Yes, it’s Movie Night at the Villa in Ozone Park, and Hostly and I are kicking off with the most natural choice imaginable: Martin Scorsese’s documentary about George Harrison. The trip here was, fortunately, uneventful and, unfortunately, as long as always; almost three hours from home to Staging Area Two in the Sports Authority parking lot. After errands and lunch at the Esquire Diner (first visit; reuben–quite satisfactory–and bagel with lox and cream cheese to go), he’s cooking up the Irish soda bread, now with chocolate chips, while George’s story unfolds.
The Beatles began their career shortly before I was born, so I literally grew up with their music, and the songs and events interspersed skillfully by Scorsese really evoke those bygone days. As is widely known, their music has affected me like no other throughout my life, and although there are songs I love on every single one of their albums, if I had to pick a favorite album overall, it’s gotta be Sergeant Pepper. I’ve rewritten the lyrics to many a Beatles song in my day, but I took a special satisfaction in rendering the title tune from that one as “General Bradley’s Movie Knights Club Band.”
On a side note (but one I consider a public service), not long after noting on my expanded “About” page that I like the Bronze Age Marvel Comics of the 1970s and early ’80s, I stumbled across Bronze Age Babies. The site focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on comics, with a nice pop-culture range in the non-comics stuff. The tag-team bloggers, Doug and Karen, are knowledgeable and eloquent, and seem to inspire lively discussion with their posts, which are quite well illustrated.
All of this stuff pulls me back strongly to that era I’ve written about here before, those pre-cable, pre-VCR days when our lives were ruled by TV Guide, plus the Marvel Comics that occupied us between genre films. Each of the local channels had its own personality, exemplified by the selection of movies that made up so much of its programming, be it a network affiliate or an independent. Powerful associations that will last a lifetime were formed between certain films and the stations and/or programs (e.g., The 4:30 Movie, Creature Features) on which we watched them.
As savvy readers know, George was also a film producer who worked with the members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and it’s a joy seeing and hearing them in the documentary. Watching them with my Dad on PBS when I was a kid was another formative experience; much of their dialogue is now everyday conversation in the BOF household. How six men could be so brilliant both as performers, enacting so many roles within a single film or episode, and as writers, mixing high-, low- and middlebrow humor with a unique slant on the world, is quite beyond me.
Gilbert has joined us, following his flu shot, and boy, is he lucky: not long after his arrival, the skies opened up in a virtually Biblical fashion for a fierce but short-lived cloudburst. After finishing the Harrison, we’ve shifted over to Gil’s birthday present for Tom, a compilation of Trailers from Hell, which we’re watching with the commentaries by Joe Dante, Guillermo del Toro, Jack Hill, Roger Corman, et alia. Right now they’re discussing John Frankenheimer‘s Seven Days in May, and it doesn’t get any better than that.
Now we’ve segued into a Japanese anime based (how loosely I do not know) on Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula, written by Marv Wolfman and pencilled by the late “Gentleman Gene” Colan in what I believe was a record-setting ’70s run. Although I only bought the book twice–when it crossed over with Dr. Strange and guest-starred the Silver Surfer–seeing this version of Colan’s Count again takes me back to those glorious pop-culture days of my youth. As usual, much talk of Marvel creators ensues, and then we come full circle by shifting over to the recent Green Lantern, followed by the Tim Lucas commentaries for Mario Bava’s Baron Blood and Lisa and the Devil.
Morning-after addendum: After Gilbert headed for home on Saturday, Hostly and I got through a few Simpsons episodes and most of The Creature from the Black Lagoon before I reluctantly had to head home myself. Boundless thanks to The Host with the Most for another fine gathering of food, films, fellowship, and fun.
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