"Here's five dollars," my mom would say on a Saturday morning before going to work in the hospital's housekeeping department, "you and Linda go to the movies."
Amazing. Five dollars! For that amount, a kid could get an admission ticket, a frosty Coke, a box of Junior Mints, and a small buttered popcorn. Of course, this was in "the horse and buggy days," as my kids say (i.e., the early to mid-1970s), so I'm showing my age. But you'd hurry down Bergenline Avenue with your best friend to get to Union City's Cinema in time. You'd find a good seat in that cozy, air-conditioned theater and try not to eat all your popcorn before the coming attractions had run their course.
And then...there it was: The reason that would keep you in that theater for the next 90 minutes. You and your friend would only whisper to each other occasionally, and those words were usually along the lines of, "Oh, my God!", "Now that's hilarious!", "My sister does that all the time", and the traditional, "No, no--don't go in there!" You couldn't talk too much or leave even briefly, because you didn't want to miss a second of what was transpiring on that screen.
Sometimes the movie wasn't as good as you'd hoped it would be. Regardless, it would still be entertaining, one of those "so bad, it's good" movies. Sometimes it was as good as your other friends had told you it would be, ending with the advice, "You GOTTA go see it." Sometimes it was great.
And once in a while, it was unforgettable, awesome, magical, and every other adjective that basically meant you'd always remember the first time you saw that particular film.
Just from the 70s alone, in no particular order, here is a list of the movies that I either saw in the movie theater, which I loved as much as the bookstore and the library as a kid, or later on when it played on television:
Kramer Vs. Kramer
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Saturday Night Fever
A Moment in Time
Revenge of the Pink Panther
The Amityville Horror
A Star is Born
The Cross and the Switchblade (a Christian film based on Pastor David Wilkerson's book)
Distant Thunder (also a Christian film)
and last but not least, a really creepy thing aptly named
The Hills Have Eyes (which my mom and I watched together and realized it was a terrible B movie, but it still managed to make us laugh and cringe, and more on this later. This movie was not anywhere near on the same level as The Exorcist, but it actually ended up being a cult classic--and it sparked a remake in 2006)
But wait! There were also the old vintage films which I would catch on TV, those black-and-white antiques from the 1940s and 1950s, and the silly-but-fun films of the 1960s.
Those would include:
It's a Wonderful Life
The Creature from the Black Lagoon (B movie GOLD, I tell you!)
Hans Christian Anderson
Some Like it Hot
On the Waterfront
A Streetcar Named Desire
Million Dollar Mermaid
West Side Story
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Alice in Wonderland
Miracle on 34th Street
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
To Sir With Love
There were many more, too many wonderful--and some not-so-wonderful, but yet they were fun to watch in some way, shape or form--to list.
To be continued...