First Movie Memories

I was honored to be asked a while back by Brandie Ashe to be included in the month long series “First Movie Memories” over at True Classics with a host of others sharing their first experiences with the movies. Included are a wide variety of folks from various walks of life including  a law professor, a former professional ballroom dancer, a lawyer and some familar bloggers. Reading the stories of each individual has been at times funny, tender, moving and always interesting. Writing my story gave me a chance to explore my own journey. My piece appeared this past Friday so I thought I would link it here to share. Below also are some photos of a few of the films and filmmakers mentioned and who influenced me along the way.

Click below for my story.

                B Movie Western Western Star Johnny Mack Brown

Anthony Quinn’s Quasimodo scared the the new know what out of me when I was seven or eight years old.

Jack Lemmon and Kim Novak two early favorites.

Many hours of a mispent youth were in the dark at Loew’s Oriental located five blocks from where I lived in Brooklyn.

             One of my earliest and still most admired film directors.

Arthur Knight’s classic work on the history of movies.

                                                     The Pawnbroker

Budding Cinephile


7 comments on “First Movie Memories

  1. DorianTB says:

    John, although I commented about this over at TRUE CLASSICS, I also wanted to mention here at TWENTY-FOUR FRAMES how much I enjoyed your post about growing up as “A Budding Cinephile in New York City”! Before our family moved to NE PA in 2001 (on account of Vinnie’s company moving at the time), I had lived in New York City for most of my life, going back and forth between Manhattan and the Bronx over the years. Your post brought back lots of happy memories of seeing now-classic films for the first time in fabulous movie houses (even if they were chopped into multiplexes years later, before they began building better theaters), It was always such a treat it was to have those kind of movies and theaters readily accessible. For instance, during my 10th birthday, my mom took us all to Radio City Music Hall to see FANTASIA — we were wowed! Then there was the time my dear longtime pal Rosemarie and I went to NYC’s Plaza Theatre (now defunct, alas) to see DIVA; I think that might have been the first foreign-language movie we ever saw in an actual movie theater, and we felt so sophisticated! 🙂 Thanks for the memories, John, literally!


    • John Greco says:

      Thanks Dorian,

      Wow! The Plaza Theater, I remember it well. What a unique place it was. I can remember seeing “Hurry Sundown,” “The Grateful Dead Movie,” “America at the Movies, and “Mademoiselle” among others there. I actually left NY for the same reason you guys did. Our company relocated, first to Atlanta and then to Tampa. Since my wife and I both worked and met at the same company it was not a tough decision on what to do. Glad you enjoyed the look back.


  2. Brandie says:

    I love the last picture!!

    Thank you so much for contributing a truly well-written, well thought-out piece for the movie memories event, John. It was fascinating reading about your experiences–it’s so far removed from what I grew up with (the era of the impersonal multiplex), and it made me long to experience movies the way you (and Dorian, above!) were able to. You’ve set a very high bar for the other contributors this month!


  3. John Greco says:

    Thanks for including me Brandie! I thought it would be a rather short article at first, but I just kept going on and on. I have enjoyed reading the stories of the others who have contributed so far, and look forward to those who are coming up. One of the things that is most fascinating to that everyone’s story is different yet we are all connected by our love of film.


  4. vp19 says:

    I cited you as part of an entry I did on the first film I ever saw…


  5. Sam Juliano says:

    What a magnificent remembrance John! As a fellow NYC area film denizen, I can say I have many memories as well, though I would be hard-pressed to relate them as engagingly as you did here. Standing under the yuletide tree, relating the nightmare instigated by the viewing of HUNCHBACK, the three Brooklyn theatres including that friendly movie palace the Loews Oriental, the popcorn and good and plenty wars in the children’s section, Million Dollar movie on television (where films were shown every days for a full week and multiple times on weekends!) and the 1966 expansion into Manhattan where the ultimate in cinematic adventures awaited you. And those incomparable and specialized bookstores, far less of which exist today with the dominance of the internet. As we once discussed the video boom gave us some joy (and weakened pockets) at Video Shack on Broadway and 49th Street, and I fondly remember the many movies seen at the New Yorker, the Thalia, the Bleecker Street Cinemas, and those East side haunts (Baronet, Coronet, Sutton, Cinemas 1, 2 and 3.

    It was a time that molded one’s life and direction, part of us forver.


    • John Greco says:

      Yes Sam, the VIDEO SHACK sucked pockets dry, that’s for sure. It was a video superstore before there was ever such a thing. Those theaters you mentioned were kind of second homes or maybe more appropriately, alternative schooling. I know you haunted these theaters many times yourself. It was a good time to be a movie lover.


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