2007.01.31 Nights at the Rex

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Something brought the Rex Theatre to mind last week and I couldn’t for the death of me remember what it was. I noticed that it was gone Friday night when I realized it was my week to write a column.

But I was lying in bed this morning and it all came back. It started with a movie I watched called “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” that featured Tommy Lee Jones.

The name Tommy Lee Jones always takes me back to 1993 or 94 when I took Ben to the Rex to watch Jones in a movie called “The Fugitive.” I thought Ben would enjoy the excitement of the film and he did, but the intensity was a little more than I expected and a little too much for him. It was rated PG-13 and he wasn’t quite there.

Then a  little more Rexness came to mind Friday when I wrote to Jim Whitehouse about something. He always makes me think about the Rex–just because of one particular incident.

I was attending the spectacular double feature of “The Blob” (Steve McQueen’s entry into stardom) and “I Married a Monster from Outer Space.” That was 1958, long before the days of movie ratings, and there I was, a seven-year-old getting scared out of my skin.

Here’s the description of the second movie:

“This science-fiction film follows a bunch of aliens who have descended upon Earth in hopes of taking over the planet and the universe by producing large quantities of alien-human offspring. Disguised as a human, one of the other-worldly beings ties the knot with a naïve human woman.”

The movie poster shows a woman in a bridal gown with a look of terror on her face and an evil looking man in the background. One of his fingers is probably bent out to the side in a funny way, sort of like that one kid who was a couple years behind me in school. It’s how you could identify the aliens.

Where does Jim Whitehouse fit into the picture? Jim brought up the connection with Lestoil, a household cleaner that made dirt disappear with less toil.

As I recall, the real humans were hung up on some sort of rack and wires were connected to them and they turned into aliens somehow. Their bodies would start to smoke and then disappear.

It was then that Jim loudly sang the popular jingle of the day, “It’s so easy when you use Lestoil.”

I don’t know how I knew it was Jim Whitehouse who sang it out in the dark Rex Theatre. Maybe it was his brother, Bill, or any other joker in the crowd, but in my mind it was Jim, and I’m glad he did it. A little levity was needed at that point. Steve McQueen had survived the blob that arrived in an asteroid, but things weren’t looking too good in this second feature.

The crowd loved the interruption, but that was probably the signal for someone from the theatre staff—Mrs. Paine, I think—to walk down the aisle and threaten any noise-makers with ejection.

When I say noise-makers, I’m referring to people rather than an empty Milk Duds box. After I bought my movie ticket for 25 cents, I always headed to the concession area for a box of Milk Duds.

When the Duds were all ingested, placing the opened compartment into the mouth and blowing would create a grating vibration that would travel throughout the Rex.

The Rex Theatre offers a lot of memories for three generations of Morenci kids, from Saturday matinées to visits from Santa Claus to early romantic encounters.

It’s also a very strange place with only five seats on one side of the aisle and four on the other. I remember coming home from college once anBy DAVID GREEN

Something brought the Rex Theatre to mind last week and I couldn’t for the death of me remember what it was. I noticed that it was gone Friday night when I realized it was my week to write a column.

But I was lying in bed this morning and it all came back. It started with a movie I watched called “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” that featured Tommy Lee Jones.

The name Tommy Lee Jones always takes me back to 1993 or 94 when I took Ben to the Rex to watch Jones in a movie called “The Fugitive.” I thought Ben would enjoy the excitement of the film and he did, but the intensity was a little more than I expected and a little too much for him. It was rated PG-13 and he wasn’t quite there.

Then a  little more Rexness came to mind Friday when I wrote to Jim Whitehouse about something. He always makes me think about the Rex–just because of one particular incident.

I was attending the spectacular double feature of “The Blob” (Steve McQueen’s entry into stardom) and “I Married a Monster from Outer Space.” That was 1958, long before the days of movie ratings, and there I was, a seven-year-old getting scared out of my skin.

Here’s the description of the second movie:

“This science-fiction film follows a bunch of aliens who have descended upon Earth in hopes of taking over the planet and the universe by producing large quantities of alien-human offspring. Disguised as a human, one of the other-worldly beings ties the knot with a naïve human woman.”

The movie poster shows a woman in a bridal gown with a look of terror on her face and an evil looking man in the background. One of his fingers is probably bent out to the side in a funny way, sort of like that one kid who was a couple years behind me in school. It’s how you could identify the aliens.

Where does Jim Whitehouse fit into the picture? Jim brought up the connection with Lestoil, a household cleaner that made dirt disappear with less toil.

As I recall, the real humans were hung up on some sort of rack and wires were connected to them and they turned into aliens somehow. Their bodies would start to smoke and then disappear.

It was then that Jim loudly sang the popular jingle of the day, “It’s so easy when you use Lestoil.”

I don’t know how I knew it was Jim Whitehouse who sang it out in the dark Rex Theatre. Maybe it was his brother, Bill, or any other joker in the crowd, but in my mind it was Jim, and I’m glad he did it. A little levity was needed at that point. Steve McQueen had survived the blob that arrived in an asteroid, but things weren’t looking too good in this second feature.

The crowd loved the interruption, but that was probably the signal for someone from the theatre staff—Mrs. Paine, I think—to walk down the aisle and threaten any noise-makers with ejection.

When I say noise-makers, I’m referring to people rather than an empty Milk Duds box. After I bought my movie ticket for 25 cents, I always headed to the concession area for a box of Milk Duds.

When the Duds were all ingested, placing the opened compartment into the mouth and blowing would create a grating vibration that would travel throughout the Rex.

The Rex Theatre offers a lot of memories for three generations of Morenci kids, from Saturday matinées to visits from Santa Claus to early romantic encounters.

It’s also a very strange place with only five seats on one side of the aisle and four on the other. I remember coming home from college once and watching a movie at the Rex. It seemed so pitiful. Long and narrow with such a small screen down in the front.

Then came several years when the Rex was closed and we knew what we’d lost.

I’ve been a Rex booster ever since Evan Chase reopened the theatre, although I very seldom get to a movie anymore. About the only time I go in is to chat with the current owners, Mike and Carolin Gregerson, whose 10th anniversary at the Rex is just a few weeks away.

I suppose I need a special inducement to walk down that long aisle again instead of watching DVDs from my couch. I wonder if they sell Milk Duds.d watching a movie at the Rex. It seemed so pitiful. Long and narrow with such a small screen down in the front.

Then came several years when the Rex was closed and we knew what we’d lost.

I’ve been a Rex booster ever since Evan Chase reopened the theatre, although I very seldom get to a movie anymore. About the only time I go in is to chat with the current owners, Mike and Carolin Gregerson, whose 10th anniversary at the Rex is just a few weeks away.

I suppose I need a special inducement to walk down that long aisle again instead of watching DVDs from my couch. I wonder if they sell Milk Duds.

    - Jan. 31, 2007 

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