There's something about the very idea of seeing "Gone With the Wind" on the big screen that I find tremendously appealing. Actually, it's always better to see a great film on a huge movie screen, sharing the experience with a couple hundred strangers. But when it comes to genuine classics, we don't often get the opportunity.
Every now and then, however, a movie studio decides to "restore" or "enhance" one of its beloved antiques and send it on the road. Or a local theater will just bring one in to see how it'll do.Locally, we've had the opportunity to see Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and "North By Northwest" in the past couple of years. And, going back a bit, "Casablanca," "Lawrence of Arabia" and a few others have also had local theatrical runs. Albeit, brief ones.
And now, here comes "Gone With the Wind" again.
What always strikes me about seeing movies like these on the silver screen is how much more entrancing and enthralling and absorbing they are than when they are watched on television.
Aside from the obvious distractions, watching a grand movie on a 27-inch television screen just isn't the same. Much less a 19-inch screen. Or a 13-inch.
It's also a reminder that movies made way-back-when were really created for the big screen, as opposed to so many movies today that seem made for video - with too many closeups and quick cuts and music-video sequences.
And this isn't only true of wide-screen movies. Even films whose projected image is more like the shape of your television screen are more powerful up there on the big screen.
Anyone who attended the Charlie Chaplin festival at the Tower Theater a couple of weeks ago knows what I'm talking about. Seeing "City Lights" or "Modern Times" or "The Gold Rush" on the big screen is a greatly enhanced experience.
Many years ago, I saw the Marx Brothers' "A Night at the Opera" on the big screen after having seen it many times on television, and it was like seeing an entirely different film. Here's a movie I thought I had virtually memorized. But the experience was, in some way, quite new.
As for "Gone With the Wind," I've seen it on the big screen before. Several times.
My parents took me once a decade when I was growing up. (I can hear my children now: "Oh, did they have movies then?" Yes, we watched them on rocks.)
And I saw it again in St. George when I was in my 20s. And once more a decade or so ago.
As for this time around, I'm old enough now that the idea of sitting for four hours in a movie theater is not as appealing as it once was. And especially a theater with as many broken chairs as the Crossroads Plaza (why couldn't they put it in Trolley Corners?).
But I'll be there.
"Gone With the Wind" on the big screen with its brilliant technicolor restored and digitally amplified sound?
Who could resist that?
- IT'S IN THE E-MAIL: Dave Grudt of Long Beach, Calif., writes to add some names to my list a couple of weeks ago of surviving "Golden Age" stars - Robert Young, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Van Johnson, Richard Widmark, Mickey Rooney, Donald O'Connor, Buddy Rogers and "at the tail end of that era," Tony Curtis and Robert Stack.
Young, Johnson, Widmark, Rooney and O'Connor were left off simply because I didn't think of them. Thanks for the reminder.
Charles "Buddy" Rogers, however, was part of an even earlier era, and he never did achieve the same level of stardom (although his wife for a time, Mary Pickford, did). Nor did Stack, who came along later. And though Curtis made his first movie in 1949, he didn't have a leading role until the '50s, which, in my view, puts him squarely into that later era, with Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, etc.
As for Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, they were certainly big stars - but they were also genre stars and never broke out of B-level Westerns . . . or singing Westerns, for that matter. Therefore, I wouldn't put them on the same level as, say, Kirk Douglas and Gregory Peck.