Archives for posts with tag: movies

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I really dig old movies. Growing up there were many times I would stumble across some movie on AMC or TCM, give it a few minutes and get drawn into the story.

Five of my favorites have one thing in common. Ward Bond. This dude made hundreds and hundreds of pictures…sometimes just bit roles, others major players. I don’t know when I realized that this guy kept popping up in all my favorite movies, but time after time, I’d be like…Hey! There’s Ward Bond again!

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Movie 1 – The Grapes of Wrath
I love this book, and I love this movie. Bond had a bit part as a motorcycle cop giving the Joad family the low-down on work in the area.

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Movie 2 – The Fighting Sullivans
This is one of those movies I stumbled across on a Saturday afternoon – I think I was in my late teens. I got caught up in the story of 5 brothers who did everything together, including joining the Navy in WWII. Bond, in another small role, plays Commander Robinson, who has to deliver the sad news that all five Sullivan boys died in the line of duty. It’s a tissue-worthy scene.

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Movie 3 – Gone With the Wind
Another small role for Bond, but in one of the greatest movies of all time.  In this classic, he plays Tom, a Yankee captain who comes to arrest Ashley Wilkes for leading a raid on a shantytown. His attempts are thwarted when Rhett swears that Ashley was with him at the home of Belle Watling, the local prostitute. Bond leaves without Ashley, and with his tail between his legs.

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Movie 4 – Mr. Roberts
Playing the role of Chief Petty Officer Dowdy, Ward Bond joined the crew aboard a United States Navy cargo ship during WWII, mercilessly ruled by James Cagney. If you’ve never seen it, add it to your list. With a cast that includes Henry Fonda and Jack Lemmon, you can’t go wrong.

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Movie 5 – It’s a Wonderful Life
Good old Burt the Cop…Remember the scene where Burt, Ernie and George are ogling Violet as she walks down the street in her pretty dress? Burt says, “I think I’ll go home and see what the wife is doing.” I don’t know about you guys, but I think old Burt was looking for a little afternoon delight.

In conclusion
I didn’t realize until this morning that Ward Bond was kind of a Hollywood douche. According to IMDB Bond was “perhaps the most vehement proponent, among the Hollywood community, of blacklisting in the witch hunts of the 1950s, and he served as a most unforgiving president of the ultra-right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. ”

Sorry, in my book, that sucks. I loved you in the movies, but screw you Ward Bond.

thomas_mitchellAn interesting side note…
There is one other actor who shares the screen in 3 of the above-mentioned movies. Thomas Mitchell plays Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life, Gerald O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, and Tom Sullivan in The Fighting Sullivans

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As a child I can recall being dragged to countless movies with my father; movies that I had no interest in and, quite frankly, no business seeing. I don’t regard this in any way as a criticism of my father…just one of those odd, and quirky things that makes my memories of my childhood a bit more colorful.

The reason I was taken to these movies varies. Some were drive-in movies, and I guess it was just easier to take us along in the back of the station wagon than to get a sitter. We would play in the park in front of the movie screen until showtime, then eat popcorn and sodas. Who cared what was playing?

Other times I think dad wanted to see the movie, while mom was like, “I’ll pass.” This posed a dilemma to my dad, who hated doing anything alone. His solution? Take one of us along! The promise of popcorn and candy was enough to get us to tag along, and then dread our decision once the movie got underway.

So let’s take a look at some of the cinematic classics I saw as a child.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-10-12-39-amA Man Called Horse (1970) – Seen at a drive-in
In 1825, an English aristocrat is captured by Native Americans. He lives with them and begins to understand their way of life.

Not exactly the movie I was looking for as a 5-year old. I was hoping it would be a bit more Flicka-esque. I remember nothing about this movie, only that I was bored stiff.

 

walkaboutposterWalkabout (1971) – Seen at a drive-in
A white, city-bred teenage schoolgirl and her much younger brother become stranded in the Australian wilderness after their father goes berserk.

I was only 6 1/2 when this came out. Half the time I had no clue what was going on. The only scene I remember is the kids being thirsty and being shown how to dig a hole and drink up dirty water through a reed. Then I went to sleep in the back of the car.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-10-18-18-amThe Emigrants (1972 – USA Release) – Seen in the theaters
In the middle of the 19th century, Kristina and Karl-Oskar live in a small rural village in Smaaland (southern Sweden).

