Hitchcock and Me

Hitchcock and Me

I had to do some research to nail down the time period that I was at the Cinerama theater. As I mentioned in a former post, the theater changed hands some time during my tenure there. I was able to run down the date that this occurred by checking with the Seattle Times newspaper website. On August 15, 1972, the Cinerama was taken over by the Sterling Recreation Organization.

Using this same site I was able to track down the films that were booked at the Cinerama and hopefully to trace back to the time I started. I am not quite one hundred per cent sure, but I think I began when Stanley Kramer’s film, Bless the Beasts and Children was playing there, which puts the date as sometime in November 1971. I don’t think many people are familiar with this film. Not many saw it when it was out. It was a “coming of age” story about a bunch of misfit boys out to save a herd of bison from slaughter.  It wasn’t long before a second feature, the sci-fi film Marooned was added to it to help out.

From then until the take over, I tore tickets for:

Ryan’s Daughter – by one of my favorite directors – David Lean

Sometimes a Great Notion – Paul Newman (starred and directed) which might have been a re-release as it opened originally in 1970

A Clockwork Orange – Kubrick – this carried an “X” rating for its violence and controversy

Silent Running – directed by Doug Trumbull (famous for the SFX on Kubrick’s 2001)

While Bruce Dern and his robots Huey, Dewey and Louis were trying to save the last of Earth’s plant life, another figure joined the lobby to promote an upcoming film. And I had my eye on him.

Alfred Hitchcock was a great showman as well as a legendary director. For his upcoming film he had had full size cutouts of his standing figure created for theater lobbies across America. There he stood with a finger pointed at whomever he was facing. And attached to the back of the figure was a small tape recorder that continually played a message from the Master of Suspense – all centered around neckties – to huckster for his latest film – Frenzy.

I prevailed upon Mr. McKnight to give me the cutout after the film completed its run. And he acceded to my request, but not until after the run was stretched a bit when Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me was added to boost the attendance.

When Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask” moved in, I moved Hitch out and gave him a ride home in my Roadrunner.

Upon arriving home, I propped Hitch up on the front step and rang the doorbell. When my Mom answered the door, she must have jumped a foot in the air, and three feet back. After she recovered her composure, she told me, “Let’s do it to Dad!”

So we did.

The Night of the Shrinking Man and the Fifty Foot Woman

The Night of the Shrinking Man and the Fifty Foot Woman

My girl friend and I usually had a weekly date to meet after work on Friday nights over at her family’s house. We sat on their couch and tuned in the Creature Feature – the late night scary movie. In between the ads for a local car dealer we got to see the likes of:

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Them (them as opposed to us humans – the them being giant ants)

The Blob (inside of which was rumored to be Steve McQueen)

The Attack of the Crab Monsters (by the Sultan of Schlock – Roger Corman).

And many, many more…

For some reason (possibly due to their availability) none of the classic monster movies were broadcast. No Dracula, no Frankenstein, no Werewolf movies. On second thought perhaps it was because they were so much older than these titles – the 1930s versus the 1950s – the concern on the programmer’s part possibly being for more contemporary fare.

Sometimes long nights ensued as the fare put us both to sleep. Cue the Everly Brothers – Wake Up Little Susie, Wake Up.

We were excited to learn that one of our upcoming Friday nights could be spent at one of our favorite places. The Harvard Exit had a calendar program that they printed and made available in their lobby. And scheduled for a midnight show on Halloween was the double bill – The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman.

We bought our tickets and joined the midnight throng filling the seats for the sci-fi/horror fest. My friend from college Dave went with us. Dave with his scientific bent could be a bit of a Debbie Downer. He would speak right up when something occurred that was impossible – like explosions in outer space for instance, (that epic rant came out of a viewing of Silent Running). I don’t remember any gaffs pointed out by him in these two pictures. Trust me, had there been, he would have been all over them gleefully. But then again these flicks were more in the fantasy line and were not tied down to any hard science.

I wonder now if there was not a tongue in cheek ideology behind the pairing. This time was the era of the rise of feminism. If I was into conspiracy theory, I could posit that it was a manifesto of sorts, signifying the diminution of men and the elevation of women over them.