‘At This Place in History,’ we’re at the Paramount Theater in Barre with Amanda Gustin, the Public Program Manager from the Vermont Historical Society.
“One of the reasons its historic, besides being 100 years old, is that this theater hosted the world premier of the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Trouble with Harry, said Gustin. “It’s a very Hitchcock-kind of movie. And when he was looking for places to film someone said, you should definitely go to Vermont.”
“Hitchcock had this vision in his mind of a sort of towering, spreading maple tree atop a hill with a vista beyond that. They found exactly that hill exactly, what he was looking for in Craftsbury, Vermont. And when it came time to premier the movie, he decided he wanted to do that here, too. He chose the Paramount Theater,” said Gustin.
“The movie premiers on September 30, 1955. It’s a huge deal very, I mean, huge. So they hold this banquet at the Memorial Auditorium. Eight-hundred people had a sit-down lobster dinner, they had this big, tall head table where Hitchcock and the star of the film making her feature-film debut, Shirley MacLaine at 21 years old,” said Gustin. “We’ve all seen her in everything over the years, but this was the first time she had a film right here in Barre Vermont. All six New England governors were in attendance along with news reporters and film critics from all over the world. Maybe there was someone from a newspaper in Paris. I wish I could have been there.”
“It was such a big deal that the city council of Barre at the time voted Alfred Hitchcock an honorary citizen and the mayor of Barre. So when the Trouble with Harry premiered, they could seat 1,161 people inside, both the regular floor seats and balcony. The movie itself was actually kind of a flop in the United States. It’s really dark humor. You really have to be into a really kind of a cutting kind of edge of humor to really enjoy the movie,” said Gustin.
But it really hit it off in Europe. Something about that dark humor really appealed in Paris for a year straight in one particular theater. People kept packing the house to go and see it. So it just wasn’t quite up to American tastes in 1955. Although today, you know, a lot of people really love it as a movie that was both filmed and set in Vermont and had its world premiere here in Vermont,” said Gustin.
‘At this Place in History.’