Sunday, July 23, 2017

Movies Weekend

Sunday July 23, 2017
You might say this weekend was a bit of an escapist weekend – escaping into other times and places via the movies (and even VR [virtual reality] when I donned the headset & had a quick visit to Hawaii and London’s Tower Bridge briefly).

Friday night we attended the annual silent movie screening at the Ohio Theatre with musical accompaniment on the “Mighty Morton” organ by Clark Wilson (now in his 26th year of playing the organ for all the CAPA summer films).

The movie was, “The Freshman” (1925) directed by Fred Newmeyer starring Harold Lloyd (playing college freshman, Harold Lamb) and Jobyna Ralston as his college crush, Peggy. I have to say I was absolutely blown away by this film. The movie is a bit dated in a lot of ways, but the premise of being a college freshman and trying to fit in on campus hasn’t changed. Although “The Freshman” is categorized as a “sports movie,” and is apparently on ESPN’s top ten list of best sports films, I wouldn’t have necessarily classified it as such. It’s first and foremost, a comedy with some drama, and a bit of sports thrown in (much like “The Blind Side”). My favorite line from the movie was “Tate College: a big football stadium with a little college attached.” Hmmm, wonder what university that reminds me of…..

However you describe it, it’s a great film, and one I’d happily see again and again (and hopefully will be able to in the next few years as his library is slowly being converted to Blu-ray).

Both before and after the movie we were treated to a Q & A session with Clark Wilson interviewing Suzanne Lloyd, Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter (heiress and executor of his archives) who also brought some home movies (with musical accompaniment) to show the audience. Among other things Ms. Lloyd said a print of one of his earlier silent movies (on nitrate) was recently discovered (in someone’s attic or basement perhaps?) and is currently being restored, which is pretty exciting when you consider how few (like 80%) of movies made on nitrate (highly flammable!) still exist today.*

*If you want to learn more about that aspect of the movie business, the critically acclaimed Italian film, “Cinema Paradiso” can teach you all about the early days of cinema from a projectionist’s point of view.

Someone asked what it was like having Harold Lloyd as a grandpa. Being so young, he was just “grandpa” to her, and she knew he worked for the shriners (doing charity work), but that was about it. Someone else asked if they had a lot of famous people over at their house, to which she answered, “Robert Wagner, Debbie Reynolds (who was like a second mom to her), and Jack Lemmon (amongst others), who often slept on their couch and was eventually gifted their beach house.

My favorite story was Ms. Lloyd relating how as a teenager she got to see the Beatles perform at the Hollywood Bowl and meet them afterwards. As gobsmacked as she was meeting them, they were even more in awe of her because she was related to Harold Lloyd (I can just imagine John or Paul saying, “Do you know who your granddad is? Harold F*&ing Lloyd!”).

Though it was a long evening stretching to about three hours, it’s been a few years (at least since we got to meet Richard Linklater after a screening of “Boyhood” at the Wexner Center) since I’ve enjoyed myself that much at the movies.

On Sunday afternoon we returned to the Ohio Theatre to see a matiness of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Reflecting on it afterwards I pondered the question of whether or not race relations have improved  across the country (amongst other issues), I have to say, perhaps not. It’s a shame that 50+ years later these things still happen, and will probably continue to happen. Books will be written about it and movies made, but doubtful any will ever compare to Ms. Lee’s poignant story about the Finch children and their wise old dad, Atticus. No one will ever forget their reaction when Scout sees Boo Radley up close for the first time. I break out into tears every time. That moment has got to be on a Top Ten List somewhere.

Thanks to TCM (and dvds/Blu-rays) we can enjoy these films into perpetuity, which is something I am eternally grateful for.

I hope everyone has a great last week of July.

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