Tales of the Nugget

In its 100-year history, Hanover’s local movie theater has occasionally produced more drama and comedy in the seats than onscreen.

The Force Awakens
“My fondest memory is camping out to see Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace in the spring of 1999. The movie premiered at midnight, and several of us started waiting for tickets two days before. Several dozen of us ended up sleeping overnight on the sidewalks, scattered all over the area near the theater. My future wife, Emily Copeland ’99, and I grabbed a comfy spot near some of our other friends and had a pretty decent night’s sleep, despite the horrendous snoring of another nearby enthusiast. Needless to say, the excitement built all the next day as we waited for the hotly anticipated premiere, blissfully unaware of the existence of Jar Jar Binks.” —Joe Scott ’00

Digging Himself Deeper
“Jane was a proper girl from Connecticut. In an illustrated dictionary, Jane’s photograph appears next to Fair Isle sweaters adorned with pearls, whereas I was a simple boy from Macon, Georgia. In the spring of senior year this young man’s fancy had turned to love. I thought Jane might be the one, at least for that spring, and I summoned up my courage to ask her to go see Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) at the Nugget. To my delighted surprise, Jane said, yes. Naively, I thought we had bridged the cultural divide. The biographical story of Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter stars Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones and the film stands on its own, even for those who do not know or appreciate country music. I did not understand or admit in 1980 that I was a country music fan, but you could not grow up in Macon without hearing a steel guitar and a mournful twang in the background, the very soundtrack of the place. As the movie ended, a medley of Loretta Lynn’s greatest hits played as the credits rolled. Waiting for our fellow audience members to bundle up before going out into the cold, I began to sing along. Jane looked at me in horrified wonder and exclaimed, ‘Why, Wade, you know these songs!’ With Jane’s pronouncement, I understood that I had been banished to the forever-friend zone.” —Wade Herring ’80

Cinema Paradiso
“The Nugget was where I truly fell in love—with film. In my four years at Dartmouth I probably went to the Nugget once a week, a pattern that I repeated once I moved to Los Angeles to attend film school at USC. My lasting, formative film memory of the Nugget centers around Sophia Coppola’s Lost In Translation (2003). I ended up seeing it three times there. The Nugget remains one of the few theaters outside of film meccas such as New York and Los Angeles where you can see not just big pictures, but smaller, limited-release indie films or documentaries. It’s a Hanover institution and a place that really appreciates film history.” —Jess Tory ’06

Standing Ovation
“In the winter of 1993 I injured my back so badly that I could hardly get out of bed to get to any of my classes and had to withdraw from the semester. I also couldn’t sit down at all, and come spring break I lay on the floor of the Glee Club bus for the entirety of the spring break alumni tour around the Midwest. I stood in the back of the Nugget for the entirety of Schindler’s List because I needed to see the movie. It was so incredible that I barely noticed standing the three hours and 15 minutes that it took.” —Craig Sakowitz ’93

“Yo, Debbie, We Did It”
“Lou Duff ’78 and I went on two Nugget dates in spring 1977 to see first-runs of Annie Hall and Rocky. This year we will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. I guess they were good dates—and great movies.” —Debbie Harmon Duff ’78

A Presidential Summit
“I barely remember it, but a reporter phoned me during the 2008 election who apparently had come across a collection of [Hillary Clinton’s] letters from college, one of which briefly mentioned the ‘date.’ All I recall is we watched Antonioni’s Blowup (1966) at the Nugget. It wasn’t exactly a date, by the way. Hillary was president of her class [at Wellesley] and I was president of my class, so it was more like a presidential summit.” —Robert Reich ’68

Mr. Sentimental
“Jack, my boyfriend, and I went to see Interstellar (2014) after he had treated me to some gelato at Morano’s. I was thoroughly enjoying it until the point when Anne Hathaway’s character has a monologue about love. Right when she said, ‘Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends time and space,’ I started tearing up, but Jack snorted and said, ‘Yeah, sure,’ into the silent theater. Everyone turned around to glare at him and I thought, ‘Wow, I picked a real good one.’ He has since redeemed himself.” —Jin Shin ’17

