I’ve noticed a curmudgeonly streak making its way into the blog lately. In fact I’ve noticed a curmudgeonly streak running through most of what I do at the moment. Maybe it’s the approaching birthday that dare not speak its name, a turning point signaling a change in the way mood is defined. At a certain age I’m assuming one becomes curmudgeonly as opposed to say acerbic or merely sarcastic. Eventually I suppose I’ll just be described as a grumpy old bastard, if I’m not already.
So in a rare moment of contrition, and with one eye on the aforementioned birthday of horror, I want to redress the balance ever so slightly with something warm and fuzzier and reflect on just how lucky I have been.
I’ve been doing this job for an awfully long time. I started Saturday afternoon usher shifts when I was 14 years old and before that had been running around the cinema as often as I could. There is no time in my life the cinema has not been a part.
I pretty much spent all my free time here as a kid. My first girlfriend and I had our first date here. Incredibly my dad made me pay for her, but that’s a whole other story.
All those films growing up, not only did I see them, I saw them a lot. Several times in a week if I felt like it. The great flowering of American cinema in the 1970s took place as I was a teenager, endless delights, often with me the only one enjoying them among the staff. Taxi Driver caused particular disbelief I recall. Why on Earth would anyone want to see that depressing rubbish? A Star is Born, that was lovely. I was less able to defend Scorsese’s film at the age of 14 but knew it was something thrilling. Not least because it was an X cert. Another perk.
Mark Kermode tells a funny story about trying to get into see a AA film at his local cinema, dressing up and putting on big shoes. No such chicanery for me. Outside of the tedious soft porn films of that period I was pretty much allowed to watch what I liked.
Did it affect me adversely? Only you can decide.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Network, Marathon Man, Dog Day Afternoon, Rollerball, the list is wonderful and long, and all were available to me in the cinema when they were brand new.
Not that I was only interested in the swanky stuff. I was almost totally indiscriminate at that age and would watch anything apart from those horrible boy dying of cancer in Italy films. I even enjoyed Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.
It wasn’t simply wide eyed film loving joy, however. All my memories of these films are tainted by the business they did. My father was as grumpy as I am now when films didn’t drag people through the door. He didn’t care how good it was really, if it died on us it was to be despised.
Taxi Driver died, Network was even worse. Cuckoo’s Nest took lots of money, Rollerball was good for one or two day bookings for years. Marathon Man another stinker. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger took a great deal of money.
It’s a strange way of seeing film history, but quite a unique one I should think.
If you will forgive me a short lived dewey eyed Spielberg moment, it all makes me incredibly fortunate. Not only because those cinema experiences are indelible and precious but because it means I understand the history of my business with a great thoroughness that also helps me make decisions about it’s future.
Normal curmudgeonly service will be resumed as soon as possible.
In the meantime here is some music…
P.S. AA film = one you had to be 14 years old to see. Not a film about roadside assistance.