Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Back in the summer of ’78, when I was fifteen and just out of my freshman year of high school, I took a solo vacation trip to Ohio to visit my grandparents, the first time I’d ever taken such a trip alone, leaving the family behind as I enjoyed a month of fun, frolic, and relaxation in and around the small town of Clyde, where my grandma and grandpa lived. While there, they provided me with a furnished basement bedroom all to myself, complete with a kitchen and den area, where I could kick back with a recent issue of Baseball Digest, listen to an Indians or Tigers game on the radio, and enjoy a cold bottle of Barrelhead root beer straight from my very own fridge, any time of the day or night.
During my third week there, after my grandparents and I had returned from a short trip to Tennessee to visit relatives, my grandpa and I decided to make the drive to nearby Fremont to see a movie together, an evening screening of the much-anticipated summer release Jaws 2 at the old-time Cinema Paramount on Front Street. The Paramount held the distinction of being the site of my earliest movie memory, in 1968, when I was taken there by my parents to see Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost at the tender age of five. Ten years later, I was in attendance once again, this time to see the sequel to my favorite movie of all time, Jaws, which had been released three years earlier, and which I’d loved enough to see five times over the course of its summer run.
There was a good crowd there at the Paramount that night, a 7:00 pm show on a muggy Saturday evening, and I can remember exactly where my grandfather and I sat in the big auditorium: middle row, a bit to the left of center. My grandpa was a straight-laced kinda guy, who worked the assembly line at the Whirlpool plant in Clyde and went to church every Sunday, so I had no idea how he was going to react to this sort of film; would he enjoy it for what it was, a popcorn movie filled with action and thrills, or would he be offended by the shark-attack violence and random uses of ‘shit’ and ‘damn’ throughout? At the time, I was just thankful it was rated PG instead of R; otherwise, he may have changed his mind and taken me to International Velvet at the Sandusky Mall instead.
As the years went by, my memories of the film itself began to fade, until just a few images remained: some high school kids trapped on sailboats off the island coast, the shark chewing up a helicopter, and Roy Scheider saving the day by electrocuting the shark with a high-power electrical cable. What I do remember, and is a favorite memory of mine whenever I think of my grandpa and I, is an early scene where one of the young guys spots a pretty girl who’s just arrived on the island, and when asked what he thinks of her, responds, “She’s got tits like a sparrow.” It took a few moments, but I heard my quiet and reserved grandfather begin to chuckle, a quiet hm…hm…hm that soon, on the inside, had me chuckling, too.
Decades later, when I watched Jaws 2 again, my feelings towards the film weren’t too kind, but during that long-ago summer evening back in Fremont, I had a pretty good time with it, as I’m sure my grandfather did as well. As far as I can recall, it was the first time my grandpa and I had gone to a movie together, and I do know it was definitely the last; I made several more trips to visit my grandparents over the next two decades, but he and I never again went to a ‘picture show’ together. He’s gone now, having passed away in 2000, but the theater still stands, and still shows first-run movies…if I ever wanted to go back to the Cinema Paramount, for memory’s sake, I could. And if I was able to, I would sit in the same seat: middle row, a bit to the left of center.