The Projectionist (1971)

Article 3613 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-21-2011
Posting Date: 7-6-2011
Directed by Harry Hurwitz
Featuring Chuck McCann, Ina Balin, Rodney Dangerfield
Country: USA
What it is: Odd art film with fantasy overtones

A projectionist imagines himself as a superhero named Captain Flash as he goes through his daily activities.

In a sense, there’s no way to adequately describe this mixture of slapstick comedy, bittersweet slice-of-life, and cutting satire. In fact, I might even argue that it doesn’t work as a whole; the satire in particular seems out of place with the rest of the movie. Yet, I found myself loving this odd little film, maybe because the main character (and the movie itself) has such an endearing love for old movies that I find myself entranced by it. There’s a massive amount of footage from the classics in here, some of which our projectionist hero interacts with; just as a sampling, there a scenes from CASABLANCA, GUNGA DIN, FLASH GORDON, the Charlie Chaplin short HIS PREHISTORIC PAST, and EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS. There’s a couple of fake movie trailers for THE TERRIBLE WORLD OF TOMORROW and THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF TOMORROW, and the movie opens with GERALD MCBOING-BOING’S SYMPHONY breaking in the projector. The projectionist himself is such a likable guy that we even forgive him the fact that his story about his encounter with a beautiful woman is a lie; even though this footage works in a much more realistic mode than the super-hero footage, it too is in black and white. Rodney Dangerfield fans will probably be disappointed; he plays a straight role as the dictatorial theater manager, and though he also appears as the villain in the super-hero sequences, it’s a far cry from his usual shtick. The movie eventually turns in on itself, but anyone who notices the movie that is listed on the marquee when the projectionist leaves the theater will see that coming. The movie is certainly not for everybody, but I suspect that you won’t have to watch much of it before you know whether it’s for you or not.


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