Tuesday, February 26, 2008

1970 at the Movies

Have you ever been to a non-kid film and seen a family there with their children. Disgusting wasn't it? Well, I was one of those kids in 1970. Believe it or not my parents took me to see M*A*S*H and many other non G-rated films that year.

The surgical scenes in M*A*S*H were gory but I enjoyed the football game sequence, the scene where Hawkeye and Trapper faked jumping jacks by sitting on top of 55 gallon barrels and HotLips' full-frontal nude scene. The nudity did not shock me, but I was surprised by the reaction of the men. It made a good story on the playground at pre-school the following week. I don't recall where we saw M*A*S*H but I thought the poster art in the lobby with the peace-sign, ladies legs and helmet was cool too.

The Jones family screened Airport at the Glenwood Manor theater on Metcalf. My first disaster film and blockbuster. Van Heflin blew a hole in the side of the lavatory with a briefcase bomb! I wondered if Dean Martin and Barry Nelson were going to be able to land that plane. The kids at pre-school and I discussed the movie and set up our own pretend airplane in the playroom. The Ruth Gordon role was coveted, even by the boys. Apparently more kids saw Airport than M*A*S*H.

They ran The Out Of Towners trailer, starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, during the previews before Airport. My parents took me back to the Glenwood for that film a few weeks later. Most of the comedy was lost on me. I related more to Jack Lemmon's constant anxiety. The only time I got it was at the end of the film. [Spoiler Alert] Jack's character relaxed on the plane ride home only to see it hijacked to Cuba. Now that's funny.

My Dad was a big movie fan. In fact, he still likes to get together and see a movie. This was especially true when Mom visited Grandma out of town in Cape Girardeau. The boys went to see Beneath the Planet of the Apes over at the old Metro Plaza theaters at 63rd and Paseo. It was in a strip mall, gone now, near where a KCMO police sub-station sits today - east of the old Landing shopping center. I freaked when those nuke worshipping monks peeled off their faces.

I can't remember if I saw the first Planet of the Apes movie. I bet I did - Dad was a major Charlton Heston fan. But I don't have a distinct memory of seeing the first film, like I did when he took me to the drive-in to see Barbarella in 1968 in Columbia, Missouri. Mom was either at work or out of town that night too.

Later in 1970 we saw Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man. It was long, long, long. Why did he keep changing sides? Who was the old man that kept interupting the story? I think we saw this at the Ranchmart theaters. Little Big Man was released in December of 1970 and it's possible I didn't see it until early 1971. I didn't keep a diary. Wish I had.

While we're asking questions you may wonder why my parents took me to the adult selections on this list. Three guesses: 1) We'd been in KC less than a year and they hadn't found any babysitters they liked. 2) They figured the adult part would go over my head, and/or 3) they didn't know any better.

You may wonder how I recall these things 38 years later. I don't know the answer but I think it has something to do with the association to the location. It makes it easier to recall when you also remember the place.

I saw the Boatniks, a Walt Disney movie, but I don't remember where. In fact, I wouldn't have associated it at all with these other movies if I hadn't looked up the list of 1970 films. Did I see it in 1970 or in a subsequent year? Many Disney/kid movies popped up again and again in 2nd run houses like the Dickenson. I can't say for sure, but a lot of people sank into the water in boats with their clothes on and the Walt Disney people thought this was big comedy action.

I can't remember any other movies I saw that year. I only have these fragments and now that I've committed them to paper and posted them to the web log, my brain may flush them. Of course, that's part of the reason for the blog in the first place. It's okay with me. I guess it's okay with you too because you're still reading this.

I'd call this list the first in a series but the weird thing about 1971 is that I don't have a list of non-kid films I saw that year. Why didn't my parents carry on the tradition? Did they figure out the sitter situation? Nope. My little brother was born on May 5, 1971. We took a big family movie break that year. One exception: I saw the Steve McQueen racing epic LeMans that year. Boring. I remembered Diamonds Are Forever, at the Plaza theater, with Dad but not Mom in either December of '71 or January of '72. There's a scene near the end where Blofeld threatened Earth with a space laser. He toyed with Bond when he suggested they neutralize Kansas, but dismissed the notion - nobody would hear about it for years. Boo!


hahasox said...

Those old theaters in town were the best. Jungle Book at the Uptown. The Midland was pretty cool for a little kid. Numerous Disney shows at the old Plaza Theater. Jaws, Star Wars and so many more at the huge screen at The Glenwood. But, my Dad was a big Drive In guy. That's where I remember seeing the Planet of the Apes movies. The Twin way out of town, before you got to that city that was so far away, Olathe. The Shawnee where Bayer is now but was the country then. And was it the Fox 50 off of the 4 lane I-35 were an industrial park is now.

Your memory still amazes me. I thought of you yesterday when I read the article in the Star about the guy that can recall a date in the past 40 or so years and can tell you what he did and the current event of the day. But you are right, when you start to write this stuff down things start coming back to you.

Now since Fowler is the only one probably still reading this, let me think about what I can recall about the same time frame you are talking about. Let's see, you lived next door to the Katz's, catty corner from our house. We once poked at a bat that we found on the side of your house. Your older brother was strange, one of those hippie guys. I'd chase off you and Kurt when you played with my cars in the dirt that was around the big old tree in the front yard. That's about it......

Steven said...

I saw the movie "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" in 1974 with my folks, possibly at Ranch Mart Theatres. I was 9, but I was certain I should not be watching that movie. The language! The violence! Delicious!