The first movie I remember was Bambi. I was four years old. In the theater, the forest fire scene was so powerful so terrifying that I had to hide behind my dad. When Bambi’s mom was killed by the hunter I was devastated and cried with abandon. This movie affected me deeply. It spoke to me at my level; such is the magic of Walt Disney.
My parents loved the movies. We (my three sisters, Mom, Dad, and I) would go as a family all the time, it was an event. Drive-ins were my favorite.
Maybe it was because I was so small the movies seemed so big, but I recall them being more imposing back then. Grand cinema houses built to exhibit to thousands of people. Gone now in most cities, replaced by the god awful multiplex. Sad that the generation behind me never knew the pleasure of making out in the balcony with Peggy Sue or being ushered to one’s seat by a pimply faced unformed boy with a flashlight, just like you were somebody.
Previews! More previews please! Previews gave me a glimpse of R-rated fair and they weren’t approved for all audiences back then. Sex and violence was their promise, they were better than the movie sometimes!
Popcorn, pop and raisinettes….of course! I remember the fam-damely and I went to see Scott Biao and Jodie Foster in Bugsy Malone at the twin cinemas once and we all talked Dad into letting us stay and watch the whole movie over again a second time.
As a child I had learning disabilities. I could not read very well and was held back in fifth grade. My father punished me for not trying hard enough on homework and I was sent to private school. I never learned to read for pleasure even as an adult, but there was always the movies. I developed flawless total recall of any film I saw. I developed a cinematic memory. When they showed us films in school I could remember every detail. If I was lucky enough to be tested on that film, I was set. In 7TH grade I even did a report on my favorite thing. I called it “The Persistence of Vision”, it was a description of what made 24 frames per second come to life that I had found in the encyclopedia.
As I grew older movies started to impact me emotionally. They started to raise my consciousness. Films like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Billy Jack and Nashville all made indelible marks on my psyche. I started to see more and more films with my family that had adult themes. My parents had no problem bringing me and my sisters to R-rated films. When my parents saw the more controversial R-rated films by themselves, like The Exorcist and Easy Rider my mother would relate the whole movie to me when they returned. I would commit it to memory and recite it on the playground the next day. Many times I would think that I had actually seen the film it was so vividly ingrained in my memory.
It was then I discovered my favorite theme in Cinema, misfits. Especially anything dealing with misfits finding love. The movie Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon with Liza Minnelli would impact my ideal of love for years to come. Another film, My side of the Mountain, about a teenager who runs away to live in the woods served as a call to action for me, so I ran away shortly thereafter.
As an adult the Academy Awards has become my Super Bowl. Every year I wear the costume of my favorite character from one of the nominated movies to the Oscar parties around town. I always win the Oscar voting pool and I’m the guy that you want on your trivia team when the category is Cinema. I have IMDb open on my computer at all times and act my daily life out scene by scene.
I am drama stricken, I love the lime light and I think it’s true that film is the highest form of art ever created.