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Re-creating the double-features of childhood


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#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Dick

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Posted January 08 2010 - 09:21 AM

Double features in the late 50's through the 60's were more the rule than the exception. I grew up in a Westchester County suburb of NYC, and the theaters within easy driving distance of me (in White Plains, Bedford Village, Pleasantville) tended to run double features, if not always, then frequently. Some of the pairings were weird as hell, films from two different studios double-billed seemingly at random. Others, from one studio, were more suitably paired. I remember dozens of these programs quite vividly and am seeking to reproduce them using DVD releases. A few I can put together right now, using excellent quality prints. Others I can view using prints I hope will eventually be remastered, Still others consist of one, or both, of a double bill that is/are not yet available on DVD at all.

I just acquired the Roan widescreen edition of the 1959 THE BAT with Vincent Price. This was paired at the Bedford Playhouse with Hammer's THE MUMMY of the same year, which was the main feature and was run last. Neither DVD looks especially good. THE BAT is a non-anamorphic 1.66:1 and soft. THE MUMMY looks drained of its original saturated colors, but at least is 16x9.

On a re-issue in the mid-sixties, I saw PSYCHO and STALAG 17 in White Plains. PSYCHO was run last. My friend and I, both teenagers, enjoyed the first feature and had no idea what was coming when PSYCHO began. Very few movies in my life actually caused me insomnia, but that one did. My friend and I were actually clutching one-another's arms.This program can be rather nicely recreated using the remastered STALAG 17 collector's edition DVD and the 2-disc remastered PSYCHO set.

Both times I saw THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD theatrically in 1958 (White Plains and again in NYC), it was paired with some dumb service comedy about fake U.F.O.'s, and I've never been able to recall the name of that second feature. I don't know if it came from Columbia or another studio. It was boring and silly. I don't feel the need to resurrect that particular double-feature. The Blu-ray of SINBAD is quite ample and satisfying. Still, it nags at me -- I'd like to know what that other movie was. Anyone?

I saw a double feature Saturday Matinee of STOP, LOOK AND LAUGH (with the Three Stooges) along with GORGO in Pleasantville. These are both out on DVD, although GORGO is less than wonderful, but for the sake of nostalgia, they'll do.

Although originally released two years apart, I seem to recollect that CAT GIRL (1957) and THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE (1959) were paired in White Plains. In any case, I saw them both. The latter is available as a pristine Criterion DVD, while CAT GIRL remains m.i.a. I've read reviews about CAT GIRL recently and it garnered mostly lousy comments, but I seem to remember it scared me a lot at age nine.

Hammer's first two masterworks, HORROR OF DRACULA and CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, were re-issued on the same bill in the 60's. These are of course on Warner Bros DVD's but neither is stellar, in spite of the fact that the former title has apparently been restored and seen theatrically on gorgeous, recent new prints.

Here's an interesting combo: Romero's original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and EQUINOX (1970) at a drive-in. Both are on DVD now and both looking excellent -- if you can still find the superior ELITE edition of NOTLD. EQUINOX is from Criterion, so that's a no-brainer.

A MAN CALLED HORSE was paired with THE REIVERS in 1969, and both DVD's look good. Interesting juxtaposition of moods and themes...

There were many more such combos when I was growing up. How exciting it was to pay 35 cents, grab a bunch of popcorn and candy for another 50 or 60 cents, and settle down for, not one, but two fun movies and all the stuff inbetween. Even if the B-picture (which seemed always to be projected first in theaters I attended) was less than thrilling, we always had that second one to look forward to, as though we had the whole history of time ahead of us.

Do any of you have fond memories of particular double-features? Have you also tried replicating them with DVD's?

#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Bob Graham

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Posted January 10 2010 - 01:51 AM

 I remember the Capital Theater in my hometown of Pittsfield, MA had a double feature of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE.  When TKAM won the Academy Award, it was brought back and THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE was brought back with it.  That always seemed like such an odd paring to me.  I also remember that the Corman Poe films were usually paired with low budget British rock musicals, like SOME PEOPLE.

#3 of 9 OFFLINE   MielR

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Posted January 10 2010 - 11:13 AM

 The only double-feature I think I've ever seen were 2 Vincent Price films that my Mom took me to see one weekend, probably in 1977 or 1978. The second film was The House Of Usher, and for years I couldn't remember the name of the first film, but I now know that it was The Haunted Palace.
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#4 of 9 OFFLINE   Rob Brown

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Posted January 10 2010 - 04:58 PM

Man, Dick, but your post brought back a flood of memories.  My local theater (my town was so small that it only had one hardtop theater and one drive-in) almost always showed double-features when I was a kid.

