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Ah, the good old Art Cinema – shades of my misspent youth. In the early sixties a group of us Trinity students would go there, drunk as lords (well, dissolute preppies, anyway) to savor the, uhh…art. In those days skin flick owners (sorry: Art Purveyors) had to dissemble what the Supreme Court called redeeming social value. Couldn’t just run “Sex Kitten in Lust”; had to be something Aristotle would have condoned. Consequently, there was usually a double feature: 1. the one we came to see, and 2. some murky Bergman or Fellini flick we’d have to snore through until it came on. Actually, it wasn' t so bad. I was introduced to some quite good British cinema, and I recall seeing Elvira Madigan there; humming Mozart for days, I was.
Sometimes they’d try to avoid the obligatory “socially uplifting” picture by inserting the RSV in the porn. I recall one of the titles, “A Thousand Ways to Love,” throughout which the only dialogue was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?; let me count the ways.” A sheer ripoff. I could count only seventeen.
When I came to Hartford in the fall of 1961 to begin Trinity, there were many theatres. Now there are none. There were also unique shops and restaurants – not the current yuppie-duppie types serving 23 types of quiche or bland chains, but individually owned establishments. Probably they, including the theatres, couldn’t pass the ADA-mandated “handicap access” requirements or stringent fire codes, but downtown was a wonderland of REAL diversity, reminiscent of Petulia Clarks’s “Downtown.”
Reading the blogs about the old movie theatres in Washington brings back poignant memories. I lived in southeast Washington as a child (c. 1946-1953), briefly attended Stanton elementary school, and frequented many of the theatres mentioned, most especially the old Naylor on Alabama Ave.
It was at the Naylor that I first saw the old Batman serials (re-runs even then). Only years later did I re-see them as a student at Harvard in the Brattle Cinema off Harvard Sq. The “camp” revival of Batman at the Brattle was to spur the TV series a few years later.
The Cliffie I took to the Brattle was also amused, but not so much as I. You see, she never harbored the hero-worship I had had for Batman and Robin. To see them years later in their cheap dimestore costumes, combating the Yellow Peril (the original was, of course, produced during WWII) was so overwhelmingly hillarious that I fear I lost my cool (de rigeur in the mid-60s as it is now) and guffawed unfashionably throughout the presentation. Well, scratch one ex-Miss Porter’s snot, but so what? The Naylor and the caped crusaders were far more memeorable.