I'd probably seen television ads for it, and in one magazine or another, I'd encountered the image at left. I remember the guns pointed in all directions vividly.
So when my dad and my uncle decided to see The Dirty Dozen while we were visiting in Arkansas, I wanted to go too. It would have been 1967. Do the math on how old I must have been.
Skeptical, my uncle said I'd never sit through it, but my dad knew I'd do fine. Then he wondered what kind of movie he'd brought me to see when there was a hanging about two minutes into it. It was probably the second movie I saw in a theater, my grandmother having taken me to see Bambi sometime earlier.
It wasn't until I watched a repeat on television when I was older than the violence of the conclusion sank in. "Gasoline and hand grenades? They're doing what?!"
AMC was celebrating the 40th DD anniversary Saturday (7-7-07). Hard to believe.
We saw it in a downtown movie house, the elegant kind that's long disappeared. Later and for years they had a massive poster for Part II Walking Tall plastered across a side wall. We'd see it every time we drove into town.
When we were watching Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson pose as Nazis in remarkably well-pressed uniforms considering they'd brought them in a parachute drop and were wearing them over fatigues, it was still a different movie era.
The theater must have been in its heydey or on the outer cusp of its heydey, back when there were still lobby cards and satin drapes around the screen.
The moments that resonated with me were the funnier ones rather than the violence i.e. when Marvin shoots the bottom of a rope off as an insentive to a solider to keep climbing.
My dad liked John Cassavetes' Frakno best, I think. We talked about the show endlessly afterwards or I did. We even went to see another Lee Marvin show later, Sergeant Ryker, but it was tougher for me to follow, more courtroom drama than thriller.
Maybe it was better back then though when you saw one good movie once in a while in a great venue.
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