It was with some embarrassment when I realized I had gone almost a month without blogging. I really have no excuse, save that when the temperature is in the triple digits, and one doesn’t have air conditioning, it makes to hard to concentrate on watching movies, let along having the energy to write about them.
But the current intense, record-breaking heat reminded me of a time many summers ago when the heat drove me to the air-conditioned comfort of the local movie theater for one of my more memorable movie outings.
So here’s another entry in my “Going to the Movies” series.
It was a brutally hot Friday evening in 1994 when I went to the second-run LaGrange Theater to see John Candy’s last film, the painfully unfunny “Wagons East!”
I really didn’t care what was playing, but it must have been the only title playing that I hadn’t seen. So with the idea of spending time in an air-conditioned theater, I went to see “Wagons East!”
The LaGrange Theater was, at one time, a fine old suburban movie palace before it was divided into multiple screens. Because “Wagons East!” had proved to be a box office dud of epic proportions, it was screened in one of the smaller theaters.
Small, but crowded enough that evening that I was forced to do something I almost never do - sit in the first couple of rows. The back of the theater was pretty packed, and I didn’t feel like crawling over people to find a seat in the middle.
I was one of the last persons to show up, and when the movie started I looked around and noticed I was the only person sitting in the first couple of rows. Nobody was in front of me or on either side. Everybody was behind me.
Now, I don’t know if anyone has ever seen “Wagons East” but it’s a comedy with no laughs.
Zero, zip, nilch, nada, none.
The movie is unreeling and no one, I mean no one, is laughing. Not even the mildest of chuckles did this movie generate, let alone hearty guffaws.
I’m one of those nerdy types who usually sits through the credits of movies. Not this time. The instant the credits came on I got up, and got the surprise of my life when I turned around and faced a completely empty auditorium.
I swear I never heard anyone leave. Because there was no laughter during the movie, it never occurred to me that the deafening silence was because I was the only one there.
Like I said, it was one of the smaller auditoriums there, so I estimate maybe there were 60-70 seats in this particular auditorium. Since most of the back was filled when I got there, I estimate there were about 40-50 people who (silently) walked out over the course of the movie.
I must confess to feeling some sort of trepidation when I left the auditorium, afraid I was ensnared in some “Twilight Zone”-like episode where, while suffering through “Wagons East!”, I had somehow become the only remaining person on Earth. But no, I walked into a noisy, bustling lobby full of patrons.
Actually, being the last person on Earth would be preferable to sitting through “Wagons East!” again.