Let’s Go To The Movies

I don’t know how old (young) I was when I first started going to movies, probably about 5 or 6.  There was a little movie theater in my home town which ran Saturday afternoon matinees.  They were often the same movies that adults attended on Saturday night, but back in the 1940s and ‘50s, there were no PG-14 or X-rated movies. They were all safe for kids, although I took shit from my sister for allowing my younger nephew to accompany me to Psycho.

My Mom gave me a quarter a week allowance, and off I went.  The adults’ evening shows were 35 cents, while the kids paid 15 cents in the afternoon.  That left me 10 cents for a 5 cent individual bag of chips, and a 5 cent chocolate bar, or box of toffee.

As I got to be 9 and 10, my younger brother was now the age I was when I started going to the movies, but it hadn’t occurred to Mom to give him any money.  One day he kinda complained, and asked if he could go with me.  The next week, I asked Mom if she would give me 30 cents instead of 25, and she gladly said yes.  I just never thought to tell her what the extra nickel was for.

For about six months we both attended the shows, just with nothing left to buy treats.  Finally it occurred to Mom to ask where he disappeared to each Saturday afternoon.  When she realized I was donating half my allowance to him, she started giving him his own.

It wasn’t till I moved away from home to get a job, that I realized what I had been viewing all those years.  These weren’t first-run movies!  Our little theater ran seconds and thirds.  After they’d been seen everywhere else, they came to my town.  For about fifteen years, I watched everything they put on the silver screen.  I saw every movie!

The theater wasn’t allowed to open on Sundays, so they ran three movies a week, one on Monday and Tuesday, a different one on Wednesday and Thursday, and yet a third on Friday and Saturday.  After I started delivering newspapers, and had a bit of cash of my own, I went almost every Monday, Thursday and Saturday night.

In the era of westerns, I watched hundreds of them, the Duke, John Wayne, Alan Ladd in Shane, Rory Calhoun – Martin and Lewis comedies, then Jerry solo, and Dean in the Matt Helm fiascos, James Coburn as Our Man Flint – musicals, Auntie Mame, Oklahoma, Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon – stuff I didn’t understand till later, Kim Novack in Bell, Book and Candle, George Peppard in Walk, Don’t Run.

On the first of July, August, and September long weekends, the theater would run a Sunday midnight showing, actually Monday, to get around the closing by-law.  These were often Hammer Films, English horror pictures, good to take your girl, to get her to cuddle closer, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, or the dubbed Japanese jokes, Godzilla, or Mothra.

Early on, they were in black and white.  Later, color film arrived, as well as Technicolor and Cinemascope.  Showings usually started with previews of upcoming movies.  These were followed by cartoons, Woody Woodpecker or Bugs Bunny.  Often there was a “short” before the main feature, The Three Stooges, or The Bowery Boys, always still in gritty black and white.

The bowling alley in town was only open during the summer.  Back when pool rooms were dens of iniquity, I was not allowed to enter until I was 18, but started rather openly “sneaking in” when I was 13.  When the proprietor found that my Dad had no objections, he turned a blind eye, but all that allowed me to do was watch older players, because most of my same-age compatriots couldn’t get past the bouncer.

I/we frequented a couple of local restaurants, but, if you weren’t ordering French fries, or plugging money in the jukebox, you could get asked to leave.  You would also get thrown out if you gathered the ashes from all the ash-trays, and sprinkled vinegar on them.  The rank smell from that chemical stink-bomb was good for at least a week’s ban.  Going to the movies was the most financially rewarding way to while away some spare time.

If, what was depicted by movies wasn’t a reflection of reality, it at least educated me that other folks did and said things in ways that were different from our little microcosm.

Since the wife can’t attend theater movies because of inhalant allergies, she and I have not been out for years.  I still go with the son occasionally, but only for blockbusters which need the big screen.  I believe Avatar was the last.  I still haven’t watched Star Trek Into Darkness, so nobody tell me the ending.  (Did the butler do it?)       😕

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20 thoughts on “Let’s Go To The Movies

  1. Holy crap – I can SO relate to your post 🙂

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  2. Archon's Den says:

    We’re having a sale on nostalgia this week. Take one – get three more free. 😯

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  3. Michelle says:

    Fun trip down movie memory lane! I love movies, but don’t get to the theater as much as I’d like. Too expensive.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      It’s become a vicious circle that disappears right into our wallets. Fewer people going to theaters because of availability of DVDs and Netflix makes for higher seat prices, which forces more people to wait for DVDs or Netflix. Soon, only the 1%ers will afford to go out. Already, the small, fun, movies aren’t being made, because only blockbusters can earn back their investment. I’ve got a copy of the Marx Brothers’, Night at the Opera I could lend you. 😉

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  4. Dan Antion says:

    Going to the movies still consumes my entire allowance 😦 One of the first movies I remember seeing was “The Blob” If I recall correctly, there’s a scene where it oozes through the air vent in the back wall of a theater. I was there with my older brother and I was probably way too young to be watching that movie. Thanks for the memory jog – great post!

