Saturday, February 23, 2013

Movie Time

Are you as tired of hearing about the Oscars as I am? The attention is endless: newspapers, of course, magazines, online surveys of “your picks,” radio discussions, TV specials, apps for your iPad  - every media outlet, it seems, is highlighting the movie industry’s annual awards ceremony. Unless you’ve been camping in the Himalayas you know that the presentation of the coveted statue is tomorrow night. The hype and the hoopla have reached new heights this year, it seems to me.

Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m against the whole glitter-and-glamour display of Oscar night, let me say that I’ve not only loved movies since I was ten years old but I’ve paid attention to the Oscars since the late 1940s. Those were the times before the annual event was televised, meaning I listened to the ceremony on the radio while I lay in bed.

  I sort of pride myself on having been an astute movie critic even then. In 1946, for example, after seeing “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the RKO Kenmore, I remember praising it to my friend Margie and her mother on the bus ride home. It wasn’t until years later, however, that the film became extremely popular, thanks to its annual showing on television and Zuzu’s “Teacher says, “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”

And I remember coming home from the College Theatre and telling my mother that I thought David Brian should get an Academy Award for his performance opposite Joan Crawford in 1950’s “The Damned Don’t Cry.”

  Years later personalities sometimes played a role in the movies I liked: Montgomery Clift, for example, who made his debut “The Search," a story of Berlin after the war, and the western “Red River” with John Wayne. He was one of the handsomest men ever!

 In 1954 when my girlfriend Carolyn and I learned that he was to appear off-Broadway in “The Seagull,” we bought tickets. I remember the man at the Phoenix Theatre box office remarking with a smile, “Oh, so you like Chekhov?”

  In high school, Carolyn and I would often take the subway into Manhattan. In 1954, we were at the opening of “On the Waterfront” at the Astor Theatre. While waiting on line, we saw Karl Malden walk by. When we were seated I happened to turn around and see Eva Marie Saint and her husband sitting a few rows behind us. No Marlon Brando, however.

  I still like the movies and manage to see all the contenders each year. As I watch the Oscars tomorrow night – haven’t ever missed it in over sixty years – I’ll have my favorites and probably gawk at some of the outfits. I also expect to hear Seth MacFarlane say things that would not have been heard in a radio broadcast in 1946.