March 3, 2024

THE AUTOMAT, streaming from May 13 through May 26

Showing: Streamng from May 13 through May 26
Title: The Automat
Year: 2021
Country: USA
Genre: ,
Actors: ,,,,

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“The Automat” recounts the lost history of the iconic restaurant chain Horn & Hardart, which served affordable-priced quality food to millions of New Yorkers and Philadelphians for more than a century. Found by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in 1888, it revolutionized the nation’s restaurant scene with comfortable interiors, quality food, and state of the art technology for the early 20th century. The chain welcomed those who had been ignored, including immigrants, the working-class, Blacks, and women, all of whom were often not welcome in restaurants. Horn & Hardart’s technology captured the public’s imagination like nothing else in 1900’s— the customer put nickels into slots and little windows opened to reveal the customer’s pick, be it a slice of pie, macaroni and cheese, or a Salisbury steak. The gleaming glass and stainless-steel windows looked like nothing else in existence. “The Automat” illustrates how the company both served the public with great food and at the same time treated its employees with fairness and integrity. USA, 2021, 79 minutes, documentary.

Meet the Filmmaker. Director Lisa Hurwitz will join us for a Zoom discussion on Wednesday, May 25 at 6:00 pm, with Chris Spezial, Program Director of the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program of the RCC School of Business and Professional Studies. Register for the discussion here:

Community Partner: The RCC Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center.




Watch The Automat on our new Rivertown Film Virtual Theater on Eventive. With our own Virtual Theater, members of Rivertown Film will receive a $2 discount for this film. If you have already used Eventive and have a password, please continue to use it. If you can’t remember your password, use the “reset password” function and create a new one, then write it down for future use! When you purchase your ticket you will have 4 days to “unlock” your viewing once the film is available on May 13 (you’ll receive a reminder email). When you unlock the film, you will have 3 days to watch it. If you have any problems, you can use the “Need Help?” link at the top of the page, which connects to a live chat.  For information on viewing on a variety of devises or if you would like to connect your devise to a smart TV with Cromecast, AirPlay, Apple TV apps, Roku, or with an HDMI cable, you’ll find instructions (and other information) on this FAQ page. And if you are worried that your devise will be incompatible with this platform and that confirmation emails won’t go to your spam folder, test it out HERE.

“Sweet and shaggy. An engrossing tale of cultural harmony. Plunge(s) us… into states of delight and visceral lament. Feels like the key to some lock on the American soul. Rapturous accounts of the women who changed dollars into nickels… Brooks goes gaga at the thought of the Automat’s coconut custard. ‘God made that,’ he says.” – Wesley Morris, The New York Times

“(THE AUTOMAT) is something special. I loved (the film) for its mixture of fragrant recollections and astute social history. What’s surprising in the extreme is how moving the film can be in evoking those places of welcome during an era of American optimism.” – Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

“4 (out of 5) STARS. A valentine to pie and a nickel coffee. Hurwitz resists the temptation to turn this story into parable about corporate capitalism, She never loses sight of the deeper reason for our interest: our longing for togetherness in whatever form it takes.– Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“Impressive. Boasts unmistakable charms. The undesignated narrator is Mel Brooks. Hurwitz supplements the talking heads with tasty archival footage and sharp graphics. Her film is sleek and unpretentious. It wins us over with humor and a pointed touch of melancholy.” – Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter