(931) 473-7600. If you’re a longtime McMinnville resident, it’s likely I don’t have to tell you what that phone number is. For those who don’t know, it’s the 24-hour movie answering service. Currently, and for around 40 years, this line has informed callers of the now-playing and upcoming movies at Three Star Cinema.
I’m old enough, however, to remember when the line also gave listings for Park Theatre and Cowan Oldham Twin Theatre. Hearing Bob Bassham's voice reading the list of currently showing movies was the soundtrack of my Friday nights during my high school and college years. I’d often begin listening intently, only to get distracted and miss the exact time of my selected movie and would have to call again.
In those days it was common to encounter a busy signal four or five times before you finally got through to hear Bob say “Thank you for calling Three Star Cinema's 24-hour movie answering service.” Perhaps it’s nostalgia talking but there was always something special about hearing that voice say those words and there still is. I've heard from some native Warren countians who said even upon moving out of state, they'd sometimes call 473-7600 just to hear a little piece of home. Bob's recorded voice is like a warm McMinnville hug.
Bob estimates the line began in the late '70s and he has been the voice of movies in Warren County since 1977. Three Star Cinema, like any business, is keeping up with the times and has since added a Facebook and Instagram page where the movie listings are posted every Thursday night or Friday afternoon.
And, of course, I’ll throw in a cheap plug and say that the movie listings can also be found in each Friday’s Southern Standard. By my own estimation, the theater is one of the longest and most consistent advertisers in the Southern Standard. Regular viewers of the Publisher's Pics page will notice there’s not many years in the Standard archives we can go back to that don’t include an ad from the movie theater. We always like to include the movie ad on that page because, in my opinion, nothing helps contextualize a year in your mind like knowing what movies were coming out at the time.
Even with these other options, I’m very glad 473-7600 continues. It’s a bit of Warren County history that I hope is never forgotten. Some weeks, like this one, are especially fun to call. I’ve been looking forward to hearing Bob say “Cocaine Bear” for a while now.
So, long live 473-7600 and, in the words of Bob, “Thank you again for calling.”
Standard Managing Editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191