Friday, December 16
Beginning my new blog and very excited about it. I talk about movies a lot with an assorted half dozen folks or so. And I talk about movies at least a little with just about everyone I know. Mercifully, I spare the checkout clerk and the dry cleaners. And if I am not talking about movies, I seem to be thinking about them.
Thinking what, you may ask? Well, you name it, I think it. The most obvious may be that when I have just seen a film, it stays in my head at least the rest of the day and longer if I loved it. I often recast movies in my head. Maybe it's something I just saw. Maybe I reload an old chestnut of a film with my fancy idea of who could handle the lead. Not that the actual star was less than stellar in the part, but this is just what I do.
For years I have done this. I may roll around in my head all the movies filmed in Africa that I own. I'll consider for the gazillionth time what my 25 favorite movies are. I'll think of a studio and its roster of contract stars over the years, the directors, its output. I remember one time thinking of Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum sitting next to one another in their director's chairs on the set of Cape Fear and talking about the actresses they have both worked with. I would think of who all those women are. I will perhaps think of two actresses that look alike to me... say, Australia's Sigrid Thornton (The Man from Snowy River) and Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) and wonder if they think they look alike or if anyone else does.
There have been few places my brain won't go when it comes to movies. Over the years I have done movie quizzes with people. They stopped suddenly when imdb.com came into existence and the answers could be so easily looked up. But I think I will be able to pull off some quizzes for you. I know I used to spend many a day thinking about whatever I could that might lead to a quiz question or category. Thankfully no one has carted me away yet.
My immersion into the land of merry movie fandom started very early in my life. It was 1952, I was eight, and I could peel off the names of most movies made that year and from earlier years even though there was no me then. The adults in my orbit thought I was everything from a child prodigy to a goofball.
The Beverly Theater was about a mile down the street. My parents were arguing and my father bellowed that I needed to go to the movies. I smiled and got all perky and my mother inquired as to who was going to drive me there. She trilled that it certainly was not going to be she. The old man said I could ride my bike. Go alone, she screamed? He can do it, my father said, adding that I was not just any 8-yr old traipsing off to the movies alone. I was me, Super Kid, I could manage it all. One way or another we all had played this scene before and I knew they really just wanted to get rid of me and fight and I couldn't help laughing out loud while barreling the newly-acquired Schwinn done my street and onto one of the busiest streets in town.
Old Dad actually gave me a wad of money, enough for the movie, Milk Duds, some popcorn and a pop and I estimated change to boot. I would buy everything before I went in and then I stayed put. Maybe my little brother got out of his seat countless times, but not Super Kid. I was there for the movie and only the movie.
Let the romance begin.
I am so sorry so much fun is made of it, despite an Oscar win for Best Picture, but in 1952, for a big, little kid to sit in the dark, all loaded down with goodies, all jazzed to be away from the melee at home, The Greatest Show on Earth really was the greatest show on earth. Come to the circus. In the nick of time. After The News of the World (which I always loved, the cartoons (which I never loved, even as a kid... I know, I know) and the previews of coming attractions (nothing like them... to this day), the darkened screen is saturated with red and a colorful circus wheel is spinning on the screen, with the Paramount logo briefly superimposed over it. And then that stirring music pumps me up. I even knew who Cecil B. DeMille was... he made BIG movies. Betty Hutton (for whom I had a special affection because people said my mother looked like her), Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, Dorothy Lamour, Gloria Grahame (there will be more than one posting on her), Lyle Bettger (an upcoming posting on him, too), DeMille buddy Henry Wilcoxen, Lawrence Tierney, John Kellogg, a host of real circus performers, and as Buttons the clown, James Stewart, a guy I had seen in a few movies and many movie magazines.
The film set off so many emotions, more than in the little kid books I read. There was love, romance, danger, fear, happiness, sadness, anger. It also provided me with a safe haven from the fractured life I led at home, thank goodness. I had seen movies before and liked them, too, but nothing prepared me for the joy of seeing The Greatest Show on Earth for the first time and for being alone in a theater for the first time.
And I called the old man after this extravaganza was over and asked him if I could stay and see it again. He said yes. I knew he would.
And so it began... the romance, the big love affair with the movies. Super Kid has gotten a little longer in the tooth but that love affair with movies, all kinds of movies, endures to this day.
And you will read all about it if you want. This is the first posting, I hope there will be many more. Right now, at least, I plan on doing these Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Get at me anytime you want and share your thoughts and your own musings of the films and people you have called favorites or even non-favorites. If there's a person or movie you'd like me to comment on, give a shout. Let's have some fun.