Mystery solved, legend restored

Let me tell you one of my favorite stories. It may not be much, but for more than 28 years it has been a favorite of mine. Let me tell you:

The legend of my prom night

On the night of my senior prom, two friends and I went to dinner together, then to the movies. Dinner was at the York Steak House in the old, pre food court version of the Echelon Mall. The movie we chose to see was Nice Dreams. We all enjoyed Cheech & Chong’s previous movies, so this looked like a slam-dunk.

When we got inside the theater in the Cherry Hill Mall (yes it was inside the mall where Hollister is today–I think), the manager came in to anounce that this was a special Sneak Preview night where we would see a new film that was not due for release for another few weeks. Cool! Two movies for the price of one! None of us knew anything about the film to be previewed, but we didn’t care. We were high school kids; standards were already low.

What was this surprise movie? Stripes. Yes, the legendary Bill Murray vehicle. We absolutely loved it. Nice Dreams never stood a chance. Stripes is just too damn good. For the next few weeks we were able to brag about having seen this way cool movie (“awesome” hadn’t been invented yet; Jeff Spicoli was still a year away).

So the three of us enjoyed a decent meal, then got a two-fer at the movies–with one being an instant comedy classic. It was the stuff of personal legend, and I have enjoyed keeping that legend alive ever since.

Then came the Internet

A few months ago I decided it was time to commit this legend to the web. It was time to write about it here. So what does someone in my position do first? Visit IMDB, of course. First I checked the release date of Nice Dreams, as that was sorta the cinematic baseline for our night. The result: July 24, 1981.

Huh? How’s that possible? Could I have remembered things backwards after so many years? Even if that were the case and Nice Dreams was the preview, that means it would have been shown almost two  monthsprior to its general release–and that’s just not done. Not to mention the fact that the release date for Stripeswas June 25, 1981, which was well after the prom.

Nothing fit–and I couldn’t understand why. Could IMDB be wrong? Sure. Wikipedia? Sure. Both at the same time??? Well, yeah. If there’s one thing a Google search can show is how quickly information can propagate. Right or wrong, if it gets out there it stays out there. Maybe one day some years back somebody got the release date wrong when filling in the old database information. That was made public, others saw it, spread it, and suddenly history was rewritten. I had seen it happen before, but these are two big, de facto authoritative web sites. The question remained: could they both be wrong?

I did another search tonight: “nice dreams released 1981″. Hit after hit showed the same July date. Scroll, scroll, scroll; same, same, same. Then I saw something I hadn’t thought of before: a newspaper review of the film. Of course! There must be some mention of its release! So I took a look. How lucky could I be! New York Times, Janet Maslin’s review dated June 5, 1981. Right there it says plainly: “opens today at Loews State 2 and other theaters”. That date fit!

But what of Stripes? I took the same approach and found Janet Maslin’s review of it, dated June 25, 1981 and states “opens today at the National and other theaters”. That date fit, too!

Legend restored

So there it was. My recollection was correct after all. Better still, my “legend” was intact. Like I said: it may not be much, but I still think it’s a decent story.

It also leaves me with a couple of tasks: getting the information changed on two large, authoritative sites. Wish me luck!