Back in the '60s, we kids would flock to the Studio City Theater about once a week. It only took about 20 minutes to saunter from our house on Pacoima Court to Ventura Boulevard, where we’d make our left turn and anticipate the adventure ahead.
It was great, cheap fun, and a simple way to get out of the house and spread our pre-adolescent wings. We'd line up in front of that art deco ticket booth, and for about 50 cents, we'd be promised a double bill of fright, magic, comedy or suspense. The big screen would engulf all of our senses, and we'd be transported to a cinematic world.
Horror movies were some of our favorites, and even today, I relish seeing some of the classics that played at the theater. I vividly recollect The Haunting, with Julie Harris, that nubile virgin whose character was tested when the haunted mansion threatened to engulf her. Or how about The Beast With Five Fingers, which made me want to stop taking piano lessons. Creepy!
Comedies included popular flicks with Hayley Mills, and her “twin” in The Parent Trap, or It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, starring comedic favorites like Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers and the untamable Ethel Merman.
As we got a bit older, there was another reason we headed to the movies. How about those make-out sessions? C’mon, you remember, doncha? Your boyfriend would pretend to be yawning, and boom, down came his arm to clench your shoulder.
You’d be fingering popcorn together, and soon you’d be holding hands. When you’d kiss, you’d be eyeballing your pals to see how much progress they’d made with their dates, while you gently shoved your boyfriend’s hand away.
Every now and then, a popcorn box would go sailing over your head and fly past the screen like a wild paper airplane. Lucky viewers like myself always stepped in a wad of gum or two, or felt the chew from others' gum beneath the seat. Using the Braille method, you could decipher bubble gum from Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit if you were adept, the huge globs marking past flick adventures.
Remember the candy? How about those large oval suckers that would last the duration of the movie? I loved the cherry and orange ones. We rarely had chocolate, as it was too expensive, but every now and then we were able to buy Milk Duds, Abba Zabba and other confections.
I don’t go to the movies that much anymore. Netflix has spoiled me with its easy delivery of DVDs and the convenience of pausing a movie for a bathroom break, to intercept the cats clawing the curtains, or to grab a snack.
But movies in the '60s were such a delight. With Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Walt Disney, our childhood entertainment was secure. For just a few bucks, our imaginations were given full poetic license to ramble, question and enjoy.
We didn’t need Twitter and Facebook to entertain ourselves, just a big old movie screen, where our minds could roam free.