Hanks for the Memories
“A year after I graduated, in the summer of 1994, my then-boyfriend and now-husband, Justin ‘J’ Rendahl ’91 and I went to see Forrest Gump. It was raining lightly, and after the movie started we began to hear thunder. About three-fourths of the way through the film, lightning struck nearby and the power went out. The Nugget’s emergency lights came on and an employee announced that they would hand out vouchers so we could come back and see the movie some other time. J and I walked out of the theater with our vouchers and spent the next week periodically doing our best Forrest Gump impressions—which usually consisted of ‘Lieutenant Dan! Lieutenant Dan!’ at unexpected moments. We went back to the Nugget a week later to see Forrest Gump in its entirety. Now, whenever we come across it while channel surfing cable TV, we talk about the lightning storm date at the Nugget and call out ‘Lieutenant Dan! Lieutenant Dan!’ Our kids have absolutely no idea what we are talking about.” —Suzanne Spencer Rendahl ’93

Cold Shoulder
“I went to the Nugget on a first date this past winter term. I suggested that my date pick the movie, because I was scared I’d pick something too dorky. Unfortunately she chose Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. Don’t get me wrong, great movie, it’s just hard to be charming and romantic when you’re both left pondering the arbitrary divisions people were willing to kill for during the Cold War when the lights come up. Neither my boyish charm nor gelato could salvage it from there.” —Andres Smith ’17

The Butter End 
“It was 1985. I do not recall the movie. I recall only the svelte Gemma, the coed who would accompany me. The Nugget would be the place for our first date. I tried everything to assure this would not be the last date, including buying the tub of popcorn with extra butter, a lavish treat in those days. Alas, major turnoff: ‘I’m a vegan,’ Gemma said. ‘That butter comes from misusing cows. Please take it away.’ No wonder she was so svelte. And, no, there was no second date.” —Mark Greenstein ’86

Musical Theater
“A long time ago my grandfather, Donald Hunt ’25, filled in for a friend playing piano to accompany a silent movie showing at the Nugget. The friend was unable to play one afternoon and he asked Don to take over ‘because he knew I could play the piano,’ my grandfather recalled. Unfortunately Don knew only one song, ‘Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider.’ He played that song throughout the show. He played it louder and/or faster during the exciting parts of the movie, then softer or slower during the dramatic parts. This led attendees—mostly Dartmouth students—to yell, ‘Music, more music,’ followed by people yelling, ‘No music.’ Don kept playing, however, so the audience stopped shouting and instead began throwing things at him. As soon as the movie ended Don got up and rushed out the side door as fast as he could. He told his friend he wouldn’t be able to play at the Nugget again. As for my own experience, I had my first date with my now-husband Jonathan Drew ’98 at the Nugget. We saw Quiz Show there in October of 1994 and have been together ever since.” —Rachel (Bogardus) Drew ’98

High Times
“I remember going to see 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)—alone and wickedly stoned. I think I was seeing some things that weren’t there. I gave up weed long ago, but it was nearly mandatory when I was at Dartmouth and Thayer School.” —Edward Brazil ’64, Th’65

The Daily Show
“I was a flicks major. I think I can safely say I saw maybe five films per week, usually the early show. They had only one screen. After the show I would go to my Baker carrel to study or just read random books till after midnight. I did have a few Nugget movie dates from various colleges on weekends. I recall a very pretty girl, a future actress, who loved the movies at the Nugget as much as I did. I also recall both sets of parents were pushing hard for a marriage. That did not happen, as no one pays attention to parents in this area. They made some great films in the 1950s, real classics, and my love of films, learned there, continues and has rubbed off on my producer-daughter, who has her third film in post-production. It is a farce called Brave New Jersey, based on Orson Welles’ 1938 ‘The War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast. Maybe the Nugget will show it. The dates will enjoy laughing and the parents won’t push anything.” —Herbert Roskind ’57

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read more about the 100-year history of the Nugget Theater at the Rauner Special Collections Library blog.

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