Tag Archives: Charles Bronson

Throwback Thursday: WOR-TV Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie” intro!

This will probably be a pretty obscure Throwback Thursday post, but the segment below should be recognized by people who grew up in the New York metropolitan area in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  It’s none other than the intro for WOR-TV Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie.”  (That music you hear is a particularly brassy rendition of Max Steiner’s “Tara’s Theme” from 1939’s “Gone With the Wind.”)

If you were in the New York area at that time, it ought to bring back memories of the old days of broadcast television.  (It’s actually surprising how much nostalgia people online report at seeing this 44-second clip.  And it’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.)  A few commenters note sardonically that the clip makes Manhattan look like a nighttime paradise — while The Big Apple in the 1970’s was not always an easy place to be.  (The city if far cleaner and safer today.)

Some of the comments I read were befuddling.  There is one blogger who wrote that he remembers this intro from as far back as the 1950’s.  (Had they really used it for more than two decades?)  And a populous minority of commenters remember being unsettled by the clip.  (They describe it as ominous, and the music as creepy, which mystifies the rest of us who remember “Million Dollar Movie.”)

This intro had an indelible effect on me.  While it recalls monster movies like “King Kong” (1939) and “Godzilla” (1954) for a lot of others, it will always remind me of my father watching war films and cowboy movies on his days off — along with the occasional Charles Bronson flick.   “The Great Escape” (1963), “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and “Shane” (1953) all spring to mind.

When I was in the first or second grade, I habitually enhanced my Dad’s enjoyment of the “Million Dollar Movie” by peppering him endlessly with questions about whatever was playing — even if I had only wandered into the room for a few minutes.  “Why did they call it ‘a bridge too far?'” “Why did they fight World War II?” “The British and French were good guys in the war, right?” “Why did the cowboy drop his gun on purpose?”  “Why did the guy fake his death?”  (Bear in mind, folks, this was broadcast television — long before the days of Netflix and DVD’s.)

If any kid did that to me when I was watching my favorite movies, I’d go nuts — even if I had a pause button.  My father was a saint.


Throwback Thursday: the 1977 premiere of “Star Wars”

A bunch of us have been chatting online about when we first saw “Star Wars” in 1977.  I actually don’t remember many details.  And that’s reassuring, because it makes me feel old indeed when I explicitly remember things from the 1970’s.

I was five.  I don’t think I got to see it on its opening day, May 25.  And I don’t remember if my siblings took me to see the film with them, or if my father took all of us.  (I’m leaning toward the latter.)  I remember loving what I saw flash across that giant screen, even if I fully comprehended little of it.  I was thrilled at the blaster fire exchanges and the pursuits between between Han Solo and the Stormtroopers through the Death Star, and I’m pretty sure I was shocked at Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death.  At that age, I wasn’t quite used to seeing “the good guys” die in movies.

I also remember gleefully hollering my best synopsis of the film to my poor mother after we got home.  She was washing dishes in the kitchen, and I clearly recall her turning to me to patiently listen to my exuberant screaming, even though she still had to hold her wet hands over the sink.  It was the internal Death Star foot-chase I was most excited about.

I found myself slightly confused today by the results of a Google image search for the movie’s opening day.  They apparently show late-70’s crowds lining up to see it on May 25.  I thought Star Wars was a surprise hit … wouldn’t it have required a lot of word-of-mouth before people started lining up for it?  Maybe you Star Wars scholars can help me out.

Anyway, for an interesting frame of reference for how old this movie is, check out the pictures of the newspaper ad and the marquee below.  The movie’s contemporaries include Disney’s original “Freaky Friday,” the one with Jodie Foster as a child.  They also include “Saturday Night Fever,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo” and a Charles Bronson actioner.  Wow.

Hey Long Islanders — you see that theater marquee?  That’s 1977 Huntington, YOO GUYZ!

[Update: my friend Tammi just told me that she and her mother saw this movie a total of 4o times over the course of the summer of 1977!!  How nuts is that?!]