Sunday, April 16, 2006

This is Where We Came In

   You may have heard someone say, "This is where we came in," when something sounds or feels familiar.  If you are from my generation you know where that expression started.

   In pre-television days, you went to the movies for an evening's entertainment.  Although they only cost ten cents for kids and about thirty-five cents for adults, it was depression, and you had to get a full evening out of every admission you paid, so movies ran "double features". One admission bought you two features, a short subject, and a newsreel.  One feature was the advertised, star-cast big budget film, the A movie, and the second was a low budget, B, film.  The B film was shot on a shoestring with newcomer actors, or faded over the hill has beens, shot on location with one take per scene.  If no one blew his lines, it was "cut - print that - next set up - quiet on the set"

   The movie ran continously all day.  You went in at your convenience, found your seat in the dark, and began watching the story unfold from whereever it happened to be.  When the story ended, you saw the newsreel, which was interesting because there was no nightly news on TV, a short comedy or animated feature, and then plunged into the second film. You watched the second story unfold and finish.  Before you were through applauding, the first feature began again. And this is when your movie watching skills were tested.

   You had to remember the characters and their actions from the early part of the evening, and put them together with what had gone before, which you were now watching.  You had to edit in your head, and make sense of the story you had already seen a couple of hours earlier. That was the skill we early movie goers developed.

   Sooner or later things began to be familiar, and you whispered to your  companions, "This is where we came in."

   Then you took a sort of straw poll.  If the movie was intriguing enough, you might vote to stay and watch the ending a second time.  More often, you put the pieces of the story together in your head, gathered your coats in the dark and departed. 

   Carrying this skill into the twenty first century, those of us over seventy, turn on the television at our convenience, break into the story on the screen whereever it may be, and follow it to the end.  Alas, it does not rescreen later in the evening.  We have to "make up" the first part of the story.  Our movie watching skills help us here, but often we have to wait until re-runs begin at the end of the season. 

   During the re-run season we often come upon the first part of a story we saw the end of a month or two before.  We follow along, and sometimes we get that old-old "This is where we came in" feeling. 

8 comments:

mavarin said...

I knew that was what it meant, but not that you didn't have specific movie times to catch it all start to finish.  Thanks!  I do that with things that ARE on more than once, or on a DVD that John is watching.

Karen

garnett109 said...

Till this day I can't completely whatch apocolyps now from start to finish but have pieced it together by the method of this is where i came in or were i left off!
Hope you had a good easter.

nyboots said...

this entry made me laugh,, what a great description , I can remember doing that all day on the weekends when I was a kid..Ginger

jckfrstross said...

hope you had a good easter:)

Deb

fisherkristina said...

I never knew what that phrase meant!  Thanks for sharing.  I can't imagine seeing a movie like that.  It would spoil it.  
Hope you had a Happy Easter, Chuck.  Have a nice week.

Krissy
http://journals.aol.com/fisherkristina/SometimesIThink

elleme2 said...

You forgot to mention the "Previews of Coming Attractions" which were important because, in the neighborhood theaters, there was a new double-feature bill three times a week.

judypearllove said...

AND THIS IS WHERE I CAME IN. LOL I LOVE IT !!!!! I REMEMBER WATCHING FIGHTS AND WESTERNS WITH MY GRANDMOTHER WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL. I LOVE WATCHING TV WITH HER. SHE ALWAYS WAS SITTING IN A ROCKER DRINKING REAL COKES IN THE SMALL BOTTLES AND DIPPING SNUFF.

mtrib2 said...

Having grown up in Joliet, IL we had several movie theaters but one stood out tremendously.   It is the Rialto Theater in downtown Joliet.   The entrance after paying the ticket and going thru the concession area -- a grand hall with every imaginable form of elaborate decoration and individual tall back "royal" looking upholstered chairs spaced some distance apart on the sides of the hallway.   After the high ceiling hallway there was an oval type ceiling area with surrounding balcony and stairways in marble to the upper balcony seats.   Then the theater itself with a large oval ceiling that must have been over 50 feet high and elaborately decorated with "Renissance" looking carved decor.    mark