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Looking Back

July 1959

Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in July 1959. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.

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


North by Northwest with Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason opened in Detroit at the Adams Theatre on Friday, July 10, 1959. It had its world premiere in Chicago on July 1, 1959 and later opened in New York City on August 6, 1959. In Detroit, North by Northwest succeeded Ask Any Girl (David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, Gig Young).

"Ever since the Keystone Kops the chase has been a prime ingredient," wrote Detroit Free Press Movie Critic Helen Bower on July 10, 1959. "Chase pioneer Mack Sennett would, I'm sure, bow before Alfred Hitchcock as producer-director of 'North by Northwest,' opening Friday at the Adams Theater."

"Alfred Hitchcock is up to his old tricks in 'North by Northwest,' and that means that audiences at the Adams are being treated to entertainment that produces goose pimples and laughs at a lively clip as the plot races all over the map," wrote Al Weitschat in The Detroit News on July 10, 1959.

Other downtown Detroit movies when North by Northwest opened were Hercules (Steve Reeves) and Island of Lost Women (Jeff Richards) at the Broadway-Capitol; Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty and Sabu and the Magic Ring at the Fox; and This Earth is Mine! (Rock Hudson, Jean Simmons, Dorothy McGuire) at the Madison.

Also in downtown Detroit were The Nun's Story (Audrey Hepburn) at the Michigan; the Cinerama South Seas Adventure at the Music Hall; Last Train from Gun Hill (Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn) and Battle Flame (Scott Brady) at the Palms; news and short subjects at the Telenews; and Anatomy of a Murder (James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara) at the United Artists.

The Redford was screening Rio Bravo (John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson) and Shake Hands with the Devil (James Cagney, Dana Wynter). Rio Bravo also headlined many drive-in double features.

Art house films included a reissue of Charlie Chaplin's 1925 silent comedy The Gold Rush at the Coronet; Room at the Top (Laurence Harvey, Simone Signoret) at the Studio; Diary of a Bad Girl and Folies Bergère (Zizi Jeanmaire) at the Surf; and Love is My Profession (Jean Gabin, Brigitte Bardot) at the Trans-Lux Krim.

North by Northwest played at the Adams for three months until October 15, 1959, before being replaced with It Started with a Kiss (Glenn Ford, Debbie Reynolds).

North by Northwest began its Detroit neighborhood and suburban run on October 28, 1959 when it opened at the Redford and many other theaters. It played on double bills at the Redford with Cry Tough (John Saxon, Linda Cristal) and Ten Seconds to Hell (Jack Palance, Jeff Chandler) until November 3, 1959, and was followed by Anatomy of a Murder (James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara).

Ann Arbor audiences were treated to the opening of North by Northwest at the Michigan on Saturday, August 1, 1959 after a run of Walt Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

Also playing in Ann Arbor on August 1 were Don't Give Up the Ship (Jerry Lewis) at the State; Jacques Tati's My Uncle at the Campus; Alias Jesse James (Bob Hope) and The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (Clifton Webb) at the Ypsi-Ann Drive-In; and Stranger in My Arms (June Allyson, Jeff Chandler) and The Law and Jake Wade (Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark) at the Scio Drive-In.

North by Northwest played at the Michigan in Ann Arbor until August 12, 1959. It was followed by Frank Capra's A Hole in the Head (Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, Eleanor Parker).


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This website is not affiliated with the Detroit Film Theatre, the Michigan Theater, or the Redford Theatre.

Website copyright © 2018 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

Launched November 25, 2005.

Last updated July 2, 2018.

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