Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sons of the Desert

This is the first time I have tried creating a blog.  I guess the movie Julie and Julia started me thinking about it.  It is amazing how movies can influence your life...without you even realizing it.  I am finding this experience to be uplifting...and rather creative.  I use Google Chrome normally, but now I am on Internet Explorer because Chrome is causing some problems on my home computer.  The blue screen is a definite creative mood changer!

Right around the time I was thinking about getting married (the first time) I met some friends of my (now) ex-wife.  (BTW, my new wife is absolutely wonderful, and she is learning about these old movies, having a great time!  If you want to get married, start with your second wife.)  These friends were involved with The Sons of the Desert, an organization dedicated to Laurel and Hardy.  I started going to meetings and made more friends in the group.  Again, an experience like that really adds to your knowledge of movies.  Not just the movies and actors, but the entire process-sets, music, effects, editing-it is all fascinating.

The SOD would meet every month and we would watch movies (usually 16mm) and have drinks and pretzels.  Every year was the banquet and we would invite guests who were in some way involved with movies, preferably Laurel and Hardy movies.  I met many stars and spouses of stars over the years.  As I continue the blog, I will mention them and look over some pics I have, perhaps to post.  If this blog catches on, it may be going for a while, so I won't make the posts too long!

One experience I will never forget was early in the Keswick Theatre's re-birth as a performing arts center.  The local chapter of the SOD was invited to show some L&H movies at the theatre.  A feature was secured in 35mm, and they used their newly renovated projectors for that, but we also wanted to show some two-reelers, which we only had on 16mm.  I was able to rent two Graflex 16mm xenon arc-lamp projectors with the appropriate lenses to fill the screen in that huge 1300 person auditorium.  That was wonderful, being in the booth in the theater where I basically grew up.

Our bit actor today is...Grady Sutton!  Another long and distinguished career, spanning 1925 to 1979 with 228 credits on IMDB.  From silent films to rock and roll!  Grady was born in 1906 and lived until 1995.  I spoke with him once, but only on the phone.  My friend in the SOD received a call from him at his house, and Grady was at his home in California.  He was a very gracious man as I told him about the joy his movies had brought me.  Who can forget him in WC Field's The Bank Dick?  His wonderful Tennessee voice will ring in my memory forever.  Thank you, Grady, wherever you are.

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