“Everything I learned, I learned from the movies.” — Audrey Hepburn
“What do you think someone’s tastes in movies says about their personality,” I asked a totally unsuspecting friend. We were swapping 60s movie trivia via text following said friend’s message letting me know that Beach Blanket Bingo, the 1965 beach party surfing genre movie, was on television—in case I wanted to watch it one more time.
The question was not random on my part having spent hours perusing my older columns and discovering one about popular movies of the time—the late 1980s. In the 30-year-old piece, I humorously scoffed at what I thought then, to be a lack of creativity and talent in movies. My first thought today was that some things never change. My second thought was the question I posed to my friend. There’s no wrong answer, varying tastes allow for choice, and that’s a good thing.
The movies that resonate with my tastes—the ones I really like a lot—I’ll watch them many times over. Like a good song, a book, or any work of art, the nuances that make movies memorable ensure that it will be just as good every time it’s watched.
Perhaps the most lasting impact great movies leave behind are the quotes. Ever noticed how movie quotes are employed for conversational spice long after we’ve forgotten the sizzle of the plot?
Whether it’s plots, acting, cinematography, quotes or just basic “feel good” appeal, here’s my top five favs, the one’s that are my “must watch every year or two” movie masterpieces.
Casablanca (1942) — My number one favorite. Nothing else compares. I’m convinced the effective use of black and white requires more artistic skill than does a color palate. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, set in World War II and released during the war, this one has more “quotable quotes” than any I know. So, “Play it once, Sam. For old times’ sake.” I will continue to play this one many times.
Gone with the Wind (1939) — Set in the South during Civil War and Reconstruction days, a young spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner struggles with life and love (Scarlet O’Hara played by Vivien Leigh). Based on the 1936 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Margaret Mitchell, it won 10 Academy Awards from 12 nominations. A 2014 Harris reader’s poll named , the novel the second most read book—just behind the Bible. To quote Scarlet, “After all, tomorrow is another day!” And, after all, I’ll watch this one again tomorrow and another day.
The Last Picture Show (1971) — Adapted from Larry McMurty’s semi-autobiographical 1966 novel and set in a small town in north Texas (filmed primarily in Archer City) during the early 1950s, the story is about one of the town’s young citizens and his friends. Another great black-and-white film nominated for eight Academy Awards and winner of two, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 1998 by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. “Bein’ crazy about a woman like that is always the right thing to do,” according to Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson). For me, bein’ crazy about a movie like this one is the right thing to do.
American Graffiti (1973)— A coming-of-age comedy-drama starring a host of young actors who became the best of their Hollywood generation. Set in Southern California in 1962, it’s a classic study of the cruising and rock-and-roll culture of the “baby boomer” generation. George Lucas’ first hit film, rejected by several studios before being accepted by Universal Pictures, was nominated for Best Picture, and became one of the most profitable films of all time. In 1995, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” selecting it for preservation in the National Film Registry. “You can’t stay 17 forever,” to quote John Milner (Paul La Mat). I will, if I can watch this movie every year.
Good Morning Vietnam (1987) — A military comedy-drama set in Saigon in 1965 during the Vietnam War. One of Robin Williams’ best performances as a radio DJ on Armed Forces Radio who was popular with the troops, but infuriated military brass with what they called his “irreverent tendency.” Williams later confessed that his radio broadcasts in the film were, for the most part, improvised and off script. Williams won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. The film is on the list of the “American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest American Movies.” “Seeing as how the VP is such a VIP, shouldn’t we keep the PC on the QT? ‘Cause if it leaks to the VC he could end up MIA, and then we’d all be put on KP.” — Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams). I can’t even say that one time without stumbling, but I could easily watch this movie endless times.
So, what does our taste in movies really say about us? Ezra Werb and Risa Williams assert in their book, Cinescopes: What Your Favorite Movies Reveal About You, that your ten favorite movies “show a lot about your personality.” They believe there’s a psychological link between our personalities and the movies that appeal to us, and we connect with the heroes and themes in the movies we’re drawn too.
Works for me. Guess I could ask my friend who started me down this picture show path, but I’m still waiting on a response. I guess Beach Blanket Bingo isn’t over yet.