But being the youngest meant that eventually - as my siblings grew up and spent more time with friends or doing other activities - they needed my parents' attention less and less. I was there to soak it all up. One way that manifested itself was in movies.
|Mayfield Road Theater, Little Italy, Cleveland, OH|
Photo from cinematreasures.org
Close on the heels of having finished the epic book, Gone With the Wind, we drove down to Cleveland, fortified ourselves with popcorn and candy and tucked into the worn magenta velvet seats at the Mayfield Theater in Little Italy to watch the four-hour film on the big screen. What a beautiful sight: the costumes and characters, the plantation houses, the raging fire in Atlanta - - and Vivien Leigh. She embodied Scarlett and I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I can still smell the buttery-popcorn aroma as mom and I walked around the lobby getting the kinks out during the intermission.
Then there was The Red Shoes. Another tortured romantic drama that didn't end so well. This was during the height of my Mikhail Baryshnikov obsession so a ballet-themed movie was perfectly suited to a moody, besotted teenager. I remember the vivid, garish colors of the film - and wondering why the doomed heroine didn't ditch her wafty, whining boyfriend and just happily dance herself to death with those magical red shoes!
One of mom's more interesting choices was La Strada, a Fellini film (which meant nothing to me at the time). I struggled a bit at first with the subtitles, but found myself completely drawn into the bizarre and tragic flavor of the film. It haunted me for days afterwards.
How would these films hold up today? GWTW remains one of the few movies that has aged well and also lives up to the complexity and flavor of the book. The Red Shoes and La Strada would probably not stand up to second viewings, but it doesn't matter. I don't need to see them again. What was and what remains priceless was having that one-on-one time with my mom, finding out a little something about her and imagining what she might have been like as a girl my age. Maybe she had been just like me.