When I discovered old movies in the late 1970s, like any kid with a new toy, I wanted to share it, talk about it on the playground, show off my skillz (we didn’t randomly add z’s to words back then, but you get my point). Sadly, none of the kids at St. Joseph’s School in Hewlett, New York cared about the films I was staying up all night to watch; they barely even knew they existed. And when I would launch into a bleary eyed review the next morning, they looked at me like I was a weirdo – which I was, proudly, and still am today.
Sometime in 1981, I coerced five friends into joining me for a Marx Brothers marathon sleepover party at my house.
“It’ll be great!” I promised. “We’ll stay up all night and eat popcorn and watch movies and nobody can tell us what to do!”
After my parents went to bed I put in my VHS tape of A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935), the one I had recorded on Channel 2’s Late Show with the commercials meticulously edited out via my VCR’s wired remote control. Despite my cheerleading (“here comes a funny part!”) and a bowl of air-popped, buttered popcorn, my friends were asleep before the film even ended. So I continued with my marathon all night, alone, while the sleeping-bagged, unconscious bodies of my “friends” littered the living room floor.
What’s your classic film origin story? How did you learn to see the magic that most other people can’t? I’d love to hear your story.
Alicia Mayer and I will be taking your calls tonight on the Hollywood Time Machine, a live, on-line talk radio show devoted to all things classic. The show starts at 9 p.m. (ET) and also features some great guests: animation historian Tommy Stathes will talk about TCM’s night of rare, early animation this Monday; Profiles in History C.E.O. Joe Maddalena will discuss how his childhood love for old movies led him to found the world’s largest auctioneer of Hollywood memorabilia; and Tony Shepherd will remember his father, Richard Shepherd (1924-2014), producer of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961).
We’ll also discuss this week’s TCM Classic Film Festival announcement, and give away some prizes. And we’ll take calls at the end of the show, so have your (short) stories ready. I promise I won’t fall asleep.