Orson Welles Cinema

1001 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge, MA 02138

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Showing 51 - 75 of 126 comments

nritota
nritota on December 30, 2008 at 8:19 pm

I took over the Cinerama Providence in 1976, which was then a twin showing 99 cent sub-run films to a tough crowd. I convinced the powers at SBC to take a chance on art programing for the house and used the Welles and others as a proving ground for features.

I would make regular pilgrimages to the theatre to catch the films, see audience reaction and talk to regulars. I even convinced some film critics to make the trip with me to gauge their reaction and anticipate a review. This also made sure that a review would appear as the film broke or before, rather than waiting for days to lapse.

All in all, a great place to see a film and even better memories on when a theatre manager had input on how his house was run.

StevePotter
StevePotter on October 26, 2008 at 3:08 pm

My first wife (then girlfriend) and I lived down one block and around the corner at 99 Hancock Street when the Orson Welles opened in the spring of ‘69 and had Sunday brunch at a restaurant that was part of that building in late '77 or early '78 during our last visit to Cambridge before the end of our marriage. Frank Rich was a sophomore, recently elected to the Crimson as I recall when he wrote the article about the theater’s opening. It seemed like such a cool place.

jjsemp
jjsemp on October 1, 2008 at 12:03 am

People and events I remember about the Welles #1:

One night a couple of scruffy young guys (accompanied by one of their girlfriends) ambled in and asked if they could show their newly finished animated film at the theater. So we ran their print of this short film called “Cosmic Cartoon”. All that I remember about the film was that it “borrowed” (i.e. stole) heavily from the drawings of Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo in Slumberland”. One of the creators was an artist named Ladd who had done most of the actual graphic work. The other guy came across as being a very aggressive hustler who had probably been instrumental in raising the money to make it. His name was Steven Lisberger. Years later, they formed a company called Lisberger-Ladd. I have no idea whatever happened to Ladd, but some time later, after I arrived in Hollywood, Disney Studios was releasing a major motion picture directed by none other than Steven Lisberger. It was a summer “tentpole” event film called “TRON.”

-John Semper

(Welles Cinema “alumnus” circa 1973-1978)

P.S. I would love to hear from John Rossi, Leslie Miller, Jimmy Robi, Mary Galloway, Bill Gitt or anybody else who worked at the Welles during that era who remembers me!

pmont
pmont on July 30, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Curious to know if anyone knows anything about Cate Enterprises. O came across a Film Comment article from 1979 (“Alls not Welles that Ends Welles,” by Sam Lasoff) that says this “Massachusetts realty trust” bought the Welles sometime after 1976, as well as a bunch of other theatres in New England (including Boston’s Esquire chain) totaling 33 & showing “everything from gay, skin, and blaxploitation to first-run American and foreign movies.” Anyone know how long these guys were in the Boston film scene? Which theatres they owned?
I’m trying to googlemap every theatre & film-exhibition venue in Boston/ Camb./ Somerville during May 1977, showing the films that were playing, chains that owned the theatres, etc.

MPol
MPol on July 10, 2008 at 7:56 pm

The Orson Welles Cinema was a real keeper. As a student during the 1970’s, and through the miod-1980’s, after I’d gotten out of school, I’d go to movies pretty regularly there. Back in the seventies, an evening would be made of it, by having dinner at the nearby Orson Welles Restaurant before it burned down, and then attending a movie at the Cinema. For several years after I finished school, I lived right around the corner from Orson Welles Cinema, and I’d still go to movies pretty regularly there. Among the movies that I saw at Orson Welles cinema were Bonnie & Clyde, Performance, Road Warrior, The Harder They Come, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, and, not to mention some others, last but not least, West Side Story.

caleb
caleb on April 26, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Does anyone remember the December 1983 screening at the Orson Welles of the hip-hop film Wild Style, at the Orson Welles? The theater was painted up by several graffiti artists from NYC. I am in search of photos of this artwork, or leads to some photos, whether personal snapshots or pro. This is for a book project that I’ll be happy to explain for anyone with leads or photos… anyone? I can be reached at

seekingthephoenix
seekingthephoenix on April 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Thanks, La Connection, for reminding me of “The Day of the Triffids”! Actually, a directory would be quite simple to compile, I suppose best from microfilm copies of “The Boston Phoenix” or “The Real Paper”. The movie reviews were always on the same page, making finding them simple and fast? I forgot to mention the great “Boudou Saved From Drowning”, the original French movie from the Thirties, which would certainly be out of place nowadays, when we drown in moral relativities. I seem to recall a restaurant by the Orson Welles called the “Au Chose”?

