Going to the movies in the 50s

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Going to the movies in the 50s

Postby Mark Llew » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:04 pm

The other day I went to see Elizabeth: the Golden Age, with a friend who’s also an old fart. Not a bad movie by the way. Not great, but not bad. An enjoyable couple of hours.

But we were both struck by how much movie-going has changed since we were kids…

When I was about nine, the big thing for kids was the Saturday afternoon matinee at the old Roxy which was on Mill Street just past the old Post office on the way to the intersection with Main Street ( I never did find out why it was called a matinee, when it was always in the afternoon).

The matinee always included a couple of cartoons (Woody Woodpecker stands out in my mind, but perhaps that’s just because the name reminds me of PB), a serial (I remember Captain Video, and his nifty 1950 Ford with the nose-cone), sometimes a Pathé newsreel, and then the main feature. Not to mention a trailer or two. The main feature was always kid-friendly. If there ever WAS any romance (especially kissing) we would groan and make ‘yuck’ noises. The day they ran the latest Roy Rogers movie was a memorable sell-out: they put blankets down in the aisles for the overflow kids to sit on. No silly fire regulations in those days ! Popcorn was incredibly salty, and 10 cents a box. Cokes were either a nickel or a dime, I forget. That and a couple of brands of chocolate bar were the choices. Oh yeah, and liquorice too. The matinee itself cost 15 cents to get in.

If there was an Elvis or a Pat Boone movie, the teenage couples would be there. Those were usually evening shows. We’d sit behind the couples and make loud kissing noises on our forearms, hoping they’d get mad and say something so we could hoot with laughter and make inane 9-year-old repartee.

Alas, that all came to an end when the movie-house burned down, allegedly because kids were shooting firecrackers onto the roof with their slingshots.

After the G’town theatre burned down, then we had to go to Brampton to see a movie. In those days there was a CNR railway station downtown, on Railroad Street where it meets George Street. The theatre was on Nelson, near Main, only steps from the station, so we’d take the train from Georgetown in the evening. The only difficulty was that in those days children weren’t allowed into theatres after 6 pm unless they were with an adult. So… we’d hang around outside until a grown-up came along and then we’d ask them to take us in. The best bets were young couples – the guys never liked to tell us to get lost in front of their girlfriends, and the girls were usually soft-hearted and wanted to help us out. If they hesitated, we’d plead with them and promise not to sit anywhere near them ! And of course we always paid our own way. We never saw any irony in the fact that this was exactly the kind of couple that we used to harass in the old G’town theatre !

A ‘movie’ always included the ‘main feature’, cartoons, trailers. And often a short feature (maybe a documentary). Most theatres used to cycle everything continuously through the late afternoon and the evening. So movie times would mention not only when the main feature itself started, but also the starting time of the ‘last complete show’. But we never paid attention to the movie times – we’d go in whenever we wanted, and we accepted as routine that we’d come in in the middle of something. At some point, we’d come round to that same place – hence the expression ‘this is where we came in’. And then we’d leave. Or stay and watch it through again to the end. It didn’t matter !

Still later, we took to going to the theatre in Cooksville, which was is a huge corrugated-iron Nissen hut at the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 10. The last movie that I remember going to see there was Doctor Strangelove – probably about 1964.
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Postby Al Darby » Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:30 pm

When I was a pup, the Roxy had "live" acts before the feature. The one that sticks in my memory is Will Emmerson (?) dressed in cowboy gear, singing C&W songs (only then it was just "Country"). He had all the gear, cowboy hat, bandana, loud shirt, gun belt, pistol, chaps and boots. IIRC, he accompanied himself on guitar.

This was followed by a serial (visualise a stagecoach flying off a cliff), then the main feature, more often than not a Western (Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, aka William Boyd, et al)

My brother and I camped front row centre, crunching on blackballs, bought for pennies at the tuck shop.

Halcyon days. Pure escapism.
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Drive In Movies

Postby Jacki-W » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:53 pm

I remember wayyyyyyyyy back when my Mom and I went to the drive in theatre on Steeles near Hwy 10 which is now Shoppers World to watch "The Sound of Music" WOW it was so great we sang all the songs all the way home !!! We took my Uncle Dennis (younger than me) to see it the next nite LOL can't remember how much it cost to get in but I think we snuck Dennis in by hiding him under a blanket. Of course listening to the movies thru the speaker stuck in the car window was the best along with going to the concession stand for the popcorn and pop.

