U.S. Movie Going


Figure 1.--These happy custometrs in 1937 are holding up their door prizes after seeing Edmund G. Robinson's "The Last Gangster". Note that there atre a lot more boys and girls. Most of us boys thought that girls had poor tastes in movies.

There has been a sea-change in how Americans see film--especially how children see them. Until World war II, American kids attended the Saurday mantinee. They usyally went with their friends, not their partents. Most kids by the time they began school did this. Older brothers would take younger brothers as did sisters. The kids would jam in the theaters. It only cost 25 cents, at least as long as you were under 12 years old. Sometimes you even got a door prize. Front row seats were at a premium. They attended the neighborhood theater which was usually in walking distance of the home. It was the action pictures that were the great favorites. Stars like Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, and Roy Roggers would bring thongs of kids--often toting their own six guns--although many theaters banned them. The commotion could be deafening when the villan appeared or the hero rode to the rescue. Rooting for Hoppy at the top of your lungs with best friend was an important part of an American childhood. And we all learned that no matter how dire the threat--the cavalry would always appear in the nick of time, buggles balzing and swords drawn. What we didn't know at the time and Hollywood didn't dare show us was that many of those cavalry troopers were Black--the famed Bufalo Soldiers. Then there were the serials with Buck Rodgers and others who always kept you on the edge of the chair. In the 1930s gangster films were added to the Wsterns and in the 40s war films appaered. But this is now all a thing of the past. Two decelopments changed all this. One was the movement to the suburbs and the other was television. Kids are now taken to theaters in malls. They watch the films in silence with their parents or a small grop of friends their patents have brought along.








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Created: October 30, 2003
Last updated: October 30, 2003