CLOSE

After past Oscars faced backlash for a lack of diversity in nominations and winners, the 2017 Academy Award winners may have represented the most diverse group ever.
USA TODAY NETWORK

As a youngster I spent many, many hours in the old Gem Theatre at the corner of Vine and Central. My earliest memory of going there was in 1942 when I was 7 years old. My grandmother often took me when she wanted to see “Frankenstein,” “The Wolfman” or “The Mummy” movies. Those flicks scared the heck out of me, but I never complained.

By the time I was 11 or 12 I could go to the theater by myself or with friends. The price of admission was a dime, with cold drinks, popcorn or candy costing only a nickel.
Having a quarter made me feel like a rich kid. Sometimes I would sit there and watch a movie two times. During the heat of the summer, it was the only air-conditioned place available. On occasion I saw movies in the balcony of the Bijou Theatre.

Although those early monster movies — “Frankenstein” (1931), “Dracula” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932) and “The Wolf Man” (1941) — terrified me at a young age, I had to collect them when VHS movies came available.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

I decided to create a movie collection of my own in the 1970s and began a two-track effort to find the best films available on VHS. The first goal was to acquire every film that had won the Academy Award for best picture. My second-track effort was to find the 50 classic motion pictures featured in David Zinman’s book of that name, which was published in 1970.

It was relatively simple to find the Academy Award winners, beginning with “Wings” in 1927 and starring Clara Bow and Buddy Rogers. I used various catalogs during the past 40-plus years to find them, including Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,”…