SATURDAY MATINEE REVISITED
Grab your popcorn and get there early because it’s SRO for Len Freeman’s Silver Screen Cowboys class at the U of M McNamara Center. He was a slob on the screen, but Gabby Hayes was conversant on fine wine and great art. Can we assume that he chose the chablis served with the stew at the chuckwagon campfire?
SUNSET FOR SUNSET — His incredible good looks couldn’t save Sunset Carson’s job as a Republic cowboy star when he showed up at a studio party drunk and with a 15 year old girl.
DEMON RUM — Several early Hollywood stars were drunks, including Gene Autry and William Hopalong Cassidy, but the later reformed when he married the lovely Grace Bradley.
The class features a chapter from a western serial typically shown during Saturday Kiddee Matinees so we are biting our nails as the plane carrying Gene Autry and Frankie Darro is spinning toward the ground. Stay tuned till next week when we conclude “The Phantom Empire.”
SCREAMING KIDS IN THE THEATER
Who can remember a theater full of kids screaming when the cartoons started? One of my classmates in Silver Screen Cowboys (U of M OLLI, McNamara Center) vividly recalls watching the weekly serials and westerns at the Park Theater in St. Paul on Saturday afternoon kids’ Matinee for ten cents. (The theater at Selby and Snelling was torn down for an office building.)
We then tripped down memory lane about all the lost neighborhood movie houses in the cities.
As a kid growing up in Spokane, Saturdays before television would find us at the Manitou Presbyterian Church on 29th Street where they would roll 16mm excerpts from Abbott & Costello comedies. The kids were off-the-wall crazy. Also, the Orpheum and Fox theaters showed Saturday Matinees. All that died with television which is a shame.
Our instructor Lens Freeman reminded us of the “cowboy code” which appeared in comic books: “Avoid drinking, smoking and gambling.” No mention of swearing.