A Movie, Dinner, And A Walk On Darkened Streets

There we were last month (we being my wife Sandy and myself) in Ambler, Pennsylvania for a late-afternoon movie followed by an early-evening dinner. Ambler, a cute town in the Philadelphia burbs, suits us just fine. We’ve dropped in dozens and dozens of times over the years because its Ambler Theater, an art house cinema, books plenty of films that we want to see, and eateries galore are strung along its blocks. Yeah, Ambler is right up our artsy and gastronomical alleys.

A scene from The Alpinist

Well, the movie, a documentary about Marc-André LeClerc, a publicity-shy mountaineer, is damn good. It’s called The Alpinist (alpinists attack mountains with gusto, rather than using the more traditional methodical approach). Dinner, indoors at Gypsy Blu, a venue with enough variety on its menu to please the curmudgeons among us, hit the spot too. I had a beer and an eggplant parm sandwich, Sandy a glass of wine and a turkey burger. I bow down to the junk-food gods for the addictive house-made chips that came with each plate.

Butler Avenue, which is Ambler’s main drag

What awaited us after dinner was a walk around town in the dark, something I’d suggested doing before we’d departed for Ambler. When we exited Gypsy Blu, though, Sandy almost at once recognized that she wasn’t dressed warmly enough for the evening’s chilly, and falling, temperatures. So, she headed back to our car and waited there. I wasn’t exactly bundled up either. However, being a man’s man, in my dreams if nowhere else, I forged ahead.

Butler Avenue
A view from a side street

Now, it’s not as though I never go for walks at night. I ring up 20 or thereabouts nocturnal strolls each year, I suppose. That Friday night in Ambler, however, seemed on the special side to me. The town’s main drag, Butler Avenue, on which most of the restaurants and bistros are found, took on the aura of a movie set, the darkness atmospherically softened here and there by restaurant and store lighting, street lamps and headlights. The movie set extended into the couple of side streets that I visited, where the wattage was even lower than on Butler. Gliding upon Ambler’s sidewalks, I felt as if I were the star of the scenes, an unobtrusive observer of the evening’s goings-on.

Butler Avenue
Butler Avenue

Unlike the side streets, Butler Ave. was buzzing. A whole lot of people were seated at the tables that, as a result of the pandemic, the town’s authorities had allowed restaurants to set up on sidewalks and in alleys. And most of the establishments were doing good business at their indoor tables too. The outdoor-diners’ energy was palpable, impossible not to absorb. My strides increased as I drank it in. Man, after a while I almost was floating. For sure, starring in a movie agreed with me. Watch out Hollywood! This wrinkled, age-spotted f*cker has his mind set on conquering you.

Getting back to a movie that actually is in distribution, I’ll say a bit more about The Alpinist, but only a bit, as having too much advance information about this flick isn’t a good idea, in my opinion, for anyone thinking of watching it. Here’s my main thought about The Alpinist: successfully scaling the unimaginably daunting structures that Leclerc is photographed tackling, especially the snow-and-ice-wrapped bad boys, is completely beyond belief!

Yet, of course, Leclerc was born to pull off one superhuman feat after another. Is there anything to be learned from his exploits? One truth, I think, is that, throughout history, nerves that are stronger than steel, and focus and talents that are totally off the charts, have been distributed to only a relative few.

The Alpinist possibly is in a theater near you. And, undoubtedly, it will make its way to a TV network or streaming service one day fairly soon. This movie blew my mind. It likely would blow yours too.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments. I thank you.)

