Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: Midnight at The Chinese

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. I moved this one up due to the recent and unsettling news documented by my good friend over at the Colonel Mortimer Will Have His Revenge blog in his Further Lamentings for the Changing Ways We Watch Film post. Having something like this happen to an iconic theater venue will turn out to be a real black-eye for the city of Los Angeles if this “… real estate opportunity” goes forth.


Theatre

The Grauman’s Chinese Theatre:

Movie

Time

December 16, 1978: There is simply no way this recollection falls outside of the shadow of my mother’s death, which occurred months earlier in March. That loss remains the single-most shock to the system I ever experienced. It’s strange, though, what remains crystal clear in memory decades later and what your mind blurs or hazes over for its own protection.

I don’t think I operated normally for a long time afterwards (or at least till I adjusted to what became the new normal). Thus, the year 1978 couldn’t end fast enough. And as the annum crept toward the new year’s threshold, Superman landed. I guess a lot of things made it a favorite of mine through the years. Richard Donner‘s exemplary, and non-camp, treatment of the material, for one.

And perhaps, it was that I could lose myself in a fantastical story while sitting in a darkened yet oh so beautiful hall with a bunch of strangers and hold the real world at bay for two-plus hours. There is no minimizing the magic there. Having the protagonist in the tale reverse time and upturn the death of a loved one remained distinctly bittersweet, however.

Given the ‘event’ this film turned out to be from its release, I choose the most iconic of venues to experience it in (for a Saturday midnight showing, at that). The famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on The Boulevard. I mean, why the Hell not? Back then, my movie date was a young volunteer co-worker who lived in Carson. I picked up my partner around 9 PM that evening. Of course, only after meeting and assuring her mother of a safe and respectful excursion.

We arrived in Hollywood near 10 o’clock to get into the ticketed line — one that would wrap itself around the block, btw. Like many there, we gathered and ate snacks during the queue period. Afterward, I returned my date home and unscathed just after 3 AM (traffic was pretty much nonexistent), and did the same for myself somewhere near o’dark thirty. It was one of my few good memories in that year.

The entire series can be found here.  If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

About these ads

26 Responses to “TMT: Midnight at The Chinese”

  1. Jen Forbus

    Wow! That’s just gorgeous. Growing up, we didn’t have anything near that beautiful for movies. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember anything even “nice” until the theater was built that I worked in while in high school…

    Like

    Reply
  2. The Sci-Fi Fanatic

    What a lovely tribute to the memory of your mother and to the honor of those memories that are special in your life.

    I always find, through all the pain and the growth we experience in our lives, it’s important to treasure those moments like the one you had here in 1978. These moments are profound and the good and bad certainly shape who we are.

    I remember losing my father. The pain of that singular moment certainly reverberates in our lives.

    I’m glad you mentioned the scene with Superman attempting to save Lois Lane. You genuinely feel Christopher Reeves’ pain in that scene. It’s quite powerful. But, for a fantasy/ hero film it really captures the feelings of loss pretty signficantly.

    I understandthose powerful memories my friend. Thank you for sharing these special tributes. Best to you M, sff

    Like

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      So true, SFF. The moments of pleasure and sadness remain quite special. Losing a loved one, especially a parent, is a sucker punch many of us have either gone through, or will. Even if you think you are prepared for it, you’re not. And that scene in Superman is a very powerful and poignant one — it remains a singular moment to this day, I think. Thank you very much for your thoughtful and kind words, my friend.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Naomi Johnson

    The photos of the Grauman’s are fabulous. What a shame the buyers plan to virtually eliminate the possibility that people like me will ever have a chance to see a film there. A club? Really? I’d have thought LA already had plenty of those, coming and going with the wind.

    The scene where Superman turns back time may well have been more bitter than sweet for you, but I’m glad you ended the year with one good memory.

