Current mood: nostalgic
It's entirely possible that when Carole Lombard and John Barrymore appeared in "True Confession" at the just-opened Centre Theater in Salt Lake City at the tail end of 1937, it was the first movie ever seen by some Utah youngster whose parents took him to this new downtown picture palace. It begs the specific question, what was the first movie you ever saw, and more generally, how did you become a classic film fan?
Before you supply your answer, let me supply mine.
The first actual movie I ever saw -- in a theater -- likely came at the very end of 1960 or early '61, when I was five years old. It was a comedy called "The Facts Of Life," starring two legends of laughs, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, and even featured credits designed by Saul Bass (the film was black-and-white):
None of that really meant anything to me, though by then I had probably caught glimpses of both Hope and Ball on TV. Nor did I make the choice to attend this, plunking down what little change I had to the ticket booth (provided I could reach that high, which this kindergartener probably couldn't). No, I was taken by my older (17 at the time) sister Helen, who likely was on Christmas break from her parochial high school and decided to see a movie, taking me along so mom could spend some time with my younger brother, a month away from turning three. (She also took me to a cartoon festival at RKO Keith's, but I'm not sure whether or not that took place before or after seeing "The Facts Of Life.") We took the Valley Drive bus downtown, walked across South Salina at Jefferson, and entered the theater.
I honestly can't say I understood the movie, a marital comedy in which Bob and Lucy play part of two couples; stranded by themselves, they discover they're attracted to each other and are tempted to stray. There were some funny bits, including one I remember where their car is stranded in a rainstorm and they have to find shelter.
Over the years, your memory plays tricks on you. Perhaps because I always associate Bob Hope with Paramount, I thought I saw this at the now-demolished Paramount theater in Syracuse, N.Y. But a check of the Syracuse Post-Standard from Dec. 30, 1960 proved me wrong on two counts -- it was a United Artists production, and it was shown not at the Paramount, but one block up South Salina Street at Loew's...a palace that's still around today as the recently renovated Landmark Theater, but shown below as the Loew's for a movie released earlier in 1960:
I don't recall whether we saw the second feature; I would guess not, because Helen really wasn't into westerns. I doubt that she would have remembered...and sadly, I say "would have" because Helen passed away last October at age 67. I miss her.
I bring this story up because throughout May, the blog "True Classics" run by a lady named Brandie (http://trueclassics.wordpress.com)
So far, memories have been gathered from a Mississippi lady whose movie memories date back to the 1930s (http://trueclassics.wordpress.com/2