In a Minor Key

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I’m always grateful when one of the Detroit Movie Palaces shows a lesser known old movie. I know it doesn’t help their bottom line as much as more famous films, but it does help further their mission to create unique movie-going experiences for area film lovers.

Recent such screenings have included the moody and atmospheric 1938 French movie Port of Shadows at the Detroit Film Theatre on January 18, 2014, and the 1941 screwball comedy The Lady Eve at the Redford Theatre on March 14 and 15, 2014.

Another minor classic graced the screen of the Michigan Theater on April 27, 2014, with the latest entry in the theater’s four-month salute to director Alfred Hitchcock—the 1955 dark comedy The Trouble with Harry.

I had never seen this movie on the big screen before, and the Michigan’s ambitious lineup of 33 Hitchcock movies helped make this possible. In a smaller selection of Hitchcock movies, the 1950s probably would have been represented by better known works like Rear Window, Vertigo, and North By Northwest.

The spacious Michigan Theater main auditorium helped enhance the experience of watching The Trouble with Harry. It was the perfect way to appreciate the beautiful autumn colors of the VistaVision widescreen color photography.

The surreal, off-center texture of the plot grabbed you more effectively in the company of audience members who were just as curious as you about where the movie was heading. You could almost feel something strange in the air, as you watched a movie that was completely different from any previous Hitchcock film.

After the movie ended, with applause, you could feel a communal release of mild tension in the form of chuckles and comments as people compared their observations of the film.

Outside the theater, people enjoyed the sunshine of a mild spring day. The main school year ends soon for many University of Michigan students, who will fill the streets of Ann Arbor for just another few days before taking a summer break.

Across the street from the Michigan Theater are several new tenants of the old Borders bookstore building, including a bank and some restaurants. That is good news for the Michigan Theater and other area businesses, who will now see more foot traffic and nighttime lighting in the area.

The Hitchcock series at the Michigan moves into its final month, with several more of the restored silent films that are the basis for the series. Also screening are such audience favorites as Psycho and series finale The Birds on May 27.

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Copyright © 2014 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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