24 December 2021

Movies at a Theater

Eve Fisher's SleuthSayers posting on December 16th – My Brain on Old Movies – triggered my mind to remember the first movies I saw at a theater. As a kid, my first love was movies over books and stories and I remember so many.

The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was 1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth with James Mason, Arlene Dahl and Pat Boone. Saw it at the Saenger Theater on Canal Street, New Orleans. My Aunt Lucy and her boyfriend, later to be my Uncle Milton, took me on the streetcar where they deposited me at the Saenger while they went across the street to the Orpheum to watch Ben Hur, which they thought an eight year old like me would find boring. Journey was shorter than Ben Hur so I watched the movie twice. Loved it. Still do.

The next movie I remember seeing at a theater was 1960's The Lost World with Claude Rains, David Hedison, Jill St. John, Michael Rennie and Fernando Lamas. Followed by the re-release of 1953's The War of the Worlds with Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.

Somewhere along in there, I saw some Disney movies at the theater – Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, Song of the South (Lord help me).

I also mentioned in a previous post how as an army brat, I lived in Italy (my father was stationed in Verona) and saw most of the movies released between 1961 and 1963 at the post theater.

Later, in high school my taste changed and I went to theaters to see Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-UpDr. Zhivago, The Graduate. As a young adult, I moved on to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Romeo and Juliet (1968 Franco Zeffirelli version with Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting).

When I became a writer, those early movies inspired me to write science-fiction stories and I wrote terrible SF stories until I learned how to write. Have to point to Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Lost World as inspirations for many of my SF adventure stories set on a fictional planet inhabited by dinosaur-like creatures. Some of those stories ended up in Asimov's, Tomorrow Science Fiction Magazine, Gorezone, Infinity Plus,  Oceans of the Mind, the premier issue of Plasma Frequency, Cricket children's magazine, and anthologies like Adventure and Star Noir. Many of stories are available in my collection Backwash of the Milky Way.

Other movies spurred me to write mysteries, western stories, historical fiction, children's fiction, mainstream fiction, suspense, fantasy, horror, romance, erotica, humor, and even a religious story. Always proud of my story which appeared in Messenger of the Sacred Heart as well as my stories which appeared in Cavalier, Juggs, Hustler's Busty Beauties, Playgirl and about a dozen Mammoth Books of New Erotica.

A Walk on the Wild Side with Capucine, Laurence Harvey and a 25-year old Jane Fonda and the scandalous Brititte Bardot movie And God Created Woman as well as other Bardot movies inspired my erotica.

from And God Created Woman (1956)
directed by Roger Vadim
starring Brigitte Bardot

Don't know about y'all but today's movies are so bad, it's hard to be inspired by any of them, except for the occasional movie without explosions, karate, guns, excessive violence, gore, insipid dialogue, cliched characters, excessive CGI and more explosions.

That's all for now.



  1. Admit it, you liked JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH because of the duck.

  2. I liked the duck. And how about that 4000-mile-long, vertical exit vent for the volcano, at the end!

    O'Neil, you've had a long, varied, and successful writing career. I too find a lot of inspiration in those old movies, of all kinds. Loved this post!

  3. My father loved sci-fi movies, and took me to all of them. We were both blown away by 2001:A Space Odyssey, seen in Cinerama! Wow!
    And then there was Barbarella, with Jane Fonda - the opening scene is her undressing in the air hatch of a spaceship, and as she got down to nothing, my father turned to me and said, "We won't tell your mother about this one."

  4. Nice to be reminded of great old movies- seen without thunderous theater sound systems and endless commercials!

  5. Good times. I think the first movies I saw alone were a Disney double-feature of Peter Pan and Robin Hood. The neighborhood theater was only about five blocks from my house, and a bunch of my friends and I spent lots of Saturdays--and much of our allowances--there. We were young and naive and our imaginations ran free because TV wasn't a given yet, so every movie, no matter how good or bad, thrilled us for the rest of the week. And the serials...
    Good Times!

  6. I don't remember the duck, but what perfect stories for children.

    I saw Blow-Up in Greenwich Village, so you can dig the audience, man. Except 98% of the audience walked out scratching their long, beautiful, waxen, flaxen hair… walked out before the final scene, which explained a lot.

    O'Neil, you may have given me a Christmas gift, an idea for a potential market. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  7. I guess we'll be watching a lot of movies from now on. We've just finished turning an extra bedroom into a home theatre with an 85" screen! Merry Xmas everyone!

  8. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Yes, Jerry. Gertrude is always dear to my heart, along with Arlene Dahl. As a boy, she was so gorgeous in that part. After I grew up, she was still as gorgeous.

    John, as a kid I thought the elevator ride up the volcano was cool, but 4,000 miles. Hard to imagine.

    Eve, I missed Barbarella when it first came out in 1968. Don’t know why.

    Steve, I missed Peter Pan and Robin Hood when they first came out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Disney’s Robin Hood.

    Leigh, I hope you’re right about an idea.

    Elizabeth, 85” screen. Wow.

  9. Janice, you are right about thunderous sound systems. Yuk.


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