Congratulations! You just made it through one of our dreariest months and have entered one of our most fun ones. This Saturday, we’ll hold the earliest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the Chicago area. After that, we’ll have the fun of watching the 95th Academy Awards on March 12. Which reminds me of how much movies and movie-going have changed over the years.

In the old days, if you showed up late for a movie, the theater would be so packed, you could end up in the front row, getting a sore neck. Now, we purchase assigned seats on-line and there’s 10 people in the audience.

Smoking was the love language of classic movies. Nothing was more romantic than lighting someone’s cigarette. Today, if a character takes a single puff, the film is slapped with an “R” rating.

Animals were treated cruelly in the old movies. Horses were purposely tripped. Now, if an insect is accidentally stepped on, there’s an outcry.

Older actors have long been used to portray teenagers but the “teens” in Grease look like they’re eligible for AARP.

Modern directors rely on CGI to create fantasy worlds. Classic directors created a fantasy world simply by shooting in black and white.

Besides the notorious “black face,” white actors also portrayed other ethnic groups in what were called “yellow face” and “brown face” roles. Today, if you don’t actually have a disability, don’t play such a character, or you’ll hear from the ADA. 

Action movies have always been violence-driven. PG-13 stands for “Pretty Gory for a 13-year-old.”

The old-time movie stars didn’t have to be actors. They just played themselves in every movie. As one of them said, “I can’t take this role. It requires acting.”

I prefer watching foreign movies with subtitles. Unlike English-speaking movies, I can actually understand what they’re saying. 

Why are foreign actors so good with the American accent, while American actors struggle with foreign accents?

I feel sorry for female actors. They often play opposite much older leading men. Their career path can take them from playing the ingénue, to playing mom, to portraying someone with Alzheimer’s.  

I’ve rarely seen a convincing punch delivered in a movie. But I did see a convincing slap during the awards show. 

Villains don’t get it, but if they rush the hero they will be kicked backwards. Also, villains must have a great sense of humor. They’re constantly chuckling.

Classic film credits used the word “Introducing” to alert the audience that an actor was making their film debut. There are still film debuts, but I haven’t seen “Introducing” in years.  

Americans watched an average of 1.4 movies on the big screen in 2022, but 61% of us did not set foot in a theater. Movie attendance peaked when 50 million Americans a week went to the movies. 

Theaters used to show double features. I once watched The French Connection and Bullitt on a double bill. 

Child actors used to be so stiff and wooden. Now they steal every scene. 

Forest Park is very photogenic. We’ve hosted feature films, TV shows and commercials. But we don’t have a movie theater. 

Couldn’t we at least have a film series for adults at our library?  

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.