Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Smokey and the Bandit

Breaker! Breaker! The second highest grossing movie in 1977 is playing at the Brattle on December 9th. Not Star Wars; that was the number one. If any film respectably fills the number 2 slot, it's Smooooookey and the Bandit!

I'm not a snob when it comes to most things but I am snobbish when it comes to movies. I think I saw this one once on TV when I was younger and the language was dubbed. For some reason I think I saw Smokey and the Bandit II in the movies, but I don't have any sound memories of that. I rented it recently to give the lady of the house (who spent her youth out-of-country) to offer a taste of 1970s Americana. This movie has got that in spades.

It's not a great movie but I have to say it is a classic. It pains me to remember Jackie Gleason in this role. It isn't that he's bad, it's just that he's capable of much more finer performances: Minnesota Fats, any Honeymooners episode, conducting his own small orchestra... see the snob effect is creeping in?

There is a chemistry to this film though. It's just good fun. Everyone who made it obviously had fun. It ushered in a genre of Southern flavored, drawling, fast-car-based, comedic dramas. There couldn't have been any Dukes of Hazzard without Smokey and the Bandit and the world would be a poorer place for that. It popularized CB radios, a kind of internet in their day. It made heroes out of truck drivers, something that has, sadly, been neglected over the passing decades.

What does this have to do with Dorchester, Mass? Nothing. I wish it did. I wish Dorchester had a movie theater. I've been to stand alone cities smaller than Dorchester that can support their own theater. Even boroughs and burgs that are subsections of small cities can support a kind of theater that serves food and drinks while playing DVDs on big screens. They aren't movie theaters per se, but they provide a simulacrum of the theater experience.

Whenever people gather to share a common experience, community is built. Dorchester is big. It is a collection of neighborhoods coagulated into the biggest neighborhood in Boston, which itself is the biggest city in New England. Small beer? Yes, and small beans too. How hard can it be for Dot pubs to rent a DVD and put on a show other than a Red Sox game? I know dbar has a large screen suitable for movies. Maybe they could show Smokey and the Bandit and other films in the genre. They have Show Tune Tuesdays. Why not Southern Fried Sunday Afternoons? Dukes of Dorchester?


Flat Head Jake said...

I agree, nothing but mega-plexes now. As a side note the last theater in Dot was at Dot Ave. & Park St. the present Radio shack. If you could get into the rea of the tore you'll see what was obviously a theater. I saw Star Wars here for a dollar.

Flat Head Jake said...

Soory, "rear of store"

Anonymous said...

Video recordings can't just be shown in public.
You have to get special tapes and buy the rights to show them in public.
It's expensive.
That's one reason why pubs don't show video recordings.


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