Thursday, May 6, 2010

What's Your B.V. Story?

To borrow some lyrics from Don McLean: A long, long time ago, I can still remember...when there was such thing as home video. No downloads, no DVD, and no VHS (or Betamax). In the those days Before Video (B.V.), either you saw a movie when it was originally broadcast on television or you might never see it again.

In a way, I miss those days. Don't get me wrong--I love being able to see a pristine print of a favorite movie on an uncut, letterboxed DVD. Plus, I might never have seen some classic films if not for their availability on video. So, I'm not crying out for the old days when a TV station might cut The Magnificent Seven into two parts to carve out enough time for Dialing for Dollars (and, yes, a local TV station actually did that in my hometown).

And yet...I do miss the days when it was a event when a movie popped up unexpectedly on a local station. My parents were big fans of Errol Flynn and Bing Crosby (plus, Dad had a soft spot for Jean Harlow and Mom swooned subtley over Paul Newman). So, when one of Errol's films was broadcast--especially if it was one we kids had never seen--it was a big deal. We looked forward to huddling around the TV at the appointed time. It was the ultimate in event television.

Once, while doing my weekly analysis of TV Guide, I discovered that a local station was showing Errol's Edge of Darkness at 2:00 in the morning--on a school day. Having never seen this Flynn vehicle, I called my Dad at work excitedly. He was pretty enthused, too, having not seen it in a few decades. But he quickly picked up on the broadcast time.

Dad debated what to do for almost a week. But his final decision was inevitable: He and I stayed up until 4 a.m. in the middle of the week watching Edge of Darkness. Two hours later, we got up and went to work and school, respectively. (I think Dad was a little distracted during the film, though...he was genuinely concerned about the two of us not being able to get out of bed...heck, Mom would have dragged us out if required).

But the bottom line is that I cherish that memory. It wasn't really a big deal, but it was something special (in our family) that my Dad and I shared. That's one of my favorite B.V. stories.

Do you have a B.V. story to share?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll add an obvious one. My family loved watching The Wizard of Oz together every year. We always looked forward to it and would eat dinner in the living room. That was a special treat in our house!

Dawn said...

For me it would be the Wizard of Oz. Where I lived it was a huge annual TV event during our Summer vacation. I'm the oldest of five children and we would talk about the Wizard of OZ for a week.. My parents would make the Jiffy Pop, on the stove and we would all share 1 bottle of soda pop. Staring at the TV waiting for the movie to begin.."The following program is brought to you in living color"... there goes my brother with his... "Put 'em up, put 'em uuuuup!" The girls all chime in...Mom!! We can't hear the TV.

Soon we are all hiding under our pillows and blankets during the scary tornado scenes. Next we are singing... "Merry Old Land of Oz," Which I will never tire of. I do not know which part of the movie is my favorite.. the Emerald City, or the Horse of a Different Color, not to mention the voice behind the curtain "Step forward, Tin Man!" . And the magic of the ruby shoes clicking together.... chanting, "there is no place like home."

Kimberly J.M. Wilson said...

I have to concur with Dawn and Anonymous about the Wizard of Oz being the big annual event for my family. It was the one movie that my whole family watched together every year. This and How the Grinch Stole Christmas were our "religious" events.

There is another film that my mom and I would watch every year as well: Gone with the Wind. Somehow my dad and brothers just couldn't get roped into watching. LOL

rockfish said...

I guess we could all do the Wizard of Oz memories. So i'll go in a slightly different direction. Every Saturday at our house during the fall and winter months, things revolved around hockey night in canada. It was (and remains so for many) the weekly church that we celebrated and communed with religiously. But in the years where my father was living with us, it began an hour early -- with the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner hour. My mom would make pancakes for supper (that's as radical as my folks were), I'd slather on the syrup and it would be the one day we could eat in front of the TV. I'd saddle up beside my dad, with my older brother and younger sister, and watch bugs and wile e. My dad would chuckle quietly at that coyote and his persistent failings and we would laugh at yosemite's stubborn resilience.
Then we'd watch the hockey game.

sarkoffagus said...

I'm a little younger than some of the others here. I wasn't born until A.V. But I can tell you a story that will pale in comparison to the B.V. time. Anyway, here goes:

In spite of video's existence, our tiny town in southern Indiana had no video store for a long time. So the only way to see movies was TV. One of the local channels used to frequently show a slasher film called GRADUATION DAY. All the time, it seemed. I loved watching it over and over again. Years later, I bought the movie on DVD and watched it. The copy was great. Clean, free of scratches, crisp sound. But I was bored. For the first time, I realized how dull the movie truly was. It was then that I realized, it wasn't the movie I enjoyed. It was the movie experience. I'd flip by that channel, there'd be someone running from a killer with a horrible band playing an equally horrible song, "Gangster Rock", and I'd say, "Hey, GRADUATION DAY," and watch the rest of it. Nowadays, the DVD just sits there, as the memory is much sweeter.

Laura said...

I was a teen fan of classic movies in the B.V. days. Since I had good grades my parents would allow me to go to bed a couple hours early and set my alarm to get up in the middle of the night to watch a special movie. I think THE MORE THE MERRIER and YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER were among the films I watched on Southern CA TV in the middle of the night. I also remember staying up late to watch an 11:30 p.m. showing of SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS on KABC TV. Fun memories and completely impossible for my children to understand (grin), in this day of videos, DVDs, and DVR's.

