Saturday, July 18, 2009


That's the question my sister and I asked each other as we sat in a darkened movie theater one summer afternoon in the mid 1970s.

We were at the movie theater at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. That theater was super cool. It's gone now. Bummer. The theater didn't have seats, but thick, leather couches. In front of each couch was a table with a button on the side. That was nifty. You'd press the button and a cocktail waitress would take your drink order. (And bring you a Keno card.) So, if the movie was bad, you could always get hammered and play Keno. Cool.

The theater showed nothing but old MGM classics. (I really didn't care about those movies, but anything was better than being outside in the 110+ heat. Plus there were those buttons. Nifty. Did I mention they would bring you food, too? They did.)

So, my mom dragged my sister and I to the theater to see Meet Me In St. Louis. I don't really remember too much about the movie. I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy eating my corn dog and fries and washing it down with a yummy A&W root beer. Halfway through the movie I turned to ask my mom if I could press the amazing button again and have the waitress bring me another beverage. My mom was sobbing uncontrollably. I leaned over to my sister.

"Why is mom crying?"

She leaned over to mom. "Why are you crying?"

My mom leaned over. "It's just such a wonderful movie.

My sister and I looked up at the screen. There were a bunch of people carrying parasols and wearing flouncy dresses and drinking Sasparilla and singing. A wonderful movie? This was mediocre at best. And long. The desert heat had surely gotten to my mother.

As the movie continued to unspool, my mother continued to sob and wail. It was almost biblical. My sister and I worried that we'd have to call security and have her committed. We were young. We had never committed anyone before. Would there be forms to fill out? Should we bother my father at work or just commit her ourselves.

After the movie was over and the lights came up, my mother shot out of the couch and happily said, "That was wonderful! Who wants ice cream?"

Ice cream was a good idea. It would give us a chance to observe her before we called security. Plus, it's ice cream. Who's gonna say no to that...even in light of the possibility that my mother was criminally insane....let alone need special pants the rest of her life.

Seems mom was fine. However, my sister and I were puzzled. Why on earth would she cry during such a boring movie? Nobody even died. Nothing exploded. Nobody had to shoot their dog because of rabies. It was a musical for heaven's sake. They sang a big, boring song about Easter bonnets.

Flash forward many decades to last week.

My daughter and I were at Target. (Of course, this is before I learned that I was to get 500 million dollars.)

I saw the DVD of the 1966 movie The Trouble With Angels on a sales rack. I remembered that movie. I had two older sisters who had dragged me to it when it came out.

Always on the lookout for a safe movie for my daughter I bought it. We watched it that night.

Near the end of the movie my daughter turned to me and said, "Daddy? Why are your crying?"

WHAT? Oh no. I was crying. The Trouble With Angels is a comedy. I'm crying! I'm going to need special pants!

If you haven't seen The Trouble With Angels, you should. It's not a great movie. But it's good. Dang good. It's a movie that shows all amazing potential of the 1960s...and not the turd sandwich it turned out to be. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is great.

The movie is sweet, warm and innocent. It's also something else. Sincere. It may be the last sincere movie ever made. Plus there are cool Nuns. These are Nuns like I remember. Cool. And Neat. And Strong and nice.

Okay, mom.

I get it.


  1. There must be something about musicals that make people teary and nutty..
    We caught the last half of Moulan Rouge when it came out in theaters and my husband cried over the death of Ewan McGreggor's favorite hooker. Touching. :C

  2. I saw the Trouble with Angels about two months ago on TCM. I'd never heard of it, but decided to watch for a little while until I got back to cleaning. I ended up watching the entire thing. I couldn't tear myself away.
    You're right, it's a good movie.

  3. I must have missed this the first time around, but my idle surfing brought me to it today. It's a wonderful post, thank you for sharing it.