113 thoughts on “A Movie, Dinner, And A Walk On Darkened Streets

  1. Lynette d'Arty-Cross October 12, 2021 / 12:36 am

    A movie in a theatre. I haven’t done that in a while. Looking forward to it some time soon! And, I like the name Ambler – sounds like one has the time and safety to just amble. Cheers.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Audrey Driscoll October 12, 2021 / 1:03 am

    Sounds like a really nice evening experience–dinner, movie, walk in an interesting place. You’ve captured it perfectly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 9:20 am

      Ambler became a much better place circa 2000, because around then the cinema and a playhouse opened. Restaurants followed in their wake.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Paddy Tobin October 12, 2021 / 4:14 am

    Good to get out for an evening!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Paddy Tobin October 12, 2021 / 2:30 pm

        Make the most of it and enjoy yourselves. Numbers here are alarming to us but not, it would seem to the rest of the country as restrictions are being lifted, people are going back to work despite daily high numbers. I cannot reconcile the two things!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. swabby429 October 12, 2021 / 6:12 am

    I have a fear of heights, yet enjoy watching mountaineering films. I’ll check out “The Alpinist” soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. sniderjerry October 12, 2021 / 7:07 am

    Glad you had a good time in the middle of all this madness. Best, Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Laurie Graves October 12, 2021 / 7:31 am

    Your beautiful photos catch the magic of the walk. I will be on the lookout for “The Alpinist.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robert Parker October 12, 2021 / 7:57 am

    “He walks the mean streets,” wait, “On a dark night in the ’20’s, one man ambles through the pleasant streets, with a dame on his arm, looking for the perfect eggplant parm sandwich. Or maybe a good Kentucky-fried Maltese Falcon…” OK I’m working on a screenplay for you “The Ambler.” Sounds like an excellent night, good photos, that great nighttime buzz and energy, and now I’m really craving an eggplant parm, they don’t have too many Italian food places in Milwaukee. That movie sounds great, too.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Robert Parker October 12, 2021 / 10:26 am

        The night was as dark as an eggplant. But not as purplish. More like a really dark, sinister zucchini. Neil walked under the neon lights “You know you have mozzarella on your collar?” she said…

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 10:01 am

      Hi, Dan. Not all that many small towns have a cinema and a load of restaurants, so Ambler is a good place to spend time in.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Angela October 12, 2021 / 8:04 am

    These days, every time we actually “do something,” it seems a bit surreal. Ambler is indeed a sweet little town. Glad you had a nice evening despite the hint of chill (warming up next week, FYI).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 10:08 am

      Hi. The Ambler Theater is terrific. My wife and I go there a lot. And yeah, life still seems out of balance. Coronavirus is bad news. If we’re lucky, it will peter out as the months go by.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. JOYCE HAMILTON October 12, 2021 / 8:10 am

    Interesting night photos and description of film. I hope to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 10:23 am

      Morning, Helen. Yes, we’ve been out and about a pretty good amount ever since getting vaccinated earlier this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ananda October 12, 2021 / 9:16 am

    The slow unwinding of your observations on the Alpinist, Butler Avenue and Hollywood are all a treat to read

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jacqui Murray October 12, 2021 / 10:24 am

    I DDG’d The Alpinist–no joy on finding it online yet. It sounds spectacular. I’m glad all was safe for your nighttime dark walk!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Monkey's Tale October 12, 2021 / 10:29 am

    We eally want to see The Alpinist but oddly it’s only playing in a few theaters in Canada! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 11:19 am

      Hi, Maggie. My wife and I were lucky that the Ambler Theater booked it. I might never have known about it otherwise.

      Like

  13. joylennick October 12, 2021 / 11:02 am

    Hi Neil, Well, this old bird thought she was in a noir film. What with the ‘blinds drawn’. and the atmospheric ambience, you presented the evening in almost Hollywood style! Well done you. (Offer to write a film script next…) Both keep well. Cheers. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. JT Twissel October 12, 2021 / 11:53 am

    I grew up backpacking in the high Sierra and have seen extreme climbers come to bad ends. I’ll probably pass on the movie but I do love the tour of that town.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 9:11 pm

      Reinhardt Messner (I might have the spelling wrong) is a talking head in The Alpinist. He once climbed Everest without using an oxygen tank, which is almost unheard of. An incredible mountaineer.

