Technology / 05.19.20
10 Great Tickets and Ticket Sellers in Movies and TV
Do you know what I miss? The feel of a ticket in my hands. The ticket to a concert, a game, a movie. Sure, like most of you, I had been converting to digital and having electronic tickets scanned at the doors of various venues more often than not. But there was still something magical about having a hard ticket in my hand to various performances and events. It added to the anticipation. A ticket is a promise. A promise of fun, entertainment, escape. I miss that kind of promise. The world needs such promises again … hopefully soon.
Until then, we can remember how great and magical a ticket in hand is by watching some old movies and TV shows in which stubs factored prominently into the storylines.
1. “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005) — When you think of great movies centered around tickets, the two “Chocolate Factory” flicks have to be top of mind. The first third of each film is all about the hunt for five golden tickets placed in random Wonka Bars worldwide that will ultimately give Charlie Bucket, Violet Beauregarde, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee access to a tour of the fabled factory of each film’s title. As a kid, some of the characters’ fates were pretty unsettling. Years later watching as a parent? Eh, Wonka and the Oompa Loompas had some fair points.
2. “The Last Action Hero” (1993) — Teenager Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien) escapes his dour existence by retreating to the local cinema where his favorite action star, Arnold Schwarzenegger (himself), thrills as daredevil cop Jack Slater on the big screen. One day, the theatre’s eccentric projectionist (Robert Prosky) gives Danny a golden ticket once owned by Harry Houdini. During a private preview of the latest Slater movie, the ticket stub magically transports Danny inside the film’s fictional world where he gets to be Arnold’s partner. Personally, as a teenage boy, I’d rather have been transported into a Halle Berry movie. But that’s just me.
3. “The Polar Express” (2004) — Of course, there’s this scene. But the film overall centers on one lucky boy gifted a golden, round-trip ticket on the titular train that travels back and forth from Santa’s pad at the North Pole. The conductor (Tom Hanks) uses a ticket punch to form the beginning and end letters “B” and “E” on opposite ends of the stub — the start of the kid’s epic journey to once again “BELIEVE” in the magic of Christmas. Reach for the tissues … if you’re not running low, that is.
4. “Detroit Rock City” (1999) — An adequate plot summary of this underrated rock comedy would be as long as Gene Simmons’ tongue. So, I’ll try to be as brief as I can. In 1978, KISS was the biggest rock group on the planet, and four teenage boys score concert tickets to see them in Detroit. But one of them, Jam, has an ultra-conservative mother who finds the tickets, burns them and sends Jam off to boarding school. When another of the boys, Trip, wins tickets from a radio contest in Detroit, they set out to spring Jam from the prison-like school and head to the Motor City. One problem. Trip didn’t stay on the phone long enough to give the station his information, and the DJ ended up giving the tickets to the next caller.
5. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (1978) — Fourteen years earlier, The Beatles were the biggest rock group on the planet. This film also centers on a group of young people willing to travel to meet them. Throughout the film, one character named Rosie (Wendie Jo Sperber) tries to win tickets to The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” from a radio DJ giving them out as prizes if listeners can answer trivia questions correctly about the Fab Four. After several failed attempts, Rosie gets through and successfully answers the question “Which Beatle is both the group’s oldest and youngest member?” Another character, Pam (Nancy Allen), is able to use a ticket The Beatles road manager gave her to see the show.
6. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) — Not all ticket sellers portrayed in the movies are on the up-and-up. Arguably the most famous on-screen ticket scalper is the shifty Mike Damone (Robert Romanus). “Are you the guy with the Van Halen tickets?” “I could be.”
7. “Just the Ticket” (1998) — Being a professional ticket broker is a tough job. It cost Gary Starke (Andy Garcia) his relationship with his girlfriend, Linda (Andie MacDowell). So, Gary decides to make a career change just for her — after one last big score, of course. That big score comes in the form of a stack of tickets to see the most in-demand show in New York: the Pope at Yankee Stadium!
