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Posted October 1, 2010
In recent years, one of the best kept secrets of American cinema has been The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas. This theater has been designed almost like a European-style cinema, making first-class meals for its patrons while showing not only recently-released movies but also showing a wide array of films ranging from 1930's classics to 1960's B-movies to the chop-socky of the Orient to 1970's blaxploitation features. Alamo also has special events such as Quote-Alongs for movies like "Airplane!" and "The Blues Brothers" while also inviting special guests from time to time like Ralph Bakshi, Alex Cox, Bruce Campbell and Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark.
For those who want to know how this came to be in the home state of Dubya, you need to watch this DVD. It is a collection of movie trailers from the Alamo archives that span nearly fifty years. There are martial arts thrillers featuring unrecognizable stars (sans Sonny Chiba) with sloppy dubbing and lots of excitement. There are sex comedies, some of which border on the Triple-X quality, including a 70's comedy called "Chatterbox", featuring a talking private part (!). There are misguided sci-fi adventure flicks, such as "Mind Warp", which looks pretty good until you realize that it features Edward Albert and Erin Moran of "Happy Days". And then there are the films made by people who clearly knew better; these include Rock Hudson in Roger Vadim's "Pretty Maids All In A Row" and Redd Foxx in a horribly homophobic gay comedy, "Norman, Is That You?" There's even "Machine Gun McCain", a barely remembered Italian-made American crime thriller starring John Cassavettes, Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands, which looks like it came out the same time that "A Woman Under The Influence" was released.
The DVD also contains more than a few dated commercial breaks for the concession stands, including an uproarious ad for steak sandwiches and a spot from Charlton Heston talking about the then-new MPAA rating system from a tennis court. Best of all, there's a grainy-looking documentary about the Alamo Drafthouse and the impact that it has made is evident in this entertaining short. There are other DVDs in the "42nd Street Forever" series but this is clearly the best. That is, if you skip through "Danish Love Acts", "Caged Virgins" and "The Magic Christmas Tree", a low-tech holiday feature about a talking Christmas tree. I'm NOT making this up!