Movies in the Forties

During World War II, I was fortunate to have a mother who worked alongside my dad at his store on the weekends. I say fortunate, because this necessitated my being sent to the movies on those afternoons. The only drawback was that I had to take my little sister, but my parents softened that blow by giving us each money to buy candy. I had a difficult time choosing between chocolate covered peanuts and non-pareils. My skinny sister put her dime in her piggy bank.

My best friend, also saddled with an unwelcome little brother, and I always decided which movie to see. The tag-a-longs had no say in the matter. We usually chose sentimental love stories that starred Bette Davis or Lana Turner, but sometimes, having no other choice, we had to pick one war movie over another. It was easy when the star was Alan Ladd but some others left us cold. A short time into the movie, however, we found ourselves totally engrossed as we crawled over the beaches of Iwo Jima or Guadalcanal along with those brave marines.

Today when I go to action movies, I never feel quite the same sense of involvement as I did back then. Maybe it's because I'm older or because I know that alien forces are not about to land in Washington or that there is really no such thing as a Terminator. Even as a kid, I knew that much of what we saw in those war movies was, in fact, really happening somewhere in the world. I guess we should be grateful that that kind of connection is a thing of the past. We can only hope it remains that way.

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