The Old Paths: Movie meanderings

By Leslie Bray Brewer - Special to The Stokes News

Anybody been to the movies lately? Around my house, it seems as though we go in spurts. Just before Christmas, a slew of blockbuster movies come out, then we go through a winter dry season until the pre-summer hits are released. Therefore, the hubster and I might head to the movies two weeks in a row, then go a month or two without seeing even one.

After our January and February dry spell of no movies this year (except “Black Panther” of course), suddenly we had a movie rush around the Easter season. He and I went to see “I Can Only Imagine,” and I loved it so much I went back with my kids the next week. Then we saw “Paul, Apostle of Christ” on Resurrection Day.

Is it just me or have any of you noticed there seem to be more faith-based movies these days? Though many churches would have you believe this present world is going to Hell in a hand-basket (yeah, I said it), I don’t look at things quite so darkly. I believe the recent trend in Hollywood to reach out more to the people of faith in this country is encouraging.

Remember when the Kendrick Brothers used regular people from their Baptist congregation down in Georgia to act in “Facing the Giants”? Who would’ve dreamed that locally-made movie would last more than one or two screenings in theaters? It was only supposed to run for a short time, but the crowds kept it on the big screens for several weeks. I personally went to see it in the theater six times!

Then there came the flicks like “God’s Not Dead,” “Miracles From Heaven,” “War Room” and “The Shack.” Again, theaters were packed. I pray this sends a message to Hollywood that there is a huge Christian movie going audience crying out for decent movies.

When I watch trailers for R-rated movies and even many PG-13 flicks, I think to myself, “Is it really necessary to have all of those curse words and sexual innuendos and actions? Can’t you make a good adventure movie without the four-letter words that our parents didn’t let us say?”

How did Hollywood get the message that bad words, sex and blood and gore is what we want to watch? I suppose it’s because people keep handing over their hard-earned moolah to see such flicks. I wish we could convince Hollywood that there is still a large majority of people who want to see wholesome movies. Again, I suppose the way we do that is to heavily support the decent ones that do come to theaters.

When I was a kid, we didn’t go to the movies a lot, but when we did, there were usually plenty of wholesome films to choose from. Walt Disney was always coming out with things like “The Shaggy Dog,” “The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes” or some animated feature.

Sometimes Daddy and Mama would take us to the Bel-Air Drive-In in Walkertown on a Saturday night. Anybody else remember those old drive-in days? You’d set that metal speaker at your car window and munch on popcorn from the comfort of your own car. Was there was a swing set near the big screen where bored children could go play? I seem to recall that.

If we didn’t go to the drive-in, we would head out to the theater at Thruway Shopping Center in Winston-Salem. And were there theaters at Parkway Plaza or maybe Parkview Shopping Center? I have a foggy memory of those names, and I faintly remember a theater down a little side road near Reynolda Manor Shopping Center.

There was no Hanes Mall when I was a little kid, so forget the theaters out that way or reclining seats at The Grand in Stanleyville—no such places or luxuries. I’m old enough to remember when Surround-Sound first came out. Mama took us to see “Earthquake” with Charleton Heston, and the too-real sound and vibrations freaked my little sister out!

Back on the old paths, we were told they had subliminal messages in the movie previews that would make us all want to run to the concession stand to buy popcorn and a Coke. All I know is that I still crave buttered popcorn and a soft drink as soon as I enter a theater.

Have you ever asked why we eat popcorn at the movies? I mean, why not potato chips or pickles or soft pretzels? In the early days of theaters, no food was allowed because the establishments were regal—with velvet curtains and carpet. But as movies progressed from silent pictures to “talkies,” things were cheapened somewhat as the masses thronged to the theaters.

Popcorn was a cheap treat, especially during the Great Depression when people had little money. Sugary snacks were still just as popular as pop-corn, but then came World War II when sugar was rationed. That was very probably when popcorn became the most popular movie staple of all. It was still relatively cheap and required no sugar. And of course there was no shortage of salt.

Now we automatically accept popcorn as THE snack for movies, even when we’re sitting on our couch at home watching Netflix or Hulu. The secondary snacks are the sweet ones, but even then we are tradition-bound. I still can’t think of Raisinets, Goobers or Whoppers without considering them “movie fare.” Funny how things become ingrained in our brains and psyches.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed our little walk down “movie memory lane.” Keep sending the message to Hollywood that we like decent movies, and quit supporting those other ones unless you just can’t get your fill of cussing, killing and sex scenes. And remember—quit sneaking in that candy in your purse; you know the theater concessions need to make that big money on snacks (sarcasm intended).

Maybe one day those of us in Walnut Cove who are too young to remember the fun of going to the movies at the Palmetto Theater in our very own town will be able to partake of such pleasures. The Palmetto Group is slowly but surely fixing that old place up again for community events.

I’m not sure they’re going to show movies, but I would love to be able to sit down in there one day and watch a movie as my parents used to. I’ll even promise to buy popcorn and not hide Raisinets in my pocketbook. Hey, a movie-loving girl can dream, right?

Leslie Bray Brewer can be emailed at Her blog is at

By Leslie Bray Brewer

Special to The Stokes News