You never know how library programs are going to turn out, especially new ones. While we were getting the meeting room ready for our showing of Casablanca, my co-worker Julia and I were talking about how many people might show up. I told her I’d be delighted if we had 10 people.
We had 40!
Since we were starting at 6:30pm, we had mentioned in our promotional materials that we would have tables for those who wanted to bring their dinner. So with those tables and the chairs we’d set up, things got tight pretty quickly. And people kept coming in! (A good problem to have!) But we got everyone in and started on time. I spoke about the history of Casablanca for a few minutes, we showed the film, and had a good discussion/Q&A afterward.
Julia and I met so many interesting people, many of whom we recognized as regular library patrons and many we’d never seen before. My favorite new person was an elderly gentleman who moved his wheelchair to the front row. After the movie he told me, “I served in World War II,” he said. He pointed to the screen, then held his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart, and said, “I missed going to Northern Africa by that much.” His caregiver said he’s a 90-year-old Navy veteran who loves movies. I thanked him for coming, thanked him for his service and told him we hope to see him again. “If I’m alive, I’ll keep coming,” he said.
It was a great night. It sent chills up and down my spine hearing the audience laugh at all the jokes and funny lines (mostly delivered by Claude Rains), sigh collectively at the appropriate times, and, of course, applaud heartily at the film’s end. When you’ve seen a classic film over and over in your own living room on your own TV, and then see it with a room full of other people who love it as much as you do, it’s an incredible feeling, giving you a whole new perspective on the film. For a moment, you’re back in 1942, experiencing the film for the first time with a community of other movie lovers. You just can’t get that at home with your DVD player. This is one of the reasons we’re dedicated to The Great Movies program and hope that you’ll join us for our next feature(s).
Speaking of which, here they are: (all at 6:30pm at the Severna Park Library)
Thursday, February 4 – Dr. Strangelove
Thursday, March 3 – Double Indemnity
Thursday, April 7 – Harold and Maude
Thursday, May 5 – The Searchers
(Also many thanks to Julia, our page Jenna, the entire staff of the SPK library who helped promote the series, and the PR department at Library Headquarters.)