Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Wow, they just don’t make movies like The Man From Laramie any more. For one thing, nobody likes movies that corny now. For another, there’s no Technicolor. I really miss Technicolor.

The university puts on a show that’s open to the public and free, courtesy of the film studies program. I think we went to a show several years ago but haven’t been back until last night, which is sort of weird for two people who will take a whole week off from work to watch a dozen and a half movies in four and a half days.

While we were at the film festival this year, we picked up a copy of the playbill and found they were just finishing up a retrospective of westerns directed by Anthony Mann. I couldn’t say I knew his name but I must have seen quite a few of his films because Jimmy Stewart was in a lot of them and I’ll watch anything that features Jimmy Stewart.

The Man From Laramie was playing last night at seven, so after work we drove into town, found a place to park that wouldn’t extort ten bucks from me because the Badgers were playing, and got a bite to eat at Ian’s Pizza before the movie.

There are two huge parking ramps on Lake street. The one on the south side of University Ave is closer to the movie theater and right next to Ian’s. I didn’t want My Darling B to get too wet walking back and forth in the rain, so I thought this one would be perfect. Unfortunately, that ramp is also the closest ramp to the Kohl Center and the Badgers must have been doing something sports-related. The streets were crawling with people wearing red and white, which is not all that unusual when you’re that close to the campus but when it’s a bunch of old people, you know something’s up.

There was a long line of cars driven impatiently by people waiting to get into the ramp, even though a sign at the entrance noted they were charging TEN DOLLARS! I blew up just a little bit when I saw that, pulled out of line and drove around the block so I could turn the other way up Lake Street to park in the ramp on the north side of University Ave where they were charging only four dollars to park. One block away, six dollar difference. That’s just weird.

Ian’s Pizza is a Madison institution, meaning everybody eats there, meaning university kids. I’d been to the store on State Street several times but B had never been at all and had wanted to for a long time. This was her big chance, so we stopped in to grab a slice of pie before the movie. It seemed like a good idea, but then so did parking close to the theater before we realized there was a game downtown. We managed to beat the big rush so we didn’t have to wait long to get our food, and B even managed to snag a couple seats at one of the dozen or so tables in the dining room. You’d think for such a popular pizza joint they’d have a little more seating, but on second thought that’s probably all but impossible to come by right next door to the university. Still, they were doing one hell of a lot of business when we were there. They could really use more places to sit.

The movie was at the Cinematheque, a theater across University Ave from the Chazen Museum. It took us maybe five minutes to walk to it, the longest five-minute walk I made all day. It was still raining and we were walking into a headwind, so even with our umbrellas we got wet and cold all the way through. Thank goodness the theater was toasty warm.

It was also just about empty when we got there and I thought it might stay that way. I mean, how many people would you expect to tramp through weather like that to see a fifty-year-old movie? Somewhere between fifty and seventy-five, as it turned out. The seats filled up in the ten minutes right before the show started, mostly by people about my age who stayed up late watching movies like this on television when they should have been doing their school work. As a matter of fact, I realized as soon as the first scene began to play that I’d seen this movie on The Late Show, probably several times. B had the same revelation.

If you’ve seen a typical Western there’s not much to tell you about this movie. A New Guy comes to town. He’s looking for something. He crosses paths with a Bad Guy. There’s a fist fight where the two guys punch each other in the face way more than two people could possibly do and still have all their teeth when they’re done. There’s a shootout where each of them pops up from behind a rock to take a shot at the other just as a bullet goes pwing! on the rock right next to their head. And they chase each other through the desert on horseback really, really fast, cloppity-cloppity-cloppity. Did I forget anything? Oh, there’s a girl with Joan Crawford hair. She looks pretty in spite of the Joan Crawford hair but doesn’t get to do much else.

It’s awfully corny but, as I said, I’ll watch any movie that has Jimmy Stewart in it. More than once.

The Man From Laramie | 7:50 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, entertainment | Tags: , , ,
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