He would abscond with the milk money to buy admission to a matinee showing at the local theater, a small place called the Cinema Paradiso.
This is risky business in a movie as soft as ''Cinema Paradiso,'' which means to celebrate the icons of the cinema. Early in the film, the local priest previews each movie before it is available for public consumption, using the power of his office to demand that all scenes of kissing be edited out.
As the patrons line up faithfully, night after night, for their diet of films without kisses, the boy watches in wonder as Alfredo wrestles with the balky machine that throws the dream-images on the screen.
Like everything else in Giancaldo, the Cinema Paradiso is picturesque, an operation of hard seats, noisy patrons and, of course, magic. Then things grow predictable: There are not many rites of passage for an adolescent male that are not predictable and not many original ways to show the death of a movie theater, either.
Once that idea has been established, the film begins to reach for its effects, and there is one scene in particular - a fire in the booth - that has the scent of desperation about it, as if Tornatore despaired of his real story and turned to melodrama.
Not a false note is struck among the sunkissed Sicilian locations, gentle, humorous performances, and tinkling soundtrack. We relate to Salvatore's story not just because he's a likable character, but because we relive our own childhood movie experiences through him.
Yet anyone who loves movies is likely to love "Cinema Paradiso," and there is one scene where the projectionist finds that he can reflect the movie out of the window in his booth and out across the town square so that the images can float on a wall, there in the night above the heads of the people.
If you do rent it consider renting the one with subtitles. And then there's the exhilarating kiss-clip finale.