Saturday, February 26, 2011

Very First Movie

More than just the ticket.
I love movies. I can't remember a time when I didn't. I blame it on my parents. They bought their first TV when I was a toddler. They also took me to see my very first movie. I will never forget it.

Are you thinking some adorable Walt Disney Classic? Some imagination-infused movie-going delight like Fantasia? Maybe The Aristocats? And was it an experience so formative that it kick-started my love for the Arts?

YES! (And no.)

The first movie my parents took me to see in a theatre was Walking Tall, the original. I was about seven. If you're not familiar, here's my innocent version of the basic plot:
1. The good guy is nearly beaten to death and the authorities ignore it.
2. The good guy becomes the sheriff.
3. The good guy (?) beats bad guys with big pieces of wood.
4. The bad guys repeatedly shoot the sheriff and his wife. (It was at this point that I remember weeping a little while I asked my Mom, "That blood? It's all just ketchup, right Mom?")
5. Social services barged into the theatre to take me away. Naw. This part is fabricated.
6. The good guy sheriff blasts some holes in the bad guys.
7. I remember a fire too?

Yeah. So that was my first film.

Apparently my parents deemed the rating system merely a suggestion so they didn't stop there. Several other movies followed within the next two years: The Towering Inferno. Earthquake. Airport 1975. The Godfather, Part II. Race with the Devil. And of course, why not throw in that terror classic: Blazing Saddles.

By the time I was nine or so, I sure had witnessed a lot of people die horribly: by club, by fire, by jumping to their deaths, by suicide, by airplane crash, by point-blank execution, by human sacrifice in a Satanic cult and of course a classic fart scene (which could have been deadly considering the campfire in the middle of those bean-loving cowboys.)

As I said these films had a formative effect on me. Somewhat negative: I, uh, had a minor pyromaniac phase one summer. And yet also positive: those films BLEW MY MIND. Although I recall only fragments, I clearly remember how they made me feel. Before then, I had only begun to fathom through books that "art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time [Thomas Merton]." I was simultaneously transfixed and transported. And in the process, those films hooked up some of my dendrites in ways that if you knew me, would probably explain a lot.

And that is why I love movies AND movie-makers because clearly movie-makers then and now are NUTS in the best possible ways. Take the most recent movies for example. Just think about Black Swan. And 127 Hours. Remember that seriously creepy baby-doll in Toy Story 3. The climax of Winter's Bone alone. Every single scene of Inception took nuts to another level, maybe 7 in fact (?). What about that cabin scene in True Grit?! Nuts! Deliciously nuts. All of them.

Movies build in me a reverie. For those of you who can relate, enjoy the Oscars peeps.

25 comments:

wendy said...

I remember Walking Tall...the original. I'll never forget when the car pulled up behind them and shot his wife. And Godfather...who'll ever forget the horses head in the bed. Yikes.
I actually do no like gory,killer type movies. It just seems to real to me and then I have to triple lock my doors at night, and hire a body guard.

AND....I haven't seen any of the shows yet nominated for Oscars. We don't go to the theatre actually....would have to drive in to Calgary or Red Deer to go to any decent theatre and it's just to much trouble. So...we wait for it to come out on DVD. We are sooo boring that way. We get all our movies through Zip.ca and it is great.

Laoch of Chicago said...

I liked Walking Tall whe I was a wee lad. Hopefully your parents got you your own Buford Pusser stick?

Mrs4444 said...

Indeed...this explains a lot. haha

Sandra said...

haha! I don't remember Walking Tall, but I do remember Towering Inferno. I think I was watching it while my parents were boozing it up in the basement with our neighbours. My first movie at the movie theatre was Bambie. And I was going to say that clearly this made my parents more responsible than yours, but since I saw Towering Inferno while my parents were getting drunk in the basement with not a care as to what I was doing alone in the living room at 11pm, then my point is moot...

Symdaddy said...

Pusser, at his wife Pauline's behest, retires from the professional wrestling ring and moves back to Tennessee to start a logging business with his father, Carl Pusser. With a friend, he visits a gambling and prostitution establishment, the Lucky Spot, and is beaten up after catching them cheating at craps. Pusser is seriously injured with a knife and receives over 200 stitches. He complains to the sheriff but is ignored, and soon becomes aware of the rampant corruption in McNairy County. Pusser decides to clean up the county and runs for sheriff. Buford Pusser wins, and becomes famous for being incorruptible, intolerant of crime, and for his array of four foot hickory clubs which he uses to great effect in destroying clandestine gambling dens and illegal distilleries, and even against criminals.
Some residents praise Buford Pusser as an honest cop in a crooked town; others denounce him as a bully willing to break some laws to uphold others.
Pusser is ambushed more than once, and finally he and Pauline are ambushed in their car. Pauline is killed, and Pusser is seriously injured, admitted to the hospital after being shot for the second time. Still in a neck and face cast, he rams a sheriff cruiser through the front doors of the Lucky Spot, killing two of the men who attacked him.
As he leaves with two deputies, the town arrives and throws the gambling tables and furniture into a pile in the parking lot and lights a bonfire, while Pusser wipes tears from his eyes.

