The Music Box: An Old-Fashioned Movie Date for the 4th of July

This Fourth of July,  the fellow and I went to one of my absolute favorite places in Chicago: The Music Box Theatre.

Me under the marquee!
Me under the marquee!

The Music Box Theatre retains its gorgeous 1929 architecture. It seats 800 people, and has plaster wall decorations and twinkling star lights in the ceiling. It really is a step back in time. Billed as “Chicago’s year-round film festival” it shows a variety of contemporary independent, art-house, and foreign films, as well as frequent classics.

This time, we went to see the 1949 noir classic, The Third Man, starring Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, and Alida Valli.

Set in post-WWII Vienna, The Third Man includes all my noir favorite things, including:

  • A woman with a secret
  • A cynical pulp novelist
  • A British inspector
  • A cat with an agenda
  • A character who is transparently queer
  • Expressionist cinematography
  • Ever so many Dutch angles
  • Snappy speeches, such as:

“You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

The screenplay is by Graham Greene, Carol Reed directed, and the cinematography is so beautiful. The acting is nice, and Orson Welles and Alida Valli are especially good. Seeing it on the big screen in a theatre like The Music Box was just perfect.

We followed our movie viewing with another bit of Americana–(veggie) hotdogs and fries. And then grumbling about kids lighting fireworks in our alley.

What’s your favorite movie theatre? Favorite film? Favorite thing to do on the 4th of July?