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Looking Back

September 1964

Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in September 1964. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.

For more information about these theaters, see Cinema Treasures or Water Winter Wonderland.


A Hard Day's Night with the Beatles had a wide release in the Detroit metropolitan area on Wednesday, September 2, 1964 that included the United Artists theater in downtown Detroit.

In the suburbs, A Hard Day's Night opened at the Birmingham, the Circle, the Macomb, the Mai Kai, the Mel, the Washington, the Woods, and the Wyandotte Main. It also played in drive-ins, including the Wayne where it was paired with Elvis Presley in It Happened at the World's Fair.

A Hard Day's Night had earlier opened in London on July 6, 1964 and in New York City on August 11, 1964.

"One nice thing about this first film to star the Beatles: it is not, by any manner of means, the usual sort of thing British film makers come up with to exploit the latest show business sensation," read a review of A Hard Day's Night in The Times of London on July 7, 1964. "Indeed, if anything it goes rather too far the other way; it is so rough and grainy, so choppy and new wave in its editing, so obtrusively handheld in its camerawork that by the end, more than a little dazzled and deafened, one may find oneself thinking back nostalgically to the good old straightforward days of Orchestra Wives."

"This is going to surprise you-it may knock you right out of your chair-but the new film with those incredible chaps, the Beatles, is a whale of a comedy," wrote Bosley Crowther in the New York Times on August 12, 1964. "I wouldn't believe it either, if I hadn't seen it with my own astonished eyes, which have long since become accustomed to seeing disasters happen when newly fledged pop-singing sensations are hastily rushed to the screen."

Other downtown Detroit movies when A Hard Day's Night opened were The Red Death (Vincent Price) at the Fox; Of Human Bondage (Kim Novak, Laurence Harvey) at the Madison; It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in Cinerama at the Music Hall; the Italian Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni) at the Grand Circus; A House is Not a Home (Shelley Winters, Robert Taylor) at the Michigan; The Killers (Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and Ronald Reagan in his last movie) at the Palms; The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Debbie Reynolds) at the Adams; and Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) at the Fine Arts.

The Mercury, a Detroit neighborhood theater that hosted first run movies, was screening A Shot in the Dark (Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer). The Redford featured a double bill of McHale's Navy (Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway) and Island of the Blue Dolphins (George Kennedy).

In Detroit, the first run of A Hard Day's Night coincided with the first live appearance of the Beatles in Detroit at Olympia Stadium on September 6, 1964. In an article in the Detroit Daily Press of September 8, 1964, Paul McCartney commented on the group's visit: "It's all very flattering. We got a very nice reception here. But how can I say that I like Detroit? I haven't seen it."

(The Detroit Daily Press was published during a strike at the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News in 1964).

A Hard Day's Night opened in Ann Arbor on Thursday, September 3, 1964 at the State Theater.

Also playing in Ann Arbor on September 3, 1964 were Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni) at the Michigan; A Shot in the Dark (Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer) at the Campus; Rhino! and Walt Disney's Miracle of the White Stallions at the Ypsi-Ann Drive-In; and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (Tony Randall, Arthur O'Connell) and Hud (Paul Newman) at the Scio Drive-In.

A Hard Day's Night played a held-over run at the State until September 12, 1964. It was followed by an Alfred Hitchcock double feature of To Catch a Thief (Cary Grant, Grace Kelly) and Vertigo (James Stewart, Kim Novak).

Click here to see a PDF of newspaper images relating to the opening of A Hard Day's Night.


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Launched November 25, 2005.

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