Archive for February 13th, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #8- Movie Theaters

My first ever experience in a movie theater occurred when I was about 10 years old.  One of my friends had a birthday party on a sunny Saturday afternoon at an indoor theater playing Help! with the Beatles.  A few years later, my best friend’s parents took us to see Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me in a drive-in, the first time I had seen a movie in that venue.  Both impacted me greatly, and I have cherished those memories for years.  Before that time, television was the only media I had witnessed.  Compared to the theater, TV was drivel. 

As a teenager I saw many B movies in the local indoor joint, the Star Theater, and we would waste the whole day seeing both movies (they used to show double-features) twice, all for one ticket price, which I think was three bucks. Horror and science fiction flicks could be seen in the 60s for a mere 50 cents all day on Sundays.  I saw Them!, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Bela Legosi’s Dracula, various renditions of Frankenstein’s monster, Steve McQueen’s The Blob, several episodes of Dark Shadows, and many other classics in that old theater made out of a World War II barracks .

A couple of premiers stand out in my mind.  I saw the original Star Wars flick in a drive-in on its 1977 opening day, and I waited in line for three hours to see Independence Day (the Will Smith alien movie) on its July 4, 1996, opening day.  That was long-awaited, since they began promoting it the Thanksgiving before.

There is something special about sharing a movie experience with a larger group of people.  Kids at theaters weren’t breaking windows or vandalizing cars, and many life lessons could be learned at the movies.  The popcorn was always hot and buttery, though expensive, and the big screen was just that — BIG.  The best part, though, was the simultaneous reactions of a crowd watching a movie together.  I remember sharing non-stop laughs in What’s Up Doc? and Airplane!, which was the first movie where I ever saw my dad laugh, and standing with the entire audience in a unified gasp during Harold and Maude when Harold’s awesome Jaguar/Hearse drove off a cliff.  The buildup and fear of The Exorcist would have been so much less if it weren’t shared and anticipated by a full theater of horror fans.

A series of well-made war movies, starting with The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Patton, Good Morning, Viet Nam, and eventually Schindler’s List, placed reality and plot above heroism and gave people new insights into the war machine.  To this day I can still hear the loud whine of the phone melting in Henry Fonda’s Fail Safe, as the American diplomat in Moscow and his office was hit by a nuclear blast.

My favorite movies include Contact, Paint Your Wagon, Kelly’s Heroes, The Natural, The Day of the Jackal and Grand Canyon. If I made a complete list of movies I loved, however, it would probably consist of 300 or more. 

Large screen TV’s and sound systems make it more convenient to watch a movie in full surround sound that shakes the living room, and while there is something to be said for the pause button when you have to run to the bathroom, what is lost, like the massive 70-foot coated projection screen and a full room of those sharing the experience, is so meaningful.


I’ll finish off my blog post with a quote from film maker Steven Spielberg:  “I love to go to a regular movie theater, especially when the movie is a big crowd-pleaser. It’s much better watching a movie with 500 people making noise than with just a dozen.

Read Full Post »