Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: Where Else But At The Chinese?

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. There are a scant number of films I’ve seen both first-run and at revival theaters, plus owned every version on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. Tonight I’ll be a attending a special event at The Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater for just such a one. A 40th year anniversary screening with co-stars John Saxon, Bob Wall, film crew, and the lead’s daughter Shannon in attendance. All for a movie that showcased the skill and talent of someone who meant surprisingly much to me growing up, and who left this mortal coil far too soon.

“Boards don’t hit back.”


Theatre

The Grauman’s Chinese Theatre:

Movie

enter_the_dragon

Time

August, 1973: I’ve already said it of Bruce Lee,

Having a childhood that stretched through the 60′s, I don’t think I could have avoided not being exposed to this man’s talent and drive while growing up. Ask anyone near my age when they first noticed this charismatic and mesmerizing figure, and dollars to donuts they’d mention it was when they watched The Green Hornet on television.

Through junior and senior high, there was always at least one person around who you could chat up about Bruce. My fascination with the martial arts began right then, and continued because of him.

He attracted the attention of everyone. He cut across all ethnic lines at a time when cultural barriers were only beginning to be breached.

By 12th grade, when he made appearances on the short-lived Longstreet TV program, conversations about the martial artist revved once more.

So when Bruce Lee began to make his mark on Hong Kong cinema in the early 70s, reverberating all the way back to this shore, just about everyone I knew as a high school senior and later in my college freshman year caught the fever. His early work, mis-titled in the U.S. as Fist of Fury and The Chinese Connection, had the buzz of promise both for this phenomenal individual and the new decade among my peers.

Then the 70s kicked in with a vengeance and proceeded to wipe the smiles off all of our faces.

July 20, 1973 still has bitter taste decades later. Like everyone else, learned of his passing through local TV newscasts. I remember driving over to a friend’s house that very evening and sit on their front step. Hoping it was merely rumor as we talked through the shocking revelation. Literally beyond belief since we all knew Enter the Dragon was coming out the very next month. Its celebrated Los Angeles film première occurred at the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. A strange mix of cultural irony not lost on his fans.

I’d do the pilgrimage there within days of that, and left to wonder at what might have been.

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

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25 Responses to “TMT: Where Else But At The Chinese?”

  1. keith7198

    It’s funny, as a kid I remember loving the Sunday afternoon martial arts films that showed on a local TV station. They were highlights of my week and I watch them regularly. But yet I didn’t have much access to Bruce Lee’s films until much later on. Sounds like you’re going to have a wonderful time. Awesome!

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    • le0pard13

      Yeah, this is one revival screening that should turn out great. Can’t wait to see and hear what the attendees have to say about Bruce Lee and the film. Thanks, Keith.

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    • le0pard13

      Even decades later, this grand movie palace is something to behold. It’s a special place, especially to watch a movie in. Thanks, fh.

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    • le0pard13

      Y’know, I continue to hear, “Bruce Less was the reason I took up martial arts.” through the years. From all walks. The man was, and remains, quite something. Thanks, Tyson.

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  2. 70srichard

    Glad to look at your site. This is a nice concept for a series. Enter the Dragon was a definitive 70s experience. I did see it in SoCal but not at the Chinese. I just popped in from Fogs link bomb, he suggested your site specifically because of your personal touch. I expect to be back often.

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    • le0pard13

      Welcome, Richard. Glad you could stop by. We’re very much in agreement that this was “… a definitive 70s experience.” Thank you very much (with a nod to my colleague, Fogs, too).

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  3. fernandorafael

    Great piece, Michael! I can only imagine how shocking it must’ve been to hear those news back then. Grauman’s Chinese is astunning theatre. Hope I get to see something good there someday.

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    • le0pard13

      I hope you can, too. Believe it or not, there are plans afoot to install an IMAX screen in this grand lady. A lot of cautious eyes, from movie and theater fans, are watching this project. If done right, it’ll only add to her heritage. Thanks, Fernando.

      p.s., maybe when you come here to see a film at The Chinese, I’ll join you.

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  4. Paula

    I don’t know exactly what you felt but I can imagine that it might be like I felt when Elizabeth Taylor passed away…in her case she was older but something I was really used to being there was gone. I used to think it was odd to feel like that about someone you don’t know but they have more significance than I realized.
    Like Fernando, I’m looking forward to seeing a movie at Grauman’s…I can’t believe it’s going to be next week.

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    • le0pard13

      I certainly can understand. This town shook whenever she did something. Ms. Taylor had that can of effect. Her passing rocked so many. I’m looking forward to you coming here and experiencing this special theater, Paula.

      Paraphrasing from ‘The Matrix’ on seeing a film at this historic place,

      “You hear that Paula?… That is the sound of inevitability…”

      Thanks :-)

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  5. Fogs' Movie Reviews

    Wow. That’s a cool share, but a sad perspective. Lee was already gone by the time I came to cinematic awareness. I think the only comparison I can think of from film was John Belushi. My friends and I idolized him, and when he died, it was that kind of shock for us too. 8O

    Cool you got to see the movie at the Grauman, though. I went to LA once, and made sure I stopped by just to see it. Thats how legendary that theatre is!

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    • le0pard13

      Thanks very much, Fogs. It is interesting how those we see and experience onscreen (TV and/or Film) become a part of us. Especially when they depart way too soon. Great to hear you’ve been to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (I refuse to refer to it as the ‘TCL Chinese Theatre’ as it’s now named… it seems so wrong).

      p.s., last night’s event was something truly special, what with the panel they gathered. They even screened The Academy’s archival 35mm print. It was awesome.

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    • le0pard13

      It is that, for sure. And yes, catching ‘Enter the Dragon’ on the big screen, then and now, is really fun. Thanks, Eric.

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