Sandman Jazz has a new 30-Day challenge for July, all about movies! I didn’t respond to Day 1 because I can’t remember what was the first movie I ever saw in a theater (probably 60 years + ago!).
Day 2: A film you watched over and over as a child: I have a few different answers for this. As long ago as I can remember in my childhood, my siblings and parents and I would watch a film of an operetta, Amahl and the Night Visitors, on TV during the Christmas season. It was broadcast in black & white on one of the few network channels in those days every year, becoming a tradition in our household, much like watching A Christmas Story or The Grinch That Stole Christmas has been for younger generations.
I’m pretty sure we had a
record album of the operetta by Giancarlo Menotti also. Anyway, I watched it so many times and listened to the record so many times when the network stopped showing it on TV that my siblings and I had it almost memorized. Someone would say something that reminded one of us of a line in the operetta, and then we would start singing it back and forth. I still remember large chunks of it today and once, when I got to be in a production of it at our church, I was able to play King Casper, who has probably the largest role of the three kings. Until recently, one of my sisters and I attended a few live productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors in local theatres.
If Day 2 had said “…over and over as a child in a movie theater, my answer would be the Franco Zeffirelli movie version of Romeo and Juliet. I was 15 or 16 when it was released and I saw it eight times! There was a reason for this: although an LP soundtrack was released, it was of course only sections, mostly those that included music, not the entire thing. So after seeing it a couple of times in a regular movie theater, it played during the summer at a local drive-in. I took a tape recorder (I had reel-to-reel tapes then!) and recorded it from the speaker hanging on the door of the car. I had to go to the drive-in several times in order to get the entire soundtrack, because when the tape ran out and I had to turn it over, I lost about 5 minutes of the dialogue, so I had to return to fill those in. I think I had to use 3 or 4 small reels. I took it to school with me and listened to it in my dorm room. The leads, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, were attractive young British actors, and I taped pictures of them on the wall of my room. It was the perfect film for a 16-year-old girl’s heart, filled with romantic ideals of love. And oh! the tragedy – due to an ancient feud between families, which Shakespeare was criticizing. That theme of prejudice was also one close to my teenaged experience, because it was 1968 – racism and civil rights were the big issues of the day, issues that I was passionately concerned about. Needless to say, I also still have parts of Shakespeare’s play memorized!