TCM Underground

When I was in high school, a theater opened a couple of blocks from my house, across the street from the school. A revival theater.

Movies are better in a theater, particularly in a theater full of movie lovers. All the things that make movies more convenient at home are also what detract from their total experience. Like a live performance, a showing in a movie theater happens in the now. You’re there or you’re not. No phone calls, traveling salesmen, unruly children, lighting or sound issues–at least not in the ideal, which is pretty close to met in revival showings.

I’ve always felt this way, so that when classics would be showing on TV, I wouldn’t watch them. I wanted to see them in a theater. (I had little concept of a revival theater so I’m not sure how I could be so confident that I would ever have the opportunity.)

It was in this revival theater that I saw for the first time Gone With The Wind. What was sort of funny to me was that the theater was packed. Sold out. Just as when they showed and The General and Modern Times. Casablanca and Citizen Kane. Rebel without a Cause and East of Eden. (I don’t get the James Dean thing, though, and as a Steinbeck fan, I walked out of East of Eden, seeing that it looked like a remake of Rebel.)

It wasn’t uncommon for me in these years to go see a contemporary Hollywood movie on a weekend morning, a trashy (contemporary) horror flick at the theater my sister was working at sometime during the week, and then one (or even two) double-features at the Baronet.

They switched from showing a classic double-feature weekly to going to a more cult-movie format on a daily basis. That was okay, too, and I’d see things like Quadrophenia alongside The Kids Are Alright. Or Last Tango In Paris alongside The Story of O. Actually, I didn’t go see that last pair. (I wasn’t old enough.)

‘course, it finally went out of business, although we suspected shenanigans, since the place was consistently packed. Occasionally the Laemmle will show a film series, which is also good, but they’re sadly infrequent.

If I had enough money to live on with a little to burn, I’d open a revival theater

Anyway, a little over a year ago, TCM started a midnight (west coast, 3AM east coast) called “Underground”, hosted by Rob Zombie and showing cult classics. Rob dropped out, probably to direct the Halloween remake, and it’s still just TV (no matter how big).

But I did get a smile when I saw last night’s showing of Quadrophenia and The Last Waltz.

I didn’t watch it, though.

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