The Saturday Late Night Movie

When I was a tot, probably six or seven, I looked forward to the weekend, and not just because it meant no school—though that was probably part of it. What I looked forward to most was spending two very special hours with my dad, watching the late movie. Every Saturday night, we would see an old black and white film on the local UHF station or a newer TV movie, like The Night Stalker or Columbo, on one of the Big Three networks. The UHF stations didn’t have much of a budget, so they were stuck showing classic b-horror flicks, such as Universal’s monsters, Abbot and Costello, or Charlie Chan. I loved all those old films, but Charlie Chan may have been my favorite; there was something about the exotic locales (mostly studio sets), the mysterious characters, and the comic relief of Number One Son and Birmingham Brown that worked so well in my young, adventure-loving mind and made me dream of someday becoming a wise, old Chinese detective. (I came close.)

That was our family night. I got to stay up late and watch a grownup movie and curl up on the couch next to my dad and hide my eyes when I was scared and eat popcorn or chips or some other unhealthy snack when I wasn’t. And I loved every minute, even the commercials. For me, that was pure youngster heaven, and so much better than watching cartoons or playing Pong (on Radio Shack’s TV Scoreboard, the poor man’s Atari at the time), even better than imagining a galaxy far, far away with my Star Wars action figures. Those years lasted only until I was 10, the year he was diagnosed with lung cancer (miss you, Dad), but I treasure that time more than any other from my childhood.

So we try to do that now with our daughters. And though two of them are probably too young to fully appreciate the Fortunato Saturday Night Ritual, my wife and I hope we are leaving a few good memories that will someday be nostalgic for them and remind them they were (are) loved.

What is our Saturday night ritual? Well, right now, it involves MeTV. We start at 8 o’clock watching Wonder Woman and then Star Trek, and then we end with Svengoolie, hosted by a wacky ghoul who introduces a late night classic b-horror film every week. Other times, we rent a new movie the kids might be wanting to see. The rest of the ritual is curling up on the couch, hiding our eyes during the scary parts, eating popcorn or chips or some other unhealthy snack, and enjoying each other’s company, all with the lights out. For me, it’s still pure youngster heaven.

What are some of your rituals? Leave a comment and let me know.


P.S. On Saturday nights, you can often find us on Twitter during Svengoolie. We join other fans and tweet funnies about whatever film is showing under the hashtag #svengoolie.


Blog Notes:

Svengoolie link to website

CBS Late Night Movie Logo link on youtube

Vintage TV Logos link on youtube

Charlie Chan Meeting at Midnight (1944) Starring Sydney Toler – link to watch full movie free on youtube. Charlie searches for a murderer amidst numerous ghosts conjured up by a strange variety of spiritualists and occultists—IMDB


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4 thoughts on “The Saturday Late Night Movie

  1. Holy cow! You’re kind of a big deal. Long time reader, first time blog responderer (sp?)…. I guess it’s all the rage these days.

    I have two questions for you;

    (1) If the moon was made of ribs, would you eat it? I know I would.

    (2) What time is it where your at?

    All joking aside, I really like these tidbits. Keep up the good work Woodchuck.

  2. Ken, thank you for the comment. I am honored my blog was your first. [Blushing]
    As for your two wonderfully intriguing questions, I feel they both deserve my full attention and consideration. Yes, I would eat the moon if it was made of ribs. I am presently on a low-carb diet, so a high-protein celestial body would be allowed. I would, however, request a bucket of Atkin’s BBQ sauce. Tangy, please. As to your second question…now that one requires some deliberation. Hmm. I think time in the blogosphere is relative and is best described this way: Time will pass and seasons will come and go, but your comment will reside on this site for perpetuity, or at least until I stop paying the bill.
    I’m glad you enjoy my posts, and I’ll try not to let you down.
    Take care, Grey Squirrel.

  3. Great post! I also have my own connections to these late night, weekend movies. Mine are centered around my older brother and I watching an episode of Star Trek (or one of the movies) and a cheesy sci-fi film. I’m glad that the rituals, such as they are, can continue and be passed along. Cheers!!

    • Thanks, Gregor. I’m happy to hear that other folks can relate. And yes, we are definitely trying to pass it on to our kids.
      Best, John

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