This movie was TWO HOURS AND 32 MINUTES LONG, and I was only 7. Do you see a problem here? I may be wrong, but I think the movie also had subtitles. WTF dad? The only thing I remember is a scene where one kid is so hungry, he/she eats a giant bowl of hot cereal before the grains are fully cooked. They swell in his/her stomach and death ensues.

BTW – I may have that totally wrong. I was only 7.

doctor-zhivago-movie-poster-1965-1010194504.jpgDr. Zhivago (1965) – Seen in the theaters
The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist’s wife and experiences hardship during the First World War.

Okay, I obviously did not see this when it first ran. Even my father wouldn’t take an infant to the movies. It must have been some sort of revival, because I know he took my sisters and me to see this at the Park Lane theater in Palisades Park, NJ.

THREE HOURS AND 17 MINUTES LATER I was thankful to get the hell out of there. The only scene I remember is when he was marching in the cold and had icicles in his mustache.

deathwishinternationalonesheetDeath Wish (1974) – Seen in the theaters
A New York City architect becomes a one-man vigilante squad after his wife is murdered by street punks in which he randomly goes out and kills would-be muggers on the mean streets after dark.

I am 9 by this time, and there is a very violent rape scene in the beginning of this movie. Hey Joan, why not bring the kids? I was sitting next to my mom, who put her hands over my eyes throughout the scene. But my sister, who was 11, peeked through her fingers.

I’m fairly certain we were the only minors in the theater. I can only imagine what the ticket-taker thought of us.

To my father’s defense, at least all these movies were critically acclaimed. Well, maybe not Death Wish, but some of the others were nominated for a ton of awards.

As adults my sibs and I laugh about dad’s epic fails at the cinema. One movie I didn’t include, because it didn’t happen to me, was The Last House on the Left. My dad took my older brother and sister to see this movie, which was horrifying for them at the time because it involves the rape and murder of two young girls. Then the parents take revenge on the killers. One dude gets his genitals bit off by the mother.

Hey dad! Pass the popcorn!

A few years ago I blogged about seeing the original Star Wars, and with the newest installment in the theaters, I thought I’d repost it.

Because my 13 year old daughter is totally psyched to see it, and I’m curious to see if she will be left with the same sense of wonder and amazement I was when I saw the first movie back in 1977.

Of course her experience could never be cooler than mine was…

Originally posted on 7/24/2012

When I was 12 I saw a commercial for a new movie that was coming out, and it looked really bad.

It was for Star Wars.

If you’ve ever seen the original trailer/commercial for the movie, you might know where I’m coming from. It looked BORING. You can view the trailer here if you’ve never seen it. So with no plan to spend my allowance on that movie I put Star Wars behind me. But it wouldn’t be for long.

When I was a kid, I was pretty good friends with Andrew Shalit, son of NBC’s film critic Gene Shalit. While having a dad with connections must be a grand thing, having a friend with a dad with connections is nothing to sneeze at either.

Andrew invited me and roughly 6 other friends to come into New York City to see a private showing of, what else? Star Wars. While I was not thrilled about the film we were going to see, I was pretty excited to hang out in the city with my friends. I was not going to miss this just because the movie looked a little dull.

We took a van into mid-town Manhattan and were let off at a large office building. Hmmmm. I was expecting a theater. We took the elevators to an unknown floor/office where we were then ushered into a little tiny theater.

It had a big screen, but only 4 rows of seats, and maybe 6-8 chairs in each row. This alone was worth the trip to see the boring movie. I’d never been in a private screening room. I’m not sure if I even knew they existed.

Before long the lights went down and the movie began. 121 minutes later I emerged from that little theater in love with Luke Skywalker and wanting to be exactly like Princess Leia.

Except for the hair.

We were each given a T-shirt that had the Star Wars logo or the phrase “May the force be with you.” I chose the one with the Star Wars logo. What a great bonus to an already awesome day.

When we were dropped off back in our home town, my friends and I played jedis vs. stormtroopers on the walk home, using sticks for light sabers and rolling/running over people’s lawns and across streets. I don’t think the movie had even hit the theaters yet, and I was already hooked.

