Repertory Movie Theaters of New York City

Havens for Revivals, Indies and the Avant-Garde, 1960–1994


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About the Book

New York’s repertory movie houses specialized in presenting films ignored by mainstream and art house audiences. Curating vintage and undistributed movies from various countries, they educated the public about the art of film at a time when the cinema had begun to be respected as an art form.
Operating on shoestring budgets in funky settings, each repertory house had its own personality, reflecting the preferences of the (often eccentric) proprietor. While a few theaters existed in other cities, New York offered the greatest number and variety. Focusing on the active years from 1960 through 1994, this book documents the repertory movement in the context of economics and film culture.

About the Author(s)

Ben Davis is a freelance writer in New York City. His articles have appeared in Film & History, Film Quarterly, and Cineaste.

Bibliographic Details

Ben Davis
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: 43 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6720-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2720-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Part One: The First Wave

 1. The Roots of Repertory Programming in New York 5

 2. The First Wave of the Repertory Theater Movement 18

 3. The New Yorker Theater: Art over Commerce 23

 4. The Bleecker Street Cinema: From Repertory Theater to Independent

     Film Showcase 38

 5. The Charles Theater: The Underground Film in the Heyday of the East Village 49

 6. The Thalia: Grand Dame of Repertory Houses 63

Part Two: The Second Wave

 7. New York Film Scene, 1970s On 77

 8. The Second Wave of the Repertory Theater Movement 86

 9. The Elgin Theater: Midnight Movies and the Countercultural Craze 93

10. Theatre 80 St. Marks: Joan Crawford, Grauman’s Chinese Theater and Other Memorabilia of Hollywood’s Golden Age 113

11. The Regency: MGM Reigns Supreme 130

12. The Thalia: A Temple to B Films, Trashy Films and Other Critical Rejects 145

13. Carnegie Hall Cinema and Bleecker Street Cinema: Classic Revivals, American Independents, Godard and Company—A Smorgasbord of Riches 166

14. Repertory Programming: A Return to Its Roots 200

Chronology of the Repertory Movie Theaters, New York City, 1960–1994 207

Chapter Notes 209

Bibliography 229

Index 231

Book Reviews & Awards

“copious photographs…a superb job of capturing the phenomenon of New York repertory movie theaters and placing it in historical context…prose is clear, intelligent, engaging…anecdotal examples colorful and often humorous…research impeccably extensive”—New York Review of Books.