Sunday, December 26, 2010
BLACK NARCISSUS (1947, GREAT BRITAIN), PEEPING TOM (1960, GREAT BRITAIN)
(Rod and Chip Go To the Movies Part 3:The Final Chapter)
The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of.
Sometime in the 80’s…
Rod and I came out of The Silver Screen Theater breathing a sigh of relief. After the fiasco a couple of weeks ago involving our unwitting viewing of the gay oriented films Satyricon and Sebastiane, our recent Silver Screen double feature viewing of Peeping Tom and Black Narcissus provided a welcome relief.
“Can you believe Peeping Tom was made over twenty years ago?” I asked Rod.
Rod rubbed his chin as he thought my question over. “It kind of puts Blood Beach and New Year’s Evil in their proper place on the movie quality food chain. Oh, and did you catch the nude scene? It was only for about a second. But I clearly saw breasts.”
“No way, that was a 1960 movie. You were just imagining things.” I said.
“I know what I saw,” Rod said, holding his position.
I told him that if he imagined a brief nude scene, than a nude scene it was. I didn’t want to argue the point. When I asked him about the other film we saw, Black Narcissus, he looked much more puzzled.
“That was a tough nut to crack,” he said. “Beautiful looking film. I wasn’t sure of the point. I have to admit when that nun shed her habit and put on her lipstick it was pretty darn sexy.”
“We got to get you a girlfriend, pronto.” I snickered as I said it, but I actually found the scene a bit provocative as well.
“Back to your original question,” Rod said. “I wasn’t really sure of the point of Black Narcissus, but just by definition of it being shown at the Silver Screen, it had to have a point. Am I not right, Chip old man? That’s the comfort in seeing a movie here. You know they're not going to show something like Chu Chu and the Philly Flash or Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. What they show will have significance to someone, somewhere in someway. Comprende?”
I nodded as I thought he had actually made a good point. As we left the theater, I grabbed the Silver Screen calendar.
“Before you continue with your metaphysical philosophy on film choice, why don’t we take a peek at the coming attractions,” I said.
I looked at the calendar for a moment before all feeling left my hand and dropped the calendar to the sidewalk.
Rod picked it up and looked at it. “What’s the matter with you, are you-Oh, my God!”
Rod and I sat down at the same time on the bench outside the box office.
“It’s over. Can you believe it? This is the last movie,” Rod said.
Neither one of us said anything else for the next minute until a man in a three-piece suit came up to us.
“Hey, I know you guys,” the man said. “I saw you at the Rhodes for Motel Hell and for Il Sebastiane here couple of weeks ago.”
Being still in a state of shock, it took a moment for us to recognize him as the man who was dressed as Frank-n-Furter at the Rhodes Halloween week and the man who was with another man he referred to as his husband during the showing of the infamous Sebastiane the week after. It’s funny how the embarrassment of seeing that film seemed suddenly so unimportant.
“Oh, hello. You look different.” I said to him, though my mind was still on the closing of the theater.
“Well, I wouldn’t get much business as an accountant if I dressed like a queen from nine to five, would I? Anyway, my real name actually is Frank. You probably don’t believe it, but it's true.”
He stuck his hand out for us to shake. After we shook his hand, he joined us on our bench.
“A shame this place is being shut down, isn’t it?” he said.
“What happened Frank? Why are they taking away our theater?” Rod asked.
“Georgia-Pacific bought it, I believe. The venerable old movie house just doesn’t do enough business anymore. People want to see second run movies, they just rent a videocassette these days.”
I looked at him like he was crazy. “Videocassettes? Like I have Eight-Hundred dollars to buy one of those players or sixty more to buy a movie. And I want to see it on the big screen anyway. What the hells the matter with people?”
“I know. I know.” Frank said as he tried to comfort me by patting my hand. “You’re preaching to the choir, honey.”
As if suddenly waking out of a trance, Rod grabbed me by my shirtsleeve. “At least we still have the Rhodes. They aren’t planning to shut that down I imagine.”
Frank handed Rod a copy of the Arts and Entertainment section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had just pulled out of his breast pocket.
Rod looked down the pages and began to read: Atlanta’s Rhodes theater will be showing the 1938 Spencer Tracy-Clark Gable movie Test Pilot this weekend.
Rod looked up. “You see! They’re still in business.”
“Keep reading.” Frank said.
The Rhodes is showing this film because it was the first film it showed in 1938, so the management thought this would be a fitting final farewell before the Rhodes goes under the wrecking…
Rod pulled his head from the paper and looked skyward before looking back and finishing…before the Rhodes closes its doors for good and goes under the wrecking ball.
Rod handed the paper back to Frank who casually tossed it to the ground.
The three of us sat on the bench and starred across the parking lot at the venerable Oxford Bookstore, wondering if even that Atlanta institution might one day be vulnerable to the greed of land developers.
“So, what do we do now?” I asked.
Frank turned to us and put out his hand to emphasize his point. “And they’re moving Rocky Horror from Garden Hills to Northlake Plaza next week. Can you believe it? Me..in suburbia”
Rod showed a little interest “I’ve never seen it. You, Chip?”
I shook my head.
Frank let out a laugh that came close to registering as a squeal. “Oh, my. A couple of virgins, huh? Well come down to Northlake next Saturday, midnight.”
“We might as well,” Rod said. “Our social options seem to be suddenly limited.”
Frank stood up. “I got to run. I’ll look for you kids. Remember Rocky Horror. It’ll make you forget about this disappointment. Come dressed up if you dare. I’ll copy an extra script for you if you want to participate. Hey, you’d make a good Eddie,” Frank said looking my way as he left the two of us on our bench.
“What did he mean by that?” I asked Rod
“Oh, I’m not sure. I’m not sure of anything anymore. My whole worldview has been decimated into fragments.”
I took one last look at the calendar. “Peeping Tom and Black Narcissus have one more showing tomorrow. You want to come back?”
“We’ve already seen these two, but I guess we could come tomorrow and watch them again. One more chance to…no, that would be prolonging the agony. I’m done. It’s time to move on.” Rod sighed.
“I guess you’re right. Guess I’ll save up for a video cassette player.”
“Guess the first movie you’ll get will be Pillow Talk. You’ll be able to watch it anytime you want.”
“Shut up about Pillow Talk already!”
Rod laughed and I couldn’t help but smile a little too. Though I was not smiling at his endless need to make fun of the movie Pillow Talk. I was instead thinking of all the great movie moments that I had experienced at the greatest theater in the world over the last few years.
We both turned our gaze to the Silver Screen marquee one last time before driving away.