To the best of my knowledge, my parents have never seen a movie in a theater or a stage play, although I might consider some of the drama produced by my uncle, an Assembly of God minister, high drama. You would probably agree if you could have experienced his time in the pulpit.
My aunt, Marion, took me to see The Wizard of Oz at our small country town theater when I was about six or seven. Our movie house was an abandoned business on the main street with folding chairs for seating, and never played first-run movies. I vividly recall my aunt sitting on my left, and the aisle was on my right. It was one of those memories that remain crisp and clear, no matter how much time has passed. Still, to this day, that film, my Aunt Marion, and that theater hold a special place in my heart. Since that experience, I’ve watched countless movies, but only a few have made such a lasting impression. I will attempt to recount a handful that has made my “best of” list here.
Not many musicals have been favorites, but I’m particularly fond of Fiddler On The Roof. Topal, when he talks to God, is so natural and personal. His singing is powerful and profoundly moving. Another is The Sound Of Music. The songs Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer share, especially Edelweiss, are heavenly and uplifting. I have watched each movie several times. A more recent addition is Mama Mia. The singing is powerful, light, and great fun.
Being a Navy man, I’ve always been enamored by stories of men in ships at sea. Of the wooden ship era, Master and Commander with Russell Crowe is fantastic. I can almost feel the deck’s pitch and roll and the salty sea spray. The 1984 Mutiny On the Bounty is another, but for a different reason. It portrays the shipboard stresses of human nature with a great storyline. Seeing Captain Bligh believably portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins is a real plus. Two submarine movies must be mentioned, including Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October, who is always the consummate actor. I’ve enjoyed it several times. I’m also a great fan of the submarine movie, portraying the early “U” boat experience in its most raw form. Das Boot. The claustrophobic, damp, malodorous, greasy spaces where unkempt sailors worked, breathing stale air, were depicted in great detail. Yes, though I greatly enjoy Red October and its drama, I must say if you want a historically and factually accurate view of early submarine warfare, Das Boot is the one to watch.
Vietnam? Even though it had been over a decade since I’d left, I walked out of the theater in a state of shock after my first watching of Platoon. I was so stunned I couldn’t speak for hours. To this day, I don’t understand why it had such a dramatic effect on me. After all, I had already seen other movies depicting the Vietnam War, some of them more bloody and graphic. It took me many years before I was able to watch Platoon again.
I realize now I could probably write an entire book about great movies. Looks like I will have to continue this in a series, with still too many to mention.
Let me know if any of these ring your bell. See you next week?