Growing up in Movieland
I grew up in Movieland -- Los Angeles' Westside in the 1950s and 1960s. I went to school with the kids of people in the industry, which was so hopelessly uncool, we didn't even talk about it. (The guy with whom I co-edited my high school literary magazine never mentioned that his father had created a well-known sitcom -- I Love Lucy . I found out when he wrote about it 30 years later.) A sclerotic studio system was churning out The Sound of Music while we were deciphering Dylan and watching Vietnam burn every night on the tube. When I showed up in New York to go to college, the last thing I expected to study, or love, was the movies.
But New York, circa 1968, had other ideas. There was, of course, no shortage of politics to entice me, but by the late '60s, New York also offered the closest thing to an overview of film history that anyone had yet assembled. There were a dozen or so theaters scattered across Manhattan where the Marx Brothers or Bogart or Jean Renoir were in seemingly constant rotation. In 1969, the Elgin Theater down in Chelsea presented the first retrospective of Buster Keaton's silent comedies, most of which hadn't been screened since they'd been dumped in assorted attics 40 years earlier.