It is Tuesday matinee time in Huntington Beach, and the first movie patrons are about to arrive.
The movie house is not your latest multiplex or multi-anything: no panoramic screen, no Dolby sound, no rocking-back seats, no popcorn in the lobby.
Instead, their theater is Golden West College's 230-seat Forum II lecture hall--one of those dry-looking academic facilities but one softened by wood-paneled walls and soft beige carpeting.
The college's spring Captioned Senior Film Festival was getting under way at 3 p.m. with "Bloodline," the 1979 Audrey Hepburn mystery vehicle, and as usual, Dorothy Falvey was there to greet the patrons: senior citizens and the hearing impaired.
"It's a wonderful program. It gets people out and away from the TV set--to meet people, to learn about other programs (for seniors and hearing-impaired)," said Falvey, 74, a volunteer aide for the campus series.
The movies in this spring's 16-week afternoon roster (the weekly Tuesday sessions started Jan. 26) is not that dissimilar from what is rerun on television or in revival houses.
"Chariots of Fire" is screening today. "The French Lieutenant's Woman," "Guys and Dolls," "Laura," "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Annie" are still to come.
What is unusual is that all the films in the 8-year-old Golden West College program are captioned. And patronage is limited to those 60 or older, or those who suffer from impaired hearing, regardless of age. Admission is free to the hearing-impaired. Seniors with a campus-provided Gold Key Card are also admitted free.
According to Sally Coffey, a community services coordinator for Golden West, theirs is the only program in the county that offers a film series targeted for both senior citizens and the hearing impaired. There are two similar programs in the county, but these are strictly for the hearing-impaired.
One is offered by Rancho Santiago College. The Santa Ana campus series, now 10 years old, is free to the hearing-impaired. The 7 p.m. series, which is held every second and fourth Friday evening, resumes Feb. 26, but the new six-film schedule has not yet been announced (screenings will be in Art Building C-104).
The other series is at St. Wilfrid's Episcopal Church in Huntington Beach. The free 7 p.m. screenings for the hearing-impaired (every first and third Friday evenings) are at the church, at 18631 Chapel Lane. Choices for the next showings have not been announced.
The goal for all three programs is the same. "We want to provide entertainment, of course, but most of all a chance to break down the isolation of such groups," said Herb Terreri, Rancho Santiago program coordinator.
"It (showing films) is a key part of an overall approach that also involves classes on health problems, fiscal planning and other such important needs."
This spring, Rancho Santiago will for the first time show videocassette versions of Hollywood movies on a giant screen. Until now, the college had been getting 16-millimeter regular versions from the Florida-based Caption Films for the Deaf, a federally backed organization that provides captioned films free (except for postage costs) to nonprofit community groups.
Although local sponsors of such programs say they are gratified by the response, they acknowledge that turnouts have not always been as high as anticipated. Rancho Santiago reports audiences of 20 to 30 people. St. Wilfrid's reports 10 to 20, and Golden West 35 to 50.
A monthly evening series for the hearing-impaired held by the Providence Speech and Hearing Center in Orange was discontinued last year due to sparse attendance, administrators said.
Sponsors depend as much on word-of-mouth as they do on flyers and campus catalogues to reach potential patrons.
"But we feel strongly that the program is an important one and that (it) has more than demonstrated its need," said Golden West's Coffey. Many senior citizens in her program suffer from "moderate hearing-impairment, even though they don't wish to be classified in that category."
The Golden West repertoire is much the same as that at Rancho Santiago and St. Wilfrid's: a roster of recent works (such as "Tootsie" and "On Golden Pond"), classic Westerns ("Red River"), big musicals ("Fiddler on the Roof") and real oldies (Frank Capra's "Lost Horizon").
"It brings back memories (of) when we used to go out two, maybe three, times a week to see a movie," said Julius Feingold, 79, of Seal Beach, a Golden West matinee regular for two years.
"OK, sometimes we don't like the (profane) language they use nowadays. We realize that's how some movies are made today. We don't like it, but we just go along with it."
Besides, he said with a grin, looking at the full spring list, "there's some awfully good ones coming up."