|Started May 24, 2006 (The "first" part is of various dates, as I added things into the text already there. Eventually I date each new "story" as its own dated entry.) [I was in the area when they filmed the movie "Texasville". I took some photos when I was there. You can view them on my "movie" photos page.] For more on my movie interest see the "collecting" page.|
Some of my movie history:
There was a time when I thought it would be nice to have the "power" of a famous movie director. I imagined that it would be fun to snap the fingers and have 40 people jump up and ask, "What do you want?". I wanted to be able to make any movie I wanted. At that time there was a particular director who had one flop, but most of his movies were huge earners for the movie studio. In my mind it seemed as if this director could go to the people with money and get any "picture" made that he wanted. I imagined this director going to the "bosses" and saying, "Let's make a movie of grass growing". The reply was always a resounding,
|"Wow! That sounds like a great idea. How much money do you need?". "I think a few million should about do it". "Good, we'll have a check made out in the morning". Of course the movie business doesn't really work that way. I just thought this director had so much "clout" that they would back any idea he came up with.|
|This all was happening in the late 1970's and early 1980's. I was in high school. At some point I started a movie scrapbook. It wasn't a scrapbook devoted to movie "stars". It was a scrapbook about movies---er, rather "film". It was a frustrating time for me. The kind of music I liked was NOT played on the radio very often. There wasn't much on television that I would have chosen to stick on there. I couldn't wait until my generation got to pick what went on television and radio. By this time, I was developing a strong taste in movies. There were movies I didn't mind seeing, but there were other movies I liked better. I Eventually realized that "Hollywood" seldom made the type of movie that I liked best.||
[My generation is now deciding what ends up on television and radio now. I know what happened when the "Baby Boomers" got to make those choices. Each generation tries to "out do" the other. In the case of the entertainment industry, one generation tries to push the envelope further than the last one. If you look at the state of entertainment today, it is "scary" to think of what the next generation might stick on radio, television and movies.]
One of the first memorable movies that I went to was The Sound of Music. I have a memory of seeing it in a theater. Don't know who I went with or when it was. The memory always was of me and a "baby sitter" seeing it one afternoon in Lubbock. Whether that is accurate or not, is another story. It was before I was in school. I have another early memory of being at a drive in with my mother. There was a man in the car (her boyfriend?; my stepfather as they were dating?). I remember Mom putting her hand over my eyes during some scenes. I am not sure if this is a real memory or not. I have always believed it was a real memory. Another movie event from this time that stands out, is when my older cousins got to see, "Bonnie and Clyde". For some reason the movies that the older people got to see during this time, stick out in my mind. I don't know why, I didn't pay as much attention to it as I got older.
Another "early" movie experience that I had, was when I was in the third grade. We lived in Des Moines, Iowa. Judging from the release date, I had probably just turned 8. I went with our "housekeeper" Roberta and her mother to see, "The Boyfriend". Not only does the movie stand out in my memory, but so does the "experience". We got food from two fast food places next to each other. I don't know the names but they were big chain places. They liked the burgers from one chain and the fries from the other one. We ate inside one of the "restaurants". Fast food places probably won't let you bring food from "outside" (competitors) and eat it there anymore. I had never heard of anyone doing that sort of thing before.
At some point I saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. My sister Lori swears that I was with them in Olney to see it. I thought I saw it in Lubbock with the "Brown" cousins. Maybe I saw it both places? According to Lori this was the last movie shown at the Olney theater.
This theater showed one movie at a time. If the movie was popular, then we might see the movie two or more times in a row. Irwin Allen "disaster" movies were popular then. I do not like disaster movies very well. We sat through "The Towering Inferno" more than once. The ads before the movie said that "Earthquake" was coming next. They said it had special sound that would simulate a "real" earthquake. Somehow I managed to, get out of going to that one. We went to a "multiplex" once in a while. It was a "multiplex" that had maybe two or three theaters. One movie I remember most was Phase IV about these scientists in the desert and the ants they are studying.
was 11 and 12 (6th grade year), I lived in Columbia, Missouri. I went
to a special "school" that year. We got (free?) tickets to movies. We
saw a movie at least twice a week. Most of the time we went to a one of a
kind, non multiplex theater in the down town. I wonder if it is still
there. I remember the theater having a balcony which was unused.