I bought a few movie stills to hang in my room and spent that summer falling in and out of lust for both Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. I think I saw the movie a few more times in the theater as well. But, that’s where the love ended. I saw Empire Strikes Back along with the rest of the world, but hated the ending. How dare they cliff hang me with at least a year to wait for the outcome.

Return of the Jedi was good, but neither that or Empire Strikes Back grabbed me in the same way Star Wars did. I also did not like any of the prequels. Jar Jar Binks was fucking annoying as hell, and the story didn’t interest me in the least.

I never jumped on the Star Wars saga bandwagon. You’ll won’t find me at Comicon dressed as Darth Nihilus (Stern fans may giggle at that), and I don’t collect the figurines. But if that wonderful, original, innovated film from 1977 is on television, I’ll grab my kids, pop some corn and plop on the couch to escape in to space for 121 minutes.

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When I was in high school, at least one Friday of every month was spent doing the Time Warp and screaming “Where’s your fucking neck” at a movie screen. I hadn’t seen “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in the theaters in probably 20 years.

I’d seen it numerous times, though. My girls and I would watch it on DVD, but it’s just not the same. The closest place to see it in the theaters is in Richmond, VA – but the thought of driving an hour for an 11:30 pm show is not what I would call a “can do” outing.

So when I saw it was playing on the night before Halloween at a theater right here in Charlottesville, it was a no duh. I was finally going to take my daughter to see Rocky Horror as it was meant to be seen…with a live audience. Sasha, a Rocky Horror fan from way back, was super excited to be going.

But it’s so cute…she was also worried. She knew that seeing Rocky Horror was a thing I shared with my friend John, and she was afraid that by our going, it was somehow going to sully those memories I shared with my best friend. Isn’t she a doll?

I was worried too. I wasn’t sure what kind of a crowd we were going to get here in Charlottesville. I mean, this is a cool town and all, but sometimes its residents can be a little stuffy and highbrow. But on the other hand, it’s also a major college town, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

When we got to the theater, there was a HUGE crowd outside, and then I knew we were in for a halfway decent show. Sasha and I filled our water pistols in the bathroom, and found ourselves aisle seats. We had all the props needed in our bag, sans rice for the wedding, which is rarely allowed anymore.

Once the movie started, I knew it was going to be a fun show….people were yelling like crazy. But they were yelling lots of stuff I don’t remember. I guess there have been developments in the Rocky Horror audience script in the past 20 years. Rather than trying to keep up, I enjoyed being somewhat of a “virgin”, like my daughter was as a first time audience participant. I just listened and laughed my ass off.

What was cool was some of the shout outs were regional – folks would crack a joke about a neighboring town that fit right into the movie script. And there were a lot of Justin Beiber jokes…something we certainly didn’t do back in the 80’s. There were many times I yelled stuff and was the only one yelling…I got a decent laugh from the crowd after one too.

But the one bummer was the Time Warp. When I used to go you would stand in a line right in front of the first row and do the dance. At this theater all you could do was stand up and do it in front of your seat, which really sucked. The other bummer was the asshole dressed as Dracula and his girlfriend sitting a few seats down from us. They must have gotten up to go to the bathroom (or the bar) at least 5 times, making us get up every time in the bargain.

But aside from those inconveniences, it was a perfect night. We wore our newspapers, squirted our water pistols, and threw toilet paper, playing cards, and sponges. It was just so much fun. It made me realize how much I missed this Friday night phenomenon, and I vowed to do it again.

But first…I need to learn more lines.

isolated thumbs up and thumbs down

isolated thumbs up and thumbs down

I’m a total sucker for a good disaster movie, mainly because I had the privilege to see the movies that gave birth to this film genre. So it was a “no duh” that when we saw the trailer for “San Andreas,” my daughter and I looked at each other and said, “We are SO there.”

As we were walking into the theater I told my daughter that my only hope for this movie is that they don’t inundate us with highly implausible situations that the heroes manage to escape (virtually unscathed mind you) against all probable odds.

Sigh. Once again Hollywood proves to be a huge disappointment.

