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A man and his movies

Frank Woodman shares his love for classic cinema with 'The Woodman Chronicles'


Frank Woodman is a good showman. He always gives movie lovers what they want at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

With his program titled, appropriately enough, “The Woodman Chronicles,” Woodman captures dreams from the classic cinema past and lets them live again.

The variety is endless: Bogie bidding goodbye to Bergman in a foggy airport at the end of “Casablanca”; Charlie Chan cracking another case in the last reel; a sly Cary Grant eluding the cops in “To Catch a Thief”; Bob Hope wisecracking his way to triumph over the bad guys; Claudette Colbert using her beauty to hitchhike a ride in “It Happened One Night.”

It is truly a heavy movie smorgasbord as Woodman unveils a new theme each month — swashbucklers, sneaky spies, Astaire and his sweethearts, World War II comedy and romance. The movie feast never stops. Woodman chooses a theme for each month and a movie is shown every Friday at 1 p.m.

Many of these films are easily available at other places, but Woodman can also come up with rarely seen classics, like “The Senator Was Indiscrete,” starring the ever-stylish William Powell. Woodman does this by sending away for a VHS tape of the movie, say from England, and transferring it to DVD.

“When I was growing up, movies were very important,” Woodman said. “For 10 cents you would get a movie, a shoot ‘em up and a cartoon. My parents loved musicals and so did I. There was a lot of baloney, too. But even some B movies were pretty good.

“All of us feel movies were part of our lives as we were growing up. There was no TV or Internet back then. It was just the movies.”

Stretching his memory to go way, way back, Woodman thinks the very first movie he ever saw was a horror picture. He can’t remember the title, but he recalls it really scared him. More scary movies followed, plus comedies by Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, the Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello. The great romances of World War II, such as “Casablanca,” were an oasis of great pleasure for Woodman.

The idea for the Woodman Chronicles came only a couple years ago, when Woodman was laid up in a hospital bed, waiting to receive a pacemaker and having absolutely nothing to do. So he started programming movies in his head. As a long-time employee of OPB he had done a lot of programming, so his program for presenting movies took shape.

Once Woodman got out of the hospital he presented his idea to Debra Carline at the ACC and quickly got the go-ahead. Woodman officially became the movie man of the ACC.

“There was a period of refinement,” Woodman said. “I started doing themes because a theme adds focus and structure. It works a lot better than just throwing a movie out there.”

For a while, attendance was not very good, and Woodman wondered if the movies he was exhibiting were a little too highbrow.

But once he started rolling out some blockbusters from the World War II era, the public started showing up. Woodman even throws in some live DVD commentary, although “I don’t get too professorial.” He doesn’t get too new, either. About the newest film that Woodman has shown is “E.T.,” made in 1982.

“I love old movies and I love to show them,” Woodman said. “I’m passing on movie joy.”

by: CLIFF NEWELL - Frank Woodman is shown at the screen where he exhibits 'The Woodman Chronicles' at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center. The past was never so fun.



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