Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Movies: 5 sentimental favorites

My pal B.W. has listed his (current) ten favorite movies of all time on his blog. Every one of them’s a gem. But his list got me thinking. Could I create such a list myself? Probably not. My tastes fluctuate continuously. My moods change every day. I’d be hard-pressed to choose just ten. I’m afraid of forgetting something important. Maybe I could come up with ten in a particular genre. Or choose ten by director. Or actor.

What I noticed about B.W.’s list is that many of his choices are sentimental favorites. His chosen movies have followed him around for years. He’s got life stories to tell about many of his choices. Now there’s a list of great movies I can generate: five of my sentimental favorites. Here’s what I came up with this afternoon.

The Third Man
— I knew Anton Karas’ famous zither score long before I ever saw the movie. In 1964, KFI radio in L.A. broadcast old radio shows on Sunday afternoons. At age 10, I’d curl up in our living room’s overstuffed chair with my tiny transistor radio and listen to The Lives of Harry Lime, a 1951-52 British import. It starred Orson Welles, reprising his role from The Third Man, and it featured that unforgettable Karas music. I didn’t see Carol Reed’s film for another decade, but once I did, I was hooked. I adore this film so much that when Deb and I visited Vienna in 1998, we not only took a walking tour of sites used in the 1949 movie, accompanied by the appropriate zither music, but I spent one afternoon watching it on a “big screen” in a Vienna theater that still shows it several times a week. How cool is that? This is the film that made me a fan of both Welles and Joseph Cotten for life. And, gee, it features Welles’ famous cuckoo clock speech, one of the greatest things ever uttered:

“You know what the fellow said: In
Italy for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love — they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Mary Poppins — My mom took me to see this Disney classic on the really big screen at Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood during the summer of 1964. I loved the songs. I loved the groundbreaking special effects. I loved listening to Dick Van Dyke do a Cockney accent. And — wooba wooba — I fell head over heels for Julie Andrews. I forgot all about that blond seductress Leslie Jo Smith from the fourth grade. When it comes to nannies, I still accept no substitutes for Julie Andrews.

The Sound of Music — Again, age 10. Again, Julie Andrews. Notice a trend? It was spring of 1965 and my mother took my sister’s Girl Scout troop to a theater to see The Sound of Music. I tagged along. I adored the music and the romance. The Nazis frightened me. And 12-year-old Angela Cartwright stole my heart from Julie. I was following Angela into outer space on TV later that year. Again, during that trip to Austria I mentioned earlier, Deb and I traipsed around Salzburg looking for Sound of Music locations. We found a lot of them. I still get chills thinking about that vacation.

Goldfinger — Still again, age 10. My friends Randy, Rex, and I had spent a Saturday morning driving my mom nuts. She finally stuffed us into the backseat of her station wagon, gave us each a few bucks for tickets and candy, and dumped us in front of the La Reina Theater in Sherman Oaks. “I’ll be back in three hours,” she told us, then sped west down Ventura Boulevard. Until the day she died 35 years later, I don’t think my mother ever realized the impact that event had on our three young lives. By the time Mom returned, we’d been introduced to hot brunettes, fast cars, hot redheads, martinis (shaken, not stirred), hot blondes, crotch-threatening lasers, and a gold-painted, almost totally nekkid girl. The lives of three innocent lads from the San Fernando Valley were forever changed that day. I love you, Mom.

A Clockwork OrangeA Clockwork Orange, a sentimental favorite? Well, yeah. Here’s the deal. In 1972, I was 17 and dying to see Stanley Kubrick’s newest movie, an adaptation of the bizarre Anthony Burgess novel I’d read in a high school English class. But the movie had excessive violence in it. It had tits in it. Big tits in it. And at the time, before it received umpteen Oscar nominations, it was rated — gasp! — X (later reduced to an R). I was several months too young for admission, even with a parent. But one afternoon, my dad consented to buy us tickets. Nervous as hell, I got in. I loved the movie. My dad thought it was friggin' weird. I’ll never forget that experience. I love you, Dad.
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At 6:25 PM, Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

Cool memories. Looks like you became a movie lover at age 10! I think the life stories are what makes them our favorite movies. If I listed "the best movies" instead of my favorites it'd be stuff like "Citizen Kane" and "Gone With the Wind" - but what good is technical brilliance if it doesn't hit you where you live?

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great list! I adored Julie Andrews in those movies too, and would have to add Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to my list. Song of the South, too ... and it continues to rankle that I'll likely never get to share it with the snolfs.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

Sunni, you'll be delighted to know that, surprisingly, Disney plans to release Song of the South on DVD in late 2006...the film's 60th anniversary.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Vache Folle said...

All of these movies might well be the subjects of upcoming remakes as vehicles for Adam Sandler.


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