Thursday, February 3, 2011

Top Ten Movie Experience #6: “The War Wagon” (1967)

This may be my first memory in a movie theater. Maybe “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs” was before this, (I remember being scared in the forest scene), but with Disney out of the vault schedule, I’m not sure what year I saw that. I might have seen “Thunderball” and “The Great Race” earlier, but they may have been rereleases and I know I saw them in drive-ins.
So I know, with certainty, that “The War Wagon” is the first movie I remember seeing in a walk-in theater. Saw it with my parents and all my brothers and sisters and I know it was in the year the film was released. And it was in Canada. I haven’t watched many films outside of the United States, so it stands out because of that. (There was “Swiss Family Robinson” in Mexico and “Orange County” in the Bahamas. But there have not been many more.)
My family came in late for “The War Wagon”, a Western with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. The credits had already run and when we came in the Duke and the Chin were in a bar. I don’t think we had any problem following the plot (Wayne and Douglas need to rob an armored stage full of gold, but they had good, lawful reasons for doing so.)
Now the amazing thing is when one, some or all of us kids complained about not seeing the whole film, my parents agreed that we could stay for the next screening. This was quite a revelation to me. That films played again and again and not only could you stay for parts you missed, but if you liked a film well enough, you could maybe stay to see it again. I’m not sure why this was such a revelation, but I’m not saying I was that bright of a kid.
I remember three things about that trip to British Columbia. One – my sister lifting me up to sit on a bridge and losing a tennis shoe in a river (and discovering at the shoe store that in Canada, tennis shoes were called ‘runners’). Two – Glaciers. Three – “The War Wagon”.

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