“San Andreas” was filled with so many hard to believe action/rescue/survival scenes that midway through the movie just made me laugh out loud (much to my 13 year old’s total mortification). I mean, rescue copters couldn’t save one single person from the twin towers on 911 – but the Rock? He pulled his wife off the top of a building, just as it crumbled to a heap of rubble, and then managed to fly under a building, as it was falling to the ground, and get them to safety.

Yeah, safety for about 12 minutes, when it was then time for our stars to be thrust into yet another un-survivable situation where they of course manage to survive…still relatively unscathed. It sucked because that’s what Hollywood thinks we need to be on the edge of our seat.

Well, Hollywood needs to have a movie night. They need to sit in one of those plush, fancy screening rooms and watch the following classics to learn what a good disaster movie is all about. poseidon-adventure 1. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) A luxury liner is hit by an earthquake induced tidal wave and capsizes on New Year’s Day. A solid premise and an all star cast.

I saw this movie with my Mom and sisters at Radio City Music Hall during Christmas break. There are plenty of back stories to introduce us to the characters, but once that boat overturns, you are in for a pound as you watch the 10 main players try to see the morning after (some slight humor that will be lost if you’ve never seen the movie).

The scene where the boat gets hit, while riveting in the 70s, is quite laughable now. This was prior to the days where Hollywood had a rolling room – like when Lionel Ritchie was dancing on the ceiling. So, you can see people sliding to their deaths as the boat is turning upside down, but dishes remain on the tables, and chairs are not sliding right along with them.

That being said, the rest of the movie was believable. The survivors had to scale a large metal Christmas tree, climb through pipes, and up ladders. They had to walk through a hot kitchen with a few small fires, and swim under water for 40 feet or so. And some of the stars died along the way just doing this sort of average shit.

The Rock? He managed to drive his speed boat UP a tsunami wave, while avoiding a cargo ship that is about to crash on top of him. Too bad he wasn’t at the helm of the SS Poseidon. There never would have been a movie – he would have been able to maneuver the boat over the wave, saving EVERYONE on board.

The biggest “come on” moment for me in Poseidon Adventure is at the end where Gene Hackman jumps onto the steam valve wheel to stop the flow of hot steam that, to quote Robin, “is blocking our escape.” And it’s not that this action is implausible, it’s just that Hollywood fucked it up. It doesn’t look like he’s really hanging there and turning the wheel. It looks like he’s standing on a box out of frame trying to look like he’s hanging and turning the wheel. But even that is better than anything that came out of San Andreas. Plus the speech he gives while hanging and turning the wheel is pure gold. Earthquake-Theatrical-Poster-Courtesy-of 2. Earthquake (1974) Pretty much the same premise as San Andreas – an earthquake of unimaginable magnitude hits California.

That, my friends, is where the similarities end.

Because the real star of this 1974 movie, which introduced us to Sensurround, was the earthquake itself. Well, Charlton Heston & George Kennedy helped too. My point is the movie didn’t need to filled with harrowing rescue scenes or heroes surviving in impossible situations.

I think the biggest “rescue” scenes were having to help a mom and her little son out of a drainage culvert, and when they had to lower some survivors from an office chair tied to a firehose down a few stories. Oh, and the guy drinking a beer and eating a chicken leg who fell from his deck and subsequently tumbled past Genevieve Bujold during the quake?

That was both exciting and hysterical. I mean life is fragile…one minute you’re eating some cold chicken and enjoying the view, and the next?

Okay, so the earthquake scenes in this 1974 movie were laughable compared to what we saw in San Andreas, but that sort of proves my point. They didn’t need the Rock to save the world…just show us the earthquake with realistic, gut churning reality, and show people trying to survive the aftermath.

Case in point – Victoria Principal’s character in the 74 movie – she survives the earthquake only to face attempted rape by her creepy neighbor. That’s more realistic than the Rock having to crash land a helicopter in a shopping mall. That’s REAL. The Rock? He bitch slapped some dude stealing TVs and stole his truck.towering_inferno_ver3_xlg 3. The Towering Inferno (1974)

A shoddily built luxury high rise catches fire while the star-studded cast is in trapped at party on the top floor. I LOVE this movie – good guys, bad guys, assholes, heroes – it’s got it all! And the kicker? OJ is one of the good guys! Who’d-a-thunk?

