My parents exposed their children to the magic of cinema at the Cornish Drive-In in Maine. The screen faced the pine forest and the owner's house served as the concession stand. The grandmother sold salted popcorn and bottles of ice-cold Coke from the porch and her son worked the projector housed in an old chicken coop. My brother, two sisters, and I worn pajamas. None of us could stay awake past the first several minutes of the second more adult feature, although I fought off sleep to see all of Billy Wilder's THE APARTMENT. I fell in love with Shirley Maclaine that night and years later would lose my heart to a hillbilly actress from West Virginia who was her twin.
After moving to Boston my Irish grandmother would take my brother and me into the city. A visit to St. Anthony's Shrine. A hot dog at WT Grant's Department Store. The third act was a movie show at the Orpheum. She took us to see THUNDER ROAD. It featured Robert Mitchum as a hot rod bootlegger. My mother would not have approved of Nana's choice, but she had brewed 'whiskey' during the Prohibition and more importantly thought Robert Mitchum was handsome.
As teenagers my brother and I ventured to the Mattapan Oriental. Catholic girls were our dates or we were their beaus for the afternoon matinee. I made out with a girl called Jo. Her hair was stiff with a spray of lacquer. In the dark she looked like Kim Novak. I have no idea what film was on the screen.
GONE WITH THE WIND with Janet Stetson.
THE HARDER THEY COME at an empty Orson Welles Cinema on a winter's day.
Epic movie outings spanning the globe for decades.
And now I never go to the movies.
I hate the cineplexes.
Partially because they feel so cheap.
Same as the movies.
I even avoided AVATAR on the big screen. My viewing was on my computer screen. I had to imagine the 3-D. It was easy on reefer. Last summer I drove past the old drive-in in Cornish. The parking area is overgrown by high grass. The screen has been ravaged by the Maine winters. I stood next to a vandalized audio pole. even with my eyes open I could see Jack Lemmon holding Shirley Maclaine.
I still love her and movies too.
They are the dreams we can dream ourselves.