June 20, 2010
In the past four years, I've been comforted by the fact that, incredibly, my father and I shared similar tastes in movies. In fact, viewing some of my father's old DVDs has helped me grow a little closer to him (in fact, I'm quickly switching my Sherlock Holmes allegiance from Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett), and one of my favorite memories is how my father would talk about how my grandfather took him and my aunt to the now-demolished Brighton Theater to see the then-contemporary Forbidden Planet. I, too, have my favorite memory of my father and the Brighton Theater.
It's the memory of how I tricked my father - against my mother's wishes - to see Blazing Saddles.
Imagine me, a precocious nine year old. (I don't really remember how old I was, but let's say nine for the sake of the story). My best friend Bob had seen the movie, and was able to recite whole scenes. (Bob was the primary "bad" influence in my life, exposing me to Mel Brooks, Steve Martin's Wild & Crazy Guy on 8-track, and the music of KISS). When I asked Mom, not very surprisingly, she immediately said no. Moms are funny like that sometimes.
So, taking advantage of the fact that my parents were living in blissful divorce (having done so since I was eighteen months old), I asked my father to take me. Even reenacted several of the (less racially charged) scenes that I had heard about.
Surprisingly, my super-strict father said "yes"....and on a nice, sunny Saturday afternoon, after "Polish school", we talked from my grandparents' house on 40th Place to the Brighton at Archer and Califorinia.
(And by "Polish School", I mean "school to learn how to speak Polish". At nine years old, I was more interested in Saturday morning cartoons and sugary cereals than embracing my cultural heritage).
Watching the movie on DVD today, I'm still surprised that this movie was made - many of the jokes are transgressive, go too far, and quite frankly, would never fly in our more "sensitive" time. However, it's still undeniably funny...and although I was seriously grounded once my mother and father touched base afterward, it was well worth the deception.
But an interesting postscript - years later, my mother admitted that when I was younger, she had taken me to see Young Frankenstein. In fact, she admitted that she had been slightly embarrassed when a five-year-old me asked me what this line meant.
However, I don't remember seeing Young Frankenstein until I was well into my teens.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. I miss you.