It happens every week. My son, Doug, asks me what my column will be about this week. Of course, the answer always gets a response. I hear it every time — you’ve written about that before. Think about this, I’ve been doing this 52 weeks a year for almost 20 years.
Doug thinks I should always have something new each week. I do too and I try. Sometimes, it’s just not easy. So please forgive me. Perhaps some may be reading my column for the first time? So this week I’m going to discuss movies and television entertainment. I decided this after watching a ton of old 1930s movies that the Turner Network has been showing, bringing me back to old times and precious memories.
These movies star many actors that some of you — perhaps many of you — have never heard of, like Franchot Tone, Carole Lombard, Tyrone Power and a bunch of other actors long gone from the movie screen. Just watching Carole Lombard in “My Man Godfrey” brought back memories of the time I saw that movie at the Walton Theater just around the corner from my home in Germantown, PA.
The plots were so transparent, and so ridiculous, that I wonder now how we thought that the movies were so great. It was, as always, simply entertainment. In those radio years before public television, it was all we had. And this was one of the things that got us through the depression, at the outrageous sum of 10 cents a movie.
Of course we had those wonderful Saturday matinees with the news first, followed by a cartoon, then that ever present serial and lastly the featured movie. If my sister Jeanne and I were down in the Logan section of Philly visiting our cousins, we’d go the matinee at the Logan Theater where, in between the serial and the main feature, they had live entertainment.
Often there’d be a magician, perhaps a couple of dancers. All too often were bad comedians the kids attempted to boo off the stage. However, these acts filled up the time and reflecting honestly, some acts weren’t all that bad. Unlike today, back then they didn’t have candy, popcorn and soda concessions. If we were lucky enough to have an extra nickel we could put it in a vending machines.
You’d then turn a handle and get a small box of some kind of treat. I always liked the box with the white and pink licorice things, but more often — still if I had an extra nickel — I would stop at the candy store and pick up five pieces of penny candy. They made fudge, in those days, with coconut in the bottom. They also had candy drops on paper strips.
Eventually, when you sucked off the candy, you got a little bit of the paper in your mouth. They also had things that looked like bananas, gumdrops, chocolate bars and tons of other goodies. A lot of the movies back then had those terribly acted scenes set in cocktail lounges. The men were always in tuxedos and the women overly dressed. The plots were evident from the beginning.
Swirling around was a cascade of dancing girls, accompanied by terrible bands and not too great vocalists. Still, we enjoyed it all. At that time, the idea of paying to go and see a movie the second time was crazy. Now, on television, when I see a movie that I love I’ll sit and watch it again and again. My favorite, as any of you know, is “Moonstruck.” The dialogue is so Brooklyn.
A smile covers my face each time the heroine finds out that her fiancées mother didn’t die as there’s been a miracle to which she replies, “A miracle. This is modern times, there ain’t no miracles!” Then there’s a moment in my favorite movie “Murphy’s Romance,” when the hero, James Gardner finally tells Sally Field he loves her and she replies in kind by asking him if he’d like to stay for dinner. He then replies, “Not if I’m not here for breakfast.” Her reply – “How do you like your eggs?”
Now on television we have Tom Selleck in “Blue Bloods,” one of the best series ever, and often there are repeats of his action in “Jessie Stone.” It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen either of these series, I watch again. Of course I’m in love with Tom Selleck. What blue-blooded woman isn’t in love with him?
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org