Central Square Cinemas

415 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge, MA 02139

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The Central Square began life in the early 1970s. Located between MIT and Harvard, the programming consisted mostly of recent foreign films and revivals of mostly foreign films. Its competition was the Orson Welles Cinema further up on Massachusetts Avenue.

The most famous bit of programming here was Philippe de Broca’s 1966 KING OF HEARTS, which ran for four years or so and spawned a huge cult following that gave the film new life across the United States.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 5, 2004 at 7:54 am

Typical of the kind of programming at this theatre: in July of 1969 one screen featured Max Ophüls' LOLA MONTES in a revival while the other had Jean-Luc Godard’s WEEKEND. It should be noted that the screens were not sizable here, the sight-lines were imperfect, and the seating was fairly cramped…but the programmnmg was top-notch. They could screen both 16mm and 35mm prints.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 16, 2004 at 7:49 am

In the 1970s, this was part of a small art-house chain called “Sonny & Eddy’s Theatres”, which also ran the Allston Cinema, Exeter Street Theatre, Galeria Cinema (which under a later owner became the Janus), and Academy Twin Cinemas in Newton.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 16, 2004 at 8:31 am

As stated in the description, Philippe de Broca’s KING OF HEARTS played here for at least four years as a cult attraction in the 1970s. Late in the run, perhaps to expand interest, it was paired on the same bill with de Broca’s GIVE HER THE MOON. As a prank one evening, some folks re-arranged the words of the titles on the marquee to create a funny message. Does anybody remember that and what the message was? I’ve forgotten and didn’t save the newspaper piece that included a photograph.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 4, 2005 at 8:25 pm

The Central Square closed just after midnight on Tuesday night, April 1, 1980, according to a Boston Globe article published two days later. At the time it closed, it was under the same ownership as the Brattle.

Another Globe article says it opened in 1968.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 28, 2005 at 7:08 am

This Boston Phoenix article shows a photo of the Central, whose marquee advertises “King of Hearts” (of course) and “Give Her the Moon”.

jdcopp
jdcopp on September 18, 2006 at 6:57 pm

For the record, “King of Hearts” opened at the Central Square Cinema on January 10, 1971 and it ran until April 13, 1976.

hkbf23
hkbf23 on October 3, 2007 at 4:22 pm

If nothing good was at the Orson Welles, there was always something good at the Central Square.
It was a cramped theater, but the programming was so interesting, I never cared.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 7, 2007 at 4:56 pm

A week before the Central Square closed on April 1, 1980, I saw the last two films I would see there: revivals of To Be or Not to Be (1942) and Sunnyside Up (1929). They ran programs here in both 35mm and 16mm.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 12, 2007 at 9:31 am

The address on this entry should be changed to something more specific. The former theatre building is now occupied by Quest Diagnostics (originally “Bioran”), a medical lab whose address is 415 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge 02139.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Harvard Crimson article on the history of the theatre at the time of its closing in 1980.

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