Lastnight Howard and I went to see "Gone With The Wind." It was like going to the moon. We walked into the Riviera Theater and we were in there for hours and hours, out of touch with the modern world. And we did not even go to the All You Can Eat Southern Barbecue, which ran for a couple of hours before that! On account of -- to use my Southern talk -- I tend to avoid all-you-can-eat situations. I am not proud of my ability to eat vast amounts.
"Gone With The Wind" cost $6. And this killed me: In line at the box office, there was this guy about 100 years old in front of us and he said to someone, "So, 'Gone With The Wind' still pulls them in."
"What?" said the person with him, who was about the same age.
"'Gone With The Wind,' people still want to see it," the guy said, as if amazed.
Howard had never before seen "Gone With The Wind." I think this is the fourth time I have seen it.
The first time was at the Granada, on Main Street. I was 16. My sister Katie and I went. My dad dropped us off and we were protesting that we didn't want to see this dumb movie about the Civil War. He had the last laugh about 12 hours later when we finally came home, dazed. We had sat through the movie two and a half times!
After that I had a rule. I would never see "Gone With The Wind" under less-than-perfect circumstances. I will watch it only on the big screen, never on TV. And even if it's in a theater, I won't go if it's free, because that means the theater will be a zoo and people will be talking and joking and making fun of it. It is easy to mock out "Gone With The Wind" while you are watching it but for some reason people always think they are being smart when they do that.
Because of my fussiness I have seen "GWTW" only a handful of times. I saw it once at the old Allendale -- now the Theatre of Youth -- where the print was bad and it skipped. At the end, Rhett Butler said, "Frankly, my dear, damn." Then it just ground to an ugly, ungraceful halt. Ha, ha! That made me mad at the time but now I laugh about it.
I also saw "GWTW" at the Regal Cinema Quaker Crossing. That was memorable because a girl from Buffalo Publishing, where I worked at the time as a typesetter, went with me. She was this biker chick and had all kinds of pictures of rockers around her desk. She didn't want to go to the movie -- I forget why I dragged her -- but she was so bowled over that she took down the rockers and went out and got a framed picture of Clark Gable and put that up instead. No one in the office could believe it.
Last winter I remember telling Leonard Pennario that story. He had trouble getting the point of it because he was too upset at the mention of the biker chick. Pennario did not like bikers and got agitated at the thought of my going to the movies with one. I remember saying, "Leonard, no, you have to wait to hear what happened."
Lastnight's showing was probably the best "GWTW" I had ever encountered. The circumstances were pretty close to perfect. We did have a couple dimwits behind us who had to comment on the action. When Clark Gable said told Scarlett, "This is one night you're going to turn me on!," they said, "Wow." I hate when people have to do that.
But otherwise, it was fun. What a beautiful theater the Riviera is. They played the Mighty Wurlitzer before the screening. And it was fun when the movie ended to see the marquee lit up, people streaming out into the street.
My favorite line from "Gone With The Wind" is what Scarlett says to Cathleen Calvert when she sees Rhett Butler looking at her from the bottom of the staircase at Twelve Oaks.
She says: "He looks as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy."
At least that is my favorite line today. There is so much competition.
And, after all, tomorrow is another day.