As a means of introducing myself, I love Hollywood, I love the entertainment world
or at least the entertainment world that touched and influenced me as I grew up in the late 50’s and 60’s. My name is Paul Brogan and I live in New Hampshire although my thoughts often stray
afield to the many worlds I discovered watching old movies and listening to music that often set me apart from my contemporaries. To most of them, I seemed old beyond my years because as they listened to The Beatles and The Rolling
Stones, I delighted in talking about the Deanna Durbin or Jeanette MacDonald film I’d watched on television that weekend. I would also admit to having gone to the movie theatre and sat through the latest Doris Day movie three or four times.
I watched a lot of people roll their eyes in confusion and dismay.
Growing up in a small City of about 30,000 people, movies became an escape for me as
well as an education. The films I watched allowed me to see parts of the world or experience history in a way that I might never get to be a part of it.
Although I knew the inevitable outcome when I watched “Marie Antoinette” on The Million
Dollar Movie when I was 9, I kept willing the conclusion to be different. After all, how could Norma Shearer die?
In the era of the late 50’s and early to mid 60’s, television began running movies frequently as a means of filling time slots. The studios were selling off the films they had created so magically in the 1930’s and 40’s, as packages
and the stations were grabbing them voraciously. In addition, prime time movies – mostly those made in the 50’s, were starting to show up on the networks in the evening. For a film aficionado like me, it was a virtual cornucopia of delights. I couldn’t get enough.
A couple of the Boston stations that we were able to get thanks to some sturdy “rabbit ears” mounted precariously on our roof, showed the aforementioned “Million Dollar Movie”. WMTW, Channel 8 – “From the top of Mount Washington” as they proudly proclaimed in their promos, broadcast “The Early Show” each
afternoon at 4 PM. The theme song was “The Syncopated Clock” by Leroy Anderson.
I couldn’t get home from school quickly enough and would plant myself in front of the black and white television set we owned and lose myself for 90 minutes. It seemed to my young mind that they must have had, in their film library,
virtually every great film turned out by the major studios. To me it was the same kind of exhilaration the other kids my age talked about when they played some form of ball in the afternoons.
My favorite stars were Doris Day, Jeanette MacDonald, Eleanor Powell, Norma Shearer, Irene Dunne, Greer Garson, Ginger Rogers, Deanna Durbin and Kathryn Grayson. In my lifetime I would be fortunate enough to know many of them.
When I would put down my 15 cents each Friday to buy the T.V. Guide for the following week, the first task at hand when I raced home was to make a checklist of all the movies I wanted to watch during that week. In time I knew that every year on Easter, the MGM film, “Easter Parade” would be broadcast. During the month of December, I would be able to catch such favorites as “The Bishop’s Wife”, “Holiday Inn” and “Come to the Stable”. “Maytime” was
invariably shown on May 1st – sometimes on two or three stations.
So much of my youth was defined by the movie magic that unreeled before my eyes. It seemed as though when I wasn’t watching a movie on television, I was planning to see one at one of our local theatres. How I ever found time to go to school, do my homework and maintain an A average is beyond me.
During the months ahead, I’ll share some of the stories of the films that touched my life. Maybe they touched yours too. I’ll also talk about some of the people I was privileged to know and how similar or different they were from the roles
they often played on the screen. Maybe you have a similar story to tell and if so, please share some of your insights.
So, lights, camera, action……….