I saw one when I was in fourth grade (this must have been late 1971 or early 1972) that paired Bava's Black Sabbath with Corman's The RavenBlack Sabbath was the first film to run, and the first segment, "The Drop of Water," absolutely paralyzed me with fear.  I sweated out the rest of the film, hoping that it wouldn't get any worse (which, thankfully, it didn't).  Then The Raven came on, which I adored.  My theater had the policy of showing the first feature again after the second, and so when Black Sabbath started up again, my best friend (with whom I had gone to the theater) asked if I wanted to stay and watch it again.  I couldn't get out of the theater fast enough.

Another memorable double-feature from my childhood (and this one probably was a year later) was Night of the Living Dead paired with Planet of the Apes.  I went with my family's best friends' kids, and, of the five of us, three ended up sitting outside on the curb until Night was over.  They just couldn't take it.  I LOVED it, and it became my favorite movie.  When Apes started, kids came out of the woodwork--while the theater had been a little less than full for Night, there were kids packed in the aisles and two to a seat in some spots for Apes.  Oddly enough, Apes frightened me MUCH more than Night of the Living Dead.  I guess that I was a strange kid.

After I moved to a different town not long after seeing the Apes/Night double-feature, I found that my new town had three theaters, but only one of them showed double-features.  It was open during my fifth-grade year, and then closed forever.  I got to see two double-features there during that year:  Willard and Ben, and Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster and Yog, Monster from Space.  I loved them both, but the Toho double-feature still has a warm spot in my heart.  Around the turn of the century, my father rented the building that the theater had been in for his security company, and, when I went overseas for a few years, I stored all my belongings in the space that had once been the theater's auditorium.  THAT was cool.


#5 of 9 OFFLINE   AlanP

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Posted January 11 2010 - 04:26 AM

My area I remember these  re-release and or release  pairings-

"Peyton Place" and "Return To Peyton Place"

"Walk On The Wild Side" and "Experiment In Terror"

"Hercules" and "Hercules Unchained"

"Last Days Of Pompeii" and "The Minotaur"

"Sodom And Gomorrah" and "Revolt Of The Slaves"

"Vertigo" and "To Catch A Thief"

"The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "The Trouble With Harry"

"Brides Of Dracula" and "The Leech Woman"

"The Thing That Couldn't Die" and "Horror Of Dracula"

"Goldfinger" and "That Man From Rio"

"House Of Usher" and "The Pit And The Pendulum"

"Burn Witch Burn" and "The Premature Burial"






#6 of 9 OFFLINE   Joe Lugoff

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Posted January 11 2010 - 05:07 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick 

Both times I saw THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD theatrically in 1958 (White Plains and again in NYC), it was paired with some dumb service comedy about fake U.F.O.'s, and I've never been able to recall the name of that second feature. I don't know if it came from Columbia or another studio. It was boring and silly. I don't feel the need to resurrect that particular double-feature. The Blu-ray of SINBAD is quite ample and satisfying. Still, it nags at me -- I'd like to know what that other movie was. Anyone? 
Dick, I remember you asking this before, and I looked through The New York Times online to find the answer.

I did it again, and got the same answer.  In February of 1959, there's a listing for "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" playing around the greater NYC area, including in West Plains, and the co-feature is the Columbia release of the British movie "High Flight."

With that title, I thought for sure I found the answer for you, but you said that's not it.  Did you see "Sinbad" in White Plains in Feb. of '59?

#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Dick

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Posted January 11 2010 - 12:28 PM

Hi, Joe.

You know, you might be right. It is listed as having been released either in 1957 or 1958, depending on who you check with. But one of the comments on the IMdB page has a guy asking if this was the film in which Anthony Newley drives a model flying saucer into the officers' mess. There was no reply to the question, but if the answer is yes, that's gotta be the film. Many thanks for your research. The NYT online actually provides entertainment listings from that far back?

Anyway, as an 8-year-old I wasn't impressed by the second feature.


#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Joe Lugoff

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Posted January 11 2010 - 06:07 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick 

The NYT online actually provides entertainment listings from that far back?
 
What I wrote was misleading, because I didn't use The New York Times website.

ProQuest (www.proquest.com) is the source for many newspapers and magazines, viewable as PDF files.  These are the entire runs of the publications, every page, ads and everything.

I'm able to access ProQuest on my computer through my local library's website.  My library pays for the service, and I hope they always will, because it's fantastic.

Getting back to "High Flight":  It was a 1957 release in the UK, but Columbia released it in early 1959 in the US.  With that reference to the model flying saucer, I think it has to be the movie you're remembering.


#9 of 9 OFFLINE   scribe1964

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Posted January 12 2010 - 11:38 AM

I saw a lot double features when I was growing up in the seventies.  The oddest was probably "The Exorcist" (during its 1976 reissue) with "Freebie and the Bean."