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Tucker: Bring back intermissions

Posted: December 11, 2014 8:59 a.m.
Updated: December 12, 2014 1:00 a.m.

 

The popular web site Slate says intermissions should be brought back to movie theaters.

A bit of history for the whippersnappers among us: movies originally had intermissions because, as Slate explains, they were shot on multiple reels of film, and it took time to change the reels as the movie progressed.

When theaters began using multiple projectors, intermissions began disappearing for all but the lengthiest movies.

But in recent years, feature films have gotten longer and longer.

And longer.

A couple of decades back, your average movie ran well under two hours. Heck, in the heyday of westerns, when John Wayne and Roy Rogers were at the top of their games, they pretty well wrapped things up in an hour and a half.

You went to the 7 o’clock show, you got out in plenty of time to have dinner.

Nowadays, you go to the 7 o’clock show, you get out just in time to catch Jimmy Fallon’s monologue.

Full disclosure: listening to me talk about movies is a bit like listening to radical Muslims talk about compassion and tolerance. I’m hardly an expert.

Somewhere along the way, I lost interest in movies, or perhaps I should say I lost interest in going to movies in theaters. If there’s something I want to see, I usually wait till it shows up on DVD, HBO or Netflix.

That’s partly because my attention span has become shorter and shorter while movies have stretched to the breaking point. I simply can’t sit for two and a half hours trying to maintain my concentration.

Watching a movie at home is infinitely less taxing. Takes me a couple days to watch one if it’s really riveting, longer than that if it’s only so-so:

Watch 15 minutes, then go out and wash the car.

Fifteen more minutes, and then read a couple chapters in my latest book.

That can go on and on. Eventually I’ll finish the flick, but in my own good time.

Here’s another thing: the two-hour-plus running time of movies these days doesn’t even take into account all the trailers (they used to call those previews, but somewhere along the way they became trailers) you have to watch.

Theaters advertise the starting time, then when you get there you have to listen to really loud music and watch snippets from movies they want you to come see the next week.

So you’re really there in that darkened auditorium for about a week.

OK, back to intermissions: they’re not such a bad idea.

You get a chance to stretch your legs, go to the bathroom and buy a couple hundred dollars worth of Cokes and Milk Duds -- maybe even some popcorn, if you brought an extra C-note along.

The Graduate, which is my all-time favorite movie, lasted an hour and 45 minutes. Now that was a great flick, perhaps worthy of its own column. Maybe next week.

(My second favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption, perhaps the only long movie I ever liked, other than The Sound Of Music, which made me fall in love with Julie Andrews when I was 16 years old. She never returned the favor. Nor did Wanda, my date that night.)

So anyway, I have sort of rambled away from my original subject, which was intermissions, but I can do that because this is my column, at least it is until the Chronicle-Independent fires me or I die, whichever comes first.

 

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