Saturday, July 21, 2007

Loving Hollywood

In which we begin to appreciate where we live

I get a printed schedule in the mail for the Egyptian Theatre. In the golden days of the talkies, and before, the Egyptian was one of the places to see a movie. Recently, it has been renovated to accommodate a number of venues, but the movie theater is still its main attraction.

I opened the schedule recently and my eye alighted on a screening of the film "First Men in the Moon." This H.G. Wells story was one of my favorite science fiction films when I was a kid. It would sometimes play on the weekday "One O'Clock Movie" on channel 40 back up in Davis—that was back in the days before infomercials. When it did, I'd feign sickness to get out of going to school to watch it, I loved it that much.

I had never seen this film on the big screen. So when I saw the listing, I set my Yahoo! calendar to alert me automagically so that I wouldn't miss it. I was not disappointed.

What I didn't realize is that this wasn't just a scratchy screening in a repertory movie house but a whole Ray Harryhausen program, featuring old Ray himself. Ray, you may or not remember, was the stop-motion animation genius responsible for sci-fi and fantasy films like "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers," "It Came from Beneath the Sea," "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" and "Clash of the Titans."

Harryhausen, now 87, spoke a few words, talking about how seeing "King Kong" as a child had set him on the stop-motion train and about the importance of music in creating the mood in such fantasies as his. Then, they showed a reel of Harryhausen highlights, followed by "First Men in the Moon."

I won't say too much about the film, save to say that the kind of semi-scientific, neo-victorian atmosphere expressed in films like "First Men in the Moon" (along with others like "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "At the Earth's Core") greatly influenced my thinking and personal style for many years. In fact it still does. (I've wanted Edward Judd's green velvet smoking jacket as long as I've been old enough to want a green velvet smoking jacket, which for me started at about age seven.)

But the reason this entry is dubbed "Loving Hollywood" is because little events like these make you realize that Hollywood is not all shitheels barking into cell phones in blinged-up Bentleys with spinners. In fact, Hollywood is run by nerds and eccentrics. Specifically, nerd-aesthete-eccentrics that desire above all else to realize an aesthetic vision. Harryhausen is one of these, as were, I think, the great majority of the people in the small audience there to see him in person and enjoy his vision.


Blogger A Week In The Life of A Redhead said...

(laugh) I had to study First Men On The Moon in my college film studies class. I think it was made in 1964 ... classic.
Catherine, the redhead

6:56 PM  

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