Orson Welles Cinema

1001 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge, MA 02138

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Showing 1 - 25 of 127 comments

da_Bunnyman on March 25, 2018 at 8:34 pm

Thought I’d give a description of the Welles' interior layout before memory fades even more. Six glass doors set in about maybe 3 feet from the sidewalk. Two doors on left were entrance which led directly to a small ticket seller booth on the left. Also a place where you could pick up flyers on current films. Small stairway then led up to the lobby with a larger stairway to the right for exiting separated by a small wall. Lobby had a erasable board at rear for film times. Entrance to Cinema 1 was on right which had aisles on left and right and only center section of seating (I think.) Cinema 2 entrance was straight ahead at back of lobby and was reached by a small flight of stairs. When you entered you were about halfway point of the house. Screen on the left and seats left and right plus another seating section across a center aisle. Cinema 3 entrance on left of lobby and to get to the house you went down a flight of stairs, took a couple of steps then up a small flight of stairs. Entrance brought you to very front of the house (I think) right in front of the screen. Snack bar was on very left of lobby with fresh popped popcorn, real butter for it, plus coffee (kind of a rarity at theaters then except art houses.) Plus theater t-shirts for sale. Wall along exit stairway had classic movie stars painted on it.

DavidZornig on November 27, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Photo of Orson Welles in front in January 1977 added. Photo courtesy of the Dirty Old Boston Facebook page.

wombatzone on July 2, 2013 at 8:02 am

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 2, 2013 at 7:41 am

There is a way, but it’s laborious: looking through all the movie ads in the weekly Boston Phoenix or Real Paper, archived in the Boston Public Library (or perhaps elsewhere).

wombatzone on July 2, 2013 at 7:35 am

Is there any way to find out, with reasonable certainty, which films were shown at the OWC in 1979?

SteveBurstein on June 13, 2013 at 10:29 am

I went to the Welles' late 1973 Animation festival, which began with THE BETTY BOOP SCANDALS and continued with programs of pre-48 Warner cartoons which were hard to see on local TV then(The 50s Warner cartoons were the ones that were on all the time).

LAConnection on February 11, 2013 at 7:51 pm

The 38th Annual Science Fiction Film Marathon is coming up this week at the Somerville Theater. The first 11 years were held at the Orson Welles. This is the one ongoing remnant of the theater still in existence (save for our memories and a few scrapbook pieces of memorabilia!).


Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 18, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Maybe you are thinking of “Hail Mary”, another film that attracted Catholic protesters.

jana118 on September 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I remember watching “Performance” when the popcorn maker started smoking and we were supposed to evacuate the theater. But people were lagging behind to see the end of the movie. I also saw “Marat/Sade” “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Harder They Come” there. I seem to remember that “The Last Temptation of Christ” played there, but info on Wikipedia says theater burned in 1986 – two years before its release. Was I hallucinating?

eltotheoran on May 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I am actually the Production Manager of the documentary you’re talking about on the Orson Welles. It was actually Tommy Lee Jones that we interviewed here’s the article: http://bostonherald.com/track/inside_track/view/20220427inside_track_headline.

If any of you have a strong affiliation with the theater please get in touch with me. We are currently looking to interview people who worked at the theater, went to the film school, etc. Please email me at and tell me about your connection to the Orson Welles Cinema!


rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

Someone is working on a documentary history of the Orson Welles Cinema. I read about just a few days ago but now cannot find the article. There was a color photo showing the actor Jon Lithgow sitting with the director. Jon Lithgow was quoted as saying something to the effect that his first paid job in the entertainment industry was at the Welles when he was a student. I think that this article was in the Boston Herald.

wea74 on February 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

marcthorny, would it be possible to get copies of the newsletter? I’d be happy to pay for duplicating or scanning.

LaConnection on February 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm

There IS still one ongoing and STILL ACTIVE vestige of the Orson Welles Cinema – the long running Boston Science Fiction Film Marathon which has been held on President’s Day Weekend every February since 1976 (the first 11 were held at the Orson Welles)! This year’s 37th edition will be held February 19-20, 2012 at the Somerville Theater. Info: http://www.bostonsci-fi.com/ Messageboard: http://sf.theboard.net/

MPol on September 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

The Orson Welles Cinema…..ahhhhh, yes! Memory lane! I didn’t go to film school, but I remember frequenting the Orson Welles quite a bit as a student, and for many years after that, especially when I lived right around the corner from that cinema! I saw many a great movie at the Orson Welles Cinema, including my all time favorite, West Side Story. Those days were grand…and…gone…for.ever! (sniff, sniff).

BillGough on September 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Great reading about that wonderful cinema – I studied at the Orson Welles Film School 72 & 73 (off the top of my head memory) Any other students remember those years –?– love 2 hear from others in that raggle-taggle gathering :) My avatar pix still resembles those Cambridge days :) Great courses there.

MPol on May 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

I saw the programs on the website for the Somerville Theatre’s Classic/repertory programming for this summer, Ron. Thanks.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 25, 2011 at 11:05 am

Somerville Theatre will be doing some repertory programming this summer: View link

MPol on May 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

How I wish that the Orson Welles Cinema and most of the other Repertory Movie Houses were still in existence! (sigh).

I’m grateful for the Coolidge Corner Theatre and the Brattle Theatre, both of which I hold yearly memberships to, but…

LaConnection on May 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

This site wasn’t taking comments yesterday, so a day or so late on this. But, May 24th represented the 25th Anniversary of the fire that ultimately destroyed the Orson Welles Cinema. Talks continued about re-opening the place, but it was not to be.
A sad 25th Anniversary. But, the memories continue.

marthapinson on April 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I was researching something and wow, the last thing I expected to find was a “Hi to Marty” (and others) from one Fogwrestler on a comment thread. Thanks, and Hi back at you. I was employed at the Orson Welles from 1973 to 1976 as staff, manager, then moved upstairs to do Public Relations, which involved writing Press Releases, running screenings, etc., even went to shop at Cannes Film Festival. It was a great job and I feel we were at the center of a cool cultural universe. I moved on to the bigger NYC playing field but have great memories of Cambridge and the Welles. I’ve been on Facebook with lots of people and, for those who are interested, there are photos and comments on the Orson Welles page.

MPol on February 24, 2011 at 12:22 am

Oh, wow!! I had no idea that there was an Orson Welles newsletter! How I miss that place, still!

marcthorny on February 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm

My wife edited the newsletter of the O.W. Complex. I still have copies of Volume 1, numbers 2, 3, and 4 all dated 1973.

2 has an article on Truffaut visiting the theater (with photos), another on Garbo, and schedule for the November’s “Great Ladies” series. #3 (December) dedicated to the animation series during that month, “A Treasury of the World’s Great Animation” with article by Dave Stone and pics from the ‘73 Halloween party. #4 (confusingly dated January 1973) is about the Horror/Sci-Fi Festival with an article on Jack Pierce. Each issue also has a “music menu” for performers at The Bar in the complex and other ads, features, and photos.

MPol on February 18, 2011 at 7:06 am

Wow! More interesting information! Thanks again for the heads-up. Something new is learned every day!

LaConnection on February 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Mpol, not only is it “interesting”, but tickets are still available online or at the Somerville the day of the show.

And, not only are we doing a 25th anniversary since the fire tribute, the Marathon IS the only continuing link to the Welles.

MPol on February 17, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hmmmm…The Annual Science Fiction film marathon sounds interesting, La Connection! Thanks for the heads-up!