8. “Fever Pitch” (2005) — Season tickets to the Boston Red Sox home games have been in Ben Wrightman’s (Jimmy Fallon) family for decades. Ben is obsessed with the team to the point where it affects his relationship with his girlfriend, Lindsey (Drew Barrymore). In a decision that surely divided moviegoers throughout the Greater Boston Area at the time, Ben vows to sell his beloved season tickets to prove his love. When Lindsey realizes what a huge sacrifice this is, she rushes to Fenway Park during a Sox-Yankees playoff game to try and stop him.
9. “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” (1979) — Who can forget Riff Randell (P.J. Soles), the biggest Ramones fan at Vince Lombardi High School? She waited in line for hours to get tickets to see her favorite band and give Joey Ramone a song she wrote titled “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” But her joy is short-lived when the evil, rock-hating Principal Togar (Mary Woronov) takes her tickets. When Togar and a group of parents go too far and try to burn a pile of records, the Ramones themselves spring into action, become honorary Lombardi students and ultimately burn the school down. Best line of the film? “Do your parents know you’re Ramones?!”
10. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) — OK, the third “Indy” movie didn’t have the intrepid archaeologist on the hunt for concert tickets to Benny Goodman or boxed seats to Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees. But there was a memorable scene on a blimp where Jones, disguised as a member of the dirigible’s crew, beats the heck out of a Nazi colonel (Michael Byrne) and throws him out a window. When Indy turns and sees an entire room full of passengers gawking at him in fear and bewilderment, he exclaims, “No ticket!” To which the passengers, in the film’s funniest bit, immediately reach for their tickets for Jones to punch.
There are also plenty of episodes of great TV shows’ past — mostly sitcoms — where tickets factored into a plot somewhere. Just as “Friends” titled most episodes “The One Where …” (e.g., “The One Where Everybody Finds Out,” “The One Where Ross Got High,” etc.), so too will I structure the second half of this compilation feature:
1. “The Cosby Show” — The one where Vanessa and her friends lie to their parents to go have “big fun in Baltimore” and take in their favorite band, The Wretched, only to have their tickets stolen and their money depleted. What follows is one of the most vicious momma tirades ever on Must See TV.
2. “Friends” — The one where Ross gets tickets to Hootie & the Blowfish for his birthday, takes Monica, and they end up meeting the band. When Monica appears the next day with a hickey on her neck, Phoebe declares it to be “the work of a Blowfish!”
3. “Golden Girls” — The one where Blanche, Dorothy and Rose win tickets to attend a post-premiere movie party with Burt Reynolds, then get mistaken for prostitutes and thrown in jail! Yes, this was an actual episode.
4. “The King of Queens” — The one where Carrie and Doug have four tickets for a month to New York Knicks games and try to find the absolute perfect couple to join them.
5. “The Office” — The one where Dunder Mifflin Paper Company holds an auction, with the most anticipated item being a pair of front-row tickets to an upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert donated by Michael (Steve Carrell). Only when it comes time to open the bid for them, Michael claims he can’t find them and that they’ve been stolen. Of course, he never had such tickets.
6. “Seinfeld” — The one where George is chosen to buy tickets to a popular movie and realizes he’s standing in the wrong line, forcing him, Elaine and Kramer to go buy tickets at a different cinema with Jerry en route from a stand-up gig.
7. “That ’70s Show” — The one where Donna has two tickets to a Led Zeppelin concert, but her boyfriend Eric has to work the evening of the show after being named Employee of the Month.
8. "The New Adventures of Old Christine" — The one where Christine ridiculously tried to buy very last-minute seats to a Rolling Stones concert and got NO help at all from the ticket office.
9. “Three’s Company” — The one where Jack and Chrissy suck up to Janet for her spare ticket to an upcoming Frank Sinatra concert.
10. “Will & Grace” — The one where Will and Grace score Joni Mitchell concert tickets via a radio contest after Grace promises God she will help the less fortunate if she wins. The two subsequently go to volunteer at a community center and are told they’re very much needed … on the night of the concert.
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Tags: Consumer Preferences , COVID-19 , Coronavirus