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Monday, June 23, 2008

"My First Visit to the Movies" by Kurt Benbenek

First off is Kurt Benbenek, Houseplant Picture Studio:

"First movie for me was "Gone with the Wind" at
the long-demolished Arden Theater on Long Beach Blvd
(across the street from the Fotomat) in my home town
of Lynwood, CA - I was about 7 years old.

It was a Saturday matinee and a friend and I
were dropped off at the theater and basically ran
amuck up and down from the balcony and then
straight down the main aisle.

Don't remember anything about the movie
and haven't bothered to watch it to this day.

My friend later became the main popular entertainment
reporter for Channel 7 here in LA, so I guess ya never know...

Shortly thereafter I saw a short string of movies at
the Arden..."The Maltese Bippy" (Rowan and Martin
and Carol Lynley) and "Rascal" starring the great
Billy Mumy which is about the friendship between a boy
and his faithful-yet-unpredictable adorable raccoon.

Oh and can't forget "Caprice" starring the puzzling
Doris Day - nice Technicolor imagery and many stunts!

My sisters probably dragged me to these flicks
and dropped me off and met up with boyfriends outside.
After all, it was the Swingin' (and eventually disastrous) 60s!

More interesting are my drive-in movie experiences
of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Our local venue
was the Rosecrans Drive-In Theater (now an ugly Wal-Mart)
where I was lucky enough to see a double bill of
"War of the Gargantuas" and "Monster Zero" and
later on saw several of the "Planet of the Apes" movies
as well as a few of those killer rat movies ("Willard" etc)

And can't forget "Death Race 2000",
"Rocky" and "Jaws" much, much later on.

The Rosecrans Drive-In also had one of those really big
slides where fun-seekers could whiz gleefully down on
a waxed blanket and then throw up and pass out.

We lost our last Drive-In here in Long Beach 15 years ago
(Los Altos Drive-In) where I saw my last ever drive-in movie.

It was a crummy movie called "Freejack" starring Mick Jagger
and Emilio Estevez. It's only saving grace is that David Johansen
is in it. Like all crummy movies, it was set in the future.

We were never much of a movie-going family,
preferring to simply watch a lot of bad TV. However,
one of my fondest latter day movie experiences
was watching "Food of the Gods" with my dad.

In "Food of the Goods" Ida Lupino and Marjoe Gortner
are hassled by really big rodents and eventually everything
is destroyed in a flood and they all live happily ever after.

Even better is "Food of the Gods 2" (AKA "Gnaw") where
millions of rats attack and hurt and kill a whole college campus
and then everything explodes and catches fire. "

--Kurt Benbenek--

Note: Click label: "My First Visit to the Movies", to read more first-movie-stories.