Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cine Juventude Católica - 14 hours - 1951

If I were asked what was the first time ever I went to the picture-show I don't think I would be able to answer it. I've got snaps of imagery of myself falling asleep while watching some black-and-white movie being projected on the silver screen when I was really young - say 5 or 6 years old. 

You see, I was aunt Maria Rosa's youngest nephew and when she wanted to go out to the movies with her latest beau she would ask my Mother (her sister-in-law) to take me along as a 'chaperone'. Maria Rosa was a vivacious young lady who had many suitors by the age of 15 or 16 circa 1954-1955. I would go along to Cine Marilia and 10 minutes after the lights went out I had already fallen asleep. Sometimes I would wake up during the most dramatic parts of a flick when the sound-track would surge and watch snippets of the drama just to fall asleep again until the time to go home. Children suffer a lot. 

A young person didn't have much on the way of entertainment living in a town like Marilia except going to the movies at 7:00 PM (1a. sessão) or 9:00 PM (2a. sessão). Maria Rosa used to go to the 7 o'clock session but as I was used to go to bed early it was too late for me.

Actually, we hardly ever 'chose' a movie to watch. We usually planned to 'go to the movies' either during the day (matinee) or evening (soiree) and watch whatever they were playing - comedy, drama, war-movie, western, adventure, musical, Italian, French, Mexican, German, American, British or Brazilian movies. Sometimes we had already passed by Cine Marilia marquee, saw the lobby-cards and decided on a determined flick but most of the times we just 'went out to the movies' regardless of what was showing.

Many a time we got to the cinema and realized the movie was 'proibido' (forbidden) and we could not get in. Then we either tried the other cinema (Cine São Luiz on Rua 9 de Julho) or went back home and read a comic-book or listened to the radio as there was no TV then at the Alta Paulista region.

Brazilian authorities rated movies differently from the USA. There was not such a thing as a PG (Parental Guidance suggested). Movies were rated as to subject matter and children under a certain age - 10, 14, 16 and 18 - were not allowed to get admitted into the cinema not even accompanied by their parents.

I remember a few instances when I felt really bad in the movies. One time was watching 1956's 'Moby Dick'. I don't know who took me to watch such a terrible movie. Slaughtering of whales is not exactly what you could call children's fun. I was 7 or 8 years old then.

There was another instance of horror I remember witnessing at a night session at Cine Marilia. We were watching a black-and-white war movie. There were airplanes fighting each other and at some point blood started gushing out of the pilot's ears. I don't know why but that brought such a dread in me I can still remember it more than 60 years later.

Then there was this time - late 19581959 or early 1960 - I went to Cine Juventude Catolica,  with my older brother Fernando. Cine Juventude Catolica was a small cinema compared to Cine Marilia or Cine Sao Luiz. It was located on on Rua Sergipe, 245, a side-street running transversal to Catedral São Bento. It was irregular in its programming - not having daily screenings and not even opening on Sundays - maybe due to the fact that it was owned by the Catholic Church and wasn't supposed to be in real competition with the others. Movies shown there were also older than the average.

I don't know whose idea it was to go and watch 1951's 'Fourteen Hours' (Horas intermináveis) at the 7 o'clock session. Even though '14 Hours' had been released in the USA in March 1951, we must have watched in 1959 when I was 10 years old. You may have noticed that even the US movie poster clearly states: 'Not suitable for children'.

Well, little did I know I was in for some very disturbing moments watching a man trying to kill himself by jumping off a high New York skyscraper. Jee, the movie dragged along... there was no movement, no adventure, only talk-talk-talk... and the constant threat of his jumping off. The only thing I can remember was the anguish - agony - torment - affliction I went through watching such a tragedy. I don't even remember if we stayed until the end or if we left the cinema before the end.

Those scenes never left my mind. Soon I forgot the movie title and for years - after I grew up - I thought wrongly the movie was called 'Zero Hour' and would search for it by that title - never reaching my goal. Only about a couple of years ago - 2013 - I happened to be at a meeting of old men who congragate weekly to swap collector's items like vinyl records, DVDs etc. and a man called Fausto Menito was giving away some DVDs he had extra copies and I finally realized the name of the film I had been searching for so long was '14 Hours'.

Here is an excerpt The New York Times published about '14 Hours' on 7 March 1951: 

New Yorkers who vividly remember the case of the man on the ledge - the poor chap who lodged himself grimly on a high cornice of a local hotel one summer day back in 1938 and stood there teetering while rescuers laboured and the city held its breath - will tautly relive that curious drama in Twenty Century-Fox's 'Fourteen Hours'.  And likewise, those who have no memory of that or any similar case will find gripping suspense, absorbing drama and stinging social comment in this film... Fitly directed by Heny Hathaway in a crisp journalistic style to the hilt down to its 'bit' parts, it makes a show of accelerating power... In the role of the 'jumper', Richard Basehart does a startling and poignant job within the limitations of one square foot of acting space.

But Paul Douglas, with room to move around in, takes the honours as the good-natured cop who finds all his modest resources of intelligence and patience taxed by this queer case. Howard Da Silva is also excellent as a methodical, hard-headed deputy chief-inspector of police, and Agnes Moorehead is brilliantly effective as the neurotic mother of the man on the ledge. Robert Keith as the father, Barbar Bel Geddes as the sweetheart and Martin Gabel as a psychiatrist are just a few of the many others who bring personality and credibility to this superior American film.'

Richard Basehart plays the 'looney'.
Richard as Robert Cosik.
Paul Douglas plays Charlie Dunnigan, the good cop. 
Howard da Silva plays deputy-chief Moskar, the bad cop.
Cosik getting more desperate by the minute. 

Jeffrey Hunter & Debra Paget had bit parts in '14 Hours'; Grace Kelly had her first ever exposutre on a Hollywood film too.
Italian comedian-actor Alberto Sordi looks at '14 Hours' movie-poster and then tries to imitate that same scene in some Roman much shorter building...

10 August 1958 - Italian production 'Un Americano a Roma' shot in 1954 is realeased in Sao Paulo some 4 years later... 

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