A brief history of “Movie Pests”
I recently purchased from amazon.com, a VHS copy of “A Guy Named Joe” (1944), starring Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, Van Johnson and directed by Victor Flemming (he also did two other “small” films called “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz”). The film was remade as “Always” in 1989 by Steven Spielberg. To date, “A Guy Named Joe” is not yet available on U.S. Region 1 DVD.
Anyway, on this tape, preceeding the film, was a short film called “Movie Pests”, filmed around the same time. It was a comically-narrated piece that poked fun at the so-called “movie pests” of the time; actors re-enacting what could be considered a typical “pest” situation in a movie theater, circa the 1940s. Those of you who own this VHS tape will know what I’m talking about.
For those of you who don’t, here are some highlights:
- The married couple that arrive in the middle of the picture and proceed to publically argue about where to sit while standing in the middle of the aisle of seats, blocking everyone’s view of the screen.
- The woman who sits down without removing her tall, overly-featherly hat, giving the man behind her an added viewing pleasure.
- That same woman who, when trying to get to her seat, has no quams about stepping on the foot of some poor guy with her high heel.
- That same woman who decides that her tootsies need a break and removes her shoes for all around her to enjoy.
- The very overweight man who sits in between two people and only then and there decides to take off his coat; his outstretched arms getting into people’s faces.
- The same overweight man who decides to eat a bag of shelled peanuts in as loud a volume as it will allow.
- The man sitting in the aisle seat who extends his leg to the center aisle, conveniently tripping the oncoming person who is lucky enough to make contact with his foot.
- The same man who thinks it’s okay to wedge his knees in the back of the chair in front of them and then add to that pleasure by bouncing his feet up and down.
Now, besides finding this “mockumentary” very funny, I was also mildly astonished. Why? Because, would you believe that I was actually ignorant enough to think that 60-plus years ago, patrons of the local movie theater might have actually had the good sense and dignity to be well-behaved and considerate of others around them? I mean, in 1944, the cell phone was nowhere near to being invented, and yet people still had to deal with the above mentioned.
So, it would seem that I don’t need to feel that movie audiences of TODAY are rude and inconsiderate beyond belief. Apparently, we’ve been that way for decades. We only just got more electronically advanced about it.