Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Dozen Movies that I Like to Watch Over and Over

I like movies.  There are a few that have stuck in my head and I find that I come back to them regularly to watch them over and over. Here are my favorites - the ones I see often enough to quote from and buy a copy of on DVD.

1. Camelot - "Not 'Might' IS right," says Richard Harris as King Arthur, "But 'Might' FOR right!" This musical version of T.H. White's profound "The Once and Future King" uses all the best lines from White's masterpiece to tremendous effect.  King Arthur was a father figure/role model for me.  My own Dad cut and ran when I was 5 and I found my heroes in books and movies. Camelot got me into a lot of trouble in my life when I've stood and fought till the castle came down around my ears. But at least, for one brief, shining moment......

2.  It's a Wonderful Life - George Bailey was another one of those movie heroes who did the right thing even though it wasn't always exactly what he wanted to do. This is one I have to watch at Christmas, just to recharge my "do-gooder" batteries to get through another year.George's speech to Mr. Potter captures the frustration of every man who ever tried to do the right thing only to be thwarted by some selfish evil old spider.

3.  Scrooge - The musical version with Albert Finney is brilliant. Finney is Scrooge at his nasty best and convincingly delivers the moment of giddy release that comes from letting go of your sins and accepting the forgiveness and good will of your fellow man.  Again, another movie where the good guys do the right thing no matter the consequences. Bob Crachett is as brave a man as any muscled up knight in armor. "Thank you very much....that's the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me!"

4.  Haunted Honeymoon / Hold That Ghost / Ghostbreakers - These three movies are our Halloween trilogy every year.  We don't do horror movies at my house. These are great fun. Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner are wonderful and the "Ballin' the Jack" duet between Gilda and Dom Deluise is priceless. The bit with the candle that Lou Costello does in Hold That Ghost is fall on the floor funny no matter how many times you see it. Bob Hope has possibly the greatest line in movie history when a local guy describes zombies as "...walking around with dead eyes and no will of their own."  Bob shoots back.  "Like Democrats?"

5. Star Wars - When I sat in the theater during the opening of that movie and that enormous star destroyer passed overhead, lasers blazing, I knew I was in for something I'd never seen before. I love every episode. "“It’s not impossible. I used to bulls eye wamp rats in my T-16 back home, they’re not much bigger than 2 meters."

6. The Quiet Man - John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara at their best. The scene where he drags her 5 miles back to her brother, across the fields and through the sheep poop is hysterical. One of the bystanders offers Wayne a stick saying, "Sir! Sir! Here’s a good stick to beat the lovely lady!"  The look on his face is priceless.

7. The Princess Bride - "This is true love.  You think that happens every day." This rolicking swashbuckle has one of the best sword duels ever filmed AND nobody dies.  There are a few movies that are perfect and this is one of them.  MIRACLE MAX:  He probably owes you money huh? I'll ask him. INIGO MONTOYA: He's dead. He can't talk. MIRACLE MAX: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do. INIGO MONTOYA:  What's that? MAX: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.   I never tire of watching this. If you haven't seen it in a while, toss it on the old DVD player and "Have fun storming the castle!"

8.  The Lord of the Rings - This stunningly beautiful and surprisingly faithful version of Tolkien's classic is even better in the extended version. I was very happy that it took a half dozen endings to close the story. I love Samwise,  "Mr. Gandalf, sir, don't hurt me. Don't turn me into anything... unnatural."

9. The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis' classic was well and truly brought to film and was all I could have hoped. I always tear up at the stone table scene. Edmund Pevensie: [horse rears up] Whoa, Horsey.
Philip the Horse: My name is Philip. 

10. Serenity - Captain Malcolm Reynolds thinks he's a scoundrel, but like Han Solo, this space cowboy can't help but be a do-gooder.  This movies caps the canceled TV series "Firefly" nicely and I watch that over and over too. Not everyone gets this movie.  I'm one that does.

11. My Favorite Year - Peter O'Toole plays a fading swashbuckling actor forced to appear on a TV show to pay his taxes.  He and a Jewish comedy writer make it a night on the town in which everyone learns something. The climactic scene in which O'Toole and the TV show's star fight it out onstage with mob thugs is nothing but fun. Benji Stone: "Catherine, Jews know two things: suffering, and where to find great Chinese food."

12. Captain Hornblower -I love the Hornblower books, so I like to watch the movie and the TV mini-series. Hornblower is another man trying to do the right thing in hard circumstances.  I think there's a theme here. HORNBLOWER "Flogging only makes a bad man worse, Mr. Gerard... but it can break a good man's spirit. Is Hummill a bad man?  GERARD: Aside from his temper, sir, he's a good sailor.
 HORNBLOWER: A good sailor, ill-fed and thirsty. Watch the cat as it cuts his back to pieces, Mr. Gerard... and in the future, perhaps you'll think twice when you threaten a man with flogging.

Also, my son, Micah used to fall asleep watching the same movies over and over.  Micah's movies seemed to have a theme as well. Here are the ten I most remember seeing on his TV when I went to check on him at night.

Micah's Top Ten

1. The Hunt for Red October
2. Braveheart
3. Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves
4. The Patriot
5. Lean on Me
6. Young Guns
7. Star Wars
8. Lord of the Rings
9. Shrek
10.Dances with Wolves

Micah could quote from all of them. I think some of them seeped into his brain like sleep learning. He could almost speak Lakota Sioux from watching Dances with Wolves so much..

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