The Birds and the Bees



Several weeks ago, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, The Magic Lantern Podcast posted an episode called “The Birds and the Bees,” focused on how we learned about sex at the movies. This episode made me recall some of the film experiences that were part of my own cinematic sex education. (Don’t worry – it’s not going to get too salacious…)

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Growing Up with Movies: Revisiting Night of the Living Dead (1968)



I recently revisited George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, a movie I first saw in 1971 when I was nine years old. Was I too young for such a movie? Maybe. After reading this reminiscence, you might be able to tell me what you think about how it shaped me as a movie-goer. (It’s difficult for me to evaluate that with any objectivity.) In later years I saw bits and pieces (no pun intended) of the movie on cable TV, but didn’t really give it much thought until I bought the Criterion Blu-ray on a whim. So 50 years after the release of the film – and 47 since I saw it – here are my thoughts, starting with three observations:

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Growing Up with Movies: The Things We Imitated

Through the years we’ve read and heard of some awful, tragic events that happened because someone was inspired to do something they saw in a movie. We’re all mimics at heart in one way or another, and although we see behaviors from movies imitated mostly by kids, none of us are immune. (We might not do it, but who hasn’t thought about yelling “You can’t handle the truth!” or another famous movie line at someone?) The instances from my own experience have thankfully not been tragic, but were at times just plain dumb. In some cases, I was able to observe these lapses in common sense from a somewhat safe distance.

Case in point: my friend Ben. Ben and I were beyond kids at the time, band directors (yes, young men in their 20s put in charge of a room – or a football field – full of young people with instruments in their hands) onboard a plane about to take off for a band convention in Chicago. It was Ben’s very first flight and he was excited. He was also a fan of the move Airplane! (1980)…

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Growing Up with Movies: Newspaper Ads and Other Movie-Nerd Activities


If you ever saw this screen (or one very much like it) when you went to the movies, you’re either close to my age or your hometown theater held onto some really old promotional clips. I grew up watching most of my theatrical releases at The Town Theater in Forest, Mississippi in the 70s. (The excellent memoir Mississippi Sissy by Kevin Sessums – who also grew up in Forest and was a few grades ahead of me – has a fair amount to say about that movie house.) At the theater, they had, of course, the “Now Showing” and “Coming Attractions” posters, but they also had cool flyers, pocket-sized colored 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of paper folded, creating a nifty little booklet promoting the next four upcoming features. In my small town, they only showed R-rated movies Sunday through Wednesday and PG (GP back in the day) or G movies Thursday through Saturday. So with each of these flyers, kids my age would see two ads for movies we could actually see and two for movies we could only dream about seeing one day.

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