Grand Illusion

June 12th & June 20th


Check back for showtimes.

Wed, Jun 12 to Thu, Jun 20

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The Harris Theater, at 809 Liberty Ave in downtown Pittsburgh, first opened its doors as the Avenue Cinema in September of 1931.  From the start, It specialized in showing ‘unusual and artistic films from other lands’, a mission that stayed when it was renamed the Art Cinema in 1933.  For over 30 years the Art Cinema showcased a schedule of films that swung back forth across multiple genres. Exploitation classics like REEFER MADNESS, ASSASSIN OF YOUTH,  and THE DEVIL'S SLEEP shared screen time with foreign films like TALES OF HOFFMAN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and OPEN CITY, all reaching Pittsburgh audiences for the first time in an auditorium that still shows films to this day.  Join us for two weeks as we celebrate the high and low art of cinema in a historic single screen theater.  All screenings are free and open to the public!


One of the very first prison escape movies, Grand Illusion (1937) is hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. Jean Renoir's antiwar masterpiece stars Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay as French soldiers held in a World War I German prison camp, and Erich von Stroheim as the unforgettable Captain von Rauffenstein. Aristocratic Captain de Boeldieu and his mechanic, Lieutenant Maréchal are shot down by Captain von Rauffenstein, who treats them with customary officers' hospitality. The two downed pilots are then sent to a German POW camp, where they quickly join a group of prisoners who have concocted an elaborate escape plan. Their plot is foiled, however, as they are transferred to a new camp, the formidable Wintersborn fortress, run by Rauffenstein, who is now grounded due to battle wounds. Rauffenstein, lamenting the end of an aristocratic era, tries to befriend de Boeldieu, but the French captain is already hatching a new escape plan - one in which he puts himself in danger to allow the others to escape. GRAND ILLUSION was the first foreign film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination. It played at the Art Cinema/Harris Theater in December of 1938!

114 min / Not Rated / Starring Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim, Marcel Dalio / Drama Directed by Jean Renoir / France 1937 In French with subtitles