This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Being that my duo post partner Rachel and I resume our annual book/movie series next week, might as well do the same for this. Using the specific film we will launch with, one some would say was criminally neglected first-run, for this memory download. I’m an opportunist at heart. Let the countdown begin:
“There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.”
October 15, 1983: If I have a penchant for anything, with regard to cinema, it’s that over the decades I’ve sat in a bunch of darkened movie theaters (sometimes with only a wisp of fellow ticket-holders seated in the same hall for company) with films that didn’t get much acclaim upon initial release. Many times, critics and movie-goers were right to avoid them. I can sure pick’em, alright. Still, there were some overlooked grain among the chaff. Trouble was, it’d take years, decades even, before others would come around and take note of what had slipped by them.
At times, I thought I somehow jinxed the dang film. “Well, here’s another one of those I’m watching all by my lonesome.” Sometimes gazing at others walking out way before the end-credits landed. Didn’t help that some of these happened during preview screenings. More than a year before, once again at the Century Plaza Cinemas for a movie preview before its official release, I sat in almost the same seat to catch what’s likely the poster-child for this predilection of mine. That film left me slack-jawed and stunned. This autumn evening I’d have none of that.
Back I was in Century City. All by myself. For a movie, based upon a book I’d heard of, but had not read. She-whose-name-is-not-to-be-uttered working yet another evening shift at a nearby hospital. As usual, with the movie previews during this time, the screening for The Right Stuff had a mix of young couples and old folk (a term I’m creeping up on, come to think of it), plus the weird likes of me. The former (some leaving by the time Yeager climbed into that Lockheed NF-104A aircraft) unprepared for the subject matter, which many of the latter knew better of by way of history lived, or having read the source.
Those that left missed something truly great.