Monday, March 5, 2012

Going to the Movies with The Howling

My apologies for not updating this blog sooner. I'm in the midst of a frenzied job search, so movie watching and writing about them have gone down a peg or two on my priority list.

But I wanted to put something up and since I got a nice response from my recent post about seeing "Death Wish V" on Valentine's Day, I thought I'd relate another movie-going anecdote. Indeed, in the 45+ years I've been attending the movies regularly, this may be one of my favorite stories.

It was a rowdy, noisy crowd that Friday night at the (now closed) Diana Theater in Homewood, IL. We were that at the last show on the opening night of "The Howling" (1981), the great Joe Dante-directed werewolf picture.

When I say rowdy and noisy I don't mean to be pejorative. It was a lively and enthusiastic audience that Friday night. The weekend had begun, and the new horror movie in town, which had gotten very good reviews, was about to start. The crowd was geared up to enjoy themselves. There was a good vibe in the audience.

The movie starts and the opening credits come up (and how I wish more movies today had opening credits). Slim Pickens got his own credit card and when it showed up, some guy towards the front of the theater yelled out, "Yeah, Slim." That got a big laugh from everyone.

Well, let me tell you, when Slim Pickens first ambles onto the screen in his role as Sheriff Sam Newfield, the entire audience, with no prodding or cheer leading of any kind, spontaneously burst into applause, cheering, whistling, clapping of hands and stomping of feet.

The entire audience was laughing about it for minutes afterwards.

Who knew that Slim Pickens could generate that much affection? I suspect the audience was filled with "Blazing Saddles" fans.

Regardless of the reason, it's one of my most fondly-remembered movie experiences ever.


KimWilson said...

How odd. I've seen people clap during a movie because they enjoyed a scene or yelled, "You stupid, b#tch" at the screen, but I never did have a Slim Pickens moment. LOL

Kevin Deany said...

Kim, it was a really fun evening. There was a definite charge in the air that night, and I don't know what it was.

Alas, I never had another Slim Pickens moment either.

Classic Film and TV Cafe said...

That's a fun story, Kevin! I think Slim may have become something of a cult actor later in his career (thanks largely to his iconic scene in DR. STRANGELOVE). Your facer and voice were certainly unmistakable. By the way, I enjoyed THE HOWLING, too, though none of the sequels were very good (though the third one tried for a differenty slant and gets kudos for that).

Dave Enkosky said...

That's awesome. I'd always cheer for Slim Pickens. Also, this makes me wanna rewatch The Howling.

ClassicBecky said...

Your anecdote shows more clearly than anything the fun of going to the movies with other people. I had a moment like that when our museum showed movies outdoors. I went to see To Kill A Mockingbird. The audience was so responsive. Near the end, when the sheriff said (I'm not sure I have it exactly right): "I may not be much, Mr. Finch, but I'm sheriff of Maycomb County, and Bob Ewell fell on his knife." The whole audience cheered. It was a great moment. Thanks for sharing yours!

Kevin Deany said...

Yep, "The Howling II" is a pretty bad movie. I saw it on a double feature with a slasher flick called "April Fool's Day." I miss double features. Like you said the third one isn't bad, and has the added pleasure of having Frank Thring as a movie director. Shades of Herod?

Dave, thanks for your nice comment. "The Howling" is always worth watching.

Becky, I know exactly what you mean. Nothing like seeing a movie with a packed, enthusiastic audience.

The Lady Eve said...

Hi Kevin,

There’s not much that’s more fun than watching a movie with a responsive crowd is there?
I remember that the audience spontaneously broke into applause and cheers when Francois Truffaut's credit appeared at the start of "Close Encounters." Just the other night at a screening of "Vertigo," the crowd clapped and cheered when credits for the stars and Hitchcock appeared, of course, but also Bernard Herrmann and Edith Head. And I remember a hilarious spontaneous outpouring when a movie villain got her reward in the last act of Clint Eastwood’s “Play Misty for Me.” It was funny because it was so sudden, spontaneous, unanimous – and loud.

You have great movie house memories, Kevin, I hope you’ll share more. And good luck in your job search.

Kevin Deany said...

Eve: Great stories. I would love to be in a theater where a Bernard Herrmann credit card elicits applause. Thanks for writing.

Dawn said...

I dropped by this morning to let you know... I'm passing the"7x7 Link Award.", onto you. Because I really enjoy reading your blog. Please check back to Noir and Chick Flicks for more info.

Kevin Deany said...

Thanks so much, Dawn. I'm incredibly honored. I'll do my best to get something up and pass it on. I'm swamped these days with lots of non-movie stuff, but I hope to follow through with this. And I am in excellent company with your other selections.

Caftan Woman said...

That is so very cool!