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    • Archon's Den says:

      A 1958 cautionary tale that bit the hand that fed it. Don’t go to the movies or you’ll get eaten. It had one of Steve McQueen’s earliest significant roles. Much better than the 1988 remake.
      Ah hell, now I gotta look for a copy of the Great Escape or Bullitt. 🙂

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  5. We never go to movies anymore, either, mostly because we can’t stand being around the types of people who go to the movies these days (who wants to have the back of their seat kicked for 2 hours or so?). Of course, movies are horrendously expensive these day, as well. I’d much rather just buy or rent the DVDs and watch them at home later.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      The son remembers a Little House episode where Laura Ingalls stopped babysitting two young hellions, and gave their parents shit. Unusual and unacceptable behavior back then, but sadly, business as usual today. Hooray for DVDs and Netflix. 🙂

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  6. Jim Wheeler says:

    Hollywood’s products have always been a world-wide phenomenon, a major export for sure. Even Kim Jung Il watches, I hear. I wonder if even radical jihadists watch them? One might think this olio of American culture would have brought the world closer together. Doesn’t seem like it though.

    I well remember the corny westerns when I was growing up – Gene Autry, Lash Larue, Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers. And there were serials, each week’s segment ending in a cliff-hanger. We ate it up, didn’t we?

    I remember the exact movie for which I had to pay adult price for the first time: The Wizard of Oz. I tried to get in as 12 and got rebuffed.

    My wife and I spent our first date going to the movies – it was “Circus of Horrors”. Says something about us, eh? We are both kooks for the outré’. The movie actually had a theme song that rose close to the top of the charts that year: “Look For A Star” with Gary Miles, a one-hit wonder.

    Ah, nostalgia.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      I couldn’t list all the cowboys. Gene Autry was my hero, just because everybody else ate up Roy Rogers. Strangely, I don’t remember seeing any of the Lash Larue flicks. I DID see Yakima Canute jump off the saloon roof onto his horse.
      I vaguely remember both “Look For A Star,” and “Circus of Horrors.” YouTube played me Gary Miles, complete with lyrics, but, so far, I’ve only found the 3 minute trailer for the movie.
      Yeah, those were the Good Old Days. 😉 😕

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  7. 1jaded1 says:

    One has to take a small loan out to see a movie, but it is still a good time. I remember watching the old horror movies with my dad on the Saturday “Creature Feature”. 1PM-5PM every week.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      That sounds like a TV broadcast, a much safer way to watch the scary movies, especially with Dad for protection. Before Shaw Cable bounced me to Detroit for my American channels, one of the Buffalo stations used to have Friday Freakout, starting at midnight. We watched the occasional “good one.” 🙂

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  8. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I thought they only had silent pictures back in your day – the bad guy was always tying some chick to the train tracks… (just joking!!!)
    That was very nice you shared your allowance with lil bro so he wouldn’t get left out. I remember my older bro taking me to see one of the Star Wars movies and Clash of the Titans and my sis taking me to the drive-in to see Superman. Oh, heavy sigh…that seems like so so long ago. Great post, Archon – I really enjoyed reading it.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      I’d resent that silent picture Zing, except – it’s true. 😉
      Granma LadyBug says Hi, and, it’s nice to see you up and about. I was going to offer you a blog award on my Enthusiasm post, but felt you were too….distracted(?).
      Thanx for a blog-prompt idea. Maybe I can put something together about drive-ins.
      We all hope things are working out. Stop in when you can. 🙂

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      • whiteladyinthehood says:

        (You know I’ve always liked teasing you!) 🙂

        Tell GLBug I said, Hello, too. You have a nice family, Archon! You guys are the best and very sweet. (and no worrying about me – I’m okay)

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      • Archon's Den says:

        👿 But only ’cause you like it rough. 😉

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  9. benzeknees says:

    I never was one much for movies in the theater. I think it was because I started smoking at age 12 & so I needed a cigarette more than a movie. My allowance went to buy smokes. I will have to tell you a story one day about my first movie on my own one day.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      I know about peer pressure, and looking cool, but I still don’t really understand why anyone starts to smoke, especially today.

      Started smoking at 12??! Did it take COPD to get you to quit? It took a spot of emphysema on Mom’s lung to get both parents to quit.

      Yes, you must publish a post about your Bad Girl days. 😉

      Like

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