On Thursday night at the Roxy Cinema in Lower Manhattan, a throng of scarf-bundled cinephiles attended the sold-out screening of a black-and-white psychological thriller, “End of the Night,” that was being shown for the first time in more than 30 years.
The film’s obscurity wasn’t what drew the crowd: They were there because of its unlikely writer and director, Keith McNally, the downtown restaurateur who runs Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Pastis and Morandi.
Before he shaped New York’s nightlife with his brasseries, Mr. McNally had serious filmmaking ambitions. His first full-length feature, “End of the Night,” premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight showcase during the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, appearing alongside Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan.” It went on to be a minor hit in Europe before it became a cinematic footnote.
In advance of the screenings at the Roxy, an 118-seat art house cinema located in a hotel in TriBeCa, Mr. McNally drummed up interest with a post on his popular Instagram account: “ANYONE WATCHING THIS FILM AT THE ROXY CAN EAT AT BALTHAZAR OR MINETTA TAVERN THAT SAME NIGHT FOR HALF-PRICE,” he wrote in his typical all-caps style.
The post also quoted from a Cahiers du Cinéma review that described “End of the Night” as a “noirish tale of self-destruction” that provides an “unsettling look at a man whose life is turned upside down during his wife’s pregnancy.”
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