At least I think it had a balcony. I do know it had the most wonderful
plaster ceiling! I have no idea if this was a purpose built movie
theater or if it was a converted stage theater.
From The Movie Scrapbook:
It was when I was in high school, that I started seeking out "the arts". My movie tastes were developing. I discovered different music. I learned about writers.
Then back home on our local PBS station, there was a program called, "Matinee at the Bijou". It showed old 1930's and 1940's "B" movies. They showed a news reel, cartoon, and short films as well.
It was like going to the movies, "back in the day". It was really great to watch this on a Saturday afternoon with my grandfather. He knew a lot of the actors in the movies they showed. It was almost like going back to his youth to watch a movie with him. These were the sorts of movies that inspired, "Indiana Jones".
Our local PBS station also played some of the "better" old foreign films. I think it was a series on there that had to do with a course at the local university. I got to see Renoir's "La Grande illusion" (The Grand Illusion) via that one. That was my introduction to French film, Eric von Stroheim, and Renoir. This film was directed by the painter Renoir's son. I may have known of the painter's work, but when I saw this "film", I "discovered" Renoir's paintings for the first time, as I looked up the son. (This was the days before the Internet. Unless I went to a library, I only had my Granny's 1940's encyclopedia.) I remember being mesmerized by it. Don't remember much of the story now. This was probably the first foreign language film that I actually got anything out of. This began my journey of enjoying films with subtitles.
I eventually discovered, "CBS Cable". It was an early cable specific channel. There has been cable television since the 1950's. It was heavily regulated. You couldn't have specific channels for cable. There couldn't be "original" programming for cable. It was around 1980 or maybe 1979 that they "de-regulated" cable in the U.S. allowing for all the various channels we have today. "CBS Cable" was a sort of arts channel. On there I got to see an original version of the German film, "Three Penny Opera". Since all this was "new" even the pay movie channels aired "adventurous" movies. One I remember in particular was "The Shout". It was a very strange but "interesting?" movie. It is a movie that is difficult to describe. (The cricket scenes were the most I had ever seen of a cricket match. I did not have a short-wave radio then. I have heard cricket matches on the BBC World Service many times now. Still don't know much about cricket though. Makes a nice "background" when you are working around the house. If you can recommend a book that explains cricket, let me know.) My mother had an old cable box that she got when she signed up. My sister figured out that if you adjust this "fine tuning" dial, you could get some of the pay channels without paying for them. They didn't always come in that great, but it was better than paying for the movies. I saw things I wouldn't have normally seen. If you ever get to see a movie called, "Harry's War" please do. It is "roughly" about a guy fighting the IRS. It is about bureaucracy run amok. The "Odd Angry Shot" was probably the first movie I ever saw that had "male" frontal nudity in it. (They showed guys taking showers.) Most of those movies were seen on "The Movie Channel". Via "CBS Cable", I saw a one woman show, "Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein". CBS Cable wasn't on long. They lost millions. At that time, I was exposed to a lot of things that I wouldn't have seen otherwise.
What's A "Good" Movie?:
I began to learn that there is a difference between, film, cinema and "movies". Any moving picture can be a "movie", but film is something special. In some countries, it is "cinema". I said that I saw "better" foreign films on my local PBS station. There's different kinds of "foreign" films. There's the ones that make it to the "art house" theatres in the U.S. They get nominated for awards. Then there's the "foreign" films that people actually watch in whatever country the film comes from. (See my "essay" on "Anti-intellectualism" for more on this.) I know we used to get the "International Channel". [When they had more than just "Asian" programming.] They showed "foreign" films and they didn't always have subtitles. They were usually for foreign language speakers to enjoy. I watched some of the ones with subtitles. They had a Russian Film Festival once. Some of the Soviet films in Russian were funny and interesting. It was nice to see their culture. They didn't seem like deep movies that had subplots about the political situation. By watching the movies on "The International Channel", I learned that there's a difference in the foreign films that get played in "art house" theatres and what gets shown to the immigrant community. There's art films and then there's "movies" that ordinary people watch. One is not "better" than the other really. But that depends upon what you consider "good" or "better".
