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Do you remember your first time?


path40a
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In hopes of starting another discussion of general interest (kind of like the desert island one), I thought I'd share something I typed sometime ago ...

 

40 Years of Loving Movies ... and how my journey began

 

I was going to just post a question something like "Can you remember the film that first captured your imagination and made you love going to the movies?", but then I decided to see if I could remember more details about my own obsession with this art form in hopes that it would not only be interesting for y'all to read, but perhaps also inspire similar contributions from others. I found my particular quest to be largely nostalgic vs. insightful, yet quite satisfying.

 

I don't really remember the first movie I ever saw, though I'm sure it was age appropriate and probably one made by Walt Disney. I do remember that the Mary Poppins (1964) soundtrack album was always sitting next to the big piece of furniture which encompassed the record player, radio and TV console. However, I'm not really trying to pinpoint the first movie I saw anyway, merely the one that made the biggest impression earliest in my life.

 

We went to the movies as a family and I can remember sitting in a very big auditorium, the way it was before stadium seating. Curtains covered the walls at the front and sides and we'd enter from the back and then walk down the center aisle until Dad found a place for us to sit. The big curtain at the front would start to "magically" open only after a countdown sequence was projected on the screen "hidden" behind it. I believe it must have been a CinemaScope theatre, though I think we called it "CineScope". I can vaguely remember seeing Oliver! (1968) in a place like this, though it must have been during its re-release in late 1972, and can more vividly recall another epic that I saw was The Wind and the Lion (1975).

 

I remember that one of the first films I was "dropped off" with some friends to see (all by ourselves!) was Tarzan's Deadly Silence (1970) which featured Ron Ely in the title role and Tarzan losing his hearing ... totally forgettable otherwise. Then, I remember being old enough to be trusted to walk to the Esquire Theatre (in Clayton, MO) and spend my own money (made mowing lawns) to see Bank Shot (1974) with George C. Scott. Seems my choice in movies was pretty awful.

 

For one of my friend's birthdays, we were taken by his Mom to see Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976) which was the only movie I think I've ever walked out on (actually, we were dragged out;-) Later, during that summer, was the first time I ever paid to see a movie for the second time - The Bad News Bears (1976) - the phenomenon that, today, fuels the box office mentality that drives the major studios.

 

A few others I also still recall watching were Murder by Death (1976), which I think I would appreciate much more now that I've seen Bogart and the Thin Man films, and the first R-movie I saw which was Semi-Tough (1977), only because it was the first movie released around the time of my 17th birthday. However, I've digressed now from the reason why I started this post in the first place. Back on topic ...

 

In the Spring of 1977 (before I turned 17), we moved about 5 miles from where we had been living (to Creve Coeur, MO) and I got my own room upstairs away from my folks room on the main level. I got a little 9-inch B&W Sears TV for Christmas that year (which still works!) and so I was able to watch it late at night or on Saturday mornings surreptitiously. Of course, I watched everything I could regardless, developing a habit my wife now derides with "you'll watch anything". I remember watching a lot of Abbott & Costello and Bowery Boys movies on rainy weekend afternoons.

 

One Saturday, however, I saw King Solomon's Mines (1950) starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr. I remember mentioning it to my Mom and how she seemed to appreciate the moment with me, that movies were GREAT.* It's an adventure set in Africa which won Oscars for Cinematography (Color, ironically) & Editing and was also nominated for Best Picture. I was so captivated by the story that I was able to watch it through all the commercials and call-in contests from which I was surely besieged. All these years later, I believe I can honestly say that this film (and the fact that Star Wars (1977) was released in the same timeframe) was the seed from which my love for movies grew.

 

BTW, they say you can't go home again, and now I know why. I watched this film on TCM earlier this year and was struck by what a chauvinistic (even mildly racist) point of view it had, though it was still somewhat entertaining. The "special effects" are lame by any standards, though maybe not at the time, and I didn't find the story particularly compelling either, which wasn't because I'd seen it before since I'd obviously forgotten it 25 years later.

