Looking Back to the '60s: What Movies Did You Watch?

The Studio City Theater showed all the best flicks.

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.

Andy Steiner June 28, 2011 at 01:51 PM
"...while you gently shoved your boyfriend’s hand away." I'm unclear on the concept. I can't remember that *ever* happening to me. <blush>
Mary McGrath June 28, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Oh Andy, I'll bet nobody turned you down!
Irene DeBlasio June 28, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Favorite movies of the 60s - I loved: Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Easy Rider, Breakfast at Tiffany's and A Hard Day's Night (my husband and I were writing a book about the Beatles and met them in February, 1964 in New York). My husband and our dear friend, Robert Thom had collaborated on a television movie which was later sold to Robert Aldrich. His take on it became THE disaster camp movie of all time: The Legend of Lyllah Clare. Instead of royalties from that one, we kept expecting to be billed! TERRIBLE (but funny).
teresa mcgrath June 28, 2011 at 03:50 PM
love the article mary, and your comments andy, hahaha. the haunting holds the sweetest memory, as 10 of us took up an entire row near the front, and the traditional black and while horror film unfurled one scream at a time. the marquee was beautiful, and the carpet and drapes inside stayed true to the art deco motif. as we aged, we would buy candy at thrifties, or sav-on-(3 king sized for 10 cents), and sneak it in. the smell of stale popcorn was reassuring, and we would occasionally eat it off the floor if we didn't have enough money when sister lynn took us there. it was an embarrassment for her. the beast with five fingers as mary pointed out, plus the original invaders from mars keep the nightmares coming. i was a late bloomer, so mary had all the romantic liasons. i do remember kids smoking cigs in the last row. it was a wonderful theater.
teresa mcgrath June 28, 2011 at 03:52 PM
hi irene, love those films too...like the aldrich and beatles stories...have to look up lyllah...thx
Mary McGrath June 28, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Oh, thank you all for sharing your memories, and Teresa, filling in the gaps as usual with the candy, floor popcorn (doesn't it taste just a bit better with some gum on it?) and the details about the front and back rows. I do miss these vintage theaters, not so much for their cool visuals, but because of the architecture and the wonderful nostalgia...Irene, I've not heard of that movie, and we watch at least 1 movie a day. I'll have to give it a go....
teresa mcgrath July 01, 2011 at 12:02 AM
thx for inspiring some lost memories
teresa mcgrath July 01, 2011 at 12:03 AM
thx for inspiring the memories
Barbara Krause February 21, 2013 at 10:07 AM
A relative invested in Sidney Poitier's "A Patch of Blue"--quite unusual financial investment in 1960's Illinois--and still recall fondly Opening Night.
Mike Szymanski February 21, 2013 at 03:12 PM
My mom always loves telling the story of how she watched Psycho while in late-term pregnancy and that caused her to have me early! I remember seeing Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and Oliver! in the theater and am so glad I saw them there first!
Richard Niederberg February 21, 2013 at 03:36 PM
The Studio City Theatre was walking distance to my house, making it the closest, but I also remember going to the Guild Theatre, the La Reina Theatre, and the El Portal Theatre, as places where the Cinematic Experience was extended to. They were places where my parents could dump off all five of their kids at the same time.
Gregory Sorensen February 21, 2013 at 04:21 PM
How about going east to the Cornell on San Fernando or half as far and going to the Magnolia at Clyborne and having 31 flavors sundee afterwards?.
Mary McGrath February 21, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I remember so many memories from the Studio City Theater....It's fun to re-visit movies like Psycho, The Haunting, and other scary flicks from my youth...Any bets on the Oscars this weekend? Lincoln will probably get best picture, but I liked a few others more...
Richard Niederberg February 21, 2013 at 06:19 PM
The closest that I got to a Sundae-after-a-Movie I received as a kid was once having one at Cece Browns on Hollywood Blvd. Very impressive to me at the time!
Mary McGrath February 22, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Yes, I remember those theaters also Richard! Loved the design of those deco places...
Robert Niederberg April 23, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Richie, we were never "dumped" , all of us enjoyed these theatres and the movies and experiences .. It is such a shame they are no longer -- Your little brother, Robert


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