MIDDLE AGE MUSINGS recent-post2  >  “Mrs. Robinson, You’re Trying to Seduce Me. Aren’t You? – Summer Movies of the 60s & 70s

“Mrs. Robinson, You’re Trying to Seduce Me. Aren’t You? – Summer Movies of the 60s & 70s

“Mrs. Robinson, You’re Trying to Seduce Me. Aren’t You? – Summer Movies of the 60s & 70s
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Image from Popmatters.com

By Jill Matlow

Who can ever forget that classic line along with ‘there’s a great future in plastics”’? The Graduate was one of those movies you watched, and then watched again and again. Simon and Garfunkel provided the best soundtrack to this movie. Hello darkness my old friend…

I was fortunate to have grown up in an era of great movies.

Summer of ‘42, that fabulous coming-of-age movie set on Nantucket Island and starring the beautiful Jennifer O’Neill, was one of my favorites. I remember how awkward I thought the scene was when Hermie (played by Gary Grimes) bought condoms before his tryst with Dorothy (played by Ms. O’Neill).

And “The Heartbreak Kid” starring Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd and Jeannie Berlin — I still cringe when I think about the scene when Jeannie Berlin had that painful sunburn while on their honeymoon, while Charles Grodin was already eyeing Cybill Shepherd. What a classic.

And who doesn’t still get chills when they hear “To Sir with Love” sung by Lulu?

“Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone

But in my mind I know they will still live on and on

But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume

It isn’t easy, but I’ll try”

I still cry every time I watch that scene with Sidney Poitier standing in the corner, while Lulu serenades him with her classmates looking on. So poignant.

Midnight Cowboy, Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Godfather, Jaws (admit it, you were afraid to go into the ocean after seeing it), Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, A Clockwork Orange, Grease, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dog Day Afternoon, Blazing Saddles, Carrie, Love Story.

You could hear a pin drop when you went to watch those movies in the theaters back in those days.

In the small town where I grew up in central PA, there was only one movie theater.

The Victoria Theater, situated in the middle of the town, was a beautiful ornate theater. I could walk there from my house and that became my destination on many summer afternoons. My sister and I once left in the middle of The Sound of Music. The movie was so long that at intermission, we figured it was the end. Julie Andrews went over the hill and my sister and I went over the hill to our house!

The one movie that I did stay for its entirety was “The Last Waltz” — a fantastic documentary directed by Martin Scorsese showcasing The Band’s final concert. The line-up was chock-full of stellar musicians — including Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison to name a few. To this day, “The Weight” is still one of my favorite songs.

Years later, I was sad to hear that the Victoria Theater had been torn down and replaced with a bank. They paved paradise and literally put up a parking lot.

In the summer when we weren’t going to the Victoria Theater, my parents would take my brother, sister and me to the drive-in a few miles away. It was so fun getting into our pajamas and piling into the station wagon for those adventures. My siblings and I usually fell asleep halfway through most of the movies! I am excited to hear that drive-ins are making a big comeback.

The popular cult movie in college was of course “The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ which was always shown at midnight. It was so fun talking back to the screen (Dammit Janet). These days, staying up until midnight requires a nap the next day! And now, people are too busy checking their cell phones to talk back to the screen.

When I moved to Philly after my college graduation in June 1982, I was so excited to discover the Theater of the Living Arts (which the locals called TLA). TLA showed independent and foreign films. It was there that I watched “Chilly Scenes of Winter”, “Cinema Paradiso” and “Harold and Maude”. The addition of a beautiful soundtrack by Cat Stevens added to the popularity of “Harold and Maude”. Where do the children play?

I knew I would miss the Theater of the Living Arts when I moved to NYC in the summer of 1998 but lo and behold, the Angelika Theater was waiting for me. I was able to continue my passion of moviegoing and was even more thrilled when the Landmark Sunshine Theater (a former vaudeville house) opened to rave reviews with its’ comfortable stadium seating and delicious popcorn with multiple seasoning options. I always (and still do) find this beautiful and air-conditioned theater to be a nice respite from the dog days of summer in NYC.

With so many summer blockbuster movies released each year, I still find myself watching the classics from yesteryear that provided such an escape for me in an age of innocence. Getting lost in a great movie never seems to lose its appeal.

Do you have any favorite movies that you find yourself watching over and over again? Were you a big fan of the drive-in when you were young? Grab a box of Malted Milk Balls or Raisinetes and give us a sneak preview of those summer movies that made a lasting impression with you.

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