The 8 O'Clock Movie

By Tino Villanueva b. 1941 Tino Villanueva
Boston, 1973—Years had passed and I assumed a
Different life when one night, while resting from
Books on Marlborough Street (where things like
This can happen), there came into my room images

In black-and-white with a flow of light that
Would not die. It all came back to me in different
Terms: characters were born again, met up with
Each other in adult life, drifted across the

Screen to discover cattle and oil, traveled miles
On horseback in dust and heat, characters whose
Names emerged as if they mattered in a history
Book. Some were swept up by power and prejudice

Toward neighbors different from themselves,
Because that is what the picture is about, with
Class distinctions moving the plot along. A few
Could distinguish right from wrong; those who

Could not you condemned from the beginning when
You noticed them at all. Still others married or
Backed off from the ranch with poignant flair,
Like James Dean, who in the middle of grazing land

Unearthed the treasures of oil, buried his soul in
Money and went incoherent with alcohol. When the 40's
Came, two young men were drafted, the one called Angel
Dying at war. It's a generational tale, so everybody

Aged once more and said what they had to say along the
Way according to the script. And then the end: the
Hamburger joint brought into existence to the beat of
"The Yellow Rose of Texas," Juana and her child the

Color of dark amber, foreshadowing the Mexican-looking
Couple and their daughter, all in muteness, wanting
To be served. I climbed out of bed and in my head
Was a roaring of light—words spoken and unspoken

Had brought the obliterated back. Not again (I said,
From my second-floor room)...let this not be happening.
Three and-a-half hours had flicked by. As the sound
Trailed off into nothing, memory would not dissolve.

Tino Villanueva, "The 8 O’Clock Movie" from Scene from the Movie Giant, published by Curbstone Press. Copyright © 1993 by Tino Villanueva.  Reprinted by permission of Northwestern University Press.

Source: Scene from the Movie Giant (Curbstone Press, 1993)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Tino Villanueva b. 1941

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, Indoor Activities, Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Tino  Villanueva


Poet and painter Tino Villanueva was born in San Marcos, Texas to a family of migrant workers. He was drafted into the army and served for two years as a supply clerk in the Panama Canal Zone before earning a BA at Southwest Texas State University, an MA at State University of New York at Buffalo, and a PhD at Boston University.
Writing in both Spanish and English, at times sliding back and forth between the two languages, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, Indoor Activities, Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.