Boston Globe (October 12, 2010): Memories, Unlocked

Publication Date: 
Tue, 10/12/2010

One morning last spring, about 200 senior citizens descended on the Coolidge Corner Theatre for a special program of classic old movies.

It was the first in a four-part series - the second one is today - called "Meet Me at the Coolidge...and make memories," designed to remind the audience of the good old days of cinema. Attendees got big welcomes and free popcorn and soda. They watched clips from "Oklahoma", "Casablanca," and "The Wizard of Oz", and saw legendary stars like Judy Garland, Katherine Hepburn, and Humphrey Bogart.

After each film clip, two moderaters quizzed them about the movies they'd just seen, and that's when something unexpected happend. They knew the answers - despite the fact that many in the audience were people with Alzheimer's disease, a population generally considered to be hopelessly lost in a haze of dementia.

It didn't seem that way in the movie theater.

"You know the scene when Joel McCrea is up on a horse in 'Oklahoma'?" one of the moderators, psychologist Cameron Camp, prompted the audience during the discussion.

"That's Gordon MacRae," one man shot back.

"What movie starts out in black and white and turns into color halfway through?"? asks John Zeisel, the other moderator.