Humphrey Bogart double feature

humphrey bogart


When I first came to Providence in 1978, there was a little repertory theater on Thayer Street called the Avon Cinema. It showed a double feature every evening, and changed shows three times a week: foreign films, classics, cult films. You could buy a discount card which gave you five shows (ten movies!) for ten dollars.

Ah, children, those were the days.

The Avon still stands, and Partner and I still go there once in a while. It’s eight dollars per show now, and no more double features. But it’s the same cute little theater, with a tiny lobby and an old-fashioned stage inside, and still owned by Kenny Dulgarian (who, in the 1970s and 1980s, used to greet people in person).

I was also reminded of this because, the other night, on Turner Classic Movies, I saw “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca” together, one right after the other.

That was one of the classic Avon double features: at least once every month or two, Kenny would show those two movies together. And, for a couple of bucks, wouldn’t you go see them? (Remember, these were the days before VHS or DVD or cable or Netflix or streaming video. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to go see it in a theater.)

Both are beautiful black-and-white masterpieces. Humphrey Bogart is at his best in both (he really did twitch his lips that way). And the supporting casts! Mary Astor as the scheming / seductive Bridget O’Shaughnessy in “Falcon,” and Ingrid Bergman as the luminous Ilse Lund in “Casablanca.” Sydney Greenstreet, evil and somehow sympathetic and funny in both. Peter Lorre, slimy and odd in both. Noah Beery, young and nasty, in “Falcon.” Claude Rains, elegant and funny, in “Casablanca.”

I think that these two movies themselves are an education in film studies. If you learn them – learn them well – you’ll figure out what movies are all about.

They are the stuff that dreams are made of.


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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

4 Responses to Humphrey Bogart double feature

  1. I remember going with you to see Casablanca and Play it Again Sam, two movies I’d never seen, AND HE PLAYED SAM FIRST! So the references and bows to Casablanca were lost on me (don’t do that again, Kenny). That theater (and a few mood altering substances) played a major role in my dropping out of Brown! Curses, seductive entertainment!

    • I’d forgotten that! How stupid of Kenny to put them in the wrong order. I remember going to the Avon with you and your sister once too; we were noisy and got lots of dirty looks.

  2. starproms says:

    Yes, the old ones were definitely the best. The two films you mention were/are excellent. These days the camera swings around too much for me and I have a job to keep up with it. The older films relied more on the story and there were some really good stories, right? The little cinema you mention is wonderful.
    We used to have some lovely cinemas in my town but they were turned into Bingo halls and then when that lost favour, abandoned. Interestingly one of the was called The Mecca. That cinema found itself in an area of the town inhabited mostly by muslims these days and they objected to the name. Then the cinema was taken over by a different sort of Christian group and they renamed it.

    • I still enjoy going to the movies. It’s nice sitting in a big dark room and letting the picture take over. Sometimes I see these movies on TV, and they’re still great, but it’s not the same; they’re meant to be seen on a huge screen. I know we’re lucky to have a couple of old-fashioned movie theaters in the neighborhood, but it’s a college neighborhood, so the college students keep them busy.

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