51 Birch Street

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51 Birch Street
Directed byDoug Block
Produced byDoug Block
Lori Cheatle
Written byDoug Block
Amy Seplin
StarringMike Block
Mina Block
Carol Block
Doug Block
Music byMachine Head
H. Scott Salinas
Distributed byTruly Indie
Release date
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States

51 Birch Street is a 2005 documentary film about the universal themes of love, marriage, fidelity, and the mystery of a suburban family. It was directed by Doug Block.


51 Birch Street is the first-person account of a family's life-changing events. A few months after his mother's sudden death from pneumonia, Doug Block's 83-year-old father, Mike, calls him to announce that he’s moving to Florida to live with "Kitty", his secretary from 40 years before. Always close to his mother and equally distant from his father, Doug and his two older sisters were shocked and suspicious.

When Mike and Kitty marry and sell the Block family home, Doug returns to suburban Long Island for one last visit. Among the mementos being packed away, Doug discovers three large boxes filled with his mother's daily diaries going back 35 years in which she recorded her unhappiness, her rage against her husband, her sexual fantasies about her therapist, a brief affair with an unnamed friend of her husband—and her suspicions about Kitty. The marriage, Mike told Doug on film, "was not loving, it was a functioning association". With only a few weeks before the movers come and his father leaves, Doug is determined to explore his parents' marriage.

Through conversations with family members and friends and surprising diary revelations, Doug finally comes to peace with his parents who are more complex and troubled than he ever imagined. The documentary explores more subtle forms of repression, secrecy and denial within a family, and confirms the complexity of marriage.

Related films[edit]

The Kids Grow Up: In 51 Birch Street, director Doug Block took a hard look at his parents’ marriage and his own relationship with his father. Now Block turns in the other direction, offering an exceptionally moving film about his relationship with his only child, Lucy. The Kids Grow Up chronicles Lucy’s emotionally-fraught last year at home before leaving for college. Moving seamlessly between past, present, and the fast-approaching future, Block has not only crafted a loving portrait of a girl transitioning into womanhood, but also a deeply poignant look at parenting and what it means to let go.

112 Weddings: Over the past two decades, documentary filmmaker Doug Block has supported his career with a side business of videotaping weddings. Long curious about how their marriages have turned out, he tracks down and interviews some of the more memorable of his 112 wedding couples - with funny, insightful and deeply moving results.


The New York Times film critic A.O. Scott said the film was "one of the most moving and fascinating documentaries I’ve seen this year",[1] and listed it as one of his ten favorite films of the year.[2] Jim Emerson of RogerEbert.com named 51 Birch Street one of the top ten films of 2006.[3] By December 10, 2006, the film had grossed $84,689.


  1. ^ Scott, A.O. (October 18, 2006). "Scenes From a Marriage, Revealed by a Son". The New York Times. New York. p. E5.
  2. ^ Scott, A.O. (December 24, 2006). "Here's to the Ambitious and the Altmans". The New York Times. New York.
  3. ^ Emerson, Jim (December 21, 2006). "The Double-Best Of The Year". Scanners.com. RogerEbert.com.

External links[edit]