      Like

  15. Rosaliene Bacchus October 12, 2021 / 1:12 pm

    How wonderful that you and your wife could enjoy an evening out! I miss our movie-night outings followed by dinner at our favorite restaurant. The Alpinist sounds great, but I’m all for watching the latest Bond movie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. rivertoprambles October 12, 2021 / 1:53 pm

    The Alpinist sounds like a good climb for my viewing interests. My recent reading of the K2 triumphs & tragedies left me looking for more… Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. talebender October 12, 2021 / 2:42 pm

    I’d be more comfortable as a Blu-ist than alpinist, but enjoyed this tale from the Ambler rambler!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Paula B October 12, 2021 / 5:45 pm

    Love the lighting on “A view from a side street.” Sounds like a perfect evening. It’s funny how simple pleasures can be so amplified by the right atmospheric elements.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 9:19 pm

      Howdy, Paula. You’re right. So many things take on new aspects when nighttime sets in.

      Like

  19. Dave October 12, 2021 / 7:21 pm

    As Audrey said, “You’ve captured it perfectly!” More to my comment, I was so glad I misinterpreted the title of your post, Neil. I figured I’d be reading about the movie, the dinner, and then the utter disappointment in the walk, since restaurants and businesses suffer the economic wrath of the virus these days. Instead, it appears Ambler is immune to the impact (maybe Ambler got the jab – heh). Nice to know some locales are still “business as usual”. Also, the photos bring your words to life, and therefore we readers get the complete picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 12, 2021 / 9:26 pm

      Hi, Dave. There weren’t many patrons in the Ambler Theater. But the restaurants were really busy. I hope the Ambler Theater, and theaters in general, somehow will be able to hang in there.

      Like

  20. Ann Coleman October 12, 2021 / 9:36 pm

    Nighttime walks provide a whole different way of looking at things, don’t they? And I’ll have to try the Alpinist. If it blew your mind, I’m guessing it’ will do the same for me!

    Like

  21. annieasksyou October 12, 2021 / 11:06 pm

    Wait! So the Man’s Man left his wife in a car while he ambled around Ambler gathering sustenance to feed his hungry following? Hmmm. Sandy gets lots of credit for this one…

    Liked by 2 people

  22. sloppy buddhist October 13, 2021 / 12:04 am

    Love the mood you’ve created Neil … and the joy of being out and about 🤓💫 low light photography is a challenge for me…enjoy your days and nights 🤓☺️🕺💃hedy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 13, 2021 / 7:33 am

      Morning, Hedy. I am a big admirer of your photographs. You find new ways of looking at things.

      Like

  23. cincinnatibabyhead October 13, 2021 / 1:02 am

    As usual Im with you all the way on your piece. The stair shot could have an ominous vibe. Depends on how you look at it. Great shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. andrewcferguson October 13, 2021 / 2:57 am

    Super photos! Is that just from your phone, or a camera with a particular setting? You really captured the mood with the words and pictures.

    There’s a lot more pavement tables in Edinburgh as a result of a particular stage in restrictions. However, winter is coming, as I believe someone said, and the locals’ (and tourists’) hardiness will soon be put to the test….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 13, 2021 / 7:41 am

      Hi, Andrew. I use an iPhone to take photos. iPhones and their kin are so amazing. They have almost-endless capabilities.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. George October 13, 2021 / 3:38 am

    Ambler sounds lovely. I must watch the Alpinist.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Joe October 13, 2021 / 1:18 pm

    As an ambler like you, I think I would like Ambler too. Oh, and thanks for the movie tip!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Joe October 13, 2021 / 10:25 pm

        Haha! Almost doesn’t count in horseshoes, hand grenades, and hiking Mount Rainier!

