HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU KID
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t watch a lot of shows on television. For a guy who spent over 50 years in the “biz” (thousands of TV shows), that is a shameful confession. On the other hand, I did one (ONLY ONE?) movie (The Patsy), and feature films became my favorite visual entertainment. I remember the first time I ever saw a feature film on TV, I was mesmerized. It was so unbelievable that one could actually sit at home and WATCH AN ENTIRE MOVIE.
Here’s something that will blow your movie watching mind. In the early days of TV, the promise of seeing an “entire” movie was not always true. Movies, with their widely different running times, created problems for local television programming staffs. For example, what does one do with a movie that has a running time of 1 hour and 30-minutes and it has to fit into a 1 hour and 30-minute program slot with 12 1-minutes commercial breaks? You won’t believe this, but some stations just KEPT THE MOVIE RUNNING while the commercials were playing. Made the movie fit in perfectly.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I said you wouldn't believe it. In the late 50s I was staff announcer at KCOP-TV in Los Angeles and I will swear to the fact that this was a very common practice. But, you know what was the most unbelievable part? The audience never seemed to figure it out. Many did suspect that the movie was leaving out some important points, like the time where the star was killed and everyone wondered what happened to him, but, they watched anyway. People were so hungry for TV programming in those days, they would watch the test pattern (if you're too young to remember test patterns, let me tell you they were really neat to watch).
I got on this subject of watching movies on TV because I think I have invented a new movie surfing technique that I call the “TV Movie Roulette Wheel.” It works like this. After dinner I go into the den and turn on the set. I take my remote and start at the bottom of the movie channel listing. I just start spinning the wheel (clicking the remote). When I find a movie that interests me (Criteria for "interests me:" A great movie I’ve already seen many times), I stop, settle back, and watch it to the end. I don’t have to see the beginning because I already know it by heart. Now, of course to make this work, you have to have a very long list of favorite movies so you are never disappointed in finding just the right one. A movie you know so well you can lip-sync the dialogue along with the actors.
Example. A few nights ago I hit the jackpot when the wheel stopped at Absolute Power, with Clint Eastwood. This is a real thriller and I never tire of watching it. After I had watched about ten minutes, my wife Barbara came in to the room and said, Absolute Power? When did it start?” I said “Who cares?” Barbara sat down and we watched it to the end (for about the tenth time). Great film.
But, my all time roulette movie favorite is Casablanca. If I land on that movie, there is no way I can possibly turn it off. I know every line. At the end of the movie when Claude Reins walks through the fog with Humphrey Bogart, I can't help lip-syncing "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
LOVE THAT BOGEY!
Speaking of Bogey. Our unbelievably wonderful parakeet says so clearly, “Here’s looking at you kid.” Then he says, "My name is Humphrey Bogart." What do we call our little fine feathered person? "Bogey.”
Die Hard is also a must-stay-with-it-to-the-end favorite. I remember seeing that movie with Barbara at a screening on the 20th Century-Fox movie lot before it was released. After watching the skyscraper in the film almost completely destroyed, we left the lot, turned the corner, and there it was ... the same building; still standing right there in Century City. And, without a dent in sight. As we drove by I couldn't help but imagine machine gun fire coming from the top. I think of the movie every time I drive by that building. Hooray for Hollywood!
I admit that coming in at the middle of a movie dates me a bit. Back when I was a kid in Toledo, Ohio and went to movies with my parents or my buddies, we never (EVER) planned on coming in at the beginning of a movie. You went to a movie when you went to a movie and just walked in and sat down. You would see the movie to the end and then wait through a newsreel, a cartoon, the coming attractions and sometimes a Flash Gordon serial, AND, a second FULL feature, before the original movie came back on. You watched that movie until someone in the group said, “This is where we came in.” You stood up, excused yourself, and left. Does any one remember doing that? Does anyone ever say, “This is where we came in” anymore.” Man! Am I getting nostalgic, or what?
Hey! While I'm on the subject, remember the Drive In Theater? Ever drive away and pull off the speaker ? (CLICK HERE FOR THE USUAL WARNING).
I should do a blog on the drive-in theater. Got some great stories. Later, perhaps.
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t watch a lot of television shows …
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