Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Let's Go to the Movies!" "No, I'd Rather Stay Home." by Shirley Martin

 Recently I saw a wonderful musical from the early fifties, "Showboat."  Whenever I mention this movie to a friend, I invariably get the reply that they don't make movies like that anymore. Doubtless there are many who may not care for musicals, but I feel that there are many more who miss the films of yesterday.
    Oh, for those great dramas from the '40s, black and while films such as "Laura" or the very suspenseful "Woman in the Window." Those films of yesteryear, with their great plots and intriguing story lines, are sorely missed. Actors employed good diction then, an attribute sadly absent from today's movies, when we're forced to turn the volume up on the remote, just so we can understand what the actor is saying. 
    The early '40s covered World War II, so war movies proliferated during this period. Movies such as "A Walk in the Sun" or "Purple Heart" told a great story, well done. Unfortunately, many war movies were poorly made, with American actors posing as German soldiers and speaking English with a German accent.
    As a kid growing up in the forties, going to the movies was the high point of my week. My older brothers and I walked several miles to the nearest theater. For a dime, we saw the feature film, plus various extras, such as Movietone News, "The Phantom" (an adventure series), The Three Stooges and/or "The Passing Parade", a special interest extra. Often, the theater showed a sing-a-long, with words to the song on the screen, so that the entire audience could sing. (Yes, I know. Corny.)
    The early fifties heralded musical extravaganzas like the aforementioned "Showboat," "Carousel," "Kiss Me, Kate" and many more, all in technicolor. This period also brought us biblical epics, such as "The Robe" and "The Ten Commandments." 
    An innovation of the fifties were drive-in theaters, soon dubbed "passion pits."  (I wonder why!)
    My mother was born in 1906, so she came of age when silent movies were still in vogue. One memory must have stood out in her mind. The film showed a train hurtling down the track. Everyone in the audience jumped from their seat and ran out. They thought the train was coming after them!
    We've come a long way since then. These days, more sophisticated audiences are treated to realistic battle scenes, with all of its attendant blood and gore. On the other hand, special effects can create a truly enjoyable movie, such as the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, with its terrifyingly realistic monsters and walking, talking trees. Great battle scenes here, without the gore. 
    As we ventured into the '70s, former restraints and restrictions fell away. Sex, violence, nudity and foul language became common movie fare. These changes prompted a codification of movies, from G for general audiences, to PG (parental guidance), and on to PG-13 and R rated. It remains a mystery--at least to me--why Hollywood produces so many R-rated films, since by their very content viewership is reduced.
    Another change came with the seventies, this one quite undesirable. For reasons I can't  understand, theatergoers--not all of them, but many--became unbearably rude. Lots of people, with apparently nothing else to do on a Saturday night, headed for the movie theater and loaded up at the concession stand with a large bag of popcorn, munching throughout the movie. But it didn't end there. These same people threw the box on the floor when they were finished, then headed to the concession stand again to get a soft drink, all this while most moviegoers just wanted to watch the film.
    Just in time, video cassettes came on the scene. Now you could watch a movie in the comfort of your living room, and not worry about noisy theatergoers. Now, too, DVDs have replaced video cassettes. You can find a wide range of movies at your local library or rent them through Netflix. And you can buy them from Amazon. With streaming, you can watch movies on the Internet. Actually, there are many movies you can access with just a click of the cursor.
    Watching movies is fun again.

    And if, besides watching movies, you like to read, do I have a great selection for you. Click on this link:  and you'll find my historical, paranormal, and fantasy romances. Two of them--"Night Secrets" and "Dream Weaver" are also in print. Check at your local bookstore. 

Shirley Martin