When you say there are "good", or "better" movies, it all depends on what you mean by "good". I saw one movie on TV with Douglas. It involved some sort of giant lizard dug up by an oil company as they drilled. It was from the early 1960's. For a "C" or "D" grade movie to laugh at, it was "good". The sound didn't match the movement of the actor's mouths even though you could tell they spoke English. That added to the experience. I wouldn't pay $8.00 to see it in a theater though. A lot of the time when I say, "better" movie, I mean one that has a better story. Movies with a "good" story ["better" movie], would be ones like, "The Lavender Hill Mob". Some movies are a "visual treat" like, "Chariots of Fire". "Chariots of Fire" is considered a "better" movie as well. (I have a whole section of my old movie scrapbook devoted to "Chariots of Fire". After a long "campaign", I talked my grandparents into taking me to see this "film". My grandfather slept through it and my grandmother liked the scenery.)
We like to go see movies in theaters. (as opposed to renting them) A lot of the time movies "loose something" on the small screen. (There are a ton of old movies I would really enjoy seeing on the big screen as they were originally intended to be seen. [Some of Alfred Hitchcock's for example] I know of no theater that plays such movies. I would open one or rather lobby to have one opened, if I knew it were available.)
There's some we like and some we don't. Most movies we see together. Of course, I like movies my husband isn't that fond of. He likes movies I wouldn't go see. I won't go see disaster movies. I won't go see movies with "critters" (giant spiders etc.). There are movies we will see at the "dollar movie" (second run theatre --- reduced price). Some of the big action pictures need a "regular" theater in order to get the good sound and picture. We seldom pay full price even then. We like to hit up a matinee if we go to a "regular" theater. We like to sit in the theater and watch the "trailers" or advertisements for the coming movies. We give each other "knowing looks" or gestures after each one. A thumbs up would be that we want to see the movie some day. A lot of the time there is a whisper, "For a dollar". This means that we might see it but it isn't worth paying even the matinee price to see it.
Increasing more and more, I wonder if "Hollywood" isn't out of touch with "ordinary" people of this country. If you assume that they put the best parts of a movie in the advertisements on television, a great deal of the movies advertised aren't worth seeing. (in our opinions) That applies to all types of movies.~~~~~~ August 24, 2006 It is a theory around this house that they put the best parts of a movie in the ads. It is a generally held belief that if the ads for a movie are so bad that you want turn them off before they make you sick, then you know the movie is going to be even worse.~~~~~~~
I know people who do not like strong language, violence, or certain depictions of sexuality. Yet, "Hollywood" keeps putting more and more of that in the movies. The more a movie is deemed, "immoral" by some, the more the movie is considered, "brave" by the Hollywood establishment. It has gotten to the point, that if I were able to make movies, I wouldn't want to win an Academy Award. I am not sure if this is the "correct" attitude, but I would almost feel offended, if my film won such a thing. When you think of the "better" movies that "Hollywood" produces, usually they don't "sound" interesting to me. I don't like the subject matter. It isn't always the "morality" of these movies that bothers me. It goes way beyond the "Blue State" / "Red State" debate. For example we avoid any movie with "romantic comedy" in the description. I don't mind such movies made before the 1970's. I guess the "old" ones are just as silly as the ones made today. But at least the "old" ones have scenery, and
costumes that are interesting enough to keep your mind off the "silly" stuff. If the ads are anything to go on, most of the "modern" romantic comedies seem to be sort of "stupid" looking. I don't know if the older ones "insult the intelligence" as much. I could be wrong though.
