A Thousand Nights at the Movies with Dee

December 7, 2018

As you may be aware, I lost my wife of 38 years back in September. Dolores, who my Mother nicknamed Dee, was my frequent companion at the movies for more than four decades. Many of the films I have written about here on this blog have included a side note or two on her, the experience or her opinion about a movie.

In tribute to her and as a form of therapy for me, I have decided to add a set of historical stories on our movie life together. Most of these will be brief comments or incidents on the litany of films we experienced together. Those who are personal friends will probably enjoy a few memories of her while reading these. Those of you who do not know us except virtually, I hope you will feel like you are being included in a friendship with this sharing.

May 26, 2023
Entry #22 "Used Cars
This was another one of the films Dee and I saw on our Honeymoon, although we were back home in our new apartment by the time we got to this. We often went to the old Alhambra Theater on the corner of Atlantic and Main, usually on a weekday evening, because it gave us a chance to be in the air conditioning.  I think this was the first Kurt Russell film we saw together. It cemented her as a lifelong fan. If she was ever to leave me for another man, it would have been Kurt. 

January 5, 2023
Entry #21  "Close Encounters of the Third Kind-Special Edition""

To show you how compatible Dee and I were, in the week after we were married, we Honeymooned in Santa Barbara for three days and then we came back to our new apartment and spent the rest of the week seeing movies. One of those, we stopped on our way back into town for as we drove through Hollywood on our way back to Alhambra. We went to see the Special Edition of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". It had some extra footage and in the conclusion, we go into the alien craft for a scene. It wasn't a necessary revision, but we were both pleased to get to see it in a theater, in Hollywood, on our Honeymoon. 

February 4, 2022
Entry #20  "Hero At Large"

This is an odd one because we did not actually see the movie. I wanted to go and it was playing at the Garfield Theater which was maybe 300 steps from the apartment Dee was living in that I would be moving into when we got married later in the year. For some reason she did not want to go and I did not want to go without her. It was on a double feature with "The Baltimore Bullet". The reason that this matters is that those turned out to be the last English language films that played at what was one on my neighborhood theaters. It was sold and it became a Chinese Film theater for a couple of years before closing completely. I missed out on the last opportunity and I teased her about it over the years. 

February 4, 2022
Entry #19  "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video"

Saturday Night Live was a late seventies phenomena and Michael O'Donoghue had done short films for the late night comedy. It was promoted as a National Lampoon like comedy sketch movie, that would be generous take on it. It was awful, and the stink eye that I got from Dee still stings to this day. It didn't keep me from making other bad choices over the years but it was the first time she complained to me about my porous film selection process. 

February 4, 2022
Entry #18  "Moonraker"

Somewhere else on the blog, you will find the original reference to this experience, but it is one of the true stories of our movie lives. We went with my friend Art and his soon to be wife Kathy, to see Moonraker in Westwood California, when the film opened in the Summer of 1979. Art drove in a yellow Fiat Opel he had acquired after getting out of the Army. In those days you often lined up for the next show because the films played at fewer theaters and there were no assigned seats. We were there a couple hours before the movie, and while standing in line I made a joke about Art being henpecked when he agreed to something Kathy wanted. I did not realize it immediately, but she was hugely offended and she and Art drifted off while Dee and I held our places in line. They were gone a long while and we wondered what became of them. It was only later that I found out that Kathy wanted Art to leave and take her home, on the other side of the county, an hour each way. He had to talk her down from abandoning us in the distant location, in the days when there was no Uber and we would not have been able to get home very easily. Dee was outraged, but also a little peeved at me for being so flippant about it. 

April 1, 2021
Entry # 17  "The Muppet Movie"

We were both in college when the Muppet Show hit the television airwaves and we loved it. This was an early bonding point in our relationship, shared love of the Muppets. When the movie came out we went to see it at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. I think my friend Don may have gone with us as well. The one thing I do remember was the show was so full, we had to sit in the third row. If you have been to the Dome and know the size of the screen, you know this was not particularly comfortable. Nevertheless, we loved the movie and massaged each others necks for the rest of the weekend. Also, the poster image you see to the right here, was the first Movie Poster I bought as a Christmas present for us. A tradition we continued for the rest of our married lives. 

April 1, 2021
Entry #16  "Love at First Bite"

The main reason this movie is relevant to remembering Dee is that we both used the same quote from it on a regular basis when we were young. "No. With you, never a quickie. Always a longie." You will just have to imagine. 

