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.
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.