In this guest post, MovieFanFare reader Bill Dunphy shares his thoughts on movies and memory, and how he associates certain films with this time of year:
I belong to a group on Facebook that talks about the good old days of youth and of things that are no more. Lately the focus of discussion has been about old movie houses, or theaters if you prefer. Most people’s favorites are the one they frequented the most often during their adolescence. I grew up In Quincy, Massachusetts, a city that had at least six movie theaters at any one time. Growing exhausted of the topic in the group I thought I would shake them up a bit by mentioning a theater they might not know of. I asked if anyone had ever gone to the Navba Theater. They may have, but they wouldn’t know it by that name. You see, calling it the “Navba” was made up by my friend Ricky, and I way back when. In reality,it was the theater that showed movies in the Squantum Naval Air Station, circa 1950, for the billeted military. I got to go to these movies because my friend Ricky, was the son of a Navy man living off base with his family.
I can remember watching many movies during that summer but one movie always haunted me, because I could never remember the name. It wasn’t til many years later when computers, and later, the IMdb, were available. I remembered the star of that movie as James Cagney, and by my memory and reading the plots, my research eventually lead to the name of the movie: A Lion Is in the Streets.
I can recall the feeling of triumph I got from finally clearing up that long held mystery. The movie, by the way, is Cagney’s version of a Willie Stark-like character, and a very good story. It may sound like a small, meaningless, and even wasteful, victory, but to me it was like a trip in a time machine! I secured a copy of that movie and when I watched it, I was instantly a child, back in that Naval gymnasium that they showed it in using a 16mm projector.
Now, I have long known how much movies have made an impact on my life, and surprisingly enough, they still do. I have spoken before of how I watch my movies by rote, at certain times/seasons of the year. Therefore, I am heavily ensconced in my autumn/Halloween mode at this time! To further illustrate my movie rigidity, I not only watch movies at specific times, but in a specific order, always saving my favorite for last!
In this current cluster, these screenings have kicked off with would be Lady in White — a film that features beautiful photography, great casting, and a wonderful story. (In case you were wondering my second to the last movie will be the original Halloween with Jamie Lee Curtis).
I won’t belabor this topic any longer, except to say that after my auutumn/Halloween period, and before my Christmas viewing kicks in, there is a kind of quiet time dedicated to other seasonal films. This is where I will watch movies like Spencer Tracy‘s’ Plymouth Adventure and Holly Hunter‘s Home for the Holidays, after that, I will watch those movies that do not fall into any other genre, again, in my estimation.
Bill Dunphy enjoys photography, cooking, reading, and, of course, movies–of which he has about 350 in his library.