In the 50’s, my hometown’s movie theater had regular Saturday afternoon matinees. These matinees were for the town’s kids, and parents were glad let their children walk to the Capitol Theater. In fact, some parents were so happy to have time alone that they frequently drove their kids there.
Most, if not all of these matinees, were westerns, starring heroes like, Roy Rogers, and Dale Evans, Gene Autrey, Hopalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid (Duncan Renaldo) and the Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore). Each had his special horse. To be socially accurate, Dale Evans had her own special horse. Remember “Trigger,” “Topper,” “Champion,” “Buttermilk,” and “Silver?” Can you match those horses to their respective owners?
There were other sidekicks who regularly showed up in these movies. Of all these, “Tonto,” (Jay Silverheels) was probably the most famous, kemosabe! Remember “Gabby” Hayes? He drove a jeep named, “Nellybelle.” What about “Smiley” Burnette,” and “Pancho” (Leo Carillo)?
Before the featured western, the kids learned the news, courtesy of Universal City Studios. Twice a week, the Universal Newsreel was released. Each Newsreel contained six or seven short stories, usually one to two minutes in length, covering world events, politics, sports, fashion, and whatever else might entertain the movie audience. It was the time when motion pictures defined our culture and were a primary source of visual news reporting.
One of the big highlights of the matinee always was the cartoon. Our cartoons would probably be deemed unacceptable in today’s environment, but they were certainly funny when we watched them.
When the matinee ended, it was time to go back outside and be blinded by the sunny day.
As an aside, in 2013, Disney Movies brought out a Lone Ranger sequel. That movie had some big Hollywood talent. It was a complete bomb and rated poorly by nearly everyone. The reviewers obviously hadn’t been fortunate enough, like we were, to have seen the original Lone Ranger movies. I will admit, the movie has its boring moments, but when this new Lone Ranger saves the day, just like he used to in the good old days, while the William Tell Overture played loudly, I was laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes. It’s a must see, in my opinion!!!!!