 

Although this post is largely a personal reflection, perhaps it will prompt some of you to make your own journey back to recall your movie roots. I found mine to be a pleasant one. I didn't try to recall or include ALL the films I watched in my youth, just the "firsts" and ones that immediately came to mind (for whatever reason;-)

 

* - This discussion led to my Mother to share a few stories with me about my Grandfather (her Dad), the fact that he had been a carpenter by trade who, among other things, helped to rebuild Pearl Harbor and, much later, worked on building the spectacular (Academy Award nominated) sets for the film Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) with James Mason.

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The first movie I saw, and i'm really going to date myself on this one, PETER PAN. I had been sick for quite a few days and my mother had to take me to the doctor. I knew I had to get a shot and I was really upset. Mother told me if I was good she would take me to see PETER PAN. Well, I was good and we went to the movie. I really sick and I sat on her lap the whole time. I never forgot it.

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As long as i can remember my parents took us kids to the movies. So I've been hooked on movies all my life. Half the movies we went to were a the drive in theaters. We, 4 tikes (in pj's) and mom & dad, would pile into the station wagon and see a double feature. That is something else I remember - the double features at one low price. Disney movies were the most films I recall. It was a re-release of West Side Story when I was about 8 that I thought WOW! Now that was a movie.

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Yeah we did all the classic-textbook-family trips to the movies too, but the first time going with a couple girls my age (the "drop-off"!) was to see Jaws, when I was about 10. I loved it so much, I went home and embroidered JAWS on the front of a T-shirt - same red color and same exact lettering font as the movie poster. It was choice, man.

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I remember seeing a rerelease of DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE when I was about six. The leprechauns were creepy and the Banshee frightened me for a very long time. I also remember seeing SUPERMAN, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and SNOW WHITE at the drive in with my parents-I fell asleep during all three films.

 

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Thanks for all your input & feedback so far!

 

BTW, what I was trying to get at, but which may have been lost in what I typed, was:

 

What was the first classic or old movie (even B&W) you watched that helped you discover the world of great movies?

 

Not that some of those listed are not classics, but mine was watching Stewart Granger in King Solomon's Mines, which wasn't until I was 17 or 18 years old. I might even amend mine slightly to The Wizard of Oz;-)

 

So, I wasn't looking for the first film you can remember seeing, but the first classic you can remember seeing which caused you to appreciate and then seek out other classic films to see.

 

Anyone remember an event like that? Just curious ...

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Oh. Now that I know what you're asking for, I'd have to say Captains Courageous, which I didn't see until I was an adult. After that, there were a flood of classic films I watched on TV (not TCM nor AMC) that continued to keep me interested in the older classics until I did get AMC, and finally TCM more recently.

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Oh! Well then mine wasn't till the early '90s, when our Blockbuster store (in Florissant, MO, by the way!) began stocking an exclusive shelf of classic films. My mom went with me and turned me on to "Laura" and "Double Indemnity" as my first classic rentals - I was hooked! I think I rented out the entire aisle over the course of a year!

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This is a nice thread, path. I enjoyed reading your first post.

 

I have always remembered loving classic films. I think it started because a local tv station would always show Shirley Temple, Blondie and Ma and Pa Kettle movies on Sunday afternoons. I never missed those! This was back in the days of no cable tv when most of the other 5 channels showed sports on a Sunday afternoon!

 

I also remember loving a coffee-table book that we had at home called Life Goes to the Movies. It had great photos of all the classic stars.

 

Sandy K

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I had been obsessed with the Titanic since I was in grade school, 1st grade, and I've been watching A Night To Remember and Titanic ('53) for quite a while. The latter film was my introduction to Barbara Stanwyck, though at the time I had no idea how highly regarded she was. I was only like 12 when I first saw it.

