I could never work in a movie theater.
Don’t get me wrong. I love movies, as anyone who has spent any time reading this site should know. I consider both the Alamo Drafthouse and the Dallas Angelika to be a second home. But, even if I didn’t have a degree and I was totally alone in the world and I desperately needed a job, I could never work at either one of them. I would be scared that, if I did, the act of going to the movies would lose its magic. My love of film would be destroyed by the drudgery of employment. (For that same reason, I could also never work in a book store.)
That’s something that I find myself thinking about as I look at Edward Hopper’s New York Movie. As a writer, it’s impossible for me to look at any painting or photograph without immediately trying to turn it into a short story. While the theater’s the audience is sucked into the fantasy of cinema, the usher stands to the side and appears to be lost in thought. Much as I’ve looked at John French Sloan’s Movies, Five Cents and subsequently spent hours considering who the woman in the audience is looking at, New York Movie has inspired me to spend hours wondering what the usher is thinking about while the audience watches the movie. Is she bored or is she sad? Is she thinking about the movie or the audience or about what she’s going to do when she gets off work? Does she like the movie, does she hate the movie, or has she reached the point where she doesn’t even notice the movie?
Edward Hopper’s best known work was Nighthawks, that famous painting of four people in an all-night diner. Hopper’s model for New York Movie‘s usher was his wife, Jo, who posed under a lamp outside of their apartment.