There are quite a few edge-of-your-seat moments in this film, but they don’t revolve around one character (gee, like the Rock!). Each star has his or her own harrowing moment. There’s one scene where Paul Newman has to help a woman and two children (one of which is Bobby Brady) shimmy down a broken stairwell via a twisted bannister over a sheer drop to certain death. Note that they did not have to tandem parachute…like the Rock.

The Towering Inferno Director: John Guillermin US Premiere: 10 December 1974 Copyright 1974 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Warner Bros. Inc.

Another great scene is when the outside elevator breaks and has to be manually lowered to the ground – with a less than satisfactory result. The last ditch effort to get stranded guests out of the building is to rig a breeches buoy from the burning building to one across the street. Screaming guests are tied into this contraption and pulleyed across death defying heights to the neighboring building.

That works until greedy, impatient men decide to overload the device…well, you’ll just have to watch the movie.

Should I bring up “Airport?”

Nah, this is getting too long. But it’s another great example of how they did disaster better back in the 70s.

My point – These movies relied on a star-studded cast, each with their own story to tell. So the action never got stuck with one person. In “San Andreas” it’s all the Rock. The Rock’s wife, the Rock’s daughter, the kids who befriend the Rock’s daughter.

And Paul Giamatti – whose role was way more riveting than the Rock’s.

You may read this and say, “Those movies suck!” Yes, they have shitty effects. Yes, some of the acting is campy. Yes, they relied on gimmicks like Sensurround.

But in all honesty? They are still way better than “San Andreas.”

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I am listening to Clan of the Cave Bear on audio book. It’s a first for me – not the story, just having it told to me rather than me reading it. I’ve read the books over and over again. Once I finish the complete series, a year or so will go by and I again feel the need to touch base with Ayla.

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Me have shitty make-up

I can’t remember how old I was the first time I read the books. I just know I had read them before the horrible 1986 attempt at a movie. Part of the reason why it was so laughable was their depiction of early man. The cavemen on the old Geiko commercials are more convincing than this sorry lot of cave dwellers. It’s obvious that Hollywood was neither equiped nor capable of telling this story back in the 80’s.

But now? Now that’s a different story. Now Hollywood could knock this book out of the park. If they can make computer generated apes look like the real deal, how hard could it be to make a few cavemen?

But I wouldn’t want a remake of the movie. The book is written with complex, detailed descriptions of what life might have been like for primitive man. It’s just too much to fit into a 2 or 3 hour movie. What I want is a series. A series like Game of Thrones, where time is taken to really tell the story and develop characters.

But only a premium channel could take this on properly. Cause primitive man can get pretty steamy in them furs. Well, maybe not in the first book. But once Jondalar comes on the scene, watch out. Game of Thrones is like a Lifetime movie compared to some of the stuff that goes on in the Earth’s Children series of books.

Ah Jondalar. Decribed as 6 foot 6, blonde and… (ahem) hung. I’d like to be at that casting call…

My point is I love these books and I think they deserve a second chance. There are tons of Clan Fans out there – I’m sure I’m not alone in my desire to see these stories put to film. You just have to do it right.

So this is my plea to HBO, Showtime, Netflix – anyone who thinks they could do these books justice. For the love of Ursus & Mut…Bring the Earth’s Children to the people of Earth.

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On Sunday night I was scrolling through the channel guide for something to watch, and stumbled across an old summer favorite – Meatballs. Thrilled to have found this movie from my youth, I poured a glass of wine, crossed my legs, and sat back to watch.

About 15 minutes later hubby stuck his head in the room and said, “Meatballs? Why are you watching this? That movie sucked.”

Sucked? Meatballs?

Ok, I’ll admit it’s not the wittiest comedy ever put on the silver screen, and it is on my Pinterest list of  “movies I love but shouldn’t” (along with Overboard and The Great Outdoors). But there’s something about this movie that speaks to me.

I saw it when it came out in 1979 at the ripe old age of 14 – probably at the Park Lane Theater in Palisades park. I had always wanted to go to summer camp. My girlfriend Leslie went every year and I was so jealous of the stories she’d tell when she got back. I guess Meatballs was how I fantasized summer camp would be – making friends, falling in love, hijinx and mayhem all rolled into one.

