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Film League marks 25th showing with classic French crime drama 'Diabolique'

Film League marks 25th showing with classic French crime drama 'Diabolique'

For cinephiles, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing a classic movie on a big screen.

Especially when it comes with a $4 price tag and free popcorn. 

It’s that basic love of film that brought a group of men together to form and host the Film League. On Monday, Jan. 8, the Film League will celebrate its 25th showing with the 1955 French crime drama, “Diabolique” at Leitersburg Cinemas in Hagerstown.

Matt Poyner of Boonsboro said about five years ago he started the idea of showing classic and foreign films on the big screen. But, it wasn’t until he met Matt Walker, did the idea start to come to fruition. Poyner said he grew up with Rich Daughtridge, who owns Leitersburg Cinemas, and approached him about being able to host the Film League at the theater.

“We tried it out for one year, just doing some once-a-month showings just at Leitersburg,” Poyner said. “They wanted to expand it a second year.” 

The expansion meant shows at Waynesboro (Pa.) Theatre, which Daughtridge also owns, for what Poyner calls a “pop cinema showings.” Those showings included films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “E.T.”

Next month, the Film League will celebrate its second anniversary and third season. Film League usually meets the first Monday of every month with the exception of a holiday, such as this month.

In August, Walker moved to Alaska. That’s when Poyner reached out to Patrick Boyton of Myersville, Md., to help Poyner with the Film League. Boyton had been a regular and had been active in the post-film discussions and that’s why Poyner thought Boyton would be a good fit. 

Today, Poyner and Boyton run the Film League together.

Boyton said Poyner and Walker had come up with a master list of films that they wanted to show including classic, foreign and art house movies. 

Poyner said the master list of films includes more than 500 movies.

“We get together and debate it,” Boyton said. “We’ll kind of make our case.”

That was the case for “Diabolique,” which is one of Poyner’s favorite movies. 

When it comes to planning, Boyton said they try to spread the types of movies out over the months — one month might be a foreign film, the other a more contemporary film, the next film might be a classic. For instance, recent flicks have been “Winter’s Bone,” “The Third Man” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

Poyner said they work with Leitersburg Cinema’s managers on which films to bring in for a one-time showing. 

The low cost, Poyner said, helped to bring people in when they did the first Film League movie, “Fargo.”

“Now, we have people who have only missed one or two films over two years,” he said.

He said they have about 40 people who return every month, with an additional 30 new people who show up to the films. The most they’ve had in attendance have been about 150 people with “Raiders of The Lost Ark” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Boyton said they also have viewers who just wander into the theater because they wanted to see the particular film, not knowing that it’s part of the Film League. And once they’ve found out, they promise to return.

“We keep gaining visitors every month,” Poyner said.

And, the men stress, there is no extra cost to be part of the Film League. Just show up and pay the ticket fee. It’s through their Film League Facebook page that the men said they keep attendees abreast of the next film and their schedule.

They credit Daughtridge and Leitersburg Cinemas for being open to hosting the Film League.

“It shows the local community that Leitersburg cares about films and they care about your film experience,” Poyner said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Film League 25: “Diabolique” 
WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8 
WHERE: Leitersburg Cinemas, 20145 Leitersburg Pike, Hagerstown
COST: $4, includes free popcorn 

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