Saturday, August 15, 2015

Why I Love Movies: The Pilot

  I grew up in central Indiana (off and on) and was lucky to live near enough to Indianapolis to (barely) get the independent TV station Channel 4 (WTTV). I grew up watching Janey, Cowboy Bob, Sammy Terry, and all the rest of the gloriously weird independent stuff they had.
  For you whippersnappers, it was a different time. The TV Guide often listen WTTV's content as 'movie' or 'show'; the local paper often said the exact same thing, darn it. So often the only way to learn what was on was to tune in. Even better, a lot of the late night programming (Sci-Fi Theater; Horror Theater, the Sammy Terry Show, etc.) might not freaking mention the name of the show, so if you missed the opening credits AND the end credits didn't give a name?
  Too bad.

  So one night when I was 12 years old I wrapped up a game of AD&D 1e in my Seaward campaign (I think it was part of the 9 month long Pirates arc) and sat down to watch TV. It was Saturday night and my sisters were asleep and my parents were in their bedroom reading and talking.
 
  I can't wait until my wife and I get our sitting area in our room back

  I came in right after the credit, darn it, and started 5-6 minutes in, max.
  It was gripping! A man being released from a mental institution during WWII; a carnival with a secret; villagers acting creepy and telling the protagonist (just out of the asylum, remember) that they are NOT acting creepy; a cake people will kill for; a blind man who isn't blind.
  I was hooked!
  I was about 20 minutes into the film (yes, all that was the opening) when - the power went out. Someone had hit a power pole and we lost power for 3 hours.

  I searched TV Guide ("movie") and the local paper ("thriller"). I asked my parents, even teachers. No one recognized it. I started going to the library to look up films and discovered film theory and film history. My dad got me a copy of the Golden Turkey Awards. I started going to film festivals, etc. It wasn't long before it stopped being about That Film and about film in general.
  Even years later when I was able to name the lead actor (Ray Milland) I wasn't sure which film it was because, well, synopsis were very rare and unclear and Milland was in a lot of films that weren't on VHS. When I was on Usenet and heard about The List which had become the Cardiff Internet Movie Database. I found a forum, learned two things; the CIDB was about to change and become the IMDB and the movie I had caught a glimpse of was Ministry of Fear.
  I was eventually able to see the entire film (and I encourage you to do the same!) and it is still one of my favorites.
  In the meantime that loss of power was my gateway to cinema and my love of movies to this day.