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Screen Kisses

It was a movie moment. The theater was playing what would now be considered a retro double feature of Hoffman and Bancroft in “The Graduate” and Robert Forster as a tough talking TV news cameraman in the midst of the democratic convention of 1968 in “Medium Cool” – one of the first cinema-verite docu-dramas of the time. Being young, impressionable, and having absolutely no clue that the doorway between the entrance of the movie theater and the entrance to the actual theater hid the perfect spot to initiate a first kiss while the movie filtered through the window spilling into the darkness.It was a perfect kiss, one that still means something years later for the pure innocence and spontaneity and passion of it all, just as the phrase “Plastics” was stilling cycling my brain, the moment crept up like a dark noir shadow to present itself across my own personal screen. I stood motionless waiting for the kill. Years later, I now realize Mike Nichols taught me a profound lesson as the perfect kiss was being planted on my lips one that had been so obviously as the nose on my face – it was all about timing.No other device drives a scene, and without it, actors words lie flat. Mike Nichols had an incredibly keen ear and took the writer’s brilliant words (Buck Henry) to a theatrical level. Creating cinema history out of the absurdity of suburban middle class life, which is why it still resonates today as it did when it was first seen. Making a “moment” in screen time, is an exaggerated version of extended reality taking the viewer along for the ride. That kiss seemed to linger for moments beyond what it possibly could have and became a moment that stood out in time, frozen and elongated, to be played over as many times as I wish from my own personal collection of movies.That night in between two doors separating the screen from reality of the Ramsey Theater, dreams and passion germinated under a flickering light. Thank you Mike Nichols. I’ll look for your signature style in those who will try to honor your iconic style and impeccable timing.

Small Miracles 1991