Remember the The Stone Age, when you caught that big videotape of Fat II (from Blockbuster, of course) and didn’t watch it until you racked up at least $15 in late fees? I remember the eventual agony of this video rental giant, when all of a sudden all late fees were suspended! Always! Come back, please!!!!! The money I have since saved has one day funded a place of choice in the Meadowoodbrookaire 55+ retirement community! In fact, the money I saved must be somewhere under the couch cushions.
Our ways of watching movies have evolved, there’s no doubt about it. In my early childhood, there were occasional treks to Radio City Music Hall for the latest Julie Andrews epic (I believe the beloved British songbird played in every 1960s musical, including Sweet Charity, where she successfully portrayed a prostitute with a heart of gold turned magical nanny, unless I’m mistaken.) At home, I could watch movies from years gone by on “Million Dollar Movie”, which aired on the TV at 4:30 p.m. every day in New York. I was then five years old and only vaguely knew Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart (although I noticed that, although they smoked constantly, my father smoked more).
Later, in elementary school, the family moved to Atlanta, where our apartment was located near the North Springs Movie Theater! Within walking distance of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Franco Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet, and Patton (which I inexplicably loved). Tickets were, I think, $0.75, so for just three hours of babysitting with the Butler Kids from Hell @ $0.35) I could afford to go multiple times.
In my 20s I became a fan of foreign films, making weekly pilgrimages to the Film Forum in Buckhead to watch either shockingly sliced Spanish eyeballs (Bunuel) or the slow, brooding dissolution of a marriage Scandinavian (Bergmann). I became so snobbish that I ONLY watched films with subtitles, thinking them far superior to those filmed in the language I spoke.
Then came the childbearing years, when at cocktail parties I discussed the relative artistic merits of Aladdin III and Land before time VI. I knew there were still adult movies, but I was too tired to watch them. There was a brief period when the kids were older, but still at home, and we could enjoy some great movies together (I would push for Ordinary people and Tootsie, while Steve would choose to present this to them timeless horror classic, the blob).
Now it’s all HBO and Netflix, mostly at home since the pandemic began. We never have to wait a millisecond for our celluloid gratification, because absolutely everything is “on demand.” And I appreciate the convenience for sure. But there are times when I find myself missing the eager anticipation of a Friday night trip to Blockbuster, where we’d examine the boxes of VHS tapes lined up on the shelves. And go home with our prize. The Mighty Ducks. Again.