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Alyson October 13, 2021 / 3:54 pm

    Tonight I’ve just had an evening walk on darkened streets, last night I had an early evening supper and last week I went to the cinema for the first time in a year and a half. You seem to have fitted in all these things in on a single night. Great pictures and I’ve heard good things from others about The Alpinist, so definitely keen to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson October 13, 2021 / 6:49 pm

        It was Respect – The Aretha Franklin movie. Learnt a lot about her that I didn’t know and the music was brilliant.

        Liked by 1 person

  28. stargazer October 13, 2021 / 6:19 pm

    Great pics! Photographing at nighttime can be tricky. The Alpinist sounds great, just my kind of movie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 13, 2021 / 8:14 pm

      Hi. Yes, I was lucky that the photos came out pretty good. I wouldn’t have had much of a story without them!

      Like

  29. selizabryangmailcom October 14, 2021 / 2:49 pm

    I like the sound of this movie ’cause doom apparently isn’t baked into the premise like it is with Into Thin Air.
    K2 with Michael Biehn of Terminator fame was a pretty good adventure too, although it’s a little “90s” in appearance. The Aplinist sounds like it’d be nicer to look at.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 14, 2021 / 8:52 pm

      Hi. I don’t want to give too much away. But if you like watching people attempt the seemingly impossible, then I think this doc is for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. shoreacres October 14, 2021 / 6:37 pm

    I had a reader — a British physician — who grew up mountaineering with his father, and then went on to do one or two significant climbs each year. I’m certain his were nothing like the Alpinist’s, but I always enjoyed his posts and his photography: enough so that I’m sure I’d enjoy the film.

    I like an evening amble, too. These days, I do less of that in urban areas, for a variety of reasons. Still, autumn is the best time for an amble, so perhaps I’ll find a way to indulge myself. If not, there’s always the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. johnlmalone October 14, 2021 / 9:57 pm

    I enjoyed the movie you were in, Neil 🙂 but your review entices me to check out ‘The Alpinist’ when it hits Aussie screens

    Liked by 1 person

  32. viewfromoverthehill October 14, 2021 / 11:24 pm

    A movie? Wow! What’s that? I’ve been on a diet of Netflix for so long I’ve forgotten what that’s like — although they’re advertising a film on TV I want to go see. I think its called The Last Duel??? I’ll let you know if I do make it. Enjoy, enjoy. Good for you. Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 15, 2021 / 7:55 am

      Morning, Muriel. My wife and I have gone to movie theaters pretty often recently. Very few people were in the auditoriums with us. If this wasn’t a coincidence, then I’m very worried about the future of movie theaters. Have a good weekend. See ya!

      Like

  33. carolinehelbig October 16, 2021 / 2:56 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful evening. And isn’t it nice to be out at the movies and restaurants again! We’ve been enjoying that too but you need to show a vaccine passport in BC. I’ll be putting the Alpinist on my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. alhenry October 16, 2021 / 5:55 pm

    Ah, “The Alpinist.” Haven’t seen it yet, but we seem to frequent the same type of local indie palace, so if I haven’t missed it, it’s sure to be here soon. In that vein, you might like “The Lost Leonardo.”

    After all the chaos and disaster–and let’s face it, just plain HELL–of the past 20 months, I agree–dinner and a movie with someone you groove on is just about HEAVEN.

    Liked by 2 people

      • alhenry October 17, 2021 / 10:26 am

        I hear you. We are waiting, with bated breath as they say, to learn whether Barbados will be OK to travel to in January. It was looking OK, now less so, and we have to decide by November 1, or lose the $$$ we paid for our rental. The thought of spending January in the Northeast rather than on a sunny, warm beach reading is gruesome. Already too much precious time has been lost. But, like Pandora and her box, all we have is hope.

