When I was growing up, in Lynwood, California, Watts on one side, Compton and Long Beach just south, and to the east Downey. My younger brother Philip and I would mow the lawn, take out the trash, and sweep up the flowers, from the Jacaranda tree, which to us seemed endless, from the front sidewalk and the path to our front door. Our sweeping, during the summer, was twice a day, if my mother insisted, as she always did.
We finished our chores and passed my mother’s grooming inspection, hair combed and more importantly, neck and ears washed. An absolute must! We collected our 30 cents. (A candy bar cost 6 cents at the show, a very important consideration for a 7 year old!) So we were candy-less! and we walked a block to Long Beach Blvd. and The Arden Show. We saw Martin and Lewis occasionally but what we really liked were films like This Island Earth and Forbidden Planet: Anne Francis swathed in a gauze swim suit, swimming in a pool, while Leslie Nielsen questioned her, on her father Walter Pigeon’s terrible secret about the Krell of Altair IV. All of this much more important than the dull witted clowning of Martin and Lewis. Not to speak of Robbie the Robot as featured player, in this Sci-Fi melodrama. And the old recycled serials from the forties, like Commander Cody Sky Marshal of The Universe. Or Superman, who was an obvious phony, because the star wasn’t George Reeves, of television fame.
For my brother and I, our entertainment preference , more an obsession, was Sci-Fi. The Day the Earth Stood Still was our urtext, in its many re-releases, and the subject of endless conversations, steeped in wonder, at the possibility of the existence other life forms, in the age of Nixon/McCarthy Cold War paranoia of the political ‘Other’. That ‘Other’, perfectly cast as lead player, was the very exotic looking Michael Renne, the epitome of the suave sophisticated British gentleman: my brother and I were two California kids in mid-20th America, the very definition of naiveté.
We were the first generation of television addicts; we even turned on the T.V. set and watched the test pattern, on Saturday mornings, before the broadcasts day began. I don’t remember where my parents were. We now live in an age dominated by this noisy unwelcome guest 24/7. For Philip and I, Martin and Lewis were the annoying prelude to what we came to see, a vision of a future. Not knowing that that vision was conceived by the apologists for the American National Security State, the American Movie Industry, that helped make Martin and Lewis equal to the ‘circus’ of the ‘bread and circus’ of that State!