    Like

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Agreed. This is the lesser side of what author Robert Crais regularly cites about this city, I think. Its ability at re-invention. In this case, whatever we could possibly gain, we’d lose so much more. There was once a well known radio/TV, news-anchor, personality in these parts by the name of Ralph Story. After his retirement, in the mid-90s, he helped narrate the changes in this town in two remarkable public TV documentaries: Things That Aren’t Here Anymore and More Things That Aren’t Here Anymore. I’m afraid our talent for re-creaton just adds to that list, unfortunately.

      I love that scene — I just wish I’d have had that ability. Thanks very much, Naomi.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Novroz

    Wow!!! What an elegant building,I never seen such theater here in my country.

    Strangely enough,my first memory of going to a movie theater was also Superman, but it was Superman 2

    Like

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      This structure is a gorgeous movie hall. I’d love to hear more of your theater/film memories, Novroz. Thanks for adding to this.

      Like

      Reply
      • Novroz

        My theater memory was back when I was still under 5 years old (when I watched Superman 2)…I couldn’t really remember the detail anymore ;)

        Like

        Reply
  5. Christine McCann

    I’ve never been inside Grauman’s, but have plenty of photos of it’s exteriors. What an experience to see a movie in a real theatre! Beautiful photos. I’m glad it was there to offer entertainment, and brief sanctuary, for you.

    Thank you for sharing this memory with us, Michael. {hugs}

    Like

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      It’s an extraordinary place to experience a movie, Christine. It’d be a real shame for future film-goers to lose the chance at similar happenings there. Thanks very much, and hugs back at ‘cha.

      Like

      Reply
  6. Pop Culture Nerd

    The pain from the loss of your mother is still so palpable in your post, as is the wonder of seeing SUPERMAN there. This theater is one of our treasures; I can’t bear the thought of it not being there.

    I’ve been lucky to have seen many movies there but my favorite memory is when I saw THE AVIATOR. In one of the scenes, Howard Hughes escorts Jean Harlow to a movie premiere at the Grauman’s Chinese. They were walking through the same entrance I’d just walked through, and were walking down the same aisle I’d just walked down to get to my seat. It was surreal and wonderful.

    Like

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      That’s a delightful and serendipitous theater memory, Elyse! I remember that sequence. Definitely mind-blowing. And thanks so much for the sentiment, my friend.

      Like

      Reply
  7. Kevin (Col. Mortimer)

    First of all, I should hire you as my publicist =)

    Secondly, thanks for sharing that very raw and touching remembrance, as I experienced for the first time last year, losing a parent is a real shock to the system, one that while inevitable to most, I am not sure if you ever fully recover. While I think films over a myriad of pleasures, sometime pure escape can be a powerful force, and of course, what better place to escape to than a wonderful theatre like Grauman’s.

    My personal favorite experience at the Chinese, and nowhere near as emotional, was watching Grindhouse there on opening night with Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth and much of the cast in the audience. The sense of enthusiasm was palpable and contagious.

    Like

    Reply
      • le0pard13

        You’re very kind, Kevin. Even though our losses are decades apart, I know exactly where you’ve been and are coming from. It’s so true what you say.

        As well, that theater memory is a great one. Sure beats the hell out of me seeing that film at The Grove the day it opened! Let me add this little odd nugget, though. I watched the Blu-ray Disc of Grindhouse just yesterday. That’s a little eerie. Anyway, thank you for the inspiration that moved this post up, your comment, and the shared memories, my friend.

        Like

        Reply
  8. ruth

    How could I have missed this post! I wish I could remember where I saw Superman for the first time, surely the theater back in Jakarta was not nearly as glamorous at the Chinese Theater, ahah. Great story, Michael, I so adore this film to this day!

    Like

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      No problem, Ruth. It’s one of my earliest ones in this series. Ah, you were still in Jakarta in 1978. When did you come over to the U.S.? Many thanks for the kind words and your follow of this series, my friend.

      Like

      Reply

Are you talkin’ to me?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,844 other followers

%d bloggers like this: