Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kansas City's 1973 Cinema

Yesterday, out of nowhere a 1973 Kansas City Times newspaper ends up on a desk close to mine. It's from Thursday, May 3rd. On the front screams the headline "Nixon Tightens Reins on Prices." The article explains how Nixon is imposing tighter price controls on the nation's largest companies. I quickly skim through some other headlines "Polio Vaccination Decline Prompts Epidemic Fears" and "Appeal for Desegregation Funds Submitted on Time" and there's a Pat Boone Super Rally at the 'New' Royals Stadium on May 5th. Then I come upon the movie section and read through all the listings.

At the Midland 3: Charlton Heston in Soylent Green, McQueen in The Getaway and Fear Is The Key.

At Empire 4: 5 Fingers of Death, Margot Kidder in DePalma's Sisters, Issac Hayes in Wattstax and the double feature of A Reflection Of Fear and The Creeping Flesh which has the cut line that reads "Frankentstein and Dracula could be destroyed but nothing can stop the creeping flesh!".

At Ranch Mart 4 Theatres: Paul Newman in Judge Roy Bean, Walt Disney's Fantasia, Sisters and Sally Kellerman and James Caan in Slither.

Meanwhile over at HIWAY 40 they were playing 1 Hot Mother, Night Call Nurses and The Babysitter which has the cut line that reads "she came to sit with baby... and ended up with Daddy!"

The Vanguard Theater was playing The Marx Brothers in Duck Soup and Sunday Bloody Sunday.

And at The Watts Mill IV Cinemas they were playing Class of '44 with Gary Grimes, Marlon Brando as The Godfather, Burt Reynolds in Deliverance and Cicely Tyson in Sounder with 3 Award Nominations.

What struck me most about the listing was the diversity of choices. That and the trashier fare seemed to get the same billing which was interesting. I am surrounded by multi-plex after multi-plex with few true choices. The AMC 24 does not fill its theaters with interesting movies. Instead, I can see Transformers every 15 minutes and dreck like No Reservations and Hairspray which I refuse to see no matter how many times people tell me how fun it is. I saw the original and it was very good. It's obvious that by looking at the movie section in 1973, movie studios and movie theaters in general (or at least in Kansas City) have no real interest in offering viewers real choices, especially in the summer where the "wham, bam" mentality front-loads a movie and has no interest in trying to feature one that can stick around based on word of mouth instead of multi-million dollar marketing budgets. Thirty four years later, we've taken some major steps backwards. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

"She came to sit with baby... and ended up with Daddy!"

Too funny!

I know what you mean. If it's playing at one theater, it's playing at them ALL. That's why I enjoyed my visit to Austin so much, because, while the mainstream movies did dominate the theaters, there were a few that showed late and midnight screenings of old, trashy, or just bizarre films. It gave some character and variety.

I want to see that Nurses movie....

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I really enjoyed Hairspray. I know that won't change your decision any, but I thought it was so much more fun than most of what I sat through this summer.

Adam Ross said...

Wow, I could have feasted for a week on that fare! Getaway, Sisters, Deliverance ... might have even made room for Night Call Nurses ;-)

brian said...

Your best post ever.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Pat. I would argue that as a society today, we're more informed, but less tolerant.

If you exhibited a movie called Night Call Nurses within 100 yards of children, one group or another would probably want to take the marquee down today.

PIPER said...

Thanks Brian. It sort of fell in my lap and I thought it was an interesting subject to write about.


You're right but isn't it ironic that at a time that we are 'less tolerant' Porn is more available than ever and sales are at an all time high. It's a bit hypocritical. I myself would probably raise a stink because I have two kids myself, but I would somewhat admire the fact that they were at least being upfront about it. But it would be impossible for that to happen today because there are so many more family movies. About the only thing that was family in the 73 listing was Fantasia.

PIPER said...


You couldn't be more right about Austin. I get there a handful of times a year and I never watch movies there, although I always want to.


I would be going to movies all day long if they were playing this stuff.

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PIPER said...


I can't bring myself to watch Hairspray. Maybe under the influence when it comes on DVD. But not in the theater. Just can't do it.