THE AUTOMAT 2021 79 minutes
Before there was McDonald’s, before there was Howard Johnson’s, there was Horn & Hardart’s Automat, once the largest restaurant chain in America. The Automats were essentially cafeterias with food portions behind coin-operated glass doors, which may not sound all that appetizing from today’s perspective, but from the 1920s to the ‘50s New Yorkers saw them as the height of modernity, and by most accounts the food was good. This documentary is full of fond memories about the rise and fall of a Gotham institution, with reminiscences from Mel Brooks, Colin Powell, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, and Howard Schultz.
BE ADVISED–– This film is rated TV-PG, with drinking, mostly profanity, sexual overtones, urban decline, 5-cent coffee, well-remembered pie, and Mel Brooks singing.