        Liked by 1 person

  35. Henry Lewis October 16, 2021 / 7:20 pm

    A nice dinner out, stimulating documentary and an evening stroll through town with Sandy sounds blissful. You are a lucky man. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Americaoncoffee October 17, 2021 / 9:20 am

    You are a true adventurer Neil. The Alpinist i hear, is an exciting film with lots dangerous mountainous heights. I am always amazed by those that get an adrenaline rush from engaging into risky curiosities. 🥶 🏔Thanks for sharing your lovely outing. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 17, 2021 / 10:46 am

      Hi AOC. I agree. It’s incredible how some people do dangerous, daredevil activities. Those pursuits definitely are not for everybody.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Americaoncoffee October 18, 2021 / 4:11 am

        Thank you for sharing Neil, with all that I have learned about the film, I will be seeing it soon. Happy Monday.

        Liked by 1 person

  37. Jeff the Chef October 17, 2021 / 12:49 pm

    Sounds like a great night! I hadn’t heard of this movie, so thank you for that!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 17, 2021 / 8:50 pm

      Hi, Jeff. It probably isn’t getting wide theatrical distribution. But maybe it’s in your area. It’s a good one to see on a real large screen.

      Like

  38. Shelley@QuaintRevival.com October 17, 2021 / 1:25 pm

    Whew…after finally scrolling to the bottom of all the delightful comments I read along the way, I’m here to say that climbing up a mountain would be the last on my bucket list. LOL! I could maybe watch the movie, though ;-). Your date night sounds wonderful. My husband and I did that not too long ago, not the movie, but the dinner at a restaurant. It’s nice to feel ‘normal’ again. I love the summary you shared – “One truth, I think, is that, throughout history, nerves that are stronger than steel, and focus and talents that are totally off the charts, have been distributed to only a relative few.” I think we’re seeing that come true.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Silver Screenings October 17, 2021 / 7:57 pm

    What a beautiful nighttime walk! Like you said, it looks like you were on a movie set.

    It’s nice to see folks living a somewhat normal life again, isn’t it? Eating in restaurants, going to movies… These are small things, but they’re also big things.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 17, 2021 / 8:58 pm

      Hi. I agree. So-called little things mean a lot. Thanks for stopping by. Much appreciated.

      Like

  40. denisebushphoto October 18, 2021 / 5:57 pm

    I’ll keep my eyes open for it although it will be on the tube since there is only 1 movie house close by! I enjoyed your night stalking images! Sounds and looks like a good place to live!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2021 / 7:42 pm

      Hi, Denise. I live in the Philly burbs, not far from Ambler. Ambler is one of the better towns in my part of the burbs. It used to be down-at-the-heels, but has improved dramatically in the last 15 or 20 years.

      Like

  41. Fran Johns October 21, 2021 / 12:10 am

    Pretty spooky side street. Despite being #1 Fan/Booster/Enthusiast of beautiful downtown San Francisco, which I am, I’d be a little antsy about wandering such a street in the dark of the night in my beloved city. Stroll on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 21, 2021 / 7:37 am

      Hi. Your city is terrific. I’ve been there a number of times over the years and always was impressed. Enjoy the day. See ya!

      Like

  42. theburningheart October 22, 2021 / 1:16 pm

    Nice, a stroll, diner and a movie, sounds like a deal, about the movie I used to read about Mountaineering, in my younger years, and did some very light climbing, Reinhold Andreas Messner was a sort of bad ass hero to me, I guess I will see the movie, thanks for the tip, I was a movie theater nut also in my youth, now I rarely go to a theater, and mainly because a daughter of mine when she is in town, takes me. But of course I see a few on my computer, since I retired it’s easier for me to have time left on the day to do so.
    Take care!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 22, 2021 / 3:37 pm

      Hi. I know a little about Messner. He is one of the greatest mountaineers ever. By the way, he is one of the on-screen commentators in The Alpinist.

      Liked by 1 person

  43. Lisa at Micro of the Macro October 23, 2021 / 6:22 pm

    What a lovely evening out, Neil! I’ve added the movie to my Netflix Queue, thanks. LeClerc died doing what he loved – what a beautiful thought. Being a climber myself (although nothing like him!) I totally understand the yearning to go harder & attempt the new. Thanks for sharing your story & photos! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

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