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The characters make it all seem so effortless, of course. Candace, with her perfect teeth, and Crocket, with his curly hair, are the perfect couple. A.L., quintissential girl next door, and Wendy, the blonde bombshell, are mirrored by sporto Jackie & the nerdy girl (whose name quite escapes me). Hardware is ugly/cute with his huge nose, and Spaz & Fink round out the loveable nerd set on the guys side.

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But I didn’t like all the characters. Wheels drives me absolutely crazy with his lisp and his big nose. And Bill Murray’s love interest Roxanne? Couldn’t they get someone a little more appealing? And while I really liked Rudy – they needed to comb his hair a little more often.

Boo Jody!

Boo Jody!

And there was this one small character named Jody. She reminded me of all the girls in school who were not quite pretty, but were thin and had great hair, and therefore, were popular.

I don’t like her much either.

In real life, I doubt these folks would have all gotten along – but this is Hollywood, and at 14 I didn’t know any better. I liked to watch and think, “well that’s just the perfect summer” and that such a summer could be attained just as easily. That friends and boys and fun would all just come to me organically. Like magic.

Like I said – I was 14.

Yet when I watch it now, I’m reminded of those feelings, and I feel like a little girl with the whole summer ahead of her. And it makes me smile.

Are you ready for the summer?

Rocky Horror

When I was a teenager, I spent quite a few Friday nights ringing in the weekend with a midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My friend John introduced me to it. I think the first time I saw it was at  the Oritani Theater in Hackensack, NJ, and for the next several years I’d go see it at least 6 or 7 times a year.

The movie would bounce from one venue to another – I guess theater owners got tired of cleaning up the toilet paper, playing cards, wet newspapers & rice and would say sayonara to Rocky and the gang. But we’d find the theater it moved to.

I don’t know what it was that struck a cord in me when I first saw it. I loved the music, that’s for sure. I think I went through two copies of the soundtrack album I played it so often. Perhaps I liked it was because it was somewhat naughty – a dude in a corset, thigh highs and f*ck-me heels? You don’t see that in your average movie. I sat doe-eyed in my seat while the audience yelled at the screen and pelted me with toast and other flying props.

But that’s why I loved it so much. It was so much more than just watching a movie – you were a part of what made the night fun – the more the audience participated, the better the show. Each time you went, you learned a few more lines and brought a few more props. And you did the Time Warp.

What fun it was to get out of your seat, run up the aisle to the front of the theater, and do the Time Warp in a line with a bunch of total strangers! And after that, Frankenfurter would appear, stomping his heel as the elevator descended. Yeah, at this point the training wheels were off and you were in for one hell of a ride.

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I don’t like men with too many muscles.

Every one has a character in that movie they relate to. Me? I was a Janet girl. Innocent and sweet, and thrust into a world of perversion against her will. But underneath that virginal, small town girl shell is a saucy little vixen. She spends half the movie walking around in a bra and half slip, which made it really difficult to dress up as her for Halloween.

I went as Magenta instead.

Certain theaters went beyond showing the movie – it was more of an all night event. When I was in college I used to see Rocky Horror at the State Theater on Main Street in Newark, Delaware. They began by showing a Bugs Bunny cartoon, then you watched Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” video, followed by the Tim Curry videos for “I Do The Rock,” and “Paradise Garage.” By that time it was a quarter to 1 and the main event hadn’t even started.

Rocky Horror at the State Theater also included live performers who would act out the movie on the stage directly in front of the screen. This was an element that most of theaters we frequented in New Jersey lacked. These folks took their performances very seriously, and they were good. Once the lips faded from the screen and the credits began to roll you would stumble home at 2:30 am in a Rocky Horror daze.

After college the Rocky Horror craze began to diminish – less and less theaters played it and I usually had other things to do on a Friday or Saturday night. Then one summer while I was on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard we saw that they were playing it at some town building in Tisbury, and we all decided to go. I had a cousin who had never seen it, and was interested to see what all the hubbub was.

And this was where I had a Rocky Horror awakening. It was the first time I went to a showing just to see the movie. From the start I realized nobody in the small audience was going to be shooting water pistols or yelling “Nice Tits!” And nobody was going to get up and do the Time Warp. We just sat and watched the movie.

