Brattle Theatre maven Cyrus Harvey dies at age 85


One of my fondest memories of the 60s was heading to Harvard Square after school and hanging out at the arcade under the Brattle and then sneaking into a screening of a movie like "Blow-up" upstairs. The shops down below had a redolence of incense and weird soaps and other hippie products from bistros like "Truc,"  scents that now are Proustian evocations for me, and in watching Antonioni's great film I snuck into my first X-rated movie and got my first glance of pubic hair on screen, along with most of the rest of America. Heady times for a 14-year-old attending a Jesuit high school.

None of this would have been possible, or the establishment one of the US's greatest independent movie houses, or the American showings of foreign masterpieces including "L'Avventura," "The Seventh Seal," and "La Strada," without Cyrus Harvey, who died last Thursday at the age of 85. Harvey, along with partner Bryant Haliday, owned the Brattle Theatre and founded the distribution company Janus Films [Harvey later made dollars out of those arcade scents by creating the company Crabtree & Evelyn]. They helped engender a renaissance, short-lived though it might have been, of independent and foreign cinema in America. Long may his theater and his inspiration live on.

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