Best wishes,
Laura

Laura said...

PS -- You mention the "weekly analysis of TV Guide." This was a big event for me too. My father would stop on his way home and pick it up on the very first day it hit the local mini mart each week, and I would carefully read through it and circle all the movies of interest!

Laura

Aki said...

It was more searching TV Guide for my favorite TV shows rather than a movie for me. I also went grocery shopping with my Mother. She would shop while I sat on the last shelf of the magazine stand in the store reading issues of the Dark Shadows magazines of the TV shows with Jonathan Frid. Dad would not allow such "rubbish" to be read in his house. I saved my allowance and Mother would let me buy an issue once in a while. She told me not to hide them under the mattress so I hid the under my doll shelf in my closet. She never told Dad I had them. In fact I still have them.

Rick29 said...

These are fabulous comments! Laura, you had awesome parents. Dawn, Kim, and Anon: I never missed the annual WIZARD OF OZ showing (the Mary Martin PETER PAN was another big "event" for me--though it wasn't shown as often). Rockfish, that's a marvelous family tradition (pancakes were a special treat in my house, too). Aki, my sister and I finally convinced our parents to subscribe to TV GUIDE. Years after I left home, they were still subscribing to it. Sark, I'd heading over to YouTube to hear the GRADUATION DAY song!

Gilby37 said...

I was glued to the TV with mom and dad the first time Gone with the Wind was shown on TV -- it was on NBC over 2 nights! I too loved The Wizard of Oz shown yearly. Plus, channel 9 in New York showed all the classic Gorilla movies every Thanksgiving and my house had them on not football: King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young. My brother and I also convinced my parents to let us stay up (not hard Dad was a movie buff too!) everytime The Poseidon Adventure was on.
My dad had a great story. He stayed up everytime Lifeboat with Tallulah Bankhead was on TV. If my grandfather heard the beginning he shout from his bedroom and ask if Tallulah's god damn boat was sinking again.

Rick29 said...

Those are wonderful memories, Gilby! I love the part about LIFEBOAT...that's hilarious.

sazball said...

I owe my love of movies to my mother,who would go into Boston for the day, sometimes with me and my sister in tow, and see as many films as she could. In the Boston area B.V. we had the Sunday afternoon Cinema 7 showing mostly Warner Bros. films from the 30's and 40's plus the late night movies with that famous Clock Song playing in the background. I saw a lot of films in a theater setting; I'm amazed at what I saw on the big screen in first run: Giant, Ben Hur, Exodus, Cleopatra, Ride the High Country, West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, The Diary of Anne Frank, Ship of Fools, Gigi, Psycho, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. etc. I started watching the Oscars when they were still held in both NYC snd Los Angeles. NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies was a veritable treasure trove of 20th Century Fox films. TV Guide was my bible, and I was called the 'walking TV Guide" by classmates in junior high (today's middle school) and high school. The supervisor at one of my jobs in the late 80's was also a movie buff and we talked about films ad nauseum. A co-worker asked us if we went to the movies and memorized them; no, we're the folks who are still in their seats durng the end credits.

toto2 said...

What a remarkable blog to read! I really understand what Sark said about the movie watching experience making a movie seem all the better. There truly can be a wonderful shared experience in seeing something together.

Like so many of you the movie that I remember my family of ten watching together when it was broadcast on television was "The Wizard of Oz." I specifically remember sitting on my father's lap and being horrified by Dorothy trying to speak to her Aunt in the hourglass and the Wicked Witch mocking her by saying "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!" I fell in love with Oz around the age of 5 and have remained a loyal fan since.

We dined out very rarely and saw movies almost as infrequently. The first movie I remember seeing theatrically was "Mary Poppins." I read the Little Golden Book for an oral reading assignment in the second grade and sang the "Stay Awake, Don't Close Your Eyes" song as it was the last part of the book. This led to my being selected as one of three students to sing "I Love to Laugh" to celebrate the feast day of the nun who was the principal. I also wanted my own umbrella and received one for my birthday. I used that umbrella all the way through college (despite it being child sized) before I gave it away after graduation.

Rick29 said...

Saz, as soon as my older (very thoughtful) sister got her driver's license, our theatrical viewings increased sgnificantly. We would watch almost anything and I think that contributed mightily to my eclectic tastes in films (e.g., I'm a fan of Hitchcock and Renoir, but also Hammer and Bruce Lee). Toto, I love your OZ and MARY POPPINS stories! Our elementary school music teacher has us singing almost the entire score from MARY POPPINS.

Anonymous said...

When I was a little girl I remember horror movies being shown late on a Saturday night. My parents were divorced and I would see my father on weekends. My father would pop a big bowl of popcorn and we would watch all of the Universal horror movies.....Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Wolfman. I guess that's how I developed my love of classic movies. I can still smell that delicious popcorn!

Anonymous said...

My grandmother loved to watch classic movies and her favorite actor was Humphrey Bogart. She would always stop whtever she was doing in the afternoon and watch classic movies. I remember one starring Bogart and it is called "Conflict".
She loved that movie! She'd loved Sydney Greenstreet too. She was a classic fan fanatic!