Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: A Planet of Our Own

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Since I am continuing my Versus AFI: 10 Top 10 arc, this time looking at the Sci-Fi genre, it was only fitting I’d chronicle another of them in this series. However, for this category it seems I’ve already done my fair share in TMTs: Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T., Alien, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day and others. No matter. I’ll do this anyway.

“The question is not so much where we are as when we are.”


The California Theatre:

Images c/o Cinema Treasures site



April 1968: Ah, eighth grade. The middle year for those attending the junior high level in the L.A. Unified School District way back then. A now forgotten secondary school format in the wake of the move to “middle school” by those in the southland. I took my seventh, eighth, and ninth school grades in that older, traditional grouping. Always straddling between the newbie seventh graders, who knew far too little, and those in ninth grade who thought they knew it all. High school would fix that, permanently.

Still, one in seventh knew a Hell of lot more than a kid in the sixth grade, believe me. To me, the middle school bracketing of grades 6-7-8 seemed only to offer more of a chasm to cross than the old configuration when it came time to jump up to the trial-by-fire of senior high. Eighth wasn’t the top:

“The force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet.”

We didn’t know it all, and were conscious of that fact. Perhaps, it was why I thought (and still do) the realm of science-fiction offered avenues to us newly-minted teens that other traditional stories (or learning) didn’t. You knew watching such a movie, or reading a book, provided something we all lacked, along with a way of absorbing it that didn’t seem threatening or intimidating (yes, I’m referring to high school, again).

Maybe that’s why taking in the Planet of the Apes on the big screen captured so many my age when it was released during that Spring semester. We related to the astronaut Taylor, he thrust upon a world that appeared familiar while oh so peculiarly alien. We, the pimply, stuck out like him, awkward. Yet, he was the hero of the sci-fi tale. No wonder we thought he was us.

Not surprisingly, my usual stomping grounds of the time, Huntington Park and its main drag of Pacific Avenue and set of movie theaters was where this primer was staged. The second largest and prestigious being the California Theatre, served this plate of imagination and conjecture to us, the eager youth of the time.

Lucius: “I still say you’re making a mistake.”
Taylor: “That’s it. Keep ’em flying.”
Lucius: “What?”
Taylor: “The flags of discontent. Remember, never trust anybody over 30.”

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

9 Responses to “TMT: A Planet of Our Own”

  1. ruth

    Oh my, another beautiful theater! I’m afraid I have not seen the original ‘Planet of the Apes’ but I might give it a shot as I quite like the recent ‘Apes’ movie. Interesting insight into how sci-fi films like this one impacted you at the time. Thanks Michael.


    • le0pard13

      Thank you very much, Ruth. Yes, please check out this one. No doubt, you’ll notice things in this that were presented in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ as homages to the original film. Please tell me what you think about it after you’ve seen it.


  2. Claire Packer

    I love that building! You don’t get many cinemas like that anymore. Well, not in the UK anyway.

    I’m completely with Ruth on this one: I haven’t seen the original but I really enjoyed the recent Apes film so may give it a go, especially after that very interesting depiction of Taylor.

    PS Sorry for being AWOL for so long, I’ve been very busy the last few weeks and my blog has suffered for it. I’m starting a new job on Monday and moving house this weekend so, fingers crossed, I’ll be all systems go next week 😀


    • le0pard13

      Yes, it was one of the old style of theaters. Out of the three that were located in that area of town, the original structure is the only one remaining still actively showing movies (though, converted to a triplex). The one I once worked at, and the grandest, the Huntington Park Warner theatre, is closed but still standing. The Park Theatre (I’ll be doing a TMT of it soon) was demolished and rebuilt into multi-plex (and thus eliminating all of the unique styling it once had).

      It’ll be great to see you back, Claire. Best of luck with the job and relocation, my friend. Many thanks.


  3. The Focused Filmographer

    haha, i love the fact that you relate to Taylor as the outcast much like you and your pimply middle school aged friends! ha. Great stuff!

    As usual. a fantastic edition of TMT! Thanks for sharing your memories!



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