Sunday, April 17, 2011

Farewell, Mission Theater (1915?-2011)

The rumors are true.

The Mission Twins Theater, after struggling in recent years, is no more. Renovations are underway to convert it into the new home of Hillside Christian Church.

I went for the last time this past summer, and it was obvious that the theater's end was near. Townsfolk say you had to bring a blanket in the winter months. The toilet in the men's room was boarded up. I almost stepped on a wino.

All the signs were there.

I have much further to go in remembering the more than 200 movies I saw here in the 80s, but for now, I'd like to open it for your own thoughts.

What are your fond memories of the place?

If you'll excuse me, I need a moment in The Cry Room.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Windwalker (1981), The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) and movies with my dad

I always remember the movies I saw with my parents at the theater, because there weren't many of them. Our local venue, The Mission Twins Theater, wasn't very adult-friendly. It was more of a weekend draw for kids. 
My dad has always liked Westerns, though, and since so few were produced in the 80s, it was a safe bet we’d catch Windwalker (1981)—one of the first movies we saw at The Mission. 
I don’t remember much about it, except that Dad wore a Native American headdress, and claimed that eating a hotdog from the concession stand was "the ideal way to devour the hearts of many enemies in one fell swoop.”
Maybe I dreamed this. Because the movie was deathly slow and subtitled, and I'm pretty sure I fell asleep. (They could've titled it Dances With Sheep.)

What it needed was lasers. But this would've kept my dad away. He's never liked Sci-Fi.

Around this same time, we saw The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981). I must’ve liked that one, because The Lone Ranger was my Halloween costume that year. (Dad could've made a great Tonto.)
Looking back, neither Windwalker nor The Legend of the Lone Ranger were all that great. But it was fun going with my dad. And these two dusty, “brown” movies complemented the theater's  Spanish architecture well, burning a solid first impression in my mind. I'd soon be haunting the place every week. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) would really seal the deal.
Fast-forward to today. Though seeing a theatrical release with my dad while growing up was rare, we’ve made up for it in the years since I’ve been out of the house.
In fact, when my folks came for a visit last year, Dad and I accomplished a feat we’d never attempted together:  two movies in one day. And a third before the weekend was done. 
In summary, we both liked Get Low (2010).

Dad liked Secretariat (2010) a bit more than me.

And I thought Wall Street:  Money Never Sleeps (2010) delivered higher returns than he did.

Surprisingly, we weren’t skunked by any of them. 
Unlike Congo (1995), which bored us both equally and mercilessly.
Over the years, we’ve made the effort to take in quite a few movies together. I remember both of us enjoying The Rainmaker (1997). I particularly remember arriving at the theater early, and talking about the better John Grisham novels.

We also enjoyed tracking down the last theater in Dallas that was still showing Gladiator (2000), because we both really wanted to see it.

And even Congo was memorable in a "misery loves company" way.
I look forward to many more movies with my dad. Maybe Cowboys & Aliens this summer. 

No, a Sci-Fi/Western would completely defeat him. I'll let him pick.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Whatever Happened To Blofeld's Cat? - For Your Eyes Only (1981)

In maybe the most surprising segment of any Bond movie, our hero is picked up by helicopter from the gravesite of his wife (See On Her Majesty's Secret Service), presumably en route to a secret mission. 

It turns out he’s been abducted by his old cat-loving nemesis, Blofeld, who disposes of the copter pilot, and intends to crash the now remote-controlled vehicle with 007 inside.

After a struggle, Bond gains control of the craft, makes some odd facial expressions, and then scoops up the bad guy, dropping him down an industrial smokestack.

"Mr. Boooooooooooooooooond!"

Cue Sheena Easton.

Wow.  An iconic villain from five previous Bond films is quickly and neatly disposed of before the opening titles. What are we in for? Certainly not Moonraker.

But wait a second. Re-watching this, something occurred to me.

What about the cat?

I may have originally assumed he went down the chimney with his owner. 

But in truth, I don't think I ever thought about it. 

If you watch again, you'll notice that the feline definitely jumps to safety. (This movie was obviously helmed by good, PETA-fearing producers.)

So what became of him after that? A spoiled, fluffy white Persian wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the tough feral cat community of working class London. 

Especially when you're accustomed to eating Chilean sea bass from Waterford Crystal, served by a butler primarily hired to change your silver-plated litter box.

So ...

Whatever Happened To Blofeld's Cat?

You decide!

1. Witnessing his owner's fate from atop a nearby storm drain, 
he carelessly stepped backwards and went straight to Cat Hell.

2. He was found and adopted by visiting real estate investor, 
Leona Helmsley, and lived the rest of his life exactly as before.

3. He made a fortune from a tell-all biography, Stroke of Evil Genius.

4. He freelanced as a pet for various organizations bent on world domination.

5. Merely a product of his environment, he was discovered frightened and dirty by a nun the next morning, and was adopted as the beloved 
mascot of a London orphanage.

6. He joined American rockabilly group, Stray Cats, but due to creative differences, separated from the band and faded into relative obscurity.

7. He was picked up at an animal shelter by a production company, relinquished his evil ways, and starred in a popular series of cat food commercials as "The Morris of the UK."

8. He relocated to Paris, only to get into repeated accidents involving buckets of paint, and a series of unwanted rendezvous with 
an overly affectionate skunk.

9. Later that day, making this same expression, 007 bellowed, “The kitty!”

He notified another MI6 agent, who immediately drove to the industrial neighborhood, discovered the cat, and promptly had him stuffed 
and mounted for placement with a wax statue of Blofeld,
 housed inside British Intelligence Headquarters. 

10. He joined an evil cat circus.