Some parents raise their kids to inherit the family business. They start by sweeping floors and if they are really lucky, they end up running empires. Most of us, of course, don’t want to follow in our fathers’ footsteps. We want to make new footprints that we can honestly call our own.
Our family business was the movie business. We didn’t make movies; we projected them on the big white screens in darkened theaters, and asked people to pay for the privilege of sharing the unique experience of film. Most of the time they were more than happy to do so. Which made us very happy too.
I loved the movies, first as an escape, then slowly, gradually, as a remarkable creative craft that occasionally rose to the level of art. I grew up in screening rooms, trying to be on my best behavior as a clutch of seasoned exhibitors viewed what was then a never-ending flow of ’product’ from Hollywood. Not films. Movies. Films were made by Europeans and sometimes the National Film Board Of Canada. Films had subtitles. Movies were all about entertaining those people who plunked down their coins at the cashier window. In a famous film that was cleverly disguised as a movie, fading screen siren Norma Desmond lovingly referred to them as “all those wonderful people out there in the dark.”
Norma was talking about silent movies, of course. But.a couple of generations later my schoolmates and I had joined all those wonderful people in the dark. Movies were magic. Movies were proof that dreams really do come true, if we could only find our way to the other side of the rainbow.
This blog is about both sides.