It was a shock to my system. I heard lines I’d never been able to hear before because the audience wasn’t  yelling “Asshole,” for 3 minutes straight. But I missed the chaos. And I felt bad for those who had come to see  it. They really didn’t get to experience the true Rocky Horror Picture Show – they just watched a movie about a strange guy in women’s underwear.

Once the movie came out on DVD I bought it, and yes, I showed it to my girls (mother of the year!). My youngest really loves it, and I look forward to one day taking her to a theater at midnight and letting her experience the thrill of yelling at the screen, throwing rice, shielding our heads with a newspaper, and getting up to do the time warp.

After all, it’s just a jump to the left.

TV of today is so totally different than it was when I grew up. Even though I adore all the On Demand and DVR capabilities of today, there was something really special about TV programming back in my youth.

What made me think about this was the recent death of Shirley Temple. I loved Shirley Temple movies when I was a kid, and why? Because channel 11 (WPIX) in New York City used to play a Shirley Temple movie every Saturday morning and my sisters and I usually watched them.

My personal favorite is Heidi, with the evil Fraulein Rottenmeier, the nasty, opportunistic Aunt DeeDee, and the dry, snobby (in a loveable sort of way) butler Andrews, played by Arthur Treacher. I always felt so sorry for little Heidi who only wanted to go home to her grandfather, and was constantly sold a bill of goods and made to stay where she wasn’t happy.

I know you want to go home, but I'm a selfish bitch and want you to stay and be my plaything.

I know you want to go home, but I’m a selfish bitch and want you to stay and be my plaything.

You know, even though Klara was nice in this movie, I never quite trusted her. The girl that played her also played a real bitch in The Little Princess, and I was always certain that Klara was feeding Frau Rottenmeier info to screw over poor Heidi on the sly.

I also loved Captain January, which I haven’t seen in too long a time, and which reminds me again of why Netflix sucks. They never have anything.  Bright Eyes was a really good one too, mostly because I love seeing shitty people get their come-uppance, and boy does this movie satisfy on that level. Not only does the wealthy, wheel chair bound Uncle Ned cut his relatives out of his money after they were mean to poor Shirley, but you see their beyond bratty snot nosed little daughter get a well deserved slap across the face at the end.  They don’t show that shit on television anymore!

motws3Thinking about Shirley Temple movies made me think of all of my other childhood favorites that aren’t really played on television anymore. Every Christmas you’d get to see Laurel and Hardy in March of the Wooden Soldiers at least once; sometimes in black and white, sometimes in color. That movie is as campy as campy can be with it’s lame operettic songs and characters straight from Mother Goose. What’s great about it, besides Laurel and Hardy, is Barnaby, the mean, underhanded, snivelling, villainous land baron who tries to blackmail Little Bo Peep into marrying him. This guy was even a douche in a Little Rascals episode. Laughs and guffaws aside, when those wooden soldiers come to rescue the town from the evil, plastic faced Boogeymen, I still get a chill.

MovieCovers-191618-191609-HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN ET LA DANSEUSE ETOILEAnother great movie that is rarely seen is Hans Christian Andersen starring Danny Kaye. This movie is packed with song after song that I still remember to this day. Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, Inchworm, not to mention The King’s New Clothes and Wonderful Copenhagen. This gem would be played every year around Easter (I think it was Easter, anyway) and you couldn’t pull me away from the television when it was on. There is one dream sequence where he imagines watching the ballet of The Little Mermaid, and for a small child that was sort of a snore.

That being said, after all these years I can still whistle his theme song, and it makes me feel happy almost immediately. It’s just that kind of song.

430_main_image_2When it came to afternoon programming during the week, our local ABC station had my vote Monday – Friday. After Match Game, The $25,000 Pyramid and Tattletales, I’d almost always tune to the 4:30 movie. They played all the great Hollywood classics, and some real stinkers too.

But what I loved the best is when they’d have theme weeks – one week it would be all Godzilla movies, another week devoted to the Planet of the Apes series. I used to love Bette Davis week, when they’d play Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Some weeks would suck though…John Wayne week? I’ll pass. Elvis week could be kind of a drag too, but my sister loved him, so I’d be forced to sit through melodic clam bakes and serenades whilst drag racing.

