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Memorable Movie Going Experiences


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  The topic's subject title here is culled from a Peebs prompt: when a theater is as important to the movie goer as the film itself.

 I will kick it off with uber James Bond fan, Peebs, in mind...

  The CHINESE Theatre became associated with James Bond films. Quentin Tarantino brought his Hollywood Walk Of Fame ceremony full-circle with "Diamonds Are Forever" he saw there as a kid if I'm not mistaken.

                        f8152853f923bf45cd752ea233f07079.jpg

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Thanks NoShear!

Years ago, my husband was a new teacher at school that required a week of community service before classes started.  Each teacher was assigned a gaggle of teens and had to find a place to volunteer.  We were new in town and tried calling all the usual places but they weren't interested or had enough volunteers.  I ran across an article in the local paper about an old theater that a small group was trying to refurbish.   I called them and they were in desperate need of volunteers and were delighted to have the students.  The students cleaned out old dressing rooms and under the stage, saving any old ticket stubs or programs.  They washed windows, swept floors, pulled up old carpeting, that sort of thing.   The students also learned some history of the building and who played there.  Houdini got the biggest response.  A month or two later the theater owners invited us and the kids who volunteered to a showing of "Some Like It Hot."  The kids got to sit in the balcony, munch on popcorn and take pride in their part of getting the theater back into operation.  I think Marilyn Monroe on the big screen was a memorable experience for many of the teen boys.  

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1 hour ago, NoShear said:

 

  The CHINESE Theatre became associated with James Bond films. Quentin Tarantino brought his Hollywood Walk Of Fame ceremony full-circle with "Diamonds Are Forever" he saw there as a kid if I'm not mistaken.

                        f8152853f923bf45cd752ea233f07079.jpg

Have you ever been here or seen a movie here?

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16 minutes ago, Peebs said:

Re: "Have you ever been here or seen a movie here?"

 Yes, Peebs, and thanks for asking: I got to see some Bond movies with my family there - including "Diamonds Are Forever"...

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1 hour ago, NoShear said:

 Yes, Peebs, and thanks for asking: I got to see some Bond movies with my family there - including "Diamonds Are Forever"...

What about the Egyptian down the street?  I've only been in it since it was chopped up inside.

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1 minute ago, txfilmfan said:

Re: "What about the Egyptian down the street?  I've only been in it since it was chopped up inside."

 I think of Bond movies at the CHINESand disaster films at the Egyptian back in the 1970s.

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I would go to Hollywood and revival theaters to see  Bogart films like The Big Sleep,  Casablanca and Dead Reckoning.

As for a memorable experience: I went to Dead Reckoning with a girlfriend;     When the driving scene where Bogie tells Liz Scott that he wishes he could shrink women so that he could put them in his pocket  and then make them bigger when he had a use for them,    the women in the audience booed,  while the men clapped.

 

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18 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I would go to Hollywood and revival theaters to see  Bogart films like The Big Sleep,  Casablanca and Dead Reckoning.

As for a memorable experience: I went to Dead Reckoning with a girlfriend;     When the driving scene where Bogie tells Liz Scott that he wishes he could shrink women so that he could put them in his pocket  and then make them bigger when he had a use for them,    the women in the audience booed,  while the men clapped.

 

It's a different experience going to revivals and festivals vs. new releases with the general public.  At the TCMFF, people clap during the opening credits.  If it's a musical, they usually clap at the end of a song (like one does during a theatrical musical). 

The best response was when Joan Crawford slapped Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce, the entire auditorium clapped.  I was sitting directly behind Ms. Blyth at that screening.

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I will always remember the first time I saw a film projected in 70mm.  It was 1959 and my dad took me  to the old Ritz theater in Albany, NY to see BEN-HUR.   I can still recall seeing  that massive wall-to-wall gold curtain.  Then as the house lights dimmed the overture started leaving just the lights on the curtain.

Very  slowly those  lights faded so that as the music reach it's crescendo the auditorium was in total darkness.   Then as the curtain opened we saw the MGM logo  fill that giant screen and Leo The Lion roaring like I had never heard before.  Between the huge picture and surround sound it was an electrifying experience for this kid. 

Over the years I saw many 70mm films, often as roadshows with all the extra trappings , but nothing will every replace "my first time".

