“My Love Affair with Reels and Reality” By H. Peter McCabe

I adore films. I prefer them to people. My daily quota is two or three movies. They never cease to enthrall me – to amuse- teach- shock. They’re my emotional think-tank . I’m beginning to resemble the character in “Play It Again, Sam” (1972), the fan who revels in the whole process of watching, talking and writing about movies.

I laugh, I cry, I giggle – oblivious of other people around me in the theater. When I was four, my Dad brought me to my first movie in 1940. He was a Notre Dame fan who had seen only two movies in his lifetime- “Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With the Wind.” He carried me into the evening showing of “Knute Rockne, All American” at the Paramount Theater in Long Branch, New Jersey, and I was never the same again.

As a kid, I’d steal twenty cents from his penny collection and walk seven miles to the movie houses in Asbury Park, New Jersey just to see a double feature. Neighbors would see me pass their houses and would always ask where I was going and everyday I replied, “To the movies.” They’d say, “But it’s such a sunny day!” (What difference would that make to me?)

I remember running up the aisle, scared to death in “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944) with bodies in the window seats. At age eight, I failed to find the humor. Today – I roar. When I spent my junior year in Spain, I’d average 10 films a week. They were all dubbed in and I could learn Spanish faster. During college, The “Fine Arts” theaters (the Georgetown, the Dupont) in Washington,D.C., introduced me to foreign films. I’m still “hooked” — those vivid memories of “La Strada,” “Zorba,” “The Blue Angel,” “Citizen Kane” and all those Alec Guinness films (who can ever forget “Kinds Hearts and Coronets”?)

I’ve reviewed films for cyberfriends and won lots of money on movie trivia. I’ve made hundreds of videotapes and pride myself on matching the perfect film for the right person. I’m a satellite dish fan now with 40 movie channels (no one has seen me for six weeks.) I only come out for the big first run features and my home away from home is the Cinemark Theaters where all movies are always one dollar for seniors.

I feel closest to Heaven when I visit the Palm Springs Library Film Collection. It takes me a half hour to choose one film, because I’ve seen them all so many times. I realize the greatness of films from the 40’s. What an insult to “re-do” a film classic. Let them lie buried with Caesar. I never go to a theater to see just one movie. I leave six or seven hours later.

My last request in life will be that a special satellite dish can reach Heaven and beam in millions of new cinema delights. Vive le cinema!

(Mr. McCabe is a retired school teacher living in Palm Springs who says the film festival has reminded him of his lifetime obsession with cinema. )

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