My wife and I recently viewed the Golden Globes 75th Anniversary special and their review of old films and their stars, which brought back my memories of what movies used to be like. Although as a child I was very excited to see each movie with Lassie, the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, John Wayne and others of the era.
In 1951, when I had just finished my sophomore year in high school, I was asked by one of my teachers if I would like to learn to be a projectionist at our local theater known as the “Genoan” in Genoa, Ohio, where I attended school. I accepted his offer and he trained me for the first week of June in 1951, and after that I became employed for six evenings a week at the mighty sum of $1.35 an hour.
My evening off was on Friday as I played football Friday nights for my high school. I was not yet 16, so I had no drivers license to make the four mile trip thru the country from my home to the theater; I rode my bike unless it rained and then my mother drove me and picked me up.
In September of that year I secured my drivers license and was able to drive. A neighbor had a small Czechoslovakian motorcycle, and I bought it from him with a small down payment and weekly payments. I was glad to have it as I did not want to use my mother’s 1941 Ford Business Coup when she needed it. My father was in sales and traveled much of the work week throughout the surrounding states. During the balance of 1951 through the fall of 1953, I showed many films, now classic films, with many stars that have now passed on.
Some of my favorites of the time period are as follows:
“A Street Car Named Desire” with Marlon Brando & Vivien Leigh
“The African Queen” with Humphrey Bogart & Katharine Hepburn
“An American In Paris” with Gene Kelly & Leslie Caron
“The Day The Earth Stood Still” with Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal & Hugh Marlowe
“Singing In The Rain” with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor & Debbie Reynolds
“Big Sky” with Kurt Douglas
“The Greatest Show On Earth” with Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton & James Stewart
“The Bad & Beautiful” with Lana Turner, Kurt Douglas, Walter Pidgeon & Dick Powell
“Roman Holiday” with Gregory Peck & Audrey Hepburn
“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” with Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell
“From Here To Eternity” with Burt Lancaster & Deborah Kerr
“The Band Wagon” with Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse & Oscar Levant
Of course, there were many more films, and these are only a small amount of the hundreds made each year. These are the ones that stand out for me — the ones that are unforgettable. To think that John Wayne made some 155 movies in his career makes him the record holder per classicmoviechat.com.
My wife and I collect old movies and have searched many flea markets, auctions and secondhand stores for VHS tapes to obtain more than 300 oldies. We find them more rewarding than TV and most current movies. We have noticed that certain TV stations do present old movies, something that seems to be growing more common. As time goes on, I believe more will come to appreciate the old movie stars and the stories shown.
By the way, the Golden Globes counted down the top 15 movies of the past and came up with “The Godfather” as number one. I found it hard to believe, however, that is Hollywood for you. Always a new view.
Dean McFarland is a member of the Hancock County Council on Aging. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.