Recently, I had the pleasure to see Jaws on the big screen. I must admit that seeing classic (and in this case iconic) films on the big screen is great. I’ve had the pleasure to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Casablanca, The Shining, and the original Nightmare on Elm Street. I wish there were more theaters that would play classic films. The Fox Theatre in Atlanta will play some as part of the Coca Cola Summer Film festival, but it is not enough. I want to see the sweeping vista of Monument Valley from The Searchers. I want to see Bogart in his role as Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon. Jake Gittes’ investigation from Chinatown, and the list goes on and on. I realize that theaters like to play the newest effect laden spectacle in order to pack seats, but once a month for one show playing Wizard of Oz, Ben Hur, or No Time for Sergeants would be great. When I was a kid, Disney would re-release films into theaters, this was them releasing films from the “Disney Vault” as they like to call it. They don’t do this anymore and it’s disappointing.
One reason that I like these classics on the big screen is that you get the movie theater experience with a film that is known, and clichéd. When Bruce (the mechanical shark named for Spielberg’s lawyer) emerged from the water in front of Chief Brody and he backs into the cab of the boat and announces to Quinn: “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” I could almost imagine what it would have been like to witness this for the first time. When Richard Dreyfuss went to examine the hull of Ben Gardner’s boat and finds the great white tooth only to drop it when Gardner’s body floats into the hole in the boat. There was a collective gasp and most everyone jumped. It was Jaws the first blockbuster of all time and I was seeing it the way it was meant to be seen. Stephen King often referred to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in the foreword to the Dark Tower series, but he would say that the film needed to be watched in a theater to appreciate the scale and scope of the film. I know I found new appreciation for all the classics that I’ve seen in theaters.
So if you get a chance talk to your local theater (especially if it isn’t one of the massive cineplexes) about airing some classics maybe during the fall or holiday seasons when new movies aren’t as prevalent. Yoda said “size matter not.” But in this regards, I’m going to disagree.