I love going to the movies. It’s one of the best ways to spend a too hot summer or too cold winter Saturday. There was talk when VCR’s came out that the movie theater industry would become extinct, but that hasn’t happened. There’s something exciting about going to a movie on opening day, especially if it is a long anticipated movie. We punctuate the coming attractions with “That looks like a good one” or “Maybe that will be a good rental” or “Ewwww! That looks stupid.”
If a scary movie is the coming attraction, I get popcorn during the previews. Chicken that I am, even the previews of horror movies give me nightmares. I was on the computer and in earshot when Jack was watching one of the Saw movies. That voice kept drifting into my dreams for a few nights.
The first movie I remember seeing was Lady and the Tramp and it was at a drive-in. I’m not even sure who I was with, but I remember pillows and a blanket so I may not have stayed awake for the whole show. When we were kids, Mother drove us to the movie theater in Three Rivers, 10 miles away. There was a movie theater in George West but it had closed by the time we kids were old enough to go to the movies without parents in tow. The rating determined the movie we got to see.
That was before the current rating system. Back in the day, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had a rating system for us to follow. That over-rode any non-Catholic rating system at our house. The ratings looked like this:
A-I — Morally Unobjectionable for Anyone
A-II — Morally Unobjectionable for Adults and Adolescents
A-III — Morally Unobjectionable for Adults
A-IV — Morally Unobjectionable for Adults, with Reservations
B — Morally Objectionable in Part for Everyone
C — Condemned
There is still a Catholic rating system; B is now L (Limited adult audience) and C is now O (morally Offensive). Everything else is still in place. Last week-end, The Immortals, Footloose, and A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas received an O rating and Puss and Boots earned an A-I.
The process of going to the movies started on Thursday when the newspaper came out and we found out what would be showing in Three Rivers. The parents didn’t make a decision until we got The Sunday Visitor, the Catholic newspaper, and checked the rating. IF the movie received an appropriately moral and safe rating, then we could go to the show. For some reason, I got to go to all the movies with my older sister and Mary Ann did not. I suspect I was the spy in case Georgie the Elder talked to B-O-Y-S. Who knows? I’d have given up Mother Theresa if that meant I got to go to the movies.
I like movies that have a satisfactory resolution. I do not watch movies where a character I’ve gotten attached to dies. I prefer movies that make me laugh. Life is sad enough that I don’t need to go to a movie that makes me cry. I love exciting stories like the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies and dislike movies with disturbing images. I wouldn’t watch The Matrix for years because of that scene when Keanu Reeves’ mouth gets sealed shut. When I did watch it all the way through with Jack, I had to shut my eyes during that part.
There are some movies that stand out as my favorites for all times. Some of them, I didn’t see in theaters. I’m old but not so old that I saw The African Queen and Casablanca on the big screen. Humprey Bogart is the reason I love both of those movies. He died long before I came of dating age, but he was the epitome of cool to me. He and Winston Churchill were two of my first crushes; that really does define me as a weird little kid.
The In-Laws, with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, wins Best Comedy in Margaret’s world. I’ve subjected both of my children to that movie on multiple occasions. Jack and I couldn’t run across the park without one of us shouting “Serpentine!” and both of us running like mad snakes across the grass. When the VCR edition got obsoleted, I got a DVD version. It’s a treasured movie.
I can’t watch To Kill a Mockingbird too many times nor can I read the book too often. Harper Lee only wrote that one book and neither Mary Badham (who played Scout) or Phillip Alford (who played Jem) did much acting after that movie. It was the movie debut of Robert Duvall (Boo Radley), William Windom (the DA), and Alice Ghostley (the neighbor). There’s something charming and familiar about both the movie and the book.
When I smoked cigarettes, I appraised movies by how many times I wanted to step out of the show and smoke. E.T. was a 4 cig movies; Karate Kid was a no cig movie. I haven’t smoked for 15 years, but my bladder is my gauge today. I generally use the restroom more often if the movie is boring or the action gets too intense for me.
More often today, I rent movies. I don’t mind going to the movies by myself, but it is hard to carve out 2 hours to watch a movie at the theater. Easier to put a show in the DVD player and work on a craft project at the table. Not quite as exciting, but it takes a pretty good movie for me to not want to leave an hour in and go home. They might be willing to refund my money, but there’s no refunding my life.