Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: Magnificent Serendipity

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. One of my favorite sites to haunt online, whether at home or work (I’m sure my work’s internet filters catch far worse to block) is director Joe Dante’s Trailers From Hell. I continue to give him, and his trailer gurus, credit in bringing up movie memories. In this case, director Jesús Treviño‘s splendid look at one of my all-time favorite westerns.


Theatre

The Huntington Park Warner Theatre:


Movie

Magnificent Seven

Time

November 1960: When I was six years old, it was a different time. I’d been living with my maternal grandparents for about two years. My mother always lodged nearby, though. Watching TV or sending kids to the movies, a form of babysitting. Especially for the seniors now dealing with a rambunctious youngster in their midst — the grandchild that never went home. Thank my grandma for that one.

My grandfather a first generation immigrant via Guadalupe, Mexico and Texas. Former widower, like the woman he married, too. A retired haberdasher and fairly quiet man, he always dressed smartly. Moreover, he loved his seven children equally. Oh, my mother adored her father. He’d visit her regularly, especially after her illness and hospitalization. Didn’t have much patience for me, however.

I reasoned because mi abuelita played favorites, among her own children, and particularly her nieto.

Most of the time, I was a bit intimated by grandad. My cousins, too, subdued around him. On the rare occasions my mother’s madre didn’t take me with her to her doctor’s appointments, or shopping errands, he’d watch me. To stay out of trouble at home, he’d point me to the television in the living room. Or hand me his change to take in a movie whenever we were in nearby Huntington Park.

Better than chasing me about.

Westerns had become a regular pastime, as a consequence. Being drawn to The Magnificent Seven after its release, a given. For him, too. The Huntington Park Warner Theatre, and their double-features, a customary venue many in our family ventured. I don’t recall what the second flick on the bill was, nor did I care. The rousing film enthralled us two so completely. Way before I’d ever learn its origins.

The film’s distinct gun reports echoed in my head for years after that. I’d only have to overhear one shot on later TV replays to recognize the western, and the first time I saw it. Even so, there’s another fortuitous aspect to this recollection. Nothing directly to do with the film itself. More of who. The writer-director, also from Tejas, narrating the trailer for the Trailers From Hell clip. What is it you ask?

Jesús shares the same surname as my grandfather — Treviño.


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

9 Responses to “TMT: Magnificent Serendipity”

  1. jackdeth72

    Excellent write up, Michael!

    What you see in a theater as a kid seems to hang on well into adult hood. And ‘The Magnificent Seven’ has that ability in Spades. A then groundbreaking, now routine plot pulled off by a decent selection of veterans. And an even more intriguing clutch of raw talent bound for greater things.

    Sturgis was definitely The Man. Though I still have a soft spot for Budd Boettecher and his Randolph Scott low budgeted westerns. With rifles that sounded like rifles. And pistols sounded like pistols and often missed. Only to be revolutionized by Sergio Leone years later.

    It looks like you had an admirable selection of theaters to choose from. Easch with their own mystique. Though the big selling point with theaters seen from a kid’s point of view. Is that they were then, ADULT. Places where people older than you went, sometimes dressed up. To have fun.

    With plush carpeting in the lobby and aisles in the theater itself. Inundated with equally plush velvet seats that sometimes rocked. And NO cup holders!!!

    My favorite, just outside DC was the Langley. Tucked away in a forerunner of the strip mall. Which is where Dad would take my older sister for dance lessons in a studio above. And my older brother and I would enjoy a matinee or double feature.

    Thanks very much for a splendid trip down memory lane!

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    • le0pard13

      Great point, Kevin! I remember the film curator over at The Autry Museum, who hosted a number of great Westerns in their Wells Fargo Theatre, spoke to some of this during one of their discussions. The 60s westerns were unique, bridging the dramatic, contemplative 50s westerns and the disillusioned anti-heroes of their 70s oater counterparts. He pointed to three that illustrated the transition, all featured in the museum’s series. Each wonderful in their own right, but clearly displaying that metamorphosis occurring through the decade.

      The Magnificent Seven (1960)
      The Professionals (1966)
      The Wild Bunch (1969)

      Thank you so very much for the kind and thoughtful word, my friend :-)

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      Reply
      • jackdeth72

        That’s an excellent progression, Michael!

        Cannot argue with the three. Especially when Sturgis directed the first two. A story teller on the same scale of John Ford and Howard Hawks.

        While Peckinpah added the grit, suspense of a train robbery and one of , if not the greatest “shoot ‘em up”s in cinema.

        Would also add his ‘Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid’ as the more sedate, character driven end of the trail. With a cherry on top!

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