Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Remember Summer Movies?

June 13, 1971 Lorain Journal Newspaper Ad
One of the funnier memories I have of growing up in Lorain in the 1960's and 70's would have to be the summer movie program for kids. Although Downtown Lorain was already in decline then, there were still several downtown movie theaters.

Just to see if my memories were correct, I asked my older brother Ken what he remembered about these summer movies. "Ah, the old dank theaters, the crummy movies, the popcorn flying through the air! Also the obviousness of the fact that Mom just wanted to get rid of us for a while, so we got to watch Elvis movies!"

That's a pretty good description.

The theaters were old and stinky, especially to a kid. Ken also noted, "What creepy places they were – dark bathrooms in the basement with fixtures that made it through the tornado. I think we even went to the pre-renovation Palace. Yikes!"

The kids were pretty rowdy at these movies. I remember being shocked at the noise, and at watching popcorn boxes being tossed around, silhouetted against the screen. That sort of thing just didn't happen at the Amherst Theater, where my family usually went to see a movie. That made it even more hilarious to me.

They always showed some really bad cartoons at these movies, including such classics as Loopy DeLoop ("the Good Wolf"), and Bunny and Claude ("we rob carrot patches"). I think they even threw some TV cartoons in there as well, such as Richochet Rabbit. It was a real grab bag.

The movies themselves were pretty memorable, although I don't think they were as bad as Ken remembers. What's interesting to me now is the strange "P.T.A. - P.T.U.-approved" mix of comedies.

I can still rattle off almost a whole summer's worth of them from memory.

The Spirit is Willing (1967) - with Sid Caesar and Vera Miles
You've got to love a movie that starts out with three murders with a meat cleaver! I haven't seen this movie in years, but I still remember the cute girl ghost. And although I didn't know who Sid Caesar was when I saw this movie the first time, now I'm a big fan!

Eight on the Lam (1967) - with Bob Hope
This one was pretty good too, if I recall. Any movie with Bob Hope, Jonathan Winters and Jill St. John can't be all bad! (Hmm... I wonder if they have it at the library?)

As kids, we watched all of Bob Hope's old movies that were on TV, as well as his TV specials. So seeing this movie would have been a big deal.

Spinout (1966) with Elvis Presley
This is the movie that my brother referred to earlier. I hate to say it, but even seeing this at a young age didn't make me an Elvis fan.

With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) - with Brian Keith and Doris Day
The strange title of this movie made it easy to remember as one of the summer movies.

Hellfighters (1968) - with John Wayne
I'm pretty sure this was one of the summer movies, because I remember seeing the title on the movie schedule, and wondering what it was going to be about.

We saw almost all of John Wayne's current movies at Amherst Theater back then. I guess a steady diet of John Wayne and Bob Hope as a kid is bound to make you a Republican when you grow up.

Looking back at these movies creates sort of a 1960's snapshot in my mind, of a time that was still fairly conservative but on the verge of going full-blown mod.

Anyway, be sure to post your Lorain summer movie memories in the 'Comments' section!


Jerry A. McCoy said...

Dan (and Ken),

I have fond memories too of these summer movies. I lived on N. Hogan Circle and would catch the city bus (!) on Sherwood Drive @ W. 21st Street that would take me over to the Palace Theater. The ten tickets would come in a perforated cardboard sheet. Oddly, the only movie I remember seeing is "The Glass Bottom Boat" (1966) with Doris Day and Rod Taylor. Oh, I loved The Duke and Hope also but it didn't make me a Republican!

Anonymous said...

-Alan again; glad you're back.
Here's some of the pictures we saw back in the 60's....


I tried to link to the one-sheets, N.S.L.
We had a ball, wot?

Anonymous said...

-Alan again, again....

I also fondly remember those films you mentioned....I haven't seen THE SPIRIT IS WILLING in years, never seen it listed for tv.

Dan Brady said...

Wow, you have a great memory, Alan! I completely forgot that we also saw "Fantastic Voyage" (even though it had Raquel Welch--go figure!), "Seven Faces of Dr. Lao" (very weird) and "Hatari"--with-- who else?--John Wayne!!

Anonymous said...

does any one remember a serial move at the Palace in Lorain the was about a hero that rode on the front of some kind of motorized vehicle. I think it bshowed on saturdays in the late 1940s

Dan Brady said...

There's a pretty good list, with pictures, of Republic Picture's movie serials here:

This wiki entry has a pretty good list too.