The Regent Theatre was an important source of inspiration for both the citizens of New Bedford and the writers of Wind at my Back.
Today we take for granted that we can turn on our televisions, computers and phones and watch videos to our hearts content. In the 1930’s however, the only place you could see “moving pictures” was in movie theatres, making them literally windows onto the world. In small, rural communities like New Bedford, news reels and movies gave people a glimpse of faraway places and events that previously only existed in books, newspapers or on radio (if you were fortunate enough to own one). For a relatively small fee, anyone could walk into a movie theatre and let their imaginations take them away from their troubles for a couple of hours; and during the “dirty thirties” that was a welcome distraction indeed.
Incorporating a movie theatre into the backlot set for Wind at my Back gave characters a way to see the world outside of New Bedford, which provided a great deal of inspiration for writers. From the very beginning, Grace Bailey had a fascination with the excitement and glamour of the movies. Grace’s dream of being in the movies and living beyond New Bedford was the inspiration for the episode Grace of Hollywood.
The kids on the show, especially Fat, were also heavily influenced by movies which became the theme of 3.13: Life on Mars.
Even Jim Flett fantasized about being a movie star when he donned the costume of the Masked Rider in 5.11: Crack in the Mirror.
The Regent Theatre in New Bedford may have been just a façade but it provided a look into the hopes and dreams of the Wind at my Back characters that brought a wonderful sense of authenticity to the entire show.
Get your favourite Wind at my Back episodes on DVD at shopatsullivan.com.