September 10, 2020
Entry 15 "Phantasm"

Horror movies were not Dee's first choice, so when she agreed to see this with me, I was happy. This was one of the first times we saw the same movie and had exactly the same thing to say to each other at the end of the film. When the lights came up, we looked at each other and said in near unison, "What the F@#k?" That was a weird movie and we both really liked it. It also encouraged nuzzling up next to each other in the car on the way home. I miss bench seats in the front of the car.  

September 10, 2020
Entry 14  "Same Time, Next Year"

We saw this movie in Cerritos, at the mall in one of the interior theaters that were narrow and small. For some reason Dee liked this comedy/drama about two people who were married to other partners, who carried on a annual weekly affair over the course of three decades. Clearly it was a play before, the cast is small and the theatrical story is a bit pat, but Dee made me take her to it at least three times in the Fall when it came out. This was one of the few films where she was the instigator of a repeat visit. 

September 10, 2020
Entry 13 "Up In Smoke"

Neither Dee or I were consumers of weed. We had many friends who enjoyed grass but we only came as close as a contact high in the audience at a concert. So why we were seeing this stoner classic might be a mystery except for two things. First, my Mom's cousin Strother is in the movie, and I'm sure I wanted to show off a little for my girl. Second, my Dad's friend Ed Linde was the projectionist at the Vogue Theater in Hollywood when this film was playing there, and he got us in. 

March 21, 2020
Entry 12 "Force Ten from Navarone"
There were two reasons we saw this movie. First, I love the "Guns of Navarone" from the 1960s, and second, Dee loved Harrison Ford. This would not be the last time we would see a movie driven by her affections for the star of the film more than the plot. We liked it, but there was not a memorable incident, just her Harrison Ford Love.

March 21, 2020
Entry 11 "Foul Play"

Dee was a free thinker, and I was a 20 year old College student when we went on a double date with my best friend Art and his new girlfriend Kathy. "Foul Play was a pretty safe choice, it starred Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. It's a silly little film that I think everyone enjoyed. A few days later Art told me that Kathy had said to him when she first saw Dee and I, "Oh my God, they are hippies". That is so off target that I still laugh when thinking about it. My long hair and beard might explain some of it, but the only way Dee could be thought of as a "hippie" is if wearing almost no make-up and a long skirt put you in that classification.

March 21, 2020
Entry 10  "The Cat From Outer Space"

OK, maybe I did let her pick movies occasionally. The problem is she would sometimes pick something like this silly kids picture. The only reason we saw it was because it was about a cat and she loved cats. The only memory I have is of the stink Eye she got from me after seeing this turkey.

September 16, 2019
Entry 9  "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band"

I know that there are people who revile this movie but we loved it. Before it opened, it was one of the highly anticipated summer films of 1978. As it turns out it was a bomb. Dee and I went to Westwood, where the movie was playing in an exclusive engagement before opening wider. We got there early for the show, expecting to have to line up. We were the first in line, and only about twenty others showed up by the time they let us in. The theater ended up maybe a third of the house filled, and you could start to smell the stink at that moment. We did not care however. We were huge Bee Gees fans and their musical contributions to the film, whatever else was true, were excellent.

August 27, 2019
Entry 8 "Rocky II"

Having been big fans of the original Rocky, we were of course looking forward to the return visit. I don'' think I had committed to waiting for Dee and that may be the source of this story. I went to see this movie with my buddies Art and Dan, at an afternoon screening. We loved it and wanted to share it immediately with our girlfriends. What we did not do is tell them that we had already seen it. That same evening we took them to the show and they seemed to be enamored of it as well. When we revealed that we'd seen it that afternoon, well, all hell broke loose. Art's girlfriend Kathy, who he would later marry, was furious because she felt like we were trying to put one over on her. Dee and I almost got divorced, and we were not even married yet. I think she was pissed that I hadn't waited for her, and then what appeared to be subterfuge just aggravated the situation. I can tell you I never tried to keep anything like that from her again, although there were a couple of times I got in trouble for not waiting to see a movie with her [Lone Star will be a sore spot forever].

June 5, 2019
Entry 7 "Orca: The Killer Whale"

I have mentioned this incident in a couple of posts over the years, because it is amusing and so real at the same time. Dee and I took her brother to see this Jaws rip-off at the small cineplex in the Los Cerritos shopping center. The movie was not particularly good but we had a good time. She would be twenty at the time and her younger brother Danny was probably 16. As the movie ended, the crowd starts filtering out of the theater. Dee started walking up the center aisle and tripped over a tub of popcorn that someone had left next to their aisle seat. As she went down to the ground, Danny glanced at her, making sure was not hurt but doing nothing to assist. As I was coming up from behind, I heard him say out loud as he passed her, "Somebody should help that poor lady." He then kept walking out to the lobby. She had a choice word or two that she shared with me, but before we got to the lobby, she was laughing about it and it became one of her favorite stories to tell about her brother.

