Blog visitor “LadyWiz” and I have shared fond memories of a bygone avenue of pleasure known as “Million Dollar Movie.” The way things are going with our country, someday fond memories might be all we have left.
When I was a kid, we had only seven TV channels: the three major networks, Public TV, and local channels 5, 7, and 9. Channel 9 was (and still is) WOR-TV, and from 1955 through 1966, one of their showpieces was “Million Dollar Movie.”
Twice a night on weekdays, and twice a day on Saturdays, except during baseball season, “Million Dollar Movie” ran classics from the RKO movie library. The theme music was from “Gone With the Wind” (“da-da-da-DUM, da-da-da-DUM”), and there was an announcer who regularly reminded the audience, “If you missed any part of [Title], or wish to see it again, the next showing is at such-and-such a time.”
Ah, how wonderful it was! “King Kong,” “Son of Kong,” and “Mighty Joe Young”–a thrilla with a gorilla. “Gunga Din.” And such beloved classics as “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” “Prehistoric Women,” and “Queen of Outer Space” with Zsa Zsa Gabor and poor Eric Fleming, the star of “Rawhide.” Not to mention “Godzilla,” “Gorgo,” and “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.”
All right, I was a 10-year-old boy. I wasn’t going to sit around watching a lot of kissing movies, was I? They did show a “Blackbeard” movie (with William Bendix in a supporting role) which scandalized me because I had just read all about Blackbeard the Pirate in one of those glorious old stamp-and-coloring books–remember them?–and the story told by the movie wasn’t a bit like the real thing. I was fit to be tied! My mother tried to explain, “That’s called poetic license,” but I wasn’t buying it. Little did I dream that eventually poetic license would be taken with history, current events, and the economy, too. I guess Solon was right when he predicted that would happen… circa 500 B.C.
I don’t know about anybody else, but my imagination was ignited by those hokey movies and the fire still burns today.