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3 hours ago, markfp2 said:

I will always remember the first time I saw a film projected in 70mm.  It was 1959 and my dad took me  to the old Ritz theater in Albany, NY to see BEN-HUR.   I can still recall seeing  that massive wall-to-wall gold curtain.  Then as the house lights dimmed the overture started leaving just the lights on the curtain.

Very  slowly those  lights faded so that as the music reach it's crescendo the auditorium was in total darkness.   Then as the curtain opened we saw the MGM logo  fill that giant screen and Leo The Lion roaring like I had never heard before.  Between the huge picture and surround sound it was an electrifying experience for this kid. 

Over the years I saw many 70mm films, often as roadshows with all the extra trappings , but nothing will every replace "my first time".

Lucky you.  I came of age after the road show era ended.  The only thing I've seen that comes close is a screening of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World at the Cinerama Dome in LA.  It was done in roadshow format. 

Disney's El Capitan in Hollywood still has curtain shows.  I suppose it's one of the few left that still does that.

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Probably not response people looking for, but most memorable experience for me was a friend and I each snuck in quart bottles of beer before we were even old enough to drink beer (age 18 at the time).

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When I was a little kid in Brooklyn in the late 1960's- early 70's my older bro and I and  would occasionally make plans with our dad (who worked at 42nd St. and 6th Ave) to meet him at his work and then go to a flick (or two). Within 4 blocks of his job, there were at least 50 movie theaters. Sometimes we'd see dad's choice (e.g. THE GODFATHER, PAPILLON, VANISHING POINT) and that was usually fine. Sometimes older films (GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE HAUNTING I remember well). My bro and I loved horror movies so for us the highlights of those days were THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, WILLARD, HANDS OF THE RIPPER, etc. The double feature of HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN/SCARS OF DRACULA was a great day. One film that particularly stands out in memory was TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972). In the theater entrance was a kiosk with a TV showing a loop of the preview. That was extremely high tech at the time, first time we ever saw that. There were machines spewing greasy "fog" all over. There was also wall decor that resembled razor blades. The movie did not disappoint, it was one of our favorites!

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My more  relished movie going experiences are more recent.  Like the "anniversary" presentations at Detroit's newly restored FOX THEATER(  it was in sad disrepair until the early '80's when restoration efforts began and brought it back to it's original magnificence.)  such as BEN HUR  ( I can understand MARK's being dazzled as a kid in '59 as it dazzled ME as  a pushing 40 adult in '89.)  THE WIZARD OF OZ,  GONE WITH THE WIND ,  CASABLANCA,  all flicks I've seen several times on the small screen,   but seeing them original sized and in that beautifully opulent setting  made it all a new and breathtaking experience.

Sepiatone

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Back when I was blogging, I did paeans to the three formative theaters of my childhood:
The Strand (or what was quickly built to replace it when it burned down), Seneca Falls, NY; The Fine Arts, Maynard MA; and Off the Wall Cinema, Cambridge MA.

Sadly, all three are now closed, even the recently restored Maynard theater, which had to close after they lost their restorationist.  😥

I saw every great mid-70's movie (including Holy Grail and Young Frankenstein on opening) at the Strand, dozens of classic revivals on weeknights with a 10-admissions (for $30) ticket at the Fine Arts, and first learned of Tex Avery and Fleischer's Popeye at Off the Wall's summer cartoon festivals.

At least the Geneva NY theater (where I saw many great 70's Disney) is still around, restored back into the Smith Opera House.

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I used to go to the revival houses in NYC to see studio era and foreign flicks. The vibe was rather

informal and the theaters a bit on the grungy side, though nothing too bad. MOMA was more

serious, cineaste territory, but still enjoyable. 

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I was sent to a military base to do inoculations and follow-up recordkeeping. The building in which movies were normally shown was closed because a series of 'lively' nights resulted in extensive repairs being required. Command was not in the mood to expedite those repairs.

A solution was found by placing a projector on its back in the bottom of a maintenance pit in a little-used hanger and showing movies on the ceiling. Very few officers were allowed to know of it because it was illicit use of facilities. The staff with whom I worked considered me a good risk and introduced me to the arrangement.

You had to bring your own blanket and pillow because the concrete floor was cold and hard. Space was limited for good viewing because of the compromised angle. It was not shoulder-to-shoulder but shoulder-to-hip to achieve best use of space. It was highly advisable to visit the ladies room prior to the movie beginning because stepping over people was much worse than moving down a crowded row of seats. The close packing discouraged also bringing sardines as snacks.

