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
- 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.