City Life

The Cable Car Celebrates 40 Years

The art house cinema marks four decades with 11 flicks from '76

East Side Monthly Magazine ·

In 1976, two brothers named Ray and Al opened the Cable Car Cinema. We may have traded Taxi Driver for Suicide Squad over those 40 years, but the Cable Car is still here to offer an alternative to big budget escapism. To celebrate its anniversary, it will be presenting 24 straight hours of programming from 1976 starting at noon on October 1.

“We could have gone obscure, but we want this to be accessible,” explains owner Daniel Kamil, who in 2008 purchased the then-struggling theater with his wife and partner Emily Steffian. Though counter to its usual programming, the marathon will serve as a near-perfect representation of what the movies were like in 1976. Taxi Driver, sadly, won’t be available for screening, but audiences can expect Peter Sellers’ fifth at-bat as dimwitted French Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther Strikes Again and classics like Rocky, Carrie and Network, which seems to get more frightening with each passing year.

In its 40 years, the Cable Car has endured cable and home video, the rise of the multiplex and the fall of analog presentation. But obstacles persist for all art house theaters, especially in a contemporary landscape where our phones are the only gatekeeper between us and watching a movie.

“We struggle existentially,” says Daniel. “What is the meaning of a cinema when we have the ability to see everything on our phone? The only thing that we’re selling is community. Is that important? We make the case that it is.”

I agree. If you need me on October 1, I’ll be sitting in the dark, basking in the cinematic spirit of ‘76 with a room full of strangers. Find the full line up and showtimes online.

Cable Car Cinema and Cafe
204 South Main Street

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