I have gone to "Hollywood" movies before that claimed to be "about a typical______", family, town or whatever. I have never seen a movie that reflected my life or portrayed people I know. There has only been one case that I can remember off hand, where I felt like I "knew" the people on the screen. That movie was, "The Big Chill". A friend and I went to great lengths to see this movie. The theater was not near our house. We rode a city bus to get there. When the movie was over, there were no busses going back to town from that mall. It was difficult getting home. At the end of the movie, we both turned to each other and said, "I know those people". Of course, we literally didn't know those exact characters. We did know people like that though. It was a very rare experience. I do not know if my life experience is "odd" or if "Hollywood" is out of touch. I like to think that "Hollywood" is out of touch. I wish that the Movie and Television (and radio drama) industry would get a new attitude. It seems to me, that the more gloomy and depressing the story is, the more it is "heralded" as "good". The "critics" really "love" it when a piece of entertainment is "dark". If it is, "light" or "happy" in any way, they dismiss it as being "sentimental". I take that back, if the story is light, it can be "praised" if it has some sort of "left wing" agenda to it. Why can't they listen to "most Americans" and give them what they really want to watch? Why can't they do more "slice of life" movies that reflect reality? Why can't they do "good" movies that do not have what the "progressives" call "brave" subject matter? (I didn't see "Brokeback Mountain". I heard about it though. The story didn't seem plausible though. Two men falling in love while herding sheep? The legend is that shepherds fall in love with their sheep and not with each other. Besides, there's a difference between "love" and "lust". [see entry for "The English Patient" below.]) Speaking of lust--- why is it always "bravery" when a dissatisfied spouse "plucks up courage" and leaves the marriage. They always claim, "For once I had to do something for 'me'!". What about the rest of the family, don't they count? Why can't "Hollywood" make a movie about someone who nearly divorces their spouse, but they hang in there, they work it out, they stay married???? I'm not talking about a movie where the person stays in an unhappy relationship. I mean a marriage that goes through a rough patch and it gets better! I hate seeing stories about families falling apart. There are families that stay together--- willfully and happily. There are families that go through rough times and manage to come out the other side much stronger.
There's a whole genera of movie that I wish "Hollywood" would produce more of... I wish they would make decent comedies. It is possible to make movies that do not have "bathroom" (toilet) humor; sexual innuendos and other objectionable things. You would think it would be a welcome challenge to a writer to write a "clean" film that was very funny.
Maybe I have "odd" tastes. I do like what my husband calls, "butterfly documentaries". I do like some foreign films. I just like movies with strong stories; good scenery; and strong emotions maybe. It is difficult to put into words what makes a movie "good". There is more to "good" movies than the "morality" of the story.~~~~~~
My mother thought I had strange taste in movies too. I was talking to my mother once by telephone. When I called her, she was in the middle of a movie. I asked her which one it was. She replied that it was a "Robyn" movie. I asked what a "Robyn" movie was. She said they were wondering why they were watching it, they called those, "Robyn" movies. She had in mind what she thought was my taste in movies. (I guess Mom had a few memories of movies she caught me watching. She claimed I watched one that was in one language we didn't understand, and it had Japanese subtitles. I NEVER saw one like that before. Why would they show that kind of movie to an English speaking audience? I think she remembered me trying to watch Dô desu ka den on CBS Cable. I was unable to finish watching it.)~~~~~~~~
August 17, 2006 We like to see movies in theaters. The way I "judge" if a movie is "good"... (not what degree of "good" it is)... if I am sitting through a movie and my mind is going; "Did we leave the windows open at home, I think it is going to rain?"; "Oh my foot hurts"; etc. then it isn't that great a movie. If I get caught up in the story and "believe" what is going on no matter how implausible the story is, then it is a "good" movie. (The more the "suspended belief" the better.) If I sit there and say to myself, "That would never happen in reality." then there isn't that suspended belief. If I go that route, then I start puzzling about the science or logic of the story. Movies that are supposed to have suspense--- if there is a point in the movie (around the climax) where I begin to feel that I can't stand anymore, then the suspense is good. If it is "real" suspense, then there is this point when I wish they would "get on with it". That is how I know the suspense was good. It is rare to find that kind of suspense any more.
More Movie Reminiscences:
August 24, 2006
The Charlie Chan movie, "The Scarlet Clue," was part of my introduction to radio drama. As you may well know, I am trying to learn to write radio drama (audio drama). I saw the Charlie Chan movies via KPLR out of St. Louis, Missouri. That was back in the mid 1970's. We lived near Jefferson City and we had cable TV. This movie was probably the first time I "saw" any radio drama. In "The Scarlet Clue" you can see how radio drama was done back in the "Old Time Radio" (OTR) days.
