It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Life At The Movies


Movie mogul Stephen Spielberg is credited with saying that every time he goes to the movies it is "magic."

I agree.

While I do not care for crowds, but the shared movie experience has always represented a couple of hours where I could revel in another's version of reality, with popcorn, Red Vines and a soda.

Come to the movies with me and see if you remember when you saw... "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

The teens in my first journalism class at Carson Junior High in Mesa passed a book about the film around. One of the guys, Keith, had seen it and knew the songs.

I s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d the truth and told my dear mother it was a science fiction film and would she please take me and a bunch of my friends for my 14th birthday?

Bless her; she even sat through the rituals of toilet paper throwing, toast tossing and squirt guns during the rain scene at the seedy Valley Art Theatre in Tempe.

Valley Art served popcorn with real butter. Yum. What theater does that?

Do teenagers do the Time Warp any more at high school dances?

I know they don't sneak beer and pizzas and extra people into drive-ins in the covered back of pickup trucks.

I also subjected my mother to "Porky's." In case you don't recall, that is the movie where Kim Catrall, playing an assistant girl's coach at a Florida high school in the 1950s, auditioned for her TV series "Sex and the City."

Coming of age was never so stupidly funny.

She and my aunt Noonybop saw "Smokey and the Bandit" with me.

Mom was not so impressed with "Star Wars," but my Popa liked the science fiction space opera enough that he took me back to the Mesa Theatre to see a Roger Zelazny story, "Damnation Alley."

There were only a few people in the theater for the Saturday matinee.

I did the freak-dance during the post-apocalyptic, armor-plated-cockroaches scene and I accused those girls of putting ice down my back.

Upon reflection as an adult, I bet Popa was really the culprit.

The Mesa Theatre eventually became a hardware store, then an appliance store.

Phoenix's grand theater, the Cine Capri, was torn down a decade or so ago.

I remember standing in line for hours waiting to see "The Empire Strikes Back."

My brother Bruce took a friend and me. Bruce carted me along to lots of movies. There was a road trip to the other side of Phoenix, trying to get in to see "Jaws."

Spielberg's movies could not help but spark the imagination of my generation of American youth.

I dragged my Swedish friend Christer along to episode one of the Star Wars saga and he was nonplussed.

When I incredulously asked why, he told me he had never seen the other three flicks.

"How have you lived stateside 14 years and never seen ‘Star Wars'?"

Technicolor on celluloid -- it's a fact of American culture.

Until my daughter was born, I would have gone with E.T.

My grown niece still remembers me crying when Elliot said good-bye to E.T.

When I worked for Xerox, we used to head to Hollywood as a team for movies.

"Dead Poets Society" at the domed Paramount had us all in tears.

Seeing "The Abyss" at the scarab-encrusted ceiling of the Egyptian was another experience entirely. We shushed some kids for talking and they turned, pulled their coats aside and showed us handguns.

I am a Monty Python fan, so when "A Fish Called Wanda" was released, I bought a ticket.

That and "Something's Gotta Give" are my two favorite comedies.

I laughed so hard I... well, I don't know you well enough to cop to that...

Some of my other favorites and why:

"The Matrix Reloaded" -- best motorcycle chase scene

"Billy Elliot" -- the final scene gives me chills of joy

"The English Patient" -- best soundtrack

"Original Sin" -- sexy

"Blade Runner" -- intriguing plot with androids

"Pink Floyd The Wall" -- favorite animated

"Sleeping Beauty" -- long live the princess

"The Quiet Man" -- famous movie line by an extra: "Here's a stick to beat the lovely lady." The lady was played by Maureen O'Hara and the man, who, of course, tossed the stick aside, was John Wayne.

"Chocolat" -- good chick flick

"Man on Fire" with Denzel Washington -- can you say hero?

"The Illusionist" -- tightly plotted

Films, like music, imprint themselves on our guts.

I enjoy singing along with the songs from "Fiddler on the Roof" and "A Sound of Music," but if I never see these two movies again it will be too soon. The reason? Like a surfeit of cotton candy, in my youth, they were perennial Wednesday-church-night favorites.

I would submit myself to those movies one last time if it would mean no %^#(*^&%#$ advertisements before the show.

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