When I was a kid growing up in the 70s, whenever I went to the local movie theater, there was this 20-second or so motion logo with some really hip music that would play after the trailers and before the main feature. If we were still at the concession stand or hanging out in the lobby, as soon we heard this groovy beat, we’d run into the theater to sit down. The visual of this logo was swirling colors (I’ve put a still of it behind Riley from the Boondocks in the image I Photoshopped, above.)
This was literally the first “hip” “groovy” music I ever heard in my life, and was also the first “psychedelic light show” type imagery I ever saw. After I grew up and went to theaters that did not use this logo (or when the logo was replaced by other things, mainly more trailers), I often thought about it. It somehow had an important place in my mind. Even in my 40s, I could still hum the melody I hadn’t heard since I was 8, and I always wondered what this motion logo was.
A few years ago I discovered the animated show The Boondocks, and I love it. Neema lent me all the DVDs, and even after watching them all three or four times, whenever my wife and I are channel flipping and there is a Boondocks episode on, we watch it. The excellent theme song for the Boondocks (by the very talented rapper Asheru) contains a horn line that seems to be heavily inspired by a horn line from that 70s movie theater animation logo.
This got me thinking about the motion logo again. What was it? Who made it? Was it in all theaters or only mine? I’m assuming all, but as a kid I didn’t travel much and really thought of my tiny town as the whole world.
That theater has long been torn down and replaced with a statue of Habeas Corpus suspender and first Republican Abraham Lincoln with Grace Bedell. Grace is the little girl who famously told Lincoln to grow his beard. Grace was from my tiny town, Westfield, New York.
Grace Bedell was about the only claim to fame we had, except Westfield also being the birthplace of Welches Grape Juice.
Lucille Ball and Natalie Merchant were from our county, but not our town.
The other night I was surfing around YouTube and watched a trailer from a 70s biopic on the legendary and murderous blues singer Lead Belly. (Yes, Lead Belly is properly spelled as two words, not one. The man himself spelled it with two words.) At the end of the trailer, someone had added THE MOTION LOGO FROM THE 70s that had been so important to me as a kid. I was elated! I finally found it! It actually exists and I didn’t imagine it!
Here’s a direct link to the motion logo at the end of the Lead Belly trailer:
(That link should take you directly to where the logo starts. If it doesn’t, and starts and the beginning of the trailer, scroll over to the last 20 seconds of the video.) Someone has added text over the logo on the YouTube video, that text was not in the theater version. Obviously,…it’s a Web URL for a DVD company. Web URLs and DVDs did not yet exist in the 70s. Which is why I went to movie theaters as a kid!
For comparison to the much later Boondocks theme song, here’s a direct link to the horn line I think was inspired by the 70s motion logo horn line:
(If that doesn’t take you to the direct spot, the line comes up over and over in the song, it’s the descending horn part after the ascending piano part.)
I still don’t know what that 70s logo animation was, or who owned it. I think Quentin Tarantino may have purchased the rights to it, someone said he’s used it on some of his DVDs. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t liked him since Pulp Fiction.
Anyway, I just wanted to share this nifty little revelation with you.
Before I go, another thing I really love about the Boondocks Theme Song is the reference to the concept “The Four Boxes of Liberty“, with the lines
I am the ballot in your box
The bullet in your gun
–Michael W. Dean