 

I started out just casually watching a little TCM about six years ago, but the day it all really started for me was January 25, 2000. I was flipping through channels in the late morning that day and when I came across TCM I saw her-a woman so impossibly beautiful! I shot forward, luckily I didn't break my nose against the screen! I was mesmerized! I thought to myself, "whoever that is, I think she's the greatest!" I waited for the cast credits at the end of the film to find out who she was. Her name; HEDY LAMARR!!!!!! I didn't know it the time, but she had died six days before and this was TCM's tribute to her. I knew I had to check out more of her films! A few months later, I was watching The History Channel and saw a bit they were doing on her and her 1942 patent. That she had intended for her ideas to be used for torpedo guidance fascinated me because I had long been into maritime/naval stuff. That made me love her that much more.

 

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Among the first classic films I saw were THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. These films used to be shown quite frequently on WGN. I also enjoyed LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. Mr. Flynn became my favourite actor. Of course I grew up watching re-runs of the OUR GANG comedies, THE THREE STOOGES, and the annual-or biannual showing/s of THE WIZARD OF OZ. OZ was a big event and the whole family used to crowd around the big faux wooden t.v. set. I don't think children today see THE WIZARD OF OZ at all. BTW Antar I don't think Ms. Stanwyck ever looked more beautiful than she did in TITANIC. She looked absolutely stunning! Maybe it was the beautiful hair piled on her head(was it a wig?)

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Certainly, as a child, I was shown the typical must-see-during-youth classics, i.e. The Wizard of Oz (1939), Singin' In the Rain (1952), and almost all of Disney's animated classics, but I basically grew up to neglect almost all the classics I came across. Later, I did gain knowledge of the older side of cinema and watched TCM every once in a great while. Two instances I can recall were Some Like It Hot (1959), to which I didn't pay enough attention to merit my full appreciation, and A Night at the Opera (1935), which I only caught the end of. It wasn't until I decided to borrow It Happened One Night (1934) from the local library that I discovered the true brilliance of the classics. After that film, I have become a devoted fan of the classics and this great station that provides them to me on a daily basis. Plus, my second viewing of Some Like It Hot and A Night at the Opera have put these films among my favorites.

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Well as far as the classics (the old black and whites) was watching Nightmare Theater on friday nights. This was always a treat for me and my sisters. We were allowed to stay up late 11:00 PM to watch these old classic and not so classic horror movies. I guess that got me going. It was not until I met my wife that I fell in love with the classics. She loved them and forced me to watch them.

there was I Remember Mama, His Girl Friday, My Man Godfrey, My Favorite Wife and so on and so on and still going on today 18 years later.

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Yeah, the drive-in. Saw a BUNCH of classics there(and DIDN'T fall asleep). Saw "Hud" "A Walk on the Wild Side" "Goldfinger" "Dr Strangelove" "Cleopatra" "The Days of Wine and Roses" "How the West Was Won"....Except for "Goldfinger" these are films I probably wouldn.t have gone to on my own.

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Stlgal you are absolutely on the mark with Blocbuster! I haven't visted one in 10 years even though I have one in walking distance. They did away with classics, foreign films, cult favorites and those wonderful odd-ball selections. Replaced by video games and soda & snacks. I pointed out to the manager that since there was a 7-11 across the street (which is a lot cheaper anyway) it was a waste of valuable space to devote so much room to snacks. Now Blockbuster really lives up to it's name.... thousand copies each of the latest (drek) releases. If these films appeal to me I SEE THEM IN THE THE THEATRE, like they were MEANT to be seen!

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Unfortunately, where I am, Blockbuster is all there is within a reasonable distance. Actually, there are a couple of others, but they are WORSE if you can believe it.

 

I'm dismayed that they don't carry superbit DVDs or very many classics. But hey, that's why I watch so much TCM;-)

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Evidently, there is an internet service that is very popular called Netflix. You pay a monthly fee and they mail you the movie you want (you mail it back after you've watched it and you can have more than one at a time). I've heard that their library is all inclusive (that it's hard to ask for a movie that they don't have), but I haven't tried it and don't even know what the monthly fee is.

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