|Esther Williams and Cliff Robertson on the set of The Big Show|
The first film I screened on a phone was The Big Show (1961) with Esther Williams and Cliff Robertson. The palm-sized screen was much too tiny for comfortable everyday viewing of a film, but the phone would stream movies faster than my sluggish internet service on the laptop.
All of this brings me to a certain moment.
At some point in that film -perhaps the point at which Cliff and Esther start talking marriage and I feel as though I’m intruding on a real conversation- I think, "This is frightfully intimate." Not only are talented people performing at my command, they are in my hand, they are in my pocket; I can take them with me in a way that I'd not done before.
This everyday technology is amazing, but also disturbing for some reason that I can’t articulate.
Robert Wagner mentions in his first autobiography, Pieces of My Heart, that in his childhood, movie stars seemed to be untouchable beings on a 30-foot silver screen that you never thought you’d meet. When television became prominent, TV stars on a smaller screen in your home felt like your neighbors.
What, then, does a tiny screen in your palm do to your experience? Do the people on the screen feel like your toys? That thought makes me uneasy. Still, I’m interested in what newer media formats will continue to keep classic movies accessible.
What's the first movie you screened on a phone or other mobile device? Did you enjoy the experience?
- You may purchase the film here: The Big Show w/ Esther Williams
- Read about actors' first experiences at the movies: Cary Grant Goes to the Cinema (and other tales of film stars' early movie-watching experiences)