MISSOURI, July 21, 2014 — Going to the movies used to be one of the pure and simple joys of raising a family in the 40’s and 50’s. It was uncomplicated and totally enjoyable. It was clean, safe and above all, it was all about family.
Do you remember when all movies were rated “G”? There was a time when you got two movies, World News and some cartoons for thirty-five cents. Plus you could get a box of popcorn and some Milk Duds or Switzer Licorice for less than the price to get into the movies. You would eat the popcorn during the first movie and save the candy for the second flick.
The whole family would attend shows. Children sat like ladies and gentlemen, and Grandma also came along. There were times an Aunt who was widowed would also go along too.
You attended the movie in your town, in a theater you usually could walk to, window shopping along the way. Passing the drugstore, you examined the bargains on display. After the movie, the family stopped and sat at the counter, asking the “soda jerk” to make you a root beer float or a banana split, or maybe just a chocolate malt. Two cookies came free of charge with the drink.
Going to the movies had another side benefit. The Movie House would give away items such as dinnerware. Over a period of weeks, you could get a whole set of dishes by just going to the movies. For the everyday person, this was a blessing, and it was enjoyable to see and listen to the ladies discuss how their dish’s collection was progressing.
What about the movies themselves? Let’s start off with some cowboy movie stars of the past just to tickle your memory bank. How about this list-Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Johnny Mack Brown, Hopalong Cassidy, Red Ryder, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and then later Marshall Matt Dillon and there was more. There were some common attributes of these legendary cowboy’s. Her are a few. They were never looking for trouble but when it came, they faced it with courage. They were always on the side of the right. They defended good people against bad people. They had high morals, good manners and were always honest. In addition, they spoke their minds, and they spoke the truth, regardless of what people thought or what is political correct which that term or action was not heard of in those days.
These were role models for those who were growing up in the 30’s and 40’s and helped build our generation’s societal value base.
How about the musicals? They are practically non-existent today. Cyd Charisse with her role in “Singing in the Rain” also staring Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and the fabulous Gene Kelly. In fact there is a major grocery store that in this day and time plays the tune Singing in the Rain when they commence to spray some of their vegetables. One feels like grabbing an umbrella and running down the aisle and singing –just” Singing in the Rain.” Just imagine the younger generation that does not know the significance of that song that represents an era of musicals long gone by. It’s a shame. The scenery and extra’s that made the musicals so enormous and exciting—it was a blessing to have been in the audience back in those days—they were rated “G’.
When it comes to the classics, one has to remember the movie Citizen Kane that was a groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece and remains as fresh and exciting as its initial release in 1941. So great was the genius of Orson Wells not only as the star and director but his behind the scenes of technical creativity and how about the supporting cast of some of the greats such as Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, and Everett Sloan.
There is so much more to write about the movies of that era but hopefully you seniors are remembering some of the movies and actors that were your favorites as you grew up in the 30’s and 40’s and for the younger generation a little history of what your senior relatives enjoyed in going to the movies.
Many seniors feel blessed to have experienced clean and wholesome movie entertainment that did not require ratings-think about that.
Time marches on and the movies of today have to be rated, which really reflects the ethical values that society has accepted as the norm. However, the last of the great generation has rejected this norm but when possible they find old movies and play them again as Humphrey Bogart said, “play it again Sam.”
However, that’s from a place and time I am from.