but it was a great way to see films you might not have otherwise or catch up on the last 3 Werner Herzog films all in one sitting. I can’t tell you how many people I actually met in line and by seeing them over and over again at say... the showings of «The Man Who Fell to Earth». Opening in 1926 and still going but not in the same format, The harvard Square also has a an envious amount of historic live rock shows in it’s roster. Click for the full history.

The Exeter Street Theatre:
This place became the home for decades of the Rocky Horror Picture Show so I spent 100’s of weekends here with friends screaming at the top of out lungs. I also saw films like «the Tin Drum» and «Querelle» here. Another class act place.

Brattle Street Theatre:
A small basement place that is still going strong. This is where I saw «Metropolis» and «Pandora’s Box» the first times. Click for more info.

The Off the Wall:
With several showing a year of «The terror of Tiny Town» and «Plan Nine from Outer Space», the owner Mike Peck (who I lost track of and wish I hadn’t) kept it interesting here. No theatre seats but café table and chairs for drinks and snacks as you watched the incredibly eclectic roster of films.

Remember these places were open long before video stores existed, there was no way to see these films except to get off your butt and go and sit in a dark place with hundreds of other film junkies... something I’ll miss as long as I live.


Mr. Sophistication said...

I worked at The Coolidge for years and was on the city pass trade. I missed out on theaters like the Orson Welles but even at that point the Boston/Cambridge area was my informal film school. I miss being able to see three movies a day for the price of a T pass.

Donna Lethal said...

I worked at a video store across from the Coolidge and lived down the block from the Brattle and the Harvard Square. I also sometimes worked at the store "underneath the Orson Welles, something we really loved to say.

Pantheon Zeus said...

lovely memories of Brattle

Jim-Jim said...

I still love the Brattle. You can count on audiences to behave well there. Nobody goes to an Ida Lupino double feature to fool around.

Mavis Martini said...

DL and I worked at the same vid store, and it was there, as well as the Brattle and Orson Welles that stoked the film fire and convinced me that I didn't merely want to watch, but wanted to make movies! 4 years in Boston=post-grad film school for me!

Lex10 said...

Ok, I wasn't going to bother, but..... the thing I got from these cinemas was the pitch. They chose these films, and told you why they were great in their little monthly calendar. You trusted them, and most of the time they were right.

Today, it's either a mish mash of a buncha jerks like us (present company, except me, excepted - I respect you all, it's the other jerks I can't stand), or resources like imdb that couldn't tell me in a million years why a film is worthwhile or significant, and half the time they can't even croak their way through a shill-written synopsis.

In the world now every movie is good. It's like Vonnegut.

Oh and me, TLA, Philly, which is now a rock show house. Their legacy team went video-rental, which had some nice symmetry because Movies Unlimited is in Philly, too.

Lastly, we briefly had the Little Art Cinema in the Atlantic City area, and I once saw an animation festival at a small house in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

The Orson Welles used to put up GREAT posters of their fare all over town as well. It was like Boston had it's own little Fillmore scene except it was movies not music. Plus they would do these seriously cool movie marathons ("Shlock Around The Clock" and suchlike). Great times...

Donna Lethal said...

Yes! The Orson Welles' posters were great. I just remembered once when the Nickelodeon was showing "Prick Up Your Ears" and the "E" fell off off the sign...

Once, at the Brattle, during a showing of "Boom," someone shushed me and Mavis for hooting and laughing too loudly during a particularly outrageous scene. When I said, "Look what we're watching!" the audience laughed at him along with us.

Jim-Jim said...

Donna, you must have been laughing at the scene in "Boom" in which Noel Coward does his misogynist riff.

Vincent-louis said...

I had a few "midnight madness at the orson welles" T-shirts I kept for years.... of course they would only fit a 13 year of old girl now if I still had them, but I still wish I had at least one around.