DCC
DCC on April 22, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Here are a few of the films that were shown at the Orson Welles.
I’ll add more when I have time!
best to all,
DCC

Adam’s Rib
Aquirre, the Wrath of God
All My Sons
All the King’s Men
An American in Paris
And then There Were None
The Andromeda Strain
Anna Karenina
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
The Awful Truth
The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer
The Bad and the Beautiful
Bananas
The Bandwagon
Battling Butler
Beat the Devil
Bedazzled
The Bed-Sitting Room
Before the Revolution
The Big Heat
Black Orpheus
The Blacksmith
The Blue Dahlia
The Boy Friend
Brewster McCloud
The Bride Wore Black
Bringing Up Baby
Burn!
The Butcher Boy
Cabaret
The California Reich
California Split
Camille
The Candidate
Cartouche
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cesar and Rosalie
The Chase
Chinatown
Citizen Kane
City Lights
The Clock
Clockmaker
College
Colossus: The Forbin Project
Coney Island
The Conformist
The Conversation
Cops
Cousin/Cousine
The Creature From the Black Lagoon
Cries and Whispers
Cul de Sac

LaConnection
LaConnection on April 21, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I doubt it at this late date – but, I would Love to see such a Directory myself!

I can give you a listing of the films shown at the Orson Welles for its annual SF FILM MARATHON (which continues to this day. Now, at the Somerville theater. Info: http://sf.theboard.net/))

Click on this link: http://sf.theboard.net/film_archive/index.php?SF1

That will give you the films shown at the very first Marathon (in February 1976). Then, by clicking on the numbers at the top of the page 2 thru 11, You will get the films shown at the other 10 Marathons held at the Welles. Not exactly what you asked for, but I hope it’s of some interest (and there are a LOT of films listed!).

seekingthephoenix
seekingthephoenix on April 21, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Is there a directory for films shown at the Orson Welles Cinema, besides the newspaper listings? I saw many from 1978-1981, and enjoyed the information printed out on long, colored paper handouts, in the lobby before the showings. The Thief of Paris, Aguirre Wrath of God, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, Murmer of the Heart, Lacombe Lucien, Kaspar Hauser, Tess, Nicholas and Alexandra, The Green Wall, The Third Man, Of Human Bondage, The Clockmaker. Terrific! I cannot recall the name of the movie concerning the young, beautiful actress who falls in love and loses everything, including her life, in the Bolshevist revolution in Georgia?

chummer
chummer on April 16, 2008 at 6:52 pm

anyone familiar with Dwight “Bud” Orton? Bud passed away last Sunday and I was told that he was involved with this theatre? anyone have info on that?

hometeamg
hometeamg on March 28, 2008 at 11:18 pm

I’m the dude that hopped up in Neil Young’s lap when I was 14 mos old (see post from Feb 3, 2006), what a trip! I’m just clearing out Mom’s email account after her valient passing a few months ago. Mom and I had a bunch of memorable experiences from Boston to SF and all the way to Hawaii. She was quite a talent…www.pamelabrooke.com. Health and happiness to all…G

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 15, 2007 at 3:00 pm

For the opening of the theatre as the Orson Welles Cinema on April 8, 1969, Frank Rich, then a student at Harvard, wrote THIS ARTICLE for the Harvard Crimson.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 12, 2007 at 12:23 pm

The theatre opened on February 14, 1964, according to my private notes. It was called the Esquire then. The first film was Emile de Antonio’s documentary Point of Order! about the 1954 Senate Army-McCarthy hearings and consisted entirely of edited TV footage. I went there with two friends the following day after our dinner at Würsthaus off Harvard Square.

hkbf23
hkbf23 on October 3, 2007 at 1:18 pm

Oh,I loved the Orson Welles. It was always an experience to go there. I learned to love baklava there, saw some of the best movies, and always met someone interesting along the way. So many memories I had forgotten.

