Charles Lambert was on a trip to Hollywood in 1956 when he charted one of his life's many courses.
The 13-year-old kid got the notion to see every movie that had earned an Oscar in six major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress. The next year, he contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which sent him a comprehensive list of all winners in those categories. Lambert was on his way.
"I just started crossing off films. It's taken over 50 years," said Lambert, who has seen over 1,300 films and wrote a book about his adventures as a moviegoer, Capturing the Reel World. He will discuss and sign copies of his book at the Woman's Exchange on August 9th.
Lambert, who worked for 20 years as an attorney for the U.S. Treasury, has seen some changes in the movie experience.
"When I was a kid in the Highland Heights area of Memphis, all the kids walked through a creek to get to the Bristol Theater on Summer. It's a motorcycle shop now, but you can tell it was a theater. We paid a dime. A first run movie downtown might cost 40 cents. Now, you just shut your eyes and hand over your money."
Lambert was committed the project, no matter the circumstances. "I saw films projected onto bed sheets in battlfields," Lambert says of his days in Vietnam.
He benefited from the archival movement and befriended several institutes, including the British Film Institute, Eastman House, and the Library of Congress.
Another parallel feat was his ability to obsess on this and remain married. "She's put up with it for 44 years," Lambert said.
Charles Lambert signs Capturing the Reel World at the Woman's Exchange (88 Racine), Thursday, August 9th, 11 A.M.-1 P.M.
Capturing the Reel World is available at the Booksellers at Laurelwood.