I know I knew about "OTR" drama by hearing people talk. I might have heard older people talk about it. I know they mentioned such things as Fibber McGee on television. One evening before I moved back to Jefferson City, I got to hear snatches from an episode of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater in Texas. E. G. Marshall was the host (presenter). [This had to be in 1974 during their first season?] We were driving back to Olney from Graham. My father had that on the car radio. The sound was "up front" and "us kids" were in the back. I didn't hear much of the story at all. I mainly heard "voices" but no clear words. It was kind of exciting to hear something other than music or news on the radio. There was a "comforting" feeling to the experience. It is probably good that I didn't hear the story as they were generally very "creepy". I could "sware" I heard this before 1974 in 1973 or so. But according to the database for the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, it wasn't on the air until 1974. Maybe we were listening to the first episode from January 6, 1974? It wasn't until later on in the 1970's (1978, 1979 or maybe 1980) that I heard the CBS Radio Mystery Theater again, on KMOX 1120 in St. Louis. One evening I was tooling around with a radio and I picked up KMOX. I was able to pick them up at night in Jeff. City. (I can get it here as well. [at night on radio]) I didn't try picking them up at night in Texas.
August 25, 2006
I haven't told you about the movie camera. I was watching Steven Spielberg being interviewed on the Dick Cavett show. They were talking about how Mr. Spielberg commandeered the family 8mm movie camera. That was quite an inspiration. I had to have a movie camera! This was when I was in high school, when I was keeping my movie scrapbook. I tried and tried to save my money so that I could buy a Super 8 movie camera outfit like I saw in a Sears Catalogue. The whole thing was around $80.00
maybe. Money burns a hole in my pocket and I couldn't manage to save $5.00.
Eventually we went to this flea market billed as the world's largest. It was near Ft. Worth some where.
We barely made a dent in the place. ("We'll have to come back some day". That day has never happened.) The first two items that I saw that I wanted were--- an old Bell and Howell 8mm movie camera for $10.00 and a tall old liquor or wine bottle. It was interesting in that it was shaped so that it had a "monkey" climbing the neck of it. I think it may have had brown glass. I think the bottle may have been going for around $8.00. Of course the item I picked, was the movie camera. Little did I know what an expensive thing that would be. I am heavily guessing it may have cost around $8.00 to have the film developed. That may not seem like much, but when you have to talk your grandmother to part with some of her "butter and egg money" to do it, then it seems expensive. I didn't make many movies. Then at some point I dropped this camera. It would take moving pictures but they were out of frame maybe. (I have slept since then, and it is difficult to remember.) When I finished school and moved to Ft. Worth, I discovered charity thrift stores. I bought a DeJUR magazine 8 movie camera. The film came in a box something like the super 8 movie cameras. Rather than having to risk your movie in order to turn the film over, you just flip the box over. (I think.) This film was horrifically expensive to work with. I remember it taking something like $17.00 to get the film developed. Or was that the cost of the film itself? The camera shot the pictures out of frame. (Either that or my projector was horribly off.) I dropped this camera too. I still have a box of movies that I want to have put on DVD. That is if they can be repaired and done the way I want it done. Around this time, I bought a 16mm home movie in color. It is of somebody's trip to Cuba back in the 1950's or was that the late 1940's. I forget that too. When I was into the crazy art stuff, I tried my best to destroy an old Kodak movie 8mm camera. I was gluing the parts to a large board. I was attempting to arrange the pieces in a spiral pattern. Don't ask me what I was trying to say. I don't think I was trying to say anything. I just got a "bug" to do it---"art for Art's sake" and all of that maybe. Who knows now.... I didn't manage to be able to save that. The camera was well constructed out of what was probably steel. I wasn't enough of a Hercules to get it all apart. Then once it was mostly in pieces, some of them destroyed in trying to extricate them from the camera, I regretted destroying such a wonderful piece of Americana.
Now it is a new century and I have one of those digital video cameras. It takes still pictures and moving pictures. I can't drop this one as most all the part are plastic and it will shatter. I have been duly warned not to "wreck" this. I will let you know how working with it turns out. My early 8mm movies were best seen backwards. (It added interest to view them backwards.)
August 25, 2006
When I was going to all the thrift stores in Ft. Worth, I ended up buying books about movies. Like the old annual for the camera men who worked in Hollywood. I also got one that tells you how to run a movie theater. It is for people who ran them during the silent era. Film was highly flammable in those days. They used carbon arc lamps as the lights in the projectors. These can produce flames. So, they kept buckets of water in the projection booth. The author of this book tells you how he dried a reel of film that had been dropped in a bucket of water. He put a long line of chairs in the lobby. He unrolled the film onto the backs of the chairs. He let the film dry. If you want to read which "movie" books I have on the shelves, check out the library listings on this site. I will eventually get around to putting them on there.