March 30, 2019
Entry 6 "Exorcist II: The Heretic

We had seen a trailer for this film with one of the many screenings of Star Wars that we went to in the summer of 1977 at the Chinese theater. I'll have some comments about those later. The trailer was actually pretty good, it mostly had a series of visual elements from the film against a soundscape of techno chanting music. I had loved the original film and we were really pumped to see this. About a third of the way into the movie it was clear that it was dreadful. It is the only movie that has made me physically sick until all the shaky cam movements of recent films. I went downstairs at the theater we were seeing this at (I think it was the Pantages but it could have been the Pacific) and I puked a little from disappointment. Dee was so sympathetic to me and she tried to calm me down while we were still there. But for the next forty years, she was always ready to recall that story when anyone asked us what the worst movie we ever saw was. She'd pipe up immediately, "Exorcist II made Richard vomit". Thanks for the over share sweetheart.

March 9, 2019
Entry 5 "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part Two"

I don't remember the exact year, but it was before 1978, Dee and I went to see a double feature of two of my favorite movies. We went to the State Theater on Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. This was maybe the point at which I knew we were really compatible. "The Godfather "played it's full nearly three hour run time. I always watch the credits and Dee sat next to me dutifully. Then as they ended, and we stood up with the lights coming on, the second film started and the lights went back down after ten seconds or so. We sat right down and watched "Godfather II" for Three hours and twenty two minutes. No, snack bar, no bathroom, no stretching of the legs. She did not complain at all. When the second feature was over, I said to her, "I've got to Pee" and she said something like "No Kidding". I thought how lucky I was to have found someone as willing as I was to sit through six hours of movies on a Saturday afternoon. I spent the next forty years waiting for her after a visit to the bathroom at the end of almost every film we saw in a theater since. God I love that woman.

January 7, 2019
Entry 4. "Rocky"

Like a lot of people, we did not know much about this film going in. We saw it at one of the Cinemas in the Los Cerritos Shopping Complex. We often wandered the mall on a weekend, window shopping and having something to eat. Several films I will be writing about were seen there. She was incredibly enthusiastic about "Rocky" as was I. The theme song was played on the radio pretty regularly and we would always turn up the volume when we were driving around.

January 6, 2019
Entry 3. "A Star Is Born"

This would be a typical date movie for a couple in the 1970s. Barbara Streisand was a big star, the song from the movie was a big hit, and the film has a romance element to it. There is not a memorable story to go with the visit to the theater, except that this began our trips to Music Plus. Music Plus was a record store chain and we frequently went there after a movie to get a soundtrack. I still have this LP in the garage somewhere. Dee had a record player that she took to college with her and we spent a lot of time in her dorm room, listening to music, especially something like this.

December 8, 2018
Entry 2. "Mahogany"

I think this is is the actual first movie we saw together. She picked it, and that may be the reason that she got so many fewer picks for the rest of her life. It was terrible. We did however go to Alphy's afterward and share a hot fudge sundae.

December 7, 2018
Entry 1. "The Exorcist"

Dee and I had gone to her High School Senior Night party at Disneyland in June of 1975. I was sick as a dog and tried to back out of it but she was so forlorn at the prospect that I went anyway. I only vomited once that night but I did have a fever most of the time we were there. For three months after that we talked on the phone but did not see each other. When an opportunity came up to see "The Exorcist" at a run down in Hollywood at the Warner Theater (Which is now the El Capitan) I called and asked her if she wanted to go with me. She excitedly agreed and I looked forward to seeing her on a Saturday night. A few hours later however she called me back and apologized that she would have to take a pass. It seems she had previously agreed to spend the night with her friend Karen, and she did not feel right about canceling on her to go with me. I said I understood but I know I was disappointed. This was in the Fall and I don't think I asked her out again until the next year. I did end up going to the show, but with some other friends who were not nearly as attractive to me.

1 comment:

Eric F. said...

Congratulations, Richard. You've proven once and for all why the movies are "strictly personal" in all of us, and for our own special reasons. Keep writing it all down. I'll be the first to buy your book someday. ūüėé