Every Monday night a local theater, Penn Cinema, presents what it calls The Heart of Lancaster movie series. They show classic movies such as Rear Window, Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, and Christmas Vacation. It's a really cool way to see some of your favorite movies on the big screen again or, as is often the case, for the first time (Rear Window on video is cool...on the big screen is truly the way it was meant to be).
Before the movie begins, the theater owner comes out and asks trivia questions related to the evening's film, giving people the chance to win some fun prizes. When Sarah and I went to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail I won a nifty little chip clip.
But last night they showed Planes, Trains and Automobiles and I wasn't about to settle for a chip clip. I was determined that my years of studying Steve Martin and his works would not go unrewarded. The trivia questions are usually pretty tough, and I tried to imagine what the questions might be. As I waited for my buddy John to pick me up to see the film, I stood outside my apartment playing the film back in my head, thinking of every possible detail that could be quizzed.
The name of the ad campaign being studied in the opening (and very final) scene? Ibis.
The actress behind the counter at the Marathon Car Rental company? Edie McClurg, who was also in John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
The name of the movie Steve Martin's wife is watching while she waits for him to come home? She's Having a Baby, also directed by John Hughes and starring Kevin Bacon who has a cameo in PT&A.
Any other John Hughes connections in the film? Ferris Bueller's Ben Stein plays the airline attendant and Molly Ringwald's grandfather from Sixteen Candles is seated on the other side of Steve Martin in the plane.
So when the time came for the trivia to begin I was hoping I wouldn't freeze up and choke on something I should have known. The question came and, I have to admit, for someone who's seen the movie 30-plus times, it was a no-brainer.
"What are the first and last names of the two main characters in the movie?"
My hand shot up with lightning-fast speed and before I even realized my hand was in the air, the manager was calling on me, "The young man in the black coat." (He called me "young man." Heh heh heh. Sucker. My good genes fooled 'em again!)
I answered with all the calm confidence of Ken Jennings playing Celebrity Jeopardy. "Neal Page and Del Griffith."
So if you see me walking around in my new Dolby Digital T-shirt with an oddly happy spring in my step, you know why. I just wish I could go back in time to when I was a teenager watching Planes, Trains... for the 20th time. My mom asked me, "Why do you have to watch that movie so many times?".
Because now I have an answer.