Wednesday, January 8, 2020

THE SECRET CINEMA - Paul Bartel (1968)

I've got a real special Weirdo Wednesday feature for you tonight, a movie I knew nothing about until yesterday, and I think it is one of the most interesting movies I've seen lately! "The Secret Cinema" was written, directed, and produced by funny guy Paul Bartel in 1968, and if I was teaching a film class, this would be mandatory viewing!

To start off with, "The Secret Cinema" is only 30 minutes long, which I think is a perfect length for a film since I have a short attention span! Get in there, don't waste any time, and get it done! IMDB says the estimated budget was only $5000.00. Today, people can't even make a 30 second commercial for that amount of money!
The star of the show is Amy Vane as Jane in her only acting credit ever, and she does a freaking amazing job!

Jane's beau is obviously named Dick, and of course, he is one too!
Dick is played by Paul ( Fall To Rise) Carlson.

Hard to imagine, but this was all that you needed in 1968, a radio, a phone (Not a mini-computer, but a phone) and something to drink!

Connie Ellison as Helen is Jane's best friend. This was also Connie's only credit!
1968 with a black woman in a strong lead role, Paul Bartel was an innovator no doubt!
I sure wish Paul hadn't passed away 20 years ago so I could ask him some questions about how and where he came up with these women.

In a nutshell, here's the deal! 
Jane is in a movie of her daily life that she doesn't know anything about, but all the other characters in the movie do. They film her every move, and then screen the movies at a local theatre and have a good laugh, all at Jane's expense. In this scene, Jane's Mom spills the beans that she can't wait to see the next episode and find out what happens to her daughter, but it goes right over Jane's head! In the meantime, the krazy waitress brings her a meal she didn't order!

Jane is in the lady's room when she hears a couple of girls talking about her life! At this point she's really starting to wonder what is going on!

Helen talks Jane into going out with her repugnant boss, and gets her all dolled up for the occasion!

They go out to a dance club where the music is being played by The Rusty Nails.

Jane finally finds the theatre where her life is on display, but they won't let her in because she is not a member and doesn't have a ticket!

A truly marvelous Mimi Randolph plays the cashier, the waitress, and the nurse!!!
Mimi showed back up in 1994 to be on one episode of "Law And Order."

The next showing will be the last!

Jane runs away from the theatre in terror after seeing all her friends and family leaving the movie!

She sleeps out on the sidewalk that night, and when she comes to, the theatre apparently is now a super market, and Jane thinks she's losing her mind, so she heads on over to talk to the only person she trusts, her Psychiatrist !

Barry Dennen as Jane's shrink was the most experienced actor on the set. He was Fred in the "Batman" TV show, and among other things was doing cartoon voices since the 80's. From about 1995 until 2016, Barry did tons and tons of voices for video games like "Infinity Blade III," and "Heavenly Sword."

In 1986, the TV show "Amazing Stories" did a remake of "The Secret Cinema" and Paul Bartel played the role of the Psychiatrist. To make it even better, Barry Dennen was in that episode too, but in a different role, and Mary Woronov had the role of the nurse!

The jig is up. The Doctor is running the whole show!

I still can't hardly believe this was Amy Vane's only role ever, because she was just really good!

Poor Jane! There's no happy ending for her!

Jane ends up in straitjacket city, and Helen starts demanding that she needs a bigger piece of the action because she played such a large role in Jane's demise!

As the camera backs out and we see the theatre audience, we now know that Helen is getting played, and is unknowingly the star of the next movie!!
What a great little film, and guess what, you can watch it for free at
The Internet Archive!
And I suggest that you do!


KD said...

One of the very first VHS tapes I ever bought back in the day was this one! Paul Bartel, along with his movie gal pal Mary Woronov, produced a remake of this for the NBC 1980s anthology TV series, AMAZING STORIES. While the re-do was very slick thanks to the big Universal TV budget, alas, it lost most of its charm in the process.

Randall Landers said...

Is this the first instance of a Truman-Show-esque plot?

EEGAH!! said...

I think that is quite possible!

KD said...

Makes sense to me too, based on the descriptions found online about The Truman Show.

I should point out that I misspoke when saying that Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov "produced" the AMAZING STORIES remake of Secret Cinema. But they played roles in it, though. Been so long since I saw it!

Monster Music

Monster Music
AAARRGGHHH!!!! Ya'll Come On Back Now, Y'Hear??