I was very pleased to be invited to contribute to the new classic film site The Cinementals, which has quickly become one of the must-read attractions in the realm of classic movie blogging. As a part of our continuing monthly salute to “movie memories,” my first contribution features the reminiscences of writer and retired professor of communications Jimmie Moomaw, who tells of childhood Saturday afternoons spent with cowboy flicks (with a little Chopin thrown in for good measure). Head on over and check it out!
Today we have a “grab bag” of short and sweet movie recollections for you–some funny, some touching, and all of them memorable.
“My very first date was to see The Ten Commandments (1956). Strange choice, I thought. But the night was going fine until he kissed me goodnight. Yuck! I can’t look at Moses without thinking of that first kiss!”
–Malinda Mabry-Scott, Clarksville, Tennessee
“The first movie I remember going to see was Bambi (1942) … but I don’t remember anything about actually seeing the movie, only how excited I was waiting in line for tickets!
Apparently I was terrified by it, however, because afterward my mother was very careful for a while about what I was allowed to watch. About the same time, The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964) was going to be on The Wonderful World of Disney on television, and Mom wouldn’t let me watch it because she thought it would be too scary!”
–Michele Barnard, Gaithersburg, Maryland
“Since we lived out in the country and didn’t have much in the entertainment budget, movies were rare events and family affairs. The family complained that I would get upset or maybe bored and have to be taken out, making someone miss the movie. I don’t know why they didn’t just leave me at home. I was told that the first movie I sat through (without having to be taken out) was The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) when I was about three years old, although any memories of it are overlaid by those of the re-release of it five or six years later. It was a spectacular movie, but it is often cited as the least-deserving Best Picture winner ever, so I don’t know what that says about my taste.
At that about age I actually remember having to be taken out of a movie which I had thought was The Shepherd of the Hills (1941), but if it was, it had to have been a re-release, since its first release was years before I was born. The scene that upset me so badly was a burning cabin with, I am pretty sure, someone in it. I can still see it in my memory.”
–Laurie Teague, Tupelo, Mississippi
“I am told my first movie was Out of Africa (1985), but I was only a few months old so I don’t remember. The first film I remember seeing was Babe (1995), to which I was taken by an older church friend of my mother’s. I remember that her name was Dolores, and I thought she was amazing because she bought me one of those “kiddie combos” that had both popcorn and candy. We didn’t have a whole lot of money at that time, so this was an incredibly exciting luxury for me. (I think I was ten.) After that it was three years until I saw another movie–Michael Bay’s Armageddon (1998), which was so much fun that we were able to get my mom to take us to the movies more frequently!”
–Megan Stoner Morgan, Athens, Georgia
“The first movie I remember going to see in a theater–and it was memorable because we had quite a drive to a real theater from Calhoun City, Mississippi–was The Fox and the Hound (1981). I loved that movie and still do. My mother and father and I and my cousin Chris went to what was the new Malco Cinema then (it’s closed now, and has been for some time, an eventual victim of the mall theater that now pales to the new Malco). I cried at the end, which my cousin laughed at, as I recall, and my father wasn’t really sympathetic, either. We then had the rare treat of getting ice cream at Baskin-Robbins before we went home. I still cry if I see the movie.
Calhoun City did have a drive-in that operated into my youth. I don’t remember going there often, but we went a few times. The only movie I remember seeing there was Tank (1984) with … James Garner, I think. I remember liking it at the time, but I don’t remember much about it now.”
–Thomas “Mack” Spenser, Morgan City, Louisiana
*”I don’t know if it really was the first movie (or part of a movie!) I ever saw, but I remember going to the drive-in in Parsons, Kansas with my mom and her friend Pam to see Jaws (1975). It was a re-release (it came out when I was two and I’m pretty sure I was four when we went). I was supposed to sleep in the back seat of the car, but I couldn’t fall asleep and I kept popping up and getting scared and then hiding in the floorboard and then popping up again.”
–Neely Woods Hunter, Brunswick, Georgia
“The first movie I remember seeing was E.T. (1982). What I remember the most was being crazy scared during the scene in which Elliot discovers E.T. in the backyard. I’m pretty sure I screamed and I know for sure that I got down on the floor and hid behind the seat in front of me.”
–Brian Burmeister, Clinton, Iowa
“My first movie was either Bambi or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). My grandmother was off from her job on Thursdays, and my younger brother and I would ride the streetcar from East Cleveland, Ohio to downtown Cleveland to meet her for shopping, dinner, and the picture show. I was nine years old and my brother, Tom, was four. What a treat for us Mississippians visiting our grandparents in Ohio!”
–Sally McReynolds, Shelbyville, Tennessee
“The first movie I remember going to see was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was being shown at a theater in Rome, Italy when my family lived there for a brief period. I was five or six, so my memories are a bit blurry, but what I know I am remembering correctly is that it was a very large single-screen theater with a roof that opened during intermission, allowing people to smoke. When intermission was over, the roof closed again (like a garage door laying on its side) and the movie continued.
I also remember, very vaguely, being taken with my kindergarten class to see The Little Prince (1974) in the tiny theater in Monticello, Mississippi. The images of the prince and the creepy snake have stayed with me, although I had to wait for Google and IMDB to be invented so I could search for ‘little boy desert snake movie 1970s’ on the movie database. I just found out in the last year or two that my crazy movie was not a dream–it really happened!”
–Lynne Lott Schneider, Jackson, Mississippi
“This wasn’t my first movie experience but one of my most memorable …
My aunt and uncle ran a theater in Kentucky when I was a child, and every summer we would visit them for a couple of weeks. The summer that Grease 2 (1982) came out, my cousin Brandie and I were completely enamored by it. We had worn out our Grease (1978) soundtrack album and so the sequel was a dream come true for us (we were nine or ten years old that summer). So we would go to all three showings of the movie every day. After a week of this, we knew every song and every bit of the choreography. One early afternoon we ended up being the only people in the audience and so we stood in front of the screen, dancing and singing along. It was AWESOME! … ‘I wanna cool rider, a cool, cool rider, a C-O-O-L R-I-D-E-R …’
In case I didn’t say this earlier, the deal for watching movies with unlimited popcorn and free RC cola was to help clean up after the movie. Totally worth it!”
–Anghaarad Teague Dees, Pensacola, Florida
“My first movie experience was when I was four or five years old. My mom has two sisters who are eight and ten years younger than she, so when I was five, they were sixteen and fourteen. One afternoon, they took me and my cousin (my mom’s older sister has a daughter three months older than I) to the movies. Whether the teenaged aunts wanted two five year-olds tagging along to the Saturday afternoon matinee is still a mystery, but off we all went anyway. Everything was amazing, from the smell of the popcorn to the huge movie screen. We happily munched on popcorn and Junior Mints (still one of my favorites today) through all the pre-feature items, with our favorite being the cartoon. Then the movie started. Lo and behold, it was the horror picture The Blob (1958), starring a teenaged Steve McQueen. My cousin and I nearly twisted each other’s hands off waiting for The Blob to roll off the screen and down the aisles toward us! I guess nobody asked, ‘What’s playing? before we left Grandma’s house that day!”
–Elaine Parrish, Columbus, Mississippi