Writer laments death of revival houses and other sources of classic cinema experiences
NEWARK, NJ — In an essay that recently appeared on NJ.com, writer Stephen Witty looks at the decline of repertory theaters and other changes that have altered the access to and information about classic films, such as the development of the inexpensive home video market, the reduction of the number of cable channels truly dedicated to the presentation of film history, and the loss of a large number of magazines related to cinema.
The first victims of modern-movie progress were the repertory theaters. When I went to film school in New York in the late ‘70s, there were several fleapits within walking distance, showing Bette Davis weepies or double bills of “Candy” and “The Magic Christian.” The truly adventurous went to Chinatown for kung-fu triple features, or to 42nd Street, where grind houses ran all-night programs of gory action films.
Then came the much-vaunted “home video revolution.” For less than the price of a ticket, you could be your own movie programmer, watching whatever you wanted at home.
Of course, most of the revival houses couldn’t compete with that (or pay their own rising rents). Those set up as not-for-profit arts groups held on. The rest eventually closed their doors, and to any real film buff, the list of names — the Bleecker Street Cinema, Theatre 80 St. Marks — is an elegy to vanished picture palaces.
The whole article can be read here.