John A. Douglas

Living Passionately In the World of the Moving Image

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All About Me

I was born and raised in West Virginia and during that period I had two sets of friends. One set was made up of the other kids in the little town of Glen Ferris. The second set lived up on the screen at the Fayette Theater in nearby Fayetteville, West Virginia. These were cowboys and citizens of the jungle and crimefighters whose origins were radio or the daily newspaper comic strips – but mostly they were cowboys.

Sometimes the two groups would merge and the real kids would take on the identity of those who lived on the screen. I would become Hopalong Cassidy and Bob Burdette might be Roy Rogers for awhile in order to act out a play on good and evil.

After a two year stay in Marietta, Ohio, where my father had been transferred, we moved to the suburbs of New York City as a result of yet another transfer. It was paradise. The movies screens on Broadway were gigantic and I would go into the city and run from one theater to another to experience whatever tale they were telling.  These were legendary theaters like the Paramount Theater, the Rivoli Theater, the Warner Theater and the Radio City Music Hall (which was off Broadway but it counted).

Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to be a journalist so after high school it was off to the University of Colorado. A major problem developed – I couldn’t pass English due in no small part to the diagramming of sentences. But Boulder, Colorado, had the Flatiron Theater, a wonderful movie emporium, where I could be found every Saturday night. Plus Colorado was a cowboy state and as I explored the area, often by horseback, I could feel the presence of Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Tex Ritter which was weird because they were all still alive. But I didn’t care; I could still feel their presence.

After two years of grades that reflected a seeming disinterest in academic challenges, the administration of the university suggested that I take a time out. The only good grades I got was an A in Horseback Riding and a B in Inductive Logic whatever that is.

Eventually I did graduate from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, where I majored in Radio and Television Production. From there I hit the streets of New York City to seek my fortune or at least find a job. I ended up working as an expeditor for Klaeger Asociates, a motion picture company on 45th St. that specialized in television commercials. An expeditor is the lowest job you could have at the company with the exception of the two messenger boys but it was a great place to learn.

My on-hands education was put in jeopardy when I found out that I was about to be drafted. To put a stop to that horrible possibility, I pulled a fast one on the military by enlisting. After Basic Training they took away my gun (the military hates it when you call it that) and handed me a movie camera. I ended up teaching Motion Picture Photography at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, for 2 ½ years.

After going to Wayne State for a Masters in Mass Communication, I ended up in Grand Rapids working for the Christian Reformed Laymen’s League trying to produce a television show on film about  good and evil, a throwback to the cowboy games I used to indulge in.

After working for a couple of motion picture production companies one of which was my own, I decided it was easier to criticize other peoples’ films than to make my own. So I went to work for The Grand Rapids Press as a film reviewer.

I worked at the Press until retirement. Retirement is a ball.

MOVIE EXPERIENCE

Teacher

Wayne State University – Graduate Courses in Mass Communications

U. S. Army Signal Corp – Motion Picture Photography

University Center for Adult Education, Detroit – Home Movies

Kentwood Adult Education – Review Writing

Film Series Producer

Oakland University

Grand Rapids Art Festival

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Gerald R. Ford Museum

Flint Institute of Arts

Celebration! Cinema

Radio and Television Shows about movies

WLAV Radio – Movie Reviews

WGVU Radio – Movie Reviews

WOOD Radio – Movie Reviews

WGVU-TV – Stories on local movie activity

WZZM-TV – Movie Reviews

Movie Theater Management

4 Star Theater, Grand Rapids

Eastown Theater, Grand Rapids

Wealthy Theater, Grand Rapids

Motion Picture Production (cinematography, directing, producing, editing, scoring, writing, acting and grunt work)

Klaeger Associates, New York City

Wayne State University, Detroit

Christian Reformed Layman’s League, Grand Rapids

Fine Arts Communicators, Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Production Co., Grand Rapids

Movie Publicity

Ralph Windoes Travelogues, Grand Rapids

Critic

The Grand Rapids Press

Fan

All my life except when cradle bound.