Nowadays programming like this just isn’t done. It doesn’t have to be done….most folks will just buy a movie if they love it, or rent a bunch and create their own theme night. I do love what television has to offer these days. I really do. It’s almost as if you can watch anything you want at any time with just a few pushes of a button.

But I gotta admit, I wouldn’t mind going back for a week of television viewing, circa 1979. Just seven little channels to choose from, but I usually managed to find something on.

Eddie-Murphy-at-the-79th--007When I worked at Tiger Beat magazine back in the 80s, one of the perks was occasional tickets to movies or movie premiers. If the editors couldn’t go, or had little interest in the movie, they would pass them on to us, the staff. One such instance was when we went to see the premier of “The Abyss.” It was to be a rather large premier at Radio City Music hall, and I was super excited to go.

I dolled myself up in a tight dress and black pumps (I had a figure back then), and my coworkers and I headed into New York City. After a quick dinner, we arrived at Radio City and I was amazed at the magnitude of the event. I’d been to opening night at “Rambo III.” That was nothing more than a crowded theater where my friend yelled “God Bless America” after Sylvester Stallone saved half the human race. It was the one big laugh the movie got.

But this? This was the real deal. A red carpet was stretched from the street to the front doors, velvet ropes draped on both sides. I knew for a fact that Ed Harris, the star of the movie, was going to attend. Crowds were beginning to line up on either side of the ropes in the hopes of spotting a celebrity or two – photographers were beginning to gather as well. My friends were eager to get inside, but I suggested we hang back and watch for a while. Nothing major was happening yet, and if I was going to walk the red carpet, I wanted to do it in style.

We hung out on the street for a little bit, but the start of the movie was just a short while away and they became anxious, so I grabbed my coworker Tom’s arm, and we headed for the red carpet.

Have you ever walked down a red carpet? Granted this wasn’t the Oscars, but it was a pretty cool experience. The paparazzi had no clue who we were, but at an event where major stars are going to show up they’ll snap a photo or two just in case. With my stomach sucked in and my head held high, I glided down that carpet, smizing to the cameras, and drinking in the experience for all it was worth. Cameras flashed, and as I looked at all the people on the other side of the velvet rope I wondered if this was what it was like to be a star.

Once inside, we found our seats, and watched the movie. Have you ever seen “The Abyss?” It was just okay. But the whole premier experience had been well worth sitting through the movie.

After the movie we walked out the front entrance, and I was surprised to see the red carpet and velvet ropes still in place…wasn’t that just for the grand entrance? As I walked down the carpet, happy for a second chance to pretend that I was an up and coming starlet, I noticed a limo parked right at the end. As I reached the street, I heard the crowd begin to “ooh” and “aah.” Then they got a little frantic.

Suddenly I heard “Eddie! Eddie!” and the next thing I knew, the small area at the end of the red carpet was swarming with very large, very aggressive security guards. Everyone was screaming and crowding in, but I was still inside the velvet ropes, which I thought would give me a drop of protection. It was Eddie Murphy’s Limo I was standing next to!

A large, tight knot of people were making their way down the red carpet straight for me. I was standing right beside the waiting limo. I was super excited…here I was inside the velvet ropes with Eddie Murphy just a few yards away! Before I could put my most dazzling smile on my face in preparation of rubbing elbows with him, I was shoved, pushed, and bent over backwards on the hood of the limo.

One guy was yelling “Get the fuck back, get the fuck back!”

I think I said, “I’m getting the fuck back!” but it was while I was doing a back bend, that Nadia Comaneci would’ve been proud of, over a hot hood. That throng of body guards meant business…no gal in a tight blue dress was going to keep them from getting Eddie safely in his limo.

Once he was inside, the guards eased up, and I was able to stand up straight again. The door to the limo had not yet been closed, and I peered over the window, waved and said “Hey Eddie!”

He looked right at me and said, “HI!”

Then the door was closed and the limo sped off. I stood in a daze at the end of the red carpet, still safely between the velvet ropes, adjusting the hem of my dress which had ridden up considerably after my ordeal. Did that really just happen? Was I actually just man-handled???? By Eddie Murphy’s bodyguards????

Ha! Another great story. Cause that’s what life’s all about, right? Being in the right place at the right time, and coming home with a great story.