When the UA Quartet opened on July 14th, 1971 on Northern Boulevard in Flushing, John Lindsay was the Mayor of New York City and the number one film at the time was Love Story. Originally the building was The Roosevelt Theater, it opened on August 14th, 1926. It was sold and repurposed, becoming the first quad theater in NYC.
I saw Who’s The Man? and Judgment Night there. I distinctly remember sneaking into another theater after whatever movie we saw finished and watching the last half hour of Scream. It was the walk to see Last Action Hero that was more memorable than the movie. Drew and I would walk the 1.4 miles to the theater from his house. A half hour trek.
Drew had an ill-fitting snapback hat on, but in his defense everything we wore was the wrong size. Baggy clothes on our tiny boyish frames only perpetuated the ridiculousness of the trend. The cap had a marijuanas leaf on the front panel with the word Blunt arching above and behind the plant. We were on Northern, not far from the movie theater when some kid ripped his BMX bike between the two of us, we hadn’t heard him approaching, but I suppose that was the intent as he caught us by surprise and snagged Drew’s hat off his head. We gave chase and cursed obscenities at him but that piece of shit was out. I don’t think either of us had even smoked a blunt yet but anytime that wack Schwarzenegger movie is on the telly I wonder about Drew’s long lost hat and who the culprit was.
Good memories are merely a flash, a viewfinder snapshot, a grainy photograph, an overexposed Polaroid while bad memories are films I can rewatch in great detail. Funny how that is.
Frances took me to see what would become one of my all time favorite films. Beetlejuice. It is a fond memory of my mother and though there are many, they are sadly hazy and overshadowed by the bad ones. I’ll attribute that to being more my brain’s fault than hers. I know we got popcorn, and that I loved the movie from the opening credits on, and I think we might’ve ate Jack In The Box afterwards, but that could possibly be the jumbling of two separate memories. Regardless, I enjoy that when I watch the movie it reminds me of Frances in a positive light.
Beetlejuice was released in 1988. Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson are credited with the story while McDowell and Warren Skaaren (I always wonder if his name rhymes) wrote the screenplay. McDowell wrote the Lover’s Vow segment in Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, and adapted The Nightmare Before Christmas, both of which I love. Apparently McDowell’s first draft made for a way darker movie which Skaaren and Wilson reworked for a tamer film, but with eccentric director Tim Burton at the helm, a great movie was made.
With 40 directing credits to his name I only care about six of his films and three of them star Michael Keaton. Pee Wee Herman is in another one.
As Beetlejuice reminds me of my mom, it also reminds me of the Quartet. The projectionist spun the last reel and the curtains were drawn forever on October 2nd, 1997. Fin. It is now the New Age Market, an Asian grocery store, which I’ve only been to once since its opening.
There is a scene in Beetlejuice where Barbara and Adam Maitland, played by Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin, are walking in the Neitherworld and find themselves in an unfamiliar place, and it takes a moment but it dawns on them, and in a look of partial disbelief and disgust, Adam incredulously says, “Barbara, we’re home.” A most relatable moment of cinema.
Boy, this place just gets weirder and weirder. Is there anywhere in the world that feels like home? Not entirely. This city seems unrecognizable. Everything is so unimpressive. In an age of excessive connectivity, never in my life have I felt more disconnected from most people, places or things. That could just be the curmudgeon in me.
Saturn here we come. Bring on the sandworms.