Calmuse
Calmuse on September 26, 2007 at 3:08 pm

The Harder They Come’s director says a seven-year run in this article from Index Magazine:
View link

Of course, that wouldn’t discount the Orson Welles from having soon brought the film back for another extended run, probably as a midnight show.

Ah, the Orson Welles… From back in my student days, I’ve saved a few of the old program notes on colored paper.

LaConnection
LaConnection on August 11, 2007 at 11:19 pm

If DCC has anything on the early years of the SCIENCE FICTION FILM MARATHON (sf.theboard.net) I would love to hear about it!

DCC
DCC on August 11, 2007 at 10:35 pm

I worked at the Orson Welles Restaurant during the
mid-70s, while I was in grad school, as busboy,
waiter, and eventually as weekend manager. It was
a crazy but a nice place to work, filled with interesting
and often eccentric people. We watched movies next door
when we weren’t working. The Cinema provided patrons with
excellent credits for and critical comments on each movie,
mimeographed on colored paper, and I still have a couple
of hundred of these tucked away somewhere. The Cinema
also sold the coolest tee shirts in the world, designed
by somebody with a great graphic sense (portraits of
movie stars, for the most part, but I can also remember
Bugs Bunny and Alfred Hitchcock). I also still have a
silk-screened poster for the “Orson Welles Film Festival”
signed by Orson himself when he came for dinner at
the restaurant. He was not very mobile at that point
but extremely kind and generous. He told me that
I looked like Albrecht Durer, which I took for a compliment
until I located a portrait of A.D. Eventually the owner
of the restaurant ran out of money and odd new owners
materialized. Among other things, they informed the staff
(free spirits all) that from now on everybody would be
wearing uniforms. A strike ensued, and then a fire,
and that was it for the restaurant.

wombatzone
wombatzone on November 16, 2006 at 10:09 am

When did “The Harder They Come” end its ten-year run?

jwishnie
jwishnie on September 7, 2006 at 7:58 pm

I started attending the Sci-Fi Marathon’s with my father when I was about 10. If I remember correctly, there were 3 concurrent marathons in the 3 theaters: 12hr, 24hr, and 36hr versions.

We started at the 12hr version but soon started attending the 24hr one.

A few memories:
– Every year a group of MIT students dressed as the ‘Martian Liberation Organization’ (MLO) would briefly take the theater hostage.

  • FREAKING out during the opening scene of ‘The Thing’ (dog running across the snow) when I realized it was a version of “Who Goes There?”, a classic sci-fi story I’d just read, that gave me nightmares for days.

  • Drinking WAY too much ‘Jolt’ cola

But even more than the Sci-Fi Marathon I loved the “Schlock Around the Clock” marathon. Especially during the usual Russ Meyer movie when my dad would say “Close your eyes. Go to sleep!”

La Connection—Thank you for the Sci-Fi Marathon site! I was able to look up the name of a film I’ve been trying to remember for years “Quiet Earth”

Anyone have a list of the Schlock marathon movies?

LaConnection
LaConnection on July 5, 2006 at 5:44 pm

To update this prior post by br91975:

“The fire Gerald mentions occurred during the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, 1986; two of the final three features were ‘Dreamchild’ and the Michael Caine-starrer, ‘Water’.
posted by br91975 on May 8, 2004 at 10:28pm”

Today on the Bostonsci-fi.com Marathon Messageboard, former Orson Welles Cinema employee Bruce Bartoo posted that the 3rd film playing at the Welles at the time of its demise was ALWAYS.

