Thursdays at the DFT

Thursdays are often an energetic day when people try to get a lot of work done before the Friday feeling kicks in. When they go home from their job that day, they know they’ve finished a big part of their work week, and now they can relax a little as the weekend rolls in.

This fall, the Detroit Film Theatre has added Thursday evenings to its schedule. The DFT also has stopped showing movies on Mondays, which for many years played host to one-time showings of intriguing films of limited appeal. Monday evenings were great opportunities for the DFT to showcase undiscovered gems.

The shift of the film lineup to Thursdays also brings a general change in the DFT programming. During many weeks in the Fall/Winter 2006 season, Thursdays are used to kick off a three-day run of a movie that overlaps with a second three-day engagement that runs from Fridays to Sundays.

So now, a Friday or Saturday night at the DFT can be a double bill of films like the American independent film Half Nelson and the Iraq documentary My Country, My Country. In December, you can enjoy the Spanish thriller The Aura and the delicate American film Old Joy. And Sunday nights have picked up the director retrospectives that in recent years had been shown on Monday evenings.

That’s quite a change from, say, the outstanding early 1992 DFT season (Raise the Red Lantern, Howards End), when most weekends featured one film that was shown on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Fallen Idol

On Thursday, October 12, 2006, the DFT presented The Fallen Idol, a 1948 British film directed by Carol Reed. This sharp thriller helped continue the DFT’s mission of educating its visitors about different threads of film history. This season, those threads also include old Japanese films; silent movies; and German cinema from around 1930.

Carol Reed also directed The Third Man, which was shown at the DFT in January 2000. While watching The Fallen Idol, I thought of similarities between the two films, both written by Graham Greene.

The disorienting camera angles, the nighttime street chases, the mysterious beauties (Michele Morgan in The Fallen Idol, Alida Valli in The Third Man).

I also thought of that extraordinary period in British film history that in 1948 alone also produced Hamlet, Oliver Twist and The Red Shoes.

I had also been reflecting on this new experience of Thursday night visits to the DFT. Street parking was a little more difficult, so remind me to hold on to the parking vouchers that the DFT generously provides patrons.

The atmosphere in the DFT lobbies, cafe and auditorium seemed a little more relaxed than at the Monday movies. In the Crystal Gallery Cafe, small candles flickered on each table and the gentle dusk of this autumn evening was framed by the elegant windows of the cafe.

On Friday at work, I thought back to my enjoyment of The Fallen Idol. I also looked forward to maybe seeing the DFT’s other movies that weekend, the Chinese Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles and the Japanese The Face of Another.

This new schedule is part of the DFT’s continuing effort to maintain and renew itself. That goal came through strongly before The Fallen Idol when the Membership Chairperson of the Friends of Detroit Film Theatre, Margaret Thomas, enthusiastically updated visitors about the progress of the renovation of the DFT auditorium.

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Copyright © 2006 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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