I can not recall a single movie which I watched there but it was all great good fun which I will never forget!

The same general arrangement was used also at two other sites which I visited but those were approved uses. Those were fun also but lacked the subtle thrill of shared danger.

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15 hours ago, Herman Bricks said:

When I was a little kid in Brooklyn in the late 1960's- early 70's my older bro and I and  would occasionally make plans with our dad (who worked at 42nd St. and 6th Ave) to meet him at his work and then go to a flick (or two). Within 4 blocks of his job, there were at least 50 movie theaters.

My bro and I loved horror movies so for us the highlights of those days were THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, WILLARD, HANDS OF THE RIPPER, etc. The double feature of HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN/SCARS OF DRACULA was a great day. One film that particularly stands out in memory was TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972). In the theater entrance was a kiosk with a TV showing a loop of the preview. That was extremely high tech at the time, first time we ever saw that. There were machines spewing greasy "fog" all over. There was also wall decor that resembled razor blades. The movie did not disappoint, it was one of our favorites!

You saw Dr. Phibes and Tales From the Crypt for the first time on Grindhouse Row???   😮

(faints from jealousy)

I still remember going to the big three-screen theater in Times Square in 1982, to catch Tron on opening night, while in town on my first big solo trip to the big city, to look at colleges.  

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I had a similar experience to MarkFP (Ben-Hur) seeing The Robe with my dad and brothers. It was the first CinemaScope film and I remember the awesomeness of the stereo and the curtain opening wider and wider and wider. I still miss curtains; it was part of the experience, seeing the studio logo on the curtain itself, then watching it open as the credits started. 

My favorite moviegoing experiences were back in the 1970's at a revival house in a summer resort town which scheduled late showings so local workers could see a movie after work (after stopping off at the neighboring bar for a quickie or two, or a toke or two if you were so inclined). I was working as a dishwasher at the time and still in my whites, so I was always worried I'd stink up the place, but everyone was so loose nobody cared. They were ready for a time and the movies were usually picked to produce the most howls of laughter. The only time I've literally wanted to put my hands over my ears at a movie was during the big phallic banana number in The Gang's All Here with the ladies toting around all the giant bananas in elaborate formations. The decibel level was off the charts with all the laughing and cheering and it felt like the whole building was going to levitate. John Waters summered locally, so we always got an early look at his latest too, sometimes with members of the cast present. I remember Divine having to keep a low profile at the back of the theater because there was still a local ordinance about how many items of female clothing could be worn, which is ironic because today it's one of the drag capitals of the world. I know midnight shows became a big urban phenomenon and I'm sure they were unforgettable, but that dingy little revival house provided me with all the memories I need. 

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18 hours ago, SansFin said:

I was sent to a military base to do inoculations and follow-up recordkeeping. The building in which movies were normally shown was closed because a series of 'lively' nights resulted in extensive repairs being required. Command was not in the mood to expedite those repairs.

A solution was found by placing a projector on its back in the bottom of a maintenance pit in a little-used hanger and showing movies on the ceiling. Very few officers were allowed to know of it because it was illicit use of facilities. The staff with whom I worked considered me a good risk and introduced me to the arrangement.

You had to bring your own blanket and pillow because the concrete floor was cold and hard. Space was limited for good viewing because of the compromised angle. It was not shoulder-to-shoulder but shoulder-to-hip to achieve best use of space. It was highly advisable to visit the ladies room prior to the movie beginning because stepping over people was much worse than moving down a crowded row of seats. The close packing discouraged also bringing sardines as snacks.

I can not recall a single movie which I watched there but it was all great good fun which I will never forget!

The same general arrangement was used also at two other sites which I visited but those were approved uses. Those were fun also but lacked the subtle thrill of shared danger.

Speaking of "shared danger," when I was in Vietnam the small units would have an outdoor theater with a wall painted white or maybe an actual screen attached to it.  Movies were distributed to units and shown at night.  Talk about a target.  However I never heard of any being attacked, but would not surprise me some were.

During the Gulf War (Desert Storm), we had a large tent for meals and at night we would watch video tapes of movies on a CRT TV.   Progress.

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I remember Boston had a few theaters literally built into the first floors of a couple parking garages, which saved on street space--One was right next to the upscale-hotel district, and right behind the hotel, which made it a good excuse for a movie out if you were staying there.

