Remember the…the what? Remember the Alamo? Remember the Maine? No, remember the Horn & Hardart Automat!

If you are from either the New York or the Philadelphia area—and if you are of a certain age—you will fondly remember the Horn & Hardart Automat.

And now there is a wonderful documentary about it, simply titled The Automat, directed by Lisa Hurwitz, narrated by Mel Brooks, and starring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elliott Gould, Colin Powell, Carl Reiner, and Howard Schultz. Members of the Horn family and the Hardart family also have major roles. (Some of these contributors are, of course, no longer alive. But all the interviews were conducted before they died.) The movie combines history, social history, humor, nostalgia, and a certain amount of sadness, as most of the automats were replaced by Burger Kings.

Since this is a well-documented documentary, there’s a lot of archive footage featuring people you will recognize: Wilson Goode, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Frankie Avalon, Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Jimmy Carter, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, James Dean, Eddie Fisher, Annette Funicello, Allen Funt, Jackie Gleason, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Hope, Madeline Kahn, Burt Lancaster, Peter Lawford, Janet Leigh, Hal Linden, Dean Martin, Bernadette Peters, Donna Reed, Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Leslie Uggams, and others whose names I don’t know but you do.

You can get the DVD from the local library (if you haven’t gotten rid of your DVD player) as I did, or you can watch the movie on Amazon Prime.

Categories: Life, Movies & (occasionally) TV, Technology