My life has been influenced by movies (I know “film” sounds more avante-garde, but we called them movies then, and I still call them that!) since I was five years old in 1948, starting with the Adams Theatre in Dorchester Mass. I was the youngest, so when my sister Ellen (four years older) went to the movies, Mom saddled her with me. She would sit me in the back with her friends’ siblings that they had also been stuck with, and told me “don’t move!”
There in the dark, all things were possible once the movie started, you could be whisked away to Africa for the afternoon with Abbott and Costello, or to Utopia with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (I always meant to look up exactly where that was). I should explain that I may have been watching a movie that was already 10 years old, because Saturdays at the Adams were the “kids” matinees, two movies, 20 cartoons, and at least one serial ! In the summer, after five hours in the Adams, you had to decompress in the lobby for a few minutes so you wouldn’t go blind in the sunlight. As a further joyful addition to these glorious days was the fact that my sister Barbara (10 years older) worked at the refreshment stand; I don’t think she made much money after paying for all my freebies. Life was good ! Speaking of the serials, my favorite was Don Winslow of the Navy, although Captain Marvel, and Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, offered unimaginable excitement as well.
Today, at 69, I still love movies, have a substantial film library, and still watch certain movies at certain times of the year. Besides the obvious Christmas movies, there’s New Year’s movies like Jack Benny in The Horn Blows at Midnight and John Garfield in Pride of the Marines because I first saw it on New Year’s Eve in 1953, which was my first year to be able to stay up til midnight, so life was good.
Then there are summer films, such as Summer of 42 (1971), Jaws from 1975, 1776 (’72), and George Washington Slept Here (1942). But the fall, that’s the best: Arsenic and Old Lace (1941), Peyton Place (1957) [see it just for the photography, New Hampshire n the fall is a joy], Halloween, The Lady in White, Hocus Pocus, and–as a throwback to my Adams Theatre days –Disneys’ The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (narrated by Bing Crosby) and The Wind in the Willows (narrated by Basil Rathbone) It’s elementary, Watson, life was good ! There are numerous movies I watch at certain other times of the year, or specific dates, simply because it means something only to me, Among them, I Never Sang for My Father (with Gene Hackman) on April 1st, my dad’s birthday, for very personal reasons; I cry, and remember, and miss him, and then I go to the Elks and toast him. Yes, movies have definitely had a strong impact on my life, and still do but probably more so from a reminiscence basis.
Well, I certainly didn’t start out to write a book, just impart some old fond memories from an old man who refuses to grow old, and life is still good, and it’s not over yet!
Bill Dunphy enjoys photography, cooking, reading, and, of course, movies–of which he has about 350 in his library.