Remember Me & The Boy With The Green HairThursday, August 26, 2010
It is a rare day that a film that is being shown on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is one that I have not seen. There are a few exceptions such as most of the silent films and some of the more risqué that my grandmother or my parents would not have taken me to see in Buenos Aires in the 40s and early 50s.
Watching a film with a child, as I see it now, is a combination of many deciding factors. One must decide if it is worthwhile for the child’s development, if it will entertain her and not go over her head. And perhaps with a dash of selfishness, will it entertain me, also, or will it be too juvenile?
My guess is that there are many films I saw with my mother and father that featured actors and actresses they liked. My mother loved Leslie Howard and Joseph Cotton. She must have really liked Gene Tierney and Jean Simmons. I remember them taking me to see Laura before 1950 and for the Argentine premiere of The Robe in 1953 (with that close to 3-D effect where a chariot pulled by dashing white horses comes at the audience and almost leaps from the screen). I understood little of the plot so my mother explained why Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer were doomed in Romeo and Juliet. I think it was then that I first heard of William Shakespeare. But also she told me how Norma Shearer had been a would-be starlet whose image was enhanced and career made by a man I soon learned to admire in the 1980s. It was photographer George Hurrell.
There are spooky memories (the dead legionnaires propped up on the crenellated ramparts of Fort Zinderneuf) of going with my father and mother to the Cine General Paz on Cabildo Street (in our neighborhood in Coghlan to see Gary Cooper in Beau Geste. I remember the magic and of wonder of watching Douglas Fairbanks Jr. wince when his twin brother was in a sword fight in the Corsican Brothers. When my father took me to see Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (I must have been 8) the funny parts went over my head and I was in terror every time Bela Lugosi as Dracula appeared on the screen.
But all in all my parents and my grandmother, who loved both cowboy movies and war movies, seemed to know what films I would like. They obviously put some thought into their selection.
There is one incident that left we with a curiousity that was finally satisfied last week. In 1950 (I was 8) my grandmother picked me up at the house and we took the train to Retiro and from there the subte (subway) to Plaza Lavalle. Going up the stairs of that subway station led to the most exciting sight for anybody who liked going to the movies. It was Avenida Lavalle and on this avenida there were blocks and blocks of movie houses one after the other. They had a system called “programa continuado” which meant that you would go from one movie in one movie house to another seamlessly without missing any of the action. The projection schedules were planned accordingly. When we had seen too many films, perhaps two, we would rest at the Roxy and have a strawberry ice cream soda. And we would then return to the fray of cowboys, pirates and John Wayne singlehandedly machine gunning a battalion of nasty Japs.
It was in one of those glorious days with my abuelita that we passed a movie house that had curious posters of a young boy with green hair. “What is that, abuelita,” I asked her. Her reply was final, “This is not a movie you would want to see.” I never saw it until last week when TCM had it in its program. I alerted Rosemary and we sat down to see the precocious Dean Stockwell, the lovely Barbara Hale and the warm and wonderful Gramp played by Pat O’Brien. Even this film which I had never seen brought memories of my past on Avenida Lavalle. It must have been in a movie house on Avenida Lavalle that my parents took me to see in 1951, Kim (Kim de La India was its name in Spanish!) with Errol Flynn and Dean Stockwell.
When Rebecca was around 9 she lost interest after 30 minutes of Kim and I have waited before taking out Beau Geste. While I may be stuck in some of these films from my past I have also attempted to adapt. When Twilight came to Vancouver I had read all about the phenomenon in the New York Times so I surprised Rebecca by asking her if she would want to accompany me to its first screening at the Rio on Commercial. And I took the girls to see Alice In Wonderland in 3-D. I draw the line in some of the overly animated or special effects adventure films.
But there was one incident recently that made me remember my grandmother. I felt both old and young at the same time.
Rebecca and I had arrived at the Austin airport and we were waiting for Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. to pick us up in the Toyota Matrix. Once we were in the car Brother Edwin said, “I don’t know what your plans are for tonight, Friday. On Fridays we always watch a movie at St. Joseph’s Hall and I make popcorn on the microwave. Are you interested?”
Our curiosity was piqued and we said yes while I wondered what sort of film 16 or 17 Brothers of Holy Cross in their 70s, 80s and 90s would choose to view.
At seven Brother Edwin removed the popcorn from the microwave and we moved to the viewing room. We had front row seats. Brother Edwin gave us little bowls with which we could scoop the popcorn from a much larger bowl. We were introduced to Brother Johnny whose task it is to select the week’s film. When Brother Edwin told us that the film was Remember Me with Robert Pattinson she beamed and I cringed. We all (not Rebecca) looked at Brother Johnny thinking, “You are not going to survive this one.” But the film was better than we all thought it would be. When the film was over we lingered and Rebecca discussed with the brothers the un-Hollywood ending.
I had a glow inside. It was an Avenida Lavalle glow. I wonder when I will watch The Boy With The Green Hair with Rebecca and Lauren. Soon? Or will Rebecca have to wait 60 years?