As a young boy, perhaps twelve or thirteen, I had occasion to go to a movie in Wellfleet. They showed movies once a month in the basement of that big white church that’s just before entering the center of town. Not much of a theater; kind of dingy. But it was the movie that counted.
We got very involved; we were truly transported by the characters and the action: It was a gangster film with someone like Edward G. Robinson, a tough crook, who was having some kind of a meeting at his place with a few other crooks. There was the usual, kind of pretty, but very dumb, blond, sitting on the plush couch, chewing gum and filing her nails.
As Edward G. paced about the room, snarling his disapproval of some botched job that his “boys” had done, the blond made the mistake of standing and making some unwelcome comment: SMACK! Edward G. gave her a backhander, and she fell back onto the couch with a pitiful sob. Cowering on the couch and holding her hand to her wounded face, she wailed “You didn’t have to hit me like that!” SMACK! He gave her another one.
(As I said, it was another era, and a different way of looking at things.)
Well, there was an old-fashioned Wellfleetian in the audience, and he had had just about enough of that Edward G.stuff It was as if the movie had taken possession of him; it had become too real for him. He leaped into the aisle, and, shaking his fist at the screen, he shouted with all he had, “That’s it! You hit her again like that and I’ll be up there!” I fully expected Edward G. to at least turn his head and acknowledge the fellow. But he didn’t.