Things I almost remember to forget.
But not quite.
And can't quite remember, would have paid more attention at the time, except that I didn't know it would DISAPPEAR and I would be left with an awful, aching, conspiracy-theory-type feeling.
I used to go to a lot of movies. This was before all the smaller, older theatres in downtown Vancouver closed. Believe me when I say, there are none of them left now. These weren't the height of elegance, they had old red carpets and smallish screens and smelled kind of musty, but they charged less than the garish Cineplexes that were already beginning to take over, and there was something kind of cosy about them. There was the Granville, the Capitol 6, the Fifth Avenue, and (one of my faves) the Caprice, which I used to think looked like Elvis' bathroom, all done up in flocked maroon wallpaper, cherry velvet seats, and a silver lame curtain that swung gracefully open as the show began.
But this isn't about that, or the massive bag of hot buttered popcorn (always leaking greasily out the bottom and ruining my jeans) that seemed to be my main reason for being there. It was about something. Something strange. Something that disappeared.
It was a preview for something, and I wasn't paying much attention to it because my face was down in my big, warm, butter-laden bag of popcorn and I was probably going, "Mmmmmmmmmmmm." But the preview - we'd call it a trailer now - it was sort of along the lines of All the President's Men, an action/thriller sort of thing about - what was it? Some sort of expose. Of the pharmaceutical industry.
We didn't say "Big Pharma" back then because this was (I think) still in the 1990s, and the expression hadn't been coined yet. But that's what it was about. I remember that much. And these reporters were talking urgently to each other - well, it was a bit like The China Syndrome, too, that sense of a disaster coming, of needing to stop something, some juggernaut. Or else the need to expose corruption of some kind, in some huge impersonal omnipotent/omnipresent corporation.
If only I remembered one of two things: the title; and the people in it, the actors. None of that will come to me. I am not even sure of the date, except it was WAY back in my movie-going history, the time of Elvis' bathroom and slightly pee-smelling theatres that always had one screen showing an arty film way the hell up at the top of the building, which meant you had to take an extra set of stairs to get there.
Yes, and there were stairs such as you'd see in the 1940s, big broad Loretta Young-style staircases, then a really really long flight of stairs that led to another side of the theatre altogether, but at least you could still get popcorn. That was the Granville, I think, a place which used to be quite grand. The grandeur in these places was as threadbare and faded as some disappointed spinster in a Tennessee Williams play.
And this went on and on for so many years, I can't even tell you how many. I did this once a week, I saw a movie in Vancouver, by myself. People thought I was a freak, but I absolutely loved it. No matter how bad the movie, it was like sinking into a warm bath.
Then it was all torn apart and ripped down. All of them were gone. It was over, and now all you get is huge Cineplex-type places. We're supposed to think these are Much Better because the screens are huge, there are no bad seats, the washrooms are usually clean (though just try to find the entrance without stumbling into the wrong one) and they have DEAFENING sound that leaves your ears ringing for a week.
So. Back in 19-whatever, which now seems like the 1940s it was so long ago, there was this preview. After that, I did see ONE poster, a coming-attractions sort of thing, about the same movie. I know it was. And then -
And then, nothing.
All traces of this film simply disappeared.
It got stashed at the back of that messy closet of memories everyone has, or at least I assume everyone has, and every so often, but not often at all, the memory would stir or wink or something, a neuron devoted to that memory would get up and walk around, then lie down again, and I wondered - I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but this sudden and total disappearance of what looked like a mainstream feature film screamed "coverup".
Ironic, because the movie itself was about coverup, corruption, in the pharmaceutical industry. It's as if I can hear the dialogue echoing through my brain, but - you know when you can hear voices, but not what they're saying? When you can tell if it's a man or a woman, and if they're yelling or not? It's like that.
I've tried, oh how I've tried since the internet improved and search terms didn't need to be so exact. Back then, there was no internet. There was "something", but I didn't know much about it and certainly did not use it. I do remember a movie that had a sort of layabout deadbeat poet in it (I think he was Scottish - ?), and though he had never gotten anywhere with being published, suddenly he became world-famous "on the Internet". Probably they called it the World Wide Web. Nothing was explained about this, WHERE on the internet, or how. People were in awe enough, and just ignorant enough, that you didn't even need to explain it.
Did that movie actually exist, is it in a vault somewhere, has the negative been destroyed by Big Pharma, has some studio executive eaten it, will I some day find reference to it on one of those Top Ten YouTube videos that now proliferate so madly? I've seen videos about movies that were never released. All sorts of stuff has been covered up by mega-corporations. We can guess why. But we don't know about it because. . . it's been covered up.
I have this fantasy that some day I will find maybe just a title, and bang, the neurons will start firing and I'll remember more about that trailer and be able to look it up. But it was eerie, a weird unsettling feeling. The poster for Coming Attractions was up there, I saw it, I read it, and it was definitely about this movie. But the next time I walked by the place, all that was left there on the wall was a hole.
So it's not this, and it's not this. But what is it??