You can read his full post here:

View link

shaggycub
shaggycub on April 19, 2006 at 6:37 am

In regards to Odette Bery (one r in her surname, not two), my mother worked under her as a line cook for her Beacon Hill restaurant, Another Season. I know Another Season is out of buisiness, I’m not sure why, and can’t recall when it died (my mother stopped working for her in the mid 80’s, and left the food biz shortly after that.) I do know Lala Rokh is now where it used to be-and you can still see vestiges of the former place. After Another Season, I believe that she went to teach at BU for a while, in the early 90’s, as well as making pasties and nibbles for wine tastings at Brookline Liquor Mart. Then sometime around 1995, she was managing another establishment called Pudding it First-a pudding parlor. Opened by Don Perrin it was like an ice cream store, only they served a large variety of puddings. This store was in the Coolidge Corner Theater building and didn’t last long. Now, last I heard, she’s the chef/manager at Collins Cafe in the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. For a while, she was teaching cooking at Another Season, but that stopped, not sure why (she might not have had the proper licensing to conduct cooking classes.) I did study a little under Odette as a child, and always liked her. Also, she did author a book, “The Another Season Cookbook”, which is esstentially a collection of recipes of dishes served at her establishment. It’s actually quite good, with tips and lessons as well as some menu suggestions. Haven’t seen her in well over a decade, but I remember her as being really nice, as well as an amazing chef.

JakeHannaford
JakeHannaford on March 29, 2006 at 5:39 am

IN 1977, ORSON WELLES APPEARED AT THE ORSON WELLES THEATER

pbrooke
pbrooke on February 3, 2006 at 2:13 pm

I lived in Cambridge back in the late 60’s early 70’s and was very much a part of the Orson Welles scene in the beginning. The initial owners were Dean and Frances Gitter. My best friend, Jennifer, lived with them and was also on the crew that built the restaurant. I spent many nights at Dean’s house. I just did a search for Dean’s name and hes now some impresario kind of developer in upstate NY. I found this site because I was just thinking about the time Neil Young played and it was great to read that someone else was there that night, too. It was my son’s first official concert…he was about 14 mos at the time. He crawled right up in Neil’s lap that night. and Neil let him play with his guitar. I remember Odette and there were problems that came up soon after her hire. I cant remember the whole story, but something came up missing in the kitchen and she wanted everyone who worked there to have a lie detector test. This was also at the time of the labor union thing and I know a lot of the kitchen staff didnt like her. In the beginning it was an amazing place and there was much camaraderie amongst the staff, but the hiring of Odette was when that whole love and sharing thing ended. The shine was defihitely off the bloom as in the begining it was amazing to be amongst such great visionary energy. There was an maitre’d i can picture today. His name was David Deam (i think) and I wonder whatever happened to him. They had some outrageous after hours parties there, too. Does anyone remember Peter White Bus? Curly red haired guy who lived in a white bus with his two black and white dogs? I think ke taught there. He was a photographer. Its so cool to remember all this stuff. That whole period was a very exciting time.

exstaff
exstaff on December 25, 2005 at 8:33 pm

This is a great site..brings back memories…I was on the usher staff in 72/73, did program notes and had a wonderful time. Since leaving, I lived in nyc, portland, ore. and now in seattle — nowhere have I been to as complete a theatre complex (school, restaurant, theatre) as the OWC. Here are some thoughts:
Regarding “Outrageous,” Craig Russell was a gifted impersonator and performed live in P-town when the film was in first initial release. I was on the staff when we made the decision to unionize. I remember that Ralph and Molly went bonkers. I’m ashamed to say, after listening to their rants, I voted agains the union (I had my reasons). Luckily, the others voted for it. I occasionally did the program notes — it was fun to look up old reviews at the BPL and put the thing together. The concession stand was great — had baklava and some fresh baked apple oat squares.
Ok — Nicholas Ray appeared for an “appreciation.” He wore an eyepatch, was with a real young woman and seemed drugged — totally out of it. There was another special screening — Harold Russell (Best Years of Our Lives) was there — nice to talk to. The staff went crazy over Pong. Larry J. was a great guy and the best programmer!! I remember Paul B????, actor from the Jeffersons, used to come and David Helpern would be there all the time eating licorice and hanging out in the lobby. In retrospect, things really seemed to be happening at that theatre then. It was a happy time!!!