With my compliments!

Alittlesprite said...

My first movie was "Dot and the Kangaroo" a animated film about a little girl named Dot, and, surprisingly a Kangaroo.
I don't remember much about it, but I do remember dropping chocolate ice-cream all over my red skirt.

Defiant Marshmallow said...

This struck the right note in me. I can relate perfectly. Despite my first movie being Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (which you could argue is a horror film!), my first recollection in a movie was in Planet of The Apes, which scared the living hell out of me. Naturally, I went right back to see it a second time. My big brother was good for taking me to movies I never should have seen.
Been in a love/hate relationship with films ever since. But I've stuck with them over forty years.

Shana said...

I don't even think I've seen Walking Tall!
But I do like movies

Homemaker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Homemaker Man said...

Earliest Movie memory: A Clockwork Orange

Best Movie Memory: I was 9. We had a crazy heat wave. No A/C. I was grounded. 3 days in, my father couldn't take the heat any longer. We went to the movies. We saw Blade Runner

Vinny C said...

I grew up seeing all of those too. Since my father is a serious classic movie buff, I also grew up seeing a lot of Bogart, Sinatra, Grant, Abbot/Costello, Martin/Lewis & a LOT more.

Anne said...

My first movie was Rocky. Classic!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I remember Walking Tall too. Vigilantism at its best.

G said...

My first film was Empire Strikes back... but it sounds like your parents took you to some classic movies.

The Gaelic Wife said...

One of the first movies my parents took me to was "The Great Gatsby". The only scene I remember was the blood in the swimming pool and being terrified of death after that for several years. Somehow the only scene from "Bonnie and Clyde" that I remember was their ambush and all the bullets. Freaked me out!

And that baby doll from Toy Story 3? She was reminded me of the mute doll in Sid's room from the original Toy Story. Almost full circle since the both come to Woody's help.

Al Penwasser said...

I don't remember the first matinee movie I went to, but I do remember the very first movie I went to at night with my friends: "Patton."
All that, and World War, too.

Antares Cryptos said...

You had me at "movie"...
*spaces out*

Michael said...

My cultural ego was shaped by the movies. My training was the Saturday matinee from age 10 to now. I want to live in Deckard's apartment. I want to spend the winter at the Overlook, write a novel and NOT go crazy. I want to be involved in a love triangle with Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson in Barcelona. Film is the ultimate artform. Bar none.

Awesome job combining Merton and Blake in one post! We're going to watch Blazing Saddles this afternoon thanks to you.

Oilfield Trash said...

Black Swan is only good for a short 2 minute scene.

dbs said...

@wendy That's exactly the scene from Walking Tall that I remember most clearly too.
@LoC For real?
@Mrs4444 If you really knew me....
@Sandra Ah yes...the 70s & 80s...the no supervision years.
@Symdaddy Thanks. Are you working for Wikipedia?
@alittlesprite ICE CREAM!
@DM Oh I forgot about Planet of the Apes! Ate that up!
@Shana I do too.
@Homemaker Man A Clockwork Orange! Wow. That's some first film. I like your Blade Runner memory a lot.
@VinnyC Oh I love Abbot & Costello too.
@Anne Total classic but even then I thought something was wrong with Sly Stallone.
@DSWS Mos def. I just suddenly remembered Charles Bronson's Death Wish movies for example.
@G Great first film.
@TheGW I forgot about Bonnie & Clyde!
@AP Good films with friends. What could be better?
@AC *spins top*
@Michael Oh The Shining still give me chills. And you just made me realize that I must expose my teens to Blazing Saddles. Thanks.
@OTrash Ha!

Alittlesprite said...

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM!!!!
Hehe!

paulsifer42 said...

Yeah, my parents bought me Terminator 2 when I was 5. Before that, it was installments of Bruce Lee. I also love movies, and that may be why...

lisleman said...

Serpio is a favorite. It opened my eyes to corruption.
Billy Jack was another big impact one from that time.
I followed a comment you left on Mrs. 4444's blog. nice place.

dbs said...

@alittlesprite I know.
@paul That's cool.
@lisleman Thanks for your comments.

Chicken said...

I'm pretty sure my first movie experience was due to my folks not having a babysitter, judging by the decidedly non-G rated images seared onto my brain. Whatever parenting lesson Dr. Spock gave on appropriate entertainment for children, my parents missed.

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