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.”
The Picwood Theatre:
[pictures are care of the Cinema Treasures site]
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.