Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: “It was nothing like that, penis-breath!”

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Author John Kenneth Muir recently promised something interesting to his blog readers for the new year: “… a new recurring feature called “1982 in Film,” which reviews movies from the great genre year of 1982.” I’ll credit him for bringing this recollection forth care of his wonderful series kickoff piece on an extraordinary film. The post even includes his own memory download:

“I remember trying to see the Spielberg film three times, and being confronted each time with lines that stretched around the movie theater, and beyond that, around a city block. Finally, I nudged, bumped and pushed my way into an overcrowded, tiny multiplex auditorium, and there were literally people camped out in the aisles, seated on the floor. I’ve never again been in such a crowded, uncomfortable viewing environment, but when the movie started, that questionable environment just drifted away. The crowded house fell silent as Spielberg’s story captured the imagination.”


Theatre

The Picwood Theatre:


[pictures are care of the Cinema Treasures site]

Movie

Time

July 18, 1982: When I began watching movies in theaters, oh, so very long ago, who I saw them with pretty much marked certain, distinct phases of my life. As a child, it was always family — parents, aunts, uncles, and/or sibling. Later, the activity indicated who I was dating at the time. During this period, it was pretty much the girlfriend who has become known in this series as she-whose-name-is-not-to-be-uttered (or some variation thereof).

Accompanied me regularly to the cinema, a kind of exclusivity that was a given since we were living together at the time.

As well, this particular summer itself was hallmarked by its own unique touchstone for movie-goers: alien visitors. However, the two films that heralded the concept could not have been more dissimilar. Though it actually opened later in the same month of June, I saw John Carpenter’s The Thing first (as covered here). It’d be a month before you-know-who and I finally caught the other, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

Steven Spielberg’s film, far and away the #1 box office hit that year, had an exclusive run at the famed Cinerama Dome in L.A. for its first few weeks of release.

Needless to say, screenings at the Dome were crowded, sold-out events. Its wider release wouldn’t occur till the following month, locally. We thought going to this Sunday evening showing at the westside’s Picwood Theatre would avoid crowds. We were so wrong. The theater was jammed packed that night. In fact, the film’s engagement at this movie hall would prove so popular, it’d last there for 22 weeks!

After watching it, we could see why — I don’t think I laughed or was as captivated (and for sure, teary-eyed) with anything else that year.


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

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23 Responses to “TMT: “It was nothing like that, penis-breath!””

  1. MovieGeek

    To this day, one of my favourite films ever. Pure perfection, technically and emotionally.
    It’s still get me every time I watch it, while I am still in awe at its visuals, its editing, its soundtrack (John Williams at its best) and the pitch perfect acting.

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    • le0pard13

      Thanks for the stop-by and comment, MG. Watching this again years later with my kids really conveyed what you said exactly. Put me right back to when I first caught it.

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  2. dog eared copy

    It’s funny that this would be the post today as I watched Super 8 last night, clearly Abrams’ homage to E.T.! While no one does kids-on-bike stories better than Spielberg, Abrams does manage to hit on many of the right notes, though he doesn’t have Spielberg’s sense of earnestness and wonderment.

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    • le0pard13

      Yeah, you’re right that ‘Super 8’ is an homage to ‘E.T.’ and Spielberg’s early films, Tanya. I’d agree with you, too, about what works for Abrams and what doesn’t in the comparison. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

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  3. Novroz

    My experience of crowded cinema was when watching the first 3 Harry Potter movies…that was insane.

    I like ET a lot…it’s a timeless movie. The studio looks great

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    • le0pard13

      Yep, the Harry Potter movies certainly generated similar buzz. They were in wide distribution from the start compared to E.T. back then, though. The Picwood really was one of the unique and picturesque movie halls in West Los Angeles. Sadly, it was demolished in the mid to late 80s to make way for the expansion of the nearby Westside Mall. Timeless is a great descriptor for ‘E.T.’, alright. Thanks, Novroz.

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  4. Matt Stewart

    Of course I loved E.T., but I must say that theatre is incredible…. I only wish I was around for to see some of the brilliant films released in the 70s and 80s!

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  5. Scott Lawlor

    That is a stunning theatre. I do love looking at old images of cinemas, and in fact cinemas in general. There is something so magical about them

    and ET is one of my top films ever so no argument from me.

    Great article Michael

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    • le0pard13

      When I moved to the westside of city in the late 70s, this and the theaters in nearby Westwood Village became regular spots for me watching movies. Stunning was a good word for it, Scott. Thanks for joining in on this and leaving a comment.

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  6. Ronan

    I think this series is a great idea. I wish we had more old school theatres in Belfast. Mostly new fangled. E.T. is a great movie, though it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. If I ever do it a retrospective on Spielberg I’ll feature it. Wish they would show it in my local theatre, would be great to see it on the big screen. Thanks for this Michael.

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    • le0pard13

      Thanks for the kind words, Ronan. I certainly don’t own a patent on this, so if you’d like to join in and offer up some of your experiences, I’d certainly read them. And yes, watching something like ‘E.T.’ in a darkened cinema, filled with movie-goers, is a one-of-a-kind experience. Thanks, my friend.

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      • Ronan

        At last year’s annual Belfast Film Festival I was invited to the screening of a documentary called Mix Up ( read my friend’s review http://filmplicity.com/2010/04/guest-post-mix-up/) here about the true story of two couples who were given each others baby’s after birth and raised them as their own. An incredible story handled in a very odd ball sort of way. The setting was somehow appropriate. The affectionately named ‘Beanbag Theatre’, in which (you’ve probably guessed it) everyone watches the film from the comfort of their very own bean bag. Aside from the occasional wedgy, it’s a lot of fun. I prefer the multi-plex but it doesn’t hurt to shake things up once in a while.

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        • le0pard13

          That setting sounds so cool. And I’ll definitely check out your friend’s review (the film sounds very intriguing, as well). Thanks for adding to this, Ronan.

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  7. The Focused Filmographer

    I agree with Scott…the theaters is stunning! I was looking at the possibility of investing…in the way way way future…in building a theater. i’d like it to look something like this one. More vintage and “Majestic” if you will.

    I wish I COULDVE seen this one in theaters. I was still in my mother’s womb for another 2.5 months at the time you went to see this with “she whose name will not be uttered!” 🙂

    (not trying to make anyone feel old here. sorry abt that!) just expressing my sadness over lost opportunity! haha

    -T (previously TheScarletSp1der)

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    • le0pard13

      Perhaps, you did experience this film in the theater, T. If your mom went to see this while you were ‘in utero’, that is ;-). If you manage to build something like this one, I’ll figure out a way of buying a ticket there. Promise.

      Yes, this was great theater. Majestic is the opt word (and that b/w exterior image remains my favorite pic for this movie hall). I saw a number of films there from ’78 to ’85 with you-know-who ;-). Thanks for the enjoyable comment, my friend.

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  8. 70srichard

    E.T. had a sneak preview in a local mall theater that we could not get into. The film opened two weeks later at the Dome and we saw it there, along with the trailer for The Thing. Lines around the block for that first month. This is a Dome weekend for me, saw Jaws in the Dome on Friday, your post reminded me of my 1982 experience. Headed back today for Lawrence of Arabia and Vertigo.

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