Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Movies Go to the Movies: 10 to Midnight

10 to Midnight (1983, J. Lee Thompson)
Aero Theatre, Santa Monica, CA

"You know what this is for, Warren? It's for jerking off!!!"-Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson)

After subjecting myself to a double bill of two underwhelming recent films (Taken, the Friday the 13th reboot) that attempt to replicate the trashy aesthetics of the 70s-80s American B-movie, I was ready for the real thing. Luckily I had a Charles Bronson film in the mail courtesy of Netflix, and not just any Bronson movie, 10 to Midnight, his first film produced by the Cannon Group (the studio which would release every movie starring him from here until the end of the decade), which incidentally enough was a kind of hybrid of the two modern films in that it featured a highly trained protective father and a serial killer with a thing for young nubile ladies. While it's yet another entry in Bronson's post-Death Wish shtick where his renegade character is the only sane man in a pansy society where crime reigns and the police are ineffectual due to rules like Miranda rights and shit like that, it does have the novel twist of pitting the Bronson archetype against a serial killer who stalks women in the nude. To clarify, he actually undresses before chasing his prey!

Early in the film, our stripping serial killer decides to head to the movies and try to pick up on some young girls to establish an alibi when he leaves out the bathroom window to murder his target. Which movie does he see? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And where does he go to see it? Even with out any shot's of the theatre's name above the marquee, anyone whose been there will discern this is Santa Monica's own Aero theatre.

Aero denizens will appreciate that not only were the exterior scenes shot on location, so were the interior shots, including the lobby, the actual theatre, even the tiny restroom whose window serve as our villain's escape route.

The Aero has been a neighborhood fixture on Montana Avenue since 1939 and was the boyhood cinema of actor/director/Sundance film festival founder Robert Redford (not sure if Butch Cassidy playing there in this scene is a shout-out or a mere coincidence). I was unable to track down too much information about the theatre's history, I gathered it was a second run theatre in the late 70's/early 80's (the time 10 to Midnight was filmed) and ran as a AMC theatre until 2002 (I remember The Bourne Identity was playing there the first time I visited the area shortly after moving to Los Angeles). In 2003 it was purchased by the American Cinematheque who took over the programming, turning it into a repertory theatre and sister site to it's similar renovation/reacquisition, Hollywood Boulevard's Egyptian theatre.

So today, you are just as likely, if not more, to catch a screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid there then you were in 1983.

Additional Link/Places of Interests:

The Aero Theatre's Cinema Treasures site

The American Cinematheque website

Related Posts with Thumbnails