Off The Wall Cinema

15 Pearl Street,
Cambridge, MA 02139

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Off the Wall Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Off The Wall Cinema described itself as a “Coffeehouse of the Arts”, but film is the art that they put most of their energy into. The more obscure the film, the better. On any given day you might see silents, short subjects, rock concert films, documentaries, or animation. Their annual “Magic Movies” animation festival was especially popular.

The atmosphere was relaxed, like being in someone’s living room with a hundred or so friends. Instead of popcorn and candy, they served coffee and excellent baked goods. Sometimes an art exhibit hung on the walls.

Off The Wall opened in 1974 at 861 Main Street in Cambridge’s Central Square. In 1979, they tried moving to a theatre across the river in Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace, but the audience didn’t follow them. In September 1980, they returned to a new Central Square location at 15 Pearl Street, which had formerly housed the left-wing 100 Flowers Bookstore.

Off The Wall closed as a venue in August, 1986, although they continued to occasionally present programs in other venues for a couple more years. 15 Pearl Street became a senior citizen center, which it remains today.

Contributed by Ron Newman

Recent comments (view all 97 comments)

MaxAndDave on July 30, 2015 at 4:00 pm

A true classic. RIP George Coe.

rausifer on February 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Hi everybody – I have finally gotten around to uploading my student TV project about Off The Wall! I’m uploading 2 videos – the first is the “raw footage” which was better quality because it is 3rd generation (keep in mind this is 30+ yr old ½" open reel tape!). The second is the piece itself which is about 4 minutes long. Here is the link to the first: I will put up the second tomorrow if/when the first one finishes uploading tomorrow!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 7, 2016 at 5:11 pm

You need to make the video public or else none of us can watch it.

rausifer on February 7, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Thanks, I will. It is still uploading, sorry… I have a very poor connection here. Probably won’t be done till tomorrow morning.

MaxAndDave on February 8, 2016 at 6:16 am

Hey, looking forward!

rausifer on February 9, 2016 at 7:06 pm

OK, it’s up! WARNING – I’m using an “evaluation copy” of capture software so don’t turn up your speakers too loud! Working on the “finished” piece now… much shorter so should take less time…

MaxAndDave on February 10, 2016 at 5:48 am

rausifer, thank you for holding onto that ancient footage all these years and especially for posting it! It was really fun to see Michael and David and the theatre (and the funky old office). It really brought me back. Looking forward to the finished piece.

rausifer on February 10, 2016 at 8:45 am

You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I’m sorry I didn’t post it sooner. Did you work there? If so, God bless you. I absolutely loved that place and it was a privilege to meet Michael and David who were so friendly and helpful. -Rick

MaxAndDave on February 10, 2016 at 9:20 am

I did work there. I was usually behind the counter doling out cheesecake and congo bars, running the projector or cleaning up between shows. Sometimes all three! I still have my lifetime membership, of course. Hope you have yours!

rausifer on February 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Sadly, I don’t. When it reopens I will have to negotiate with Michael. :)

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