Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: Alone with a ’68 Mustang

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Hard to believe I’ve any memories left for movies experiences and coming of age. Much less during the extraordinary year of 1968 that left an impression on this country, historically, and me, personally. So, for this memory download, involving one of my all-time favorite crime thrillers, with one of the greatest, most influential car chases recorded on film, let’s examine the skid mark left, shall we?


Theatre

The Huntington Park Warner Theatre:


Movie

Time

October 26, 1968: Moving to the blue-collar municipality of South Gate1 just four years prior put a different spin on life and the movies. By the final year of what’s today called “middle school”, my “junior high” didn’t exactly prepare me, outside of learning to keep my head down to avoid bullies…and a pantsing. Even with that, as Halloween approached, this now “ninth-grader” still thought he knew better. Well, for a few months, anyway.

High school would fix that soon enough…permanently.

As mentioned before, my love of reading came by way of my mother’s, yet film appreciation as art instilled care of her sisters. They’d all show up at the grand central station that was my grandmother’s house, the place I called home since age four, to talk about whatever they’d seen. Plus, those same aunts and uncles periodically took moi to the drive-in and movie theaters since I could walk. Made quite the connection, an effect that’s lasted this long.

Keenly, that company in the dark watching film seemed to enshrine it.

Heck, was even the “movie” sitter for my younger brother whenever the grandparents and/or relatives dropped the two of us kids at a Huntington Park theater while they went shopping there2. Wouldn’t have been the cinematic escapade without that familiar face sitting next to me in a low-lit hall of strangers watching a big screen. And with the talk of motion pictures ever-present, the pull to go there, with someone you knew, was manifest. That is, till it wasn’t.

Meaning, when I got to a certain age and those sought had better things to do.

Before 1968 would slip by, and my RTD bus pass for the school year expired, a change was bound to happen. Hell, why wait for someone to go with me to the movies? Yeah, nice to enjoy whatever’s playing and nudge’em at a good part, but did I really need a relative, or even a school-age chum, there? The answer was no. So when my aunts fawned over Steve McQueen’s latest, and their husbands squealed over his ’68 Mustang pounding the hills of San Francisco, that straw pulled.

Thus, Bullitt on this date, at the Huntington Park Warner Theatre, became my gateway to many a solitary screening to come.


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


  1. Named after South Gate Gardens on Cudahy Ranch for being south of Los Angeles proper, its history came down the usual chain of indigenous people, Spanish land grants, transition to “Americano” possession and development, incorporation, and selling of empty plots to blue-collar workers. 
  2. The early equivalent of “Going to the mall.” 
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16 Responses to “TMT: Alone with a ’68 Mustang”

  1. jackdeth72

    Excellent post, my friend.

    I got my first taste of Steve McQueen ‘Bullitt’ cool during a quintessential Saturday matinee at the old plush velvet Golden Age Langley Theater on the fringes of Adelphi, Maryland, courtesy of my dad providing transportation for my older sister’s weekly modern dance class in the studios beside the theater and my older brother footing the bill for an exceptional cinematic experience.

    ‘Bullitt’ has proven to be a classic cat & mouse chase film of the 1960s. Sharing that category with ‘The French Connection’ in 1971. While showing the sunny, sometimes shadowy and hard boiled side of San Francisco waiting to be expounded upon in Don Siegel’s ‘Dirty Harry’ and later with ‘The Laughing Policeman’ with Walter Matthau and Bruce Dern.

    But it is the chase scene that pulls and holds ‘Bullitt’ together until the final reels. And for those few glorious minutes of masterfully edited sight and sound the theater’s sparse, unanimously male audience exploded with cheers and shouts as gears shifted loudly while both of Steve McQueen’s hands stayed on the Cobra’s steering wheel.

    Thankfully, I’ve had the near empty matinee theater experience for other films, including ‘Save The Tiger’, ‘Go Tell The Spartans’, David Mamet’s. ‘The Spanish Prisoiner; The Shaw Brothers ‘Infra- Man’ and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’

    All I can say is that a near empty theater only heightens and enhances the intimacy and boisterousness of the cinematic experience.

    Once again. Nicely done, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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