A Throwback to My Youth

How many of you remember the Beekman Theater? If you grew up in and around New York City in the '70s and were at all interested in art-house films, you probably made more than an occasional visit to the Beekman. Back then it was part of the Cinema 5 chain (or was it the Walter Reade -- us old folks forget), and it showed foreign films and the occasional independent American film, back before the indie label became ubiquitous.

The reason I mention it is that I just received a press release announcing the re-opening of the Beekman, now a two-screen house at 1271 Second Avenue between East 66th and East 67th Street, on Friday October 24.

My strongest memory of the Beekman takes me back to high school, an afternoon that I shlepped into the city from the Five Towns in order to see Z. I've since gone back and forth on Costa-Gavras. I think his earlier films are underrated; I have particularly fond memories of his Resistance thriller, Un Homme de Trop (Shock Troops), which I saw on 42nd Street, and his debut feature, The Sleeping Car Murders. On other other hand, almost everything that comes after Z is seriously flawed in some fundamental way. I must confess that I haven't seen Z since that afternoon at the Beekman. I don't know how it would look to me now, but at 17 I thought it was fabulous, a genuine left-wing thriller with serious action-movie chops. The most vivid memory I have of the film is the way that Costa-Gavras tried to use his editing rhythms to mimic the motor-drive of the crusading journalist's camera. For anyone who wasn't a professional photographer, the motor drive was apparently quite an exotic device in 1970; I remember that in a display case in the lobby of the Beekman, there was a replica of one for all to see. (Little did I suspect that five years later, my closest friends would be photographers who used their motor-drives all the time.)

At any rate, it's always nice to have one of the golden oldies resurface. It would be nice if they program with some imagination.