The Mini Cinema on Long Island wasn’t much to look at either inside or out. It was fairly modern and comfortable compared to other repertory theatres which were often older places in need of repair. Those were the days of the ’70’s and ’80’s when a small repertory theatre could exist in a suburban neighborhood forty miles from NYC. In retrospect I’ve realized that I received a great part of my film education in that auditorium.
The programming at The Mini Cinema ran usually with a pattern of what were called “Head Films” on the weekends and midnight shows to more classic or eclectic titles during the weekdays. “Head Films” were anything from JIMI PLAYS BERKELEY, EL TOPO, PINK FLAMINGOS, 200 MOTELS, etc. During the week there might be a Fellini or Bergman double-bill, a Marx Brothers, Bogart or Bette Davis festival, films by Robert Downey Sr., first run showing of THE HARDER THE COME and ROCK n ROLL HIGH SCHOOL with all of The Ramones there opening weekend.
My friends and I spent many many nights at The Mini Cinema during high school. It was nothing for a group of us to go see The Marx Brothers films over and over. One of my favorite movie going experience there was hearing my friend Alice being the only audience member laughing at Chico’s piano antics. The anticipation of when she would start was palatable for all of us. It was part of the whole experience and she never disappointed. The fact that one night you could go to The Mini and see a classic comedy and the next night see Fellini’s LA STRADA was a god-send for me. It honed my appreciation of film that sticks to this day.
The Mini Cinema had a mascot named Sam. He was a big friendly dog that loved all the attention he received. Sam loved to roam the auditorium and admittedly the first time you felt him brush past was startling. He never refused any treat. I’m sure if he could have talked he would have had the best film knowledge of any dog in the world. Guaranteed!