Used to take the train in and meet my dad after work, and on some occasions, we'd catch a late movie he wanted to see:  We stopped at the 57 (built into the downtown Hotel 57's parking garage) for an advance preview screening of Flash Gordon (1980), when the first audiences didn't know what to expect.  Let's linger on those words for a few moments, L&G...  😅

And even though the Sack Charles is now a medical-research building for Mass. General Hospital, a mental plaque hangs on the second-floor walls, enshrined by all those who ever stood in line for all three Original-Trilogy Star Wars films when they opened.  

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A really memorable moviegoing experience took place not in the theater but in the waiting line outside. The movie was Wait Until Dark and, without being a spoiler, there's a famous moment which usually scares the bejeesus out of audiences. It was one of those cases where they weren't letting people in while the movie was in progress and, since the theater was soundproofed, we were all just blissfully chatting and hanging out in line, totally unaware of anything inside. Then came the moment and from that soundproofed theater there came a huge collective scream of fright. Everyone in line went completely stiff with our eyes bugging out of our heads. We all then looked at each other, wondering what the hell we were in for with this movie. I don't think I've ever entered a theater with such trepidation.

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On 9/9/2021 at 2:25 AM, skimpole said:

I remember seeing the 1995 Johnny Deep/Christopher Walken movie Nick of time and being the only one in the theater.  It wasn't that bad a movie.

I wasn't sure if I'd ever heard of this movie. I had to look it up on imdb. Skimpole doesn't mention it unfolds in "real time". A couple of thugs (one played by Walken) kidnap Depp's daughter and tell Depp he has 90 minutes to assassinate the governor (played by Marsha Mason!), or they'll kill his daughter. Directed by John Badham, who had big hits with Saturday Night Fever, War Games and Short Circuit.  Bonnie Raitt, who had a big hit album called Nick of Time, peforms a song over the closing credits (though it's not the title song from that album). As white-hot as Depp's career was at that time, it's surprising he had this almost-forgotten dud, which cost $33 million to make and only grossed $8 mil. One of those stories I find fascinating about the movies.

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On 9/12/2021 at 11:14 AM, DougieB said:

A really memorable moviegoing experience took place not in the theater but in the waiting line outside. The movie was Wait Until Dark and, without being a spoiler, there's a famous moment which usually scares the bejeesus out of audiences. It was one of those cases where they weren't letting people in while the movie was in progress and, since the theater was soundproofed, we were all just blissfully chatting and hanging out in line, totally unaware of anything inside. Then came the moment and from that soundproofed theater there came a huge collective scream of fright. Everyone in line went completely stiff with our eyes bugging out of our heads. We all then looked at each other, wondering what the hell we were in for with this movie. I don't think I've ever entered a theater with such trepidation.

My wife and I watched Wait Until Dark a few weeks back.   The only memorable experience I had was after the ending she said to me "you're replacing that Fridge light by this weekend!".      I tried  pointing out that it was really the opposite; that if that light had been out Audrey would  have been in less danger.     I replaced the light the following day.

 

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On 9/12/2021 at 11:14 AM, DougieB said:

A really memorable moviegoing experience took place not in the theater but in the waiting line outside. The movie was Wait Until Dark and, without being a spoiler, there's a famous moment which usually scares the bejeesus out of audiences. It was one of those cases where they weren't letting people in while the movie was in progress and, since the theater was soundproofed, we were all just blissfully chatting and hanging out in line, totally unaware of anything inside. Then came the moment and from that soundproofed theater there came a huge collective scream of fright. Everyone in line went completely stiff with our eyes bugging out of our heads. We all then looked at each other, wondering what the hell we were in for with this movie. I don't think I've ever entered a theater with such trepidation.

In the aforementioned Sack Charles OG Star Wars (we didn't call it "A New Hope" back then), back in June 1977, when it had escaped "cult" status and was now the Movie to See, the lines were so long, you stood in line to get tickets two or three shows ahead, and came back to stand in another line just to get into the theater.

To keep the crowds down, they let the next showing's audience into the lobby during the last ten or fifteen minutes of the trench battle.  All we could see inside the theater, through cracks in the door or people coming in and out, were explosions of sparks, and the sound of audiences...cheering?  Wait, this was the Carter era, nobody cheered ANYTHING!  😯

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