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:: By Mary Ruth Yoe

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Editor's Notes: Doc-steady

You don’t have to be a film snob to spend a lot of time at Max Palevsky Cinema—or to be glad that film snobs pick the shows.

In the 1970s the Edinburgh University Film Society screened its offerings a few blocks from the George Square campus, at the Odeon on Clerk Street. Unlike Miss Jean Brodie, the Odeon, née the New Victoria, had long since passed her prime. But for sheer size (1,780 seats) and scenic chutzpah (the original 1930s Greek-style statuary had been updated in 1960 with a light-studded ceiling that mimicked a star-filled sky), the cinema was sometimes more memorable than the movies that played there.

Compared to Edinburgh’s now-shuttered Odeon, the Max Palevsky Cinema in Ida Noyes Hall is newer (it opened in 1986), smaller (500 seats), and lacking in overhead sparkle. But Max Palevsky is bright seven days a week, thanks to Doc Films—at 76 the longest continuously running student film society in the nation.


A scene from Bad Education—which ended Doc Films’ Wednesday series, “¡Viva Pedro! The Films of Pedro Almodóvar”—appeared on the winter-quarter pass.

Doc’s entry in The Film Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Filmological Knowledge (Broadway, 2006) says it all:“Hard-core beyond words and lay comprehension, the society is populated by 19-year-olds who have already seen every film ever made, and boasts its own Dolby Digital–equipped cinema and an impressive roster of alumni that includes Snob-revered critic Dave Kehr [AB’75].”

Having watched Bruce Willis in Die Hard with a Vengeance and John Travolta in Michael (notable for its Gleacher Center cameos) as often as they appear on cable, I do not qualify as a film snob. Like many Hyde Parkers, however, I’m a Doc semi-regular. I show up the first Monday or Tuesday night of each academic quarter to buy a Doc pass ($26, or $24 with the previous quarter’s pass), sure that this time I’ll make it to at least 20 of the 70-plus offerings. This winter, thanks to a Wednesday-night series featuring works by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, including some that haven’t yet made it to Netflix, I’m well on my way.

Doc’s price is right, and so is its ambiance. Who needs oversized buckets of popcorn and bottomless cups of pop when you’re surrounded by people who get the same jokes you do? When things go wrong for Doc’s projection-booth rookies—and they do—the crowd knows its cues: “Sound! Sound!” greets a talkie turned silent movie. “Focus!” is self-explanatory. “Hey!” gets reserved for times when the vertical roll is off, while “What the f@#*!” expresses that moment when people start to realize that, no, the director isn’t that inventive—the reels must be out of order.

The power of love

When weasked Magazine readers to answer one of the College’s essay questions through the medium of PowerPoint, we received some creative submissions (see “Lite of the Mind” for the successful opus, and go to for the wait-listed entrants). But when we asked you to tell us about the spouse you met or married at Chicago, the e-mail floodgates burst open. By the Valentine’s Day cut-off, we’d received scores of love stories, which we will share in the May–June/08 issue. In the meantime, thanks for your memories.—M.R.Y.