Happy Thanksgiving. I’m driving back to Phoenix from California, where we spent the holiday with my in-laws. I wanted to share a few thoughts and memories about some videos I recently found on You Tube.
The Million Dollar Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles.
I grew up watching movies from the golden age of Mexican cinema (La Epoca de Oro), peppered with a few Spanish and Argentinian films. Even though my family wasn’t rich, my parents were big movie fans and we went to the cinema on a regular basis. They knew the theatre schedules for noches de dos por uno (two for one night) and we made the rounds between the Million Dollar, the Alameda, the Monterrey, the California and the Unique (my parents pronounced it “eunuch”). My mother and I would go as one pair and my father would stand outside the theatre until he found another solo moviegoer, then he would offer to split the cost of a ticket to save as much as possible. Once inside, it seemed that my mother’s purse would transform into Felix The Cat’s bottomless bag of tricks as she would produce cans of soda, refried bean sandwiches and/or burritos, Fritos and chewy, by-the-pound bin candy. Occasionally, we would splurge on the variedades movie show at the Million Dollar where, for the price of admission you would get two movies, a cartoon plus a variety show between movies which might feature jugglers, magicians, comedians, dancers, puppeteers…I guess you would call it vaudeville. Vendors would come up and down the aisles, selling ice cream and candy.
Pedro Armendariz and Dolores del Rio in Las Abandonadas.
When the house lights went down, I was in the company of the likes of Pedro Infante, Libertad Lamarque, Jorge Negrete, Silvia Pinal, Sarita Montiel, Pedro Armendariz, to name just a few of the greats of Spanish language cinema. I realize now that I’m much more familiar with the great actors and actresses of the Mexican/Spanish cinema than I am with American cinema. I didn’t become familiar with Spencer Tracy or Katherine Hepburn until I was an adult, so I have enjoyed catching up on my film history with Turner Classic Network.
Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of telling you that I found some videos on You Tube which took me back to my childhood. If you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll be missing part of the fun of these clips but they’re worth checking out anyway. Not all of these clips are from the Golden Age and most of the movies from that age were not musicals, but I've chosen clips with songs because music is a universal language. You’ll notice some are a little more modern, but they are also from my childhood and among my favorites, so I’ve included them.
Love from the Flying J!
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