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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Influence of the movies on early worldview

Another formational influence over Lane's early life was moviegoing. She explains how various types of movies gave her a romantic, naïve view of the world that caused her pain when she confronted reality as an adult.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

The other influence, it seems to be, is that of the movies. I don't really remember my first movies. I have no sense of that. There are people who can say, oh, I saw this picture and I saw that picture. What I do remember about the movies is that they were a family event. One night a week, the whole family went to the movies. On Saturday afternoons; this is all sort of pre-high school, this was when I was in elementary grades. On Saturday afternoons, all of the children went to the movies to see two western shows, two comedies, newsreels, all for ten cents. Then when I got in high school, you went to the movies on Sunday nights with dates. So that was the pattern. As a child I remember lots of comedies that we saw, and I remember some of the sort of frightening, scary movies. But in high school, I remember the romantic stories, the love stories which were so beautiful and so tender, so truly romantic. There was a lot of boy-pursues-girl. Never girl-pursues-boy. Much working out of relationships, but nine out of ten movies ended in marriage which was happy.
PAMELA DEAN:
And that's the end.
MARY TURNER LANE:
The movie ended right there.
PAMELA DEAN:
I wonder if any of them ever started there.
MARY TURNER LANE:
Maybe a few started with a family and young children, and there were problems with the children and there were many things to work out. But the clear image is a very romantic image of a beautiful girl, a handsome, attractive young man who had a very happy romance or courtship. Some problem maybe with parents or something of that kind but it worked out, and you saw the beautiful bride and the handsome groom and that was it. Life would be happy. Everything sort of had a happy ending. What we saw of war pictures seems to me was very limited. I do remember the film, All Quiet on the Western Front with Lou Aires, it seems to me. Oh, how long ago that was, I don't know. I remember it with—I seem to remember something with Gary Cooper—I don't know whether he did a later version or not. We never really saw the horror of war. If anybody died in the movies, it was with a little trickle of blood that came from the mouth. I remember seeing Robert Taylor dying in some war, I don't know what war it was. We saw lots of Civil War pictures and other wars, European wars. But the death came not in a grisly or ghastly or obscene way—the way that we have come to view it with M.A.S.H.—but just a trickle of blood from the mouth and the closing of the eyes and the head went back. And that was that. Always with the last message sent out to the loved ones. But somehow or other the idea of war and the honoring of the dead and movies and the honoring of living happily ever after, those two things were part of the romanticism, it seems to me, that I grew up with and that my friends grew up with. And that somehow or other were unrelated to the reality of life as I had come to know it. And probably made it as difficult for me to be a woman, facing the reality in life, as almost anything else.