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“The Automat” In Theaters




Review by John Delia

Here is a very cool documentary that due to the actual film and file footage should be loved by all. It’s called The Automat and details the famous Horn & Hardart quick meal fast food chain of unique restaurants. The presentation is filled with testimonials, tableaus of the past and surprises. Whether you are a film buff, want a taste of a significant invention that changed America or just want to be amused, The Automat should be on your short list for theater going.

Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks in the documentary THE AUTOMAT all photos courtesy of Slice of the Pie Productions

Introduced by Mel Brooks, just seeing the master of comedy on the screen narrating and singing is worth watching. It’s a plus for Director/Producer Lisa Hurwitz’s film The Automat, as it emphasizes the past with someone notable who was there to see the famous restaurant during its heyday. Horn & Hardart’s Automat is one of the forerunners for the fast food business, and it’s a memorial to food when you want it and especially when you are on the go. Unique, in the idea however, this chain that took over New York City back in the day was an instant hit on Broadway. Loaded with film, articles and those who lived it back in the good old days, it’s a blast from the past.

Students having their lunch at automat during their school excursion, 1964. (Photo by Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Whether you are into nostalgia or just want to be amused by a time that was, this is your kind of motion picture. It’s a must for movie students and historians, but for me it was just pure pleasure. Note the fashions, uniforms, old cars, and trollies of the people in the old film footage and you can let your imagination begin. It even gives you an idea of the value of a dollar back in 1902. It cost 5 cents up to 20 cents depending on the item at the automat, whether it be a sandwich, coffee or desert. For 1 dollar you would get twenty nickels for to use at the automat, enough to modestly feed a family of 4

The Automat has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains no objectionable material. I enjoyed the film so much, I watched it twice. For the production, historical significance and the entertainment value my rating is 5 out of 5 stars. Check out the official trailer of the film below. For a theater near you go to the website www.automatmovie.com

Actress Audrey Hepburn photographed in New York City as part of a multi-day photo shoot for Esquire magazine, 1951.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Ron Barrett, Mel Brooks, Lorraine Diehl, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Colin Powell, Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Directed By: Lisa Hurwitz
Genre: Documentary
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 1 hr. 19 min.
Opening Date: April 29, 2022
Distributed by: Slice of the Pie Productions
Released in: Select Theaters

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