Monday night movies at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse

—Photo by Michael Cummo

Did the shrill cries of children and haunted harpsichord melodies seeping out of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse make you mistake Monday night for this Friday’s Halloween? If writer Truman Capote, actress Deborah Kerr, or Monday night’s host, Jamie Alley from Island Entertainment Video, had a say, they hoped you were among the fortunate audience who received this early cinematic trick or treat. Monday kicked off the Playhouse’s classic film series with Jack Clayton’s chilling 1961 thriller The Innocents.

If you have yet to experience the gloriously renovated Vineyard Playhouse and the Patricia Neal Stage, one of the Island’s foremost film aficionado’s, Jamie Alley, is thrilled to offer a “quirky but interesting curation of classic films in this equally wonderful venue.” A film fan since the age of 12, a theater professional, and the decades-long manager of Island Entertainment Video in Vineyard Haven, Mr. Alley’s expertise was demonstrated as he gave the introduction to the first in what should be a wonderful film series.

The Innocents, adapted from the Henry James novella The Turn of The Screw, did not fall prey to what so many slashers did at that time,” Mr. Alley said. “Instead, they produced something far more classy and elegant.” Mr. Alley went on to present technical tidbits, screenplay stories, casting choices, and production points as naturally as if we were sharing a seat in his own home theater.

Co-written by Truman Capote, this fantastically chilling and often overlooked Gothic ghost story stars Deborah Kerr as a naive, and perhaps neurotic, nanny charged with two precocious children in an English manor haunted with memories. “Kerr was underrated as an actress, but she’s so great in this role because it required intelligence, a psychological horror she does beautifully,” Mr. Alley said before the screening. “I chose this film to start the series because it’s Halloween week of course, but it’s a little less known than The Haunting and others of the time. It’s really nuanced, and really scary.”

“We had tried a classic film series a couple of years ago, but now with the renovation we thought it would be more successful,” Mr. Alley explained. “As you’ll see, the digital projection is beautiful and the space is intended to host a wide range of events: cabaret, spoken word, and film.” To see The Innocents on such a grand screen was breathtaking, but to hear the haunting soundtrack in such acoustic perfection was the real treat.

A look at the tentative schedule easily turns the Monday night moody blues into Monday night movie memories. Screenings begin at 7:30 at the M.V. Playhouse. $5 cash only.

Nov. 3: The Trouble with Harry (1955, directed by Alfred Hitchcock)

Nov. 10:  All That Heaven Allows (1955, directed by Douglas Sirk)

Nov.  17: Sitting Pretty (1948, directed by Walter Lang)

Nov. 24: Miracle on 34th Street (1947, directed by George Seaton)