This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Since I am in the midst of my own little ‘Western Week’, I’ll tie another of these to my Versus AFI: 10 Top 10 arc and its look at that same genre.
“Who are those guys?”
The California Theatre:
Images c/o Cinema Treasures site
October 1969: as I’ve mentioned before, it was my mother who instilled in me a love of reading and the power of books. Yet, it was her siblings who helped manifest a fascination for the art of moving pictures in her son. It worked like this: at around age four, I was raised in my mother’s mother’s house. Most of mi abuelita‘s children, my aunts and their lone brother, always flitted back there. For years. Whether to visit, drop kids off for babysitting, or Sunday dinner, Everybody Comes to Rick’s.
What did they talk about when there, mostly? Movies. In the midst of it all, absorbing it like a sponge, there sat I. It happened almost like clockwork. The subject invariably came around to what they’d seen in a movie theater and who was in it. As the clear majority of this family were women, and it was the 60s, there was always one movie star who got more than a passing remark in these conversations. Paul Newman.
Once, I asked my mom why, when her sisters spoke about him or his movies, did they fan themselves with their hands. I think she just smiled and said she’d explain when I got older. I’d watch some of his movies on TV, but still didn’t understand the appeal. When Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid debuted this year, my aunts’ talk only grew. Everybody then was talking about the pairing of the old pro (Newman) and the up-and-comer (Robert Redford). My youngest aunt actually did a two-hand fan.
That same month, I was barely a first-year sophomore in high school. Since the film was a Western, I decided to plunk down my own lawn-mowing money at a box office and witness what the fuss was about. I reckon’d I’d at least get to see a good shoot ’em up out of the visit. So, off to Huntington Park again I went, and another visit to the California Theatre, to take in the flick. It was the first time I ever bought a movie ticket just to see “King Cool” on the big screen. It wouldn’t be the last.