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LA's Venerated New Beverly Cinema Returns with Classic Programming

November 29,2018 16:35

Since 1978, though, it's been the New Beverly Cinema. Over those 40 years, it's become one of the premier destinations for repertory film exhibition in Los Angeles. The New Beverly spent this year out of commission, with the venerable building ...


The New Beverly Cinema under renovation (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)LOS ANGELES — The building at 7165 Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles has been known by many names since it was built in 1929. The Bonnie Jean Candy Company. Slapsy Maxie’s Nightclub. The Blackhawk. The New Globe Theater. The Riviera-Capri. The New Yorker Theater. The Europa Theater. The Eros Theater. Since 1978, though, it’s been the New Beverly Cinema. Over those 40 years, it’s become one of the premier destinations for repertory film exhibition in Los Angeles.
The New Beverly spent this year out of commission, with the venerable building undergoing significant renovation. When exactly it would reopen for business was a continual question. But this month it was officially announced that the theater would resume operation in December, and a program for the month was released not long after.
Under the stewardship of Sherman Torgan, the New Beverly became an institution among Los Angeles cinephiles, well known for the double features that he and his family programmed. Quentin Tarantino once talked about regularly driving up from South Bay to see movies there. Patton Oswalt shows off his personal catalogue of his moviegoing habits throughout the late ’90s in his memoir Silver Screen Fiend, in which trips to the New Beverly are recorded literally hundreds of times. After Torgan’s death in 2007, Tarantino bought the location asserting, “As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm.”
A sample of the New Beverly’s calendar for its first month back in operation (scan by the author for Hyperallergic)That insistence on the “purity” of analog film projection is a large part of the New Beverly’s appeal today. It has a strict no-digital rule, showing only celluloid prints. In a world in which theatrical exhibition is crowded by gimmicks like 3D and 4DX, there’s simplicity and warm familiarity of a physical print, one a viewer can literally see history through its little pops and scratches. The theater has often been one of a few venues, if not the only one, in the city to show 35mm versions of contemporary films, such as The Meyerowitz Stories or Dunkirk. When it showed Okja in 2017, a 35mm print was struck exclusively for the theater. That’s the sway the New Beverly holds over cinephiles.
The theater’s schedule for its comeback ably shows off its programming sensibility. There are well-known classics like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, and, for the Christmas season, It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. There are lesser-known but related films paired with some of them, like Butch & Sundance: The Early Days before Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Capone after The Untouchables. There are more obscure titles, like a double feature from journeyman director Henry Hathaway: the 1971 Gregory Peck vehicle Shoot Out and 1967’s The Last Safari. There are midnight screenings of cult favorites like Dazed and Confused and Death Race 2000. And it wouldn’t be the New Beverly without a Hong Kong action double, with 1994’s A Taste of Killing and Dying and 1997’s The Odd One Dies. With the theater’s continued existence as a haven for old-fashioned film exhibition secure, this overhaul marks just one more chapter in its story.
The New Beverly cinema marquee (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)Check out the New Beverly Cinema’s (7165 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles) upcoming programming here.

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