In the Midnight Hour: A History of Late-Night Movies

Apr 3 – May 30, 2024

El Topo, 1972

In New York City, at the beginning of the 1970s, one man revolutionized the way underground cinema was brought to an audience. Credited with launching midnight screenings of wild and weird films, Ben Barenholtz (1935–2019) would program his transgressive cinematic discoveries at Chelsea’s Elgin Theater into the late hours of the night, sometimes for months-long runs and typically to packed houses. His first success was with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s acid Western El Topo, at the peak of what J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum called “the counterculture cash-in” of 1970 in their 1983 book, Midnight Movies. On the occasion of the Academy Museum’s exhibition John Waters: Pope of Trash, and in honor of Waters’s third feature Pink Flamingos’s success at the Elgin Theater as a raucous late-night mainstay in 1972, this series presents an overview of cult favorites that first found their fans in the midnight hour.  

Programmed by K.J. Relth-Miller.
Notes by Patrick Lowry and K.J. Relth-Miller.

Academy Museum film programming generously funded by the Richard Roth Foundation.