25 July 2021

One Movie at a Time

2020 was a long dreary year, but partway through 2021 the future started looking brighter as more people got vaccinated and stores, restaurants and various events began to open up. And then, the D mutation flexed its muscle and put question marks on how bad the future could become.

In our little cul-de-sac of nine houses, the majority of homeowners had a hello and wave relationship with their neighbors. During the eighteen years we had lived in this small community, there had not been a single organized get-together for all the neighbors to get to know each other. It was a friendly place… up to a point, but very few of the neighbors socialized with each other. Then one evening, one of our next door neighbors and his spouse proposed an idea they had. Seems the neighbor had a DVD projector, a folding table to put it on and a movie screen he'd made out of an old white sheet.

As a trial run, he hung the sheet from his pergola in his back yard and set up his projector on the table. We brought over two sets of Bose speakers from our old sound system and we set up some canvas camping chairs on their back lawn. The next door neighbors on the other side of our house were also invited to attend the trial run.

The movie selected was Trouble with the Curve, starring Clint Eastwood as an aging baseball scout who had a rocky relationship with his ambitious lawyer daughter. Everything worked well that night, so now it was time to expand to a larger audience, but we needed a bigger venue than his backyard.

The neighbor with the initial idea made up a handbill invitation to a free movie and ice cream social night. That same neighbor and us would would supply the ice cream, bowls and spoons. Everybody else would bring their favorite ice cream topping to share.

A few days before the event, I went around the cul-de-sac ringing doorbells and handing out handbill invitations. At the time, we didn't know if the audience would be the same seven who attended the trial run or a potential high of twelve in attendance. Since the number of attendees was an unknown factor, our driveway, which had the least slope to it, was elected as the bigger venue for this showing.

The movie screen/white sheet was hung with plastic hooks from the rain gutters over our garage door, while the projector and table were located about halfway down our driveway. The ice cream table was set up off to one side on the sidewalk. Everyone brought their own chairs and found places to put them where they would have a good view of the movie. Tiki torches filled with mosquito repellant were set up off to the side in order to ward off any unwanted pests.

Amazingly, there were eighteen in attendance for ice cream and the movie. Because we didn't know how well this project would be received, we had only allowed a half hour between ice cream social before the movie was scheduled to run. But, when the ice cream half hour was up, the attendees were still engaged in on-going conversation with the neighbors they had lived side-by-side with for years with only a wave and a hello. Of course, ice cream time got extended. Finally, I had to instruct everyone to pick up some popcorn which my wife had bagged up and then to take their seats, the movie was about to start. Otherwise, we may not have wound up this party until well after midnight.

For this movie, we showed Second Hand Lions with Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. Another hit. Afterwards, surprisingly enough, everyone stuck around to take down the screen and carry all the equipment and tables back to the original owner's house and/or backyard.

There's nothing like success. For our next event, we may expand the social time by making it a covered dish supper with each family bringing something for the table. This way, they can talk with their neighbors for a longer period of time.

The question now is which movie to show. It needs to be a family friendly one, kids may attend, yet be appealing to a wide audience. Any ideas?

We're just coming together, one movie at a time.


  1. WHat a sweet story, R.T. Keep us informed on how this goes.

  2. A charming idea. What about Back to the Future or Ferris Bueller's Day off or one of the great silent comedies of Chaplin or Keaton?

  3. So that's what it's like to live in America. In our part of Louisiana we wave at our neighbors but only the ones right next door.

  4. What a great idea!
    Don't forget the classics: Casablanca. The African Queen. The Princess Bride. The Karate Kid. Steve Martin's versions of Father of the Bride and FOTB II.

  5. Sounds like a great idea, RT--something we probably should've done around here.

    As for "family-friendly but entertaining" suggestions . . . Superman, The Rocketeer, The Right Stuff, The Dish, Twister, Romancing the Stone, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Groundhog Day, Holes, Big, Elf, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Home Alone, Heaven Can Wait, Daddy Day Care, City Slickers, Forrest Gump, Medicine Man, The Spanish Prisoner, The Sting, Sleepless in Seattle, Crocodile Dundee, Always, The Princess Bride, E.T., Zathura, Galaxy Quest, Jack the Giant Slayer, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Rudy, Rocky, The Black Stallion, The Big Country, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cat Ballou, Hondo, The Man from Snowy River. (Don't get me started.)

  6. Sorry about the duplicate comments. (No need to watch the movies twice.)

    1. John, I know how you like movies, so I just assumed your finger got excited and stuttered on the keyboard which produced the duplicate comment. No sweat.

      Thanks for the long list of movies.

  7. Oh, how cool. Our little community did something like that when I was a kid. They led with cartoons, but the only movie I recall was about Chief Crazy Horse. Like John's and Eve's lists, the plot shouldn't require much concentration, perhaps something like Roxanne.

    Really nice, RT. I like that.

  8. My comment got lost, but here it goes again. I'm secretary of our block club & we have a community garden, & will have a barbecue & concert on August 11. Haven't had a movie night yet. If we get a meeting location besides the police station, that would be fun, especially in the winter. Another good family movie is "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" on the Disney channel.

  9. Everyone, thanks for the movie ideas. I will put them to a couple of the neighbors and see what we come up with for the next movie night.


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