Arthouse Cinema and Midnight Movies

Off-Hollywood and Offbeat Movie

The American Arthouse film movement brought some of the finest films ever made to American movie houses. The period from 1959 to 1963 was an especially fertile time for world cinema. Many great directors produced their best films during that time. Even more fascinating is how the arthouse film movement spawned midnight movies and cult cinema.

In 1971 Alejandro Jodorowsky’s esoteric Mexican western El Topo was trying to find a receptive audience. The theater owner tried a variety of techniques. He set up screenings that started at the late hour of midnight and huge crowds of stoned filmgoers stormed the theater. There weren’t many other entertainment options for bored insomniac stoners. I doubt that cannabis intoxication helped neophyte American filmgoers understand the enigmatic film any better but they kept coming back and trying every week. By the mid 1970s New York cinemas set up a wide variety of midnight movies running on the same day each week. Needless to say, The Rocky Horror Picture Show drew the biggest crowds. It had the longest staying power, playing Saturday nights at the 8th Street Playhouse for decades.

I’d like to invite people on this journey to explore the arthouse film movement. We’ll get an opportunity to watch some of these great films and learn how they fit into the history of cinema. El Topo is an optional film and NOT required viewing.

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