This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. While I remember going to movies before this with family, it is this one which represents my earliest independent memory of watching a film. That is, I went to see something which I alone wanted to watch — and entirely without parental or family involvement.
August 1964: my earliest movie memories were going to the drive-in with my mom and dad when I was a toddler. Later, my mother’s sisters and brother would take me during my childhood (I guess any kid sitting, no matter if it was in a dark theater with strangers all about, was a good thing). Even later, during that more innocent era, alone or with friends, we would strike out on our own to see movies situated 2-3 miles away. Usually, by walking or via bus.
But, it was a different period here in Los Angeles back then. We were living in the blue-collar suburb of South Gate. Typically, we’d head over to the rival city of Huntington Park to take in flicks at their theaters on Pacific boulevard (their commercial drag was way better, compared to S.G.’s). We’d watch the movies at the Park, the California, and the Warner theaters. The grand lady of them, though, was the Huntington Park Warner. It was one of the classic examples of the Art Deco movie palaces strewn about the country from 1925 through the 1940’s.
I still can recollect fondly taking the bus to the theatre and sitting in the darkened hall to watch this film. Although I’d heard songs on the radio by the Fab Four beforehand, it was this movie, A Hard Day’s Night (and song) that first struck and mesmerized me. And I’m still within its impact. Not only did that triumphant strum ofguitar, bass, and piano herald the opening of the film, it opened a pop era for me. My 10 (going on 11)-year old eyes and ears uncorked to the possibilities of what film and music could bring. This one cemented my admiration of the lads in ’64, and it’s lasted through to this day.