Tuesday, October 18, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Quad Cinema opening its doors in New York City. Over the last five decades, the independent theater has established itself as a haven for cinephiles with its frequent showings of rare films, new restorations of classics, and indie hits. To celebrate the landmark anniversary, the Quad is devoting its Theater U to showing the four films that played when the theater first opened: “Butterflies Are Free,” “Play It Again, Sam,” “Slaughterhouse-Five,” and “The Gang’s All Here.”
Milton Katselas’ “Butterflies Are Free” tells the story of a romance that blossoms between a blind man (Edward Albert) and his neighbor (Goldie Hawn) after the man moves into his first apartment by himself. The film was an adaptation of Leonard Gershe’s hit Broadway play of the same name, with the playwright returning to write the screenplay. Eileen Heckart won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in the film, which also scored nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Sound.
Next up is “Play It Again Sam,” writer and star Woody Allen’s film adaptation of his hit play. Allen stars as a film critic whose attempts at finding love are hindered by his obsession with “Casablanca.” Though Allen didn’t direct the film (those duties were handled by Herbert Ross), “Play It Again, Sam” was instrumental in helping establish the comedic voice for which he would become known.
“Slaughterhouse-Five” sees George Roy Hill adapting Kurt Vonnegut’s landmark anti-war novel, with Michael Sacks taking on the role of Billy Pilgrim and Ron Leibman playing Paul Lazzaro. The film was sandwiched in between the two biggest hits of Hill’s directing career: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting.”
And of course, it wouldn’t be the Quad without some repertory programming. The day’s grand finale is “The Gang’s All Here,” Busby Berkeley’s landmark 1943 musical about the love affair between a soldier and a chorus girl that starred Alice Fay, Carmen Miranda, and Phil Baker. The Technicolor fantasy famously features the music of jazz legend Benny Goodman.
Tickets to all screenings can be found on Quad Cinema’s website.