Vincent Farnsworth 7:30 p.m., April 24
4th row center: The Corvette Summer rain check
It was the only time in my life where I was given a rain check at the movies.
The Lawrencewood Theatre was an efficacious, sensibly designed cement box located at the end of the parking lot at the Lawrencewood Shopping Center at Oakton Street and Waukegan Road in Niles, Illinois. Built in 1965, it never was much to look at, but the 'Scope screen was properly sized and focus tight. By the time my driver's license arrived in the mail, the theatre had fallen to the ranks of a two-buck house. Naturally it became a favorite destination.
It was one of those hot, muggy, 100% humidity Chicago nights (Friday, June 2, to be exact). The theatre was packed with patrons eager to take the theatre up on their print ad promise of "It's Cool Inside!" The rain had subsided long enough to get the patrons in. After that, it was anybody's game.
Matthew Robbins and Hal Barwood's Corvette Summer is as likeable a teen comedy as any you'll find -- easily the best film Mark Hamill has ever appeared in. It should have become clear the second I sat down and my pants began absorbing water, With senior tickets selling for a buck, I thought someone from the 6pm showing had an accident. I moved to higher and dryer ground.
After the first reel change, a clap of thunder sounded that caused the bulb to momentarily flicker. Rain hit the tin roof like bullets, effectively muffling the audio portion of the program.
The rafters had more holes in it than O.J.'s alibi. One at a time, umbrellas began popping open across the auditorium. Suddenly I was in a scene from Foreign Correspondent. Or worse, Mary Poppins.
With the movie still rolling, the manager strode to the front of the theatre to make an announcement: "We're not going to stop the movie," he shouted over the soundtrack. "We'll refund your money and give you a pass to come back later this week, but we're not stopping the movie. Thank you." Inside my head, Ethel Merman broke out in a chorus of, There's No Business Like Show Business.
A refund and a free pass?! By the time the manager had made it halfway up the aisle, there was a trail of umbrellas following his path. I did go back the next night to see how it ended, but not at the Lawrencewood. If I got soaked at the Sunset Drive-In, I'd have no one to blame but myself.
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