This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. At last Spring’s TCM Film Festival, a number of Alfred Hitchcock films were screened for those attending. I overheard a discussion between patrons of what was their first Hitchcock, their initial exposure to The Master’s work. I knew immediately what it was for my two children because I screened it for them — North by Northwest. Me? I’d turn over a few leafs before I finally got to this one.
“When we get home, I’ll explain that we had a lover’s quarrel… That you ran away… That I went after you and brought you back. That’ll please Dad. He admires action. Then I’ll explain that we’re gonna be married before the week is out… That I can’t bear to have you out of my sight. He also admires wholesome animal lust.”
July 1964: Ah, being 10 years old and on the verge of puberty. If that doesn’t confuse the hell out of you, nothing else will. I know my mother took every question offered toward the subject of sex from her oldest quite seriously, and without much freak out. She leaned heavily on metaphor in her explanations, though. Granted, she had no choice as dad was enjoying that very thing and not around much. Divorce and girlfriends tended to get in the way of his marriages. My grandparents, specifically my mother’s mom, on the other hand had a pat answer, in Spanish, to all such inquiries:
“Just go talk with your mother about this.”
Of course, there were the informal, but still prevalent means of finding out about girls and sexual what-not. The tried-and-not very-true asking your friends on the street. Which by the way, led to the most bizarre, made-up explanations I ever had to unlearn during my teens. Or, what could be parsed out from the movies. The latter being the one I determined was a tad more straight than whatever my peers were making up back then. Hey, you followed the best evidence or source at your disposal via whatever means available. You know, in the dark ages…before the internet.
Heading to Huntington Park’s main drag was a weekly event, especially its movie theaters during summer. The Huntington Park Warner Theatre taking much of my coin money regularly. Most of the time, between it, the California and the Park venues, we would just select what we’d (usually, my kid brother) see by the movie title or the ad on display. The ‘Sex’ on Marnie‘s poster, naturally, sold us. And who exactly was this Alfred Hitchcock fella, anyways? Was that him next to the girl? Funny name, I thought. What did I know. Afterwards, I knew I had a bunch of questions to ask, and where to go for answers.