Last night there was, as there is every Thursday at 7 p.m., a free showing of a movie at the Bijou cinema in San Antonio, and yesterday it was Alfred Hitchcock‘s “Rear Window“. We wanted to use the opportunity and try it out, and we found it worth while.
The Bijou is a small cinema, mainly showing independent productions and mnot the big blockbusters, which, in addition to the regular pay-for programme, shows a film, mostly classics, for free every Thursday evening at 7 p.m. For this the reserve 2 [for a maximum attandance of 200 people] of their 6 screens [which can seat, I believe, between 50 and 150 people each], and the tickets are handed out one per person on a first-come-first-serve basis. We had thought there might be quite a queue and thus were there at around 5:25, which means 35 minutes before the handing out of the tickets began and 1 hour and 25 minutes before the performance, and that was fine as there already were ca. 100 people in front of us. We took turns in the queue, with one sitting down – there are quite a few tables and chairs in the Wonderland of the Americas Mall, where the Bijou is located, since there are some self-service restaurants there – and the other waiting in line. In spite of the fact that there are restaurants in the mall and that you can also eat well at the Bijou itself, we had brought Subway sandwiches as with those we can more easily control our calorie intake. So whichever of us was sitting at the table had their supper. Waiting turned out to be shorter as I had expected since at maybe 1 or 2 minutes before six the queue began to move and as there was no payment necessary the people moved at a steady pace past the guy handing out the tickets and at about 5 past 6 we were in the cinema. Of course, everybody went in immediately to get good seats. We found some to the side and quite far imn the back which turned out to be fine seats. Mary read some while waiting for the movie to begin and I even had a nap! Of course we could have eaten, but – as said before – we had had some sandwiches while waiting. Very likely we will have some food there some time soon, as the menu really doesn’t look bad.
The food gave them a nice income yesterday, and I’d think it might always be the case in these free performances, which – at least to a certain amount – offsets the loss resulting from giving a way the tickets for free. I believe that about 50 to 75% of the 200 people there did have some kind of food. Just before the movie started the manager came in for a few words and told us the all 200 seats had been taken and that they still had had to turn away around 100 people.
As to the movie itself: neither of us had seen it before and we thoroughly enjoyed it. There wasn’t too much tension – I’d have expected some more in a Hitchcok movie – but to me it was interesting to watch how first only L.B. Jeffries, played by James Stewart, and later his girl friend Lisa Fremon [Grace Kelly] and his nurse Stella [Thelma Ritter], too, became more and more convinced that in Lars Thorwald [Raymond Burr] they were watching a murderter in the apartment across the courtyard and how they finally manage to convict him. What I – besides this main plot – liked about the film was the background if gave of the middle-class 50es society in a big US city, living in those apartments looking out onto the courtyard. Not that it was the intention of the film, but it did paint a very good picture of this situation and in a way, even if it contained much less social criticism if it did at all, reminded my of hiw Heinrich Zille presented his “Berliner Milieu“. With this the movie had more than just that one layer, more than the usual modern run-of-the-mill mystery stories have. Of course, this way of telling – quite slowly – made the film somewhat sedate. There wasn’t much – if any – action like in more recent movies of that kind, but I don’t think that matters at all.
For us it was an enjoyable evening and we’ll certainly return. Next Thursday it’ll be “North by Northwest“, the following Thursday [when we won't be able to go there as we'll be in Port Aransas] they’ll show “The Birds“, and on the last Thursday in August it’ll be “Psycho“.