The good old days eh !!
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the drive in

Postby deeds30 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:36 am

There is still a drive in on 9th line...we go every summer on the May 24 long weekend, where you can watch 3 movies, from dusk to dawn...but of course I watch one, maybe two and then Dave wakes me up when we get home! We had Nicholas there at 2 weeks of age! All I can remember is that he fit into the crook of my arm, as I slept through all of the movies that year!

We started going as a group, when there were 6 or 7 cars of us that were all dating, then once everyone started getting married, the cars came with kids, then the divorce rate in the group started going up, and the number of cars started dwindling :shock: ...now Dave, Nicholas and I tend to go with a different group of friends... :?
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Postby Guest » Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Movie going was always something I looked forward to, mind you I now frown on some of the things I see people do now a days (that I know I did many times, such as a youngster, change seats several times before or even during the movies, laugh and talk out loud during the movie, a little kissing & hugging in the back row, dropping popcorn from the balcony in Brampton. Mom gave us an extra quarter or two, so we were big shots and bought extra goodies for the group.
When old enough to drive, Drive Ins were great, sneak a few guys in by hiding them in the trunk, or going to the Mustang in Guelph, there was a side road next to the back of the parking lot, we would let two or three guys off, then they would hop the fence once we were in. The drive ins were nicknamed the Passion Pit (not sure why!) but I do know I took a few young ladies there to widen their entertain views.
We use to take the bus or train to Brampton once the Roxy burned down. Sometimes we would hop the train at the Georgetown station and try to avoid the conductor and having to pay!
My favourite Drive Ins were, The Mustang, The Brampton, #5 and the one by Wasaga Beach during the summer holidays!

Postby jester1-2 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:37 pm

First drive in I remember going to was by the airport on Dixon road and the 401. Saw 1,000,000 BC with a Miss R Welch in a double starring role...............:shock: :shock:

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Postby JulieJane » Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:39 pm

Ah...the early years. First "picture" I saw was Peter Pan at our local cinema in Radlett, England. It was standing room only and my Mother and I had to stand at the back with a whole bunch of other people. Second picture (that's what we used to call them...we went to "the pictures") was The Damn Busters and there was a power failure halfway through, so we had to wait patiently til it came back on again.

I used to go to the Watford Cinema with my cronies - to the afternoon matinees. We'd take the train into Watford and settle down in the cinema with our pea shooters (nasty little horrors that we were) and have a whale of a time. We usually had cartoons, a couple of "shorts", the serial continued on from last week, and sometimes a talent show, and sing-a-long with the bouncing ball. We'd all fire off our peas all over the place, have a blast "talking back" to the shows and on the way home we'd drop into Woolworth's in the High Street for a threepenny worth of peanuts or something like. Geez, I had a lot of fun.
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Postby Mark Llew » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:50 pm

Oh man, I'd forgotten about the drive-in !

My most memorable experience of the drive-in was when I was about 13, going to see Psycho at Highway 10 and Steeles, which at that time was out in the country -- Steeles itself was just a country lane.

As terrifying as that movie was, it was even worse when you saw it for the first time out in the dark countryside late at night ! Years later, my Dad (who was the one who took my brothers and me to see it) would still shake his head and say "What was I thinking!" ! :shock:

The drive-in was great, though: the kids' playground down under the screen, the snack bar/projection hut, the hokey 'countdown' sequence they always used to play ("The shwo starts in 8 minutes... The show starts in 7 minutes..."), the couples necking in the back rows ( and sometimes in the rows near the front, much to my parents' discomfort ! ) 8)
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Postby Lisa Copland » Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:17 pm

My kids had never been to a drive in movie. My husband hates them and would have no part of it.

Last year, on my birthday no less, my kids wanted to go see Pirates of the Caribbean at the Mustang. My mom, who never says no to them, insisted and off we went.

Drive ins are not as much fun as I remembered. :roll:
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Postby jester1-2 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:47 pm

Is it just me or were the cars bigger then? You can't beat a sixties car for stretching out in and watching a drive-in............
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Postby Guest » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:24 pm

No Jester, it is not just you! Some of the cars I had were like a room on wheelsseats went way back giving you leg room galore, nice comfy seats, with plenty of room, you never felt crowded, unless you took 6 or 7 along!

Postby Petitbois » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:09 am

jesteronetwo wrote:Is it just me or were the cars bigger then? You can't beat a sixties car for stretching out in and watching a drive-in............

Or could it be that we were smaller then??
If I was at my high school wrestling weight, 168, there'd be a lot more room in my FJ.....because the extra 60 pounds is NOT from my wallet!
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