Friday, October 12, 2012

North by Northwest (1959) at the Brattle Theatre

Shot of Cambridge Common in Cambridge, MA

On Columbus Day, I had the day off from work so I decided to make my way to Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA to go to the Brattle Theatre to watch the Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959) on the big screen. I was going to go with my good friend Kevin but he wasn't feeling well (I hope he's feeling better! Hi Kevin!). Carlos convinced me to go out on my own and I'm really glad I did.

I decided to drive to and park in Harvard Square which is no easy task. Even at 1pm on a Monday, it was still technically a holiday which means people come out to Harvard Square in droves. After circling the square several times I finally found a single parking spot.

Just a fun bit of information, the park in the picture above is the Cambridge Common. When Carlos and I were dating, before we became engaged and got married, I would be terrified of walking through this park with him. The reason for my fear was because every time we would go to this park he would always scream out at the top of his lungs "I LOVE MY GIRLFRIEND" in front of a bunch of confused strangers and a very embarrassed girlfriend. He hasn't done it in a long time and I hope he won't again!

The interior of L.A. Burdick - Homemade Chocolate in Harvard Square Cambrdige, MA

It was a chilly day, so I stopped by L.A. Burdick for a hot drink and a pastry. L.A. Burdick is known for their homemade chocolates, hot chocolates, delicious pastries and coffee and tea drinks. If you are in Harvard Square on a cold day, it's imperative that you stop by L.A. Burdick for a sweet treat and a hot beverage.

Interior shot of L.A. Burdick - Homemade Chocolates in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA

I got one of their Melange Tea Lattes and a Chocolate Madeleine Cookie and headed over to the Brattle Theatre which was only about a block away. (Sorry for the out-of-focus photo! Never drink, walk and photograph).

Exterior shot of The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA

As you see, the Brattle is tucked away and is off of the main street. Downstairs there used to be a restaurant called Casablanca but after over half of a century of being in business the owners decided to close it down. It's all very sad. Carlos, my friends and I had a wonderful experience watching Casablanca (1942) at the Brattle then having dinner and drinks at Casablanca restaurant later that same evening. A happy memory indeed.

Schedule of films for The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA

The North by Northwest (1959) screening was part of The Brattle's Cloak & Dagger: Spies on Screen series. It was a double bill with the Fritz Lang film Ministry of Fear (1944). Unfortunately, I only had time to stay for the North by Northwest screening. Two films for $7.75 matinee is a pretty good deal.

A "please silence your cellphones" poster featuring Alfred Hitchcock from the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.

Alfred Hitchcock says SHHHH.

The managing director of the Lucas Theatre in Savannah, GA tells me she has this same poster in her theater too!

North by Northwest 1959 showing on the big screen at The Brattle Theatre.

I love to sit in the balcony of the Brattle. You don't have the best view and the screen seems pretty small at that distance but it's the coziest. The balcony feels tucked away and private and it stays pretty warm too. Most theaters are cold but the Brattle is (almost) always at a good temperature. Another interesting note about the Brattle is that they do rear projection rather than the traditional front projection. So the projection comes from behind the stage rather than behind the audience.

There were about 50 people in the audience for the screening of North by Northwest. It's not the first time I had seen this film on the big screen but it had been a couple years since I had seen it so this was definitely a treat. It's amazing how many things I had forgotten about the film and what I had remembered. I forgot almost the entire beginning up until the assassination of Mr. Townsend.

A few observations on this viewing: I noticed that the film does a really good job blending humor and drama. And Cary Grant is good at both so he's the perfect actor to deliver this suspenseful and entertaining film. Also, I now really appreciate how much chemistry there is between Cary Grant's Roger Thornhill and Eva Marie Saint's Eve Kendall. When they meet on the train for the first time, their flirtation is electric. The dialogue is sharp, witty and downright sexy. And their prolonged kissing scene with lots of pecks and caresses is a Hitchcock trademark to get around the Code's limit on the length of time a kiss lasts on screen. It's a long scene that feels like one continuous kiss but is in fact a lot of little kisses (Hitchcock does the same thing in To Catch a Thief). The romantic connection between Thornhill and Kendall is important to the plot. It adds more tension as Thornhill cares more about Kendall as the spy who is putting herself in a lot of danger. His affection for her determines his actions as he goes on a wild north by northwest chase. The film was very satisfying to watch and a lot of fun. I'm glad I made the trek out to the Brattle to see it.

I feel very privileged to have access to repertory theaters which show amazing classic films!


  1. You are indeed lucky to have access to repertory theaters. Thank you for sharing, Raquelle!

    I love that poster with Hitchcock: "Please silence your cellphone". Awesome!

    It's funny with Hitchcock, because no matter how many times I've seen a certain film of his, I can always enjoy them anew as I forget key things. A compliment to him, I think.

    - Sebina

  2. Raquelle, what a treat to see this on a big screen. I used to love sitting in the balcony. Not such an opportunity today. The Brattle sounds like a terrific spot. If I'm ever in Cambridge, I'll check it out. As for the film, it is a fun ride and I agree, Grant and Saint Marie have wonderful chemistry. Hitchcock's longest interrupted kiss appears in Notorious between Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Sure sexier than one long smooch.

  3. First, the new design of your blog is amazing, remminded me a little about Man with a Movie Camera (1929).
    Second, this must have been an unfugettable experience. I always think that North by Northwest is an anomalous Hitch film, with heavy touches of romance and fun. The airplane chase must ahve been wonderful in a big screen!
    Third, Carlos' blog is very cool. It would be interesting if both of you write about the same film and post in your blogs at the same time :)


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