Saturday, April 30, 2011


A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

Today is the last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and I want to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to all the bloggers out there who have persevered to the end. It's been an exhausting 30 days, but very rewarding. I've enjoyed meeting new bloggers and reading blogs that I never would have found if not for this challenge. Thanks to all who are following and commenting. Blog on!

And now for the Letter "Z":

Zoolander (2001) is a bizarre parody of the fashion industry and male modeling. 

Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is an award-winning male model who is "really, really, ridiculously good-looking." Hansel (Owen Wilson) is his nemesis, a model who wins Male Model of the Year. Hansel's career is just beginning and Derek's popularity is starting to fade. After a "walk off" duel, they become friends and join forces against Mugatu (Will Ferrell), a fashion designer who is plotting the assassination of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

I heard about Zoolander from my son and we watched it together when he was home from college for a visit. It's one of my favorite mother/son movie memories. 

Derek's cell phone is the size of a domino.
The Walk-Off --- Derek and Hansel have a walk-off duel. 
Derek and Hansel try to figure out how to get the files out of a computer; the scene escalates into 2001: A Space Odyssey.

DEREK: You think that you're too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you Walter Cronkite... you aren't.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Young Frankenstein

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I love parody in any form: poetry, music, sketches, stories...and movies.

My first exposure to movie parody was "The Carol Burnett Show." In the 60s and 70s, variety shows were very popular: Flip Wilson, Dean Martin, Smothers Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie...just to name a few. 

But Carol Burnett was the reigning Queen! The movie parodies were my favorite and Carol and the gang tackled some of the best including Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., Love Story and Gone with the Wind.

So it's no surprise that Young Frankenstein (1974) became one of my favorite films. Gene Widler, Madeline Khan, Marty Feldman and Cloris Leachman are hilarious in the parody of Mary Shelley's classic work "Frankenstein." 

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: Put...the candle...back!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I was 16 when I read William Peter Blatty's best-selling novel "The Exorcist" and it was absolutely terrifying. It remains the scariest story I have ever read. 

I remember sitting on the porch steps, intently absorbed in the book, when my mother came out of the house and touched me on the shoulder. I jumped 20 feet and let out a blood-curdling scream. I was a nervous wreck for weeks and afraid to go to bed. To make matters worse, my bedroom was in our unfinished basement, so when I was in bed I could see shadows from the wooden beams in the ceiling. With my wild imagination, it's a wonder I slept at all.

When the movie came out, Mom wanted us all to go see it as a family. My dad and brother were on board, but I absolutely refused. She was surprised by my response because I NEVER pass up an opportunity to go to the movies. That's when she realized this was serious business.

It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I found the courage to watch it when it aired on TV. I had to sleep with the light on for weeks.

Once I got beyond the frightening plot (a young girl possessed by a demon), I began to see the artistic merits of the film. What struck me the most was the theme music. "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield was a perfect match for this movie. The bizarre dissonance and random tones sound like an evil spirit.
The Exorcist was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture. It won two: Sound and Adapted Screenplay.

Interestingly, there were several deaths connected with the making of the film.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wizard of Oz

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

Obviously with a blog called Emerald City, the Wizard of Oz (1939) has a special place in my heart. I've seen this movie more than any other because I watched it throughout my childhood every year around Easter time. It became a family tradition.

It's all about going after your heart's desire. For the Scarecrow it was Knowledge; for the Tin Man it was Love; for the Lion it was Courage; and for Dorothy it was Home. The wonderful irony is that they already had what they wanted all along.

The music is delightful. The Munchkins are adorable. The Flying Monkeys are horrifying. Glinda the Good Witch is beautiful. And Emerald City is magical.

My favorite character is the Wicked Witch of the West. I don't know what that says about me, but without the Witch, the story would be pretty uneventful. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Valley of the Dolls

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I was only nine years old when Jacqueline Susann's best-selling novel "Valley of the Dolls" was published in1966. I remember overhearing my mother and her friends talking about how racy it was. 

I pretty much forgot all about it until I was in junior high and the Manson murders made headline news. I remember how awful it was that Sharon Tate was murdered. Valley of the Dolls (1967) was her last movie.   

But I didn't get around to reading the book or watching the movie until I saw Helter Skelter (1976). It was about Charles Manson and the murders. In that movie I learned that the Beatles had been a major influence in Manson's life. This film was horrifying because as a teen, I had been a hard-core Beatles fan. I knew more about the Beatles than they knew about themselves. I was intrigued by Manson, wondering what makes people do such horrible things.

As for Valley of the Dolls, critics hated it. But Patty Duke was amazing and the theme song by Dionne Warwick was hauntingly beautiful.

Monday, April 25, 2011


A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I'm a die-hard Weird Al fan! Have been since the 1980s when I saw his Michael Jackson parodies. The next thing I knew I was buying his cassette tapes (and later his CDs). I even went to a Weird Al concert a few years back when he was on his Running with Scissors tour.

As a comedy writer, I enjoy writing parodies of songs, TV shows, commercials and movies. Weird Al and Mad Magazine have been my inspiration.

I learned the lyrics to all his songs, including Fat, Like a Surgeon, Eat It, Yoda, Smells Like Nirvana, Amish Paradise, Bedrock Anthem, Grapefruit Diet, etc.

In UHF (1989), Weird Al plays the owner of a TV station. It's the perfect set up for his movie parodies which include GandhiRambo, Conan the Barbarian and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The highlight of the movie is his music video "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies."

I'm not crazy about the movie itself; bad acting, lame script, predictable plot. Maybe that's why he hasn't made anymore films. But he's a genius when it comes to music video comedy.  

Trivia: Michael Richards (Kramer on "Seinfeld") plays a goofy janitor.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

The first time I'd heard about Titanic (1997) was during a preview of coming attractions at the theatre. I knew right away I'd want to see the movie. I enjoy historical dramas and get a kick out of seeing the creative use of sets and costumes. I was also intrigued by the dramatic true story of the RMS Titanic and was looking forward to a newer version of the movie.

Sometimes the hype surrounding a  movie ruins it, which is why I purposely refused to read reviews, watch interviews or see any previews or promotions about Titanic. I wanted to see it without any pre-conceived notions.

I think it's because of this that the movie affected me so profoundly. It was literally heart wrenching. I remember actually sobbing at the end. I could hardly stand up and walk out the theatre door. No movie before or since has had such an emotional impact on me.

The film left such an impression that I couldn't watch it again for years. I was like an astronaut going to the Moon and returning to Earth. I would never be the same. Maybe I'm being over-dramatic, but this movie captured my heart and wouldn't let go.

The score for this movie was a key element in creating the emotional connection. The music haunted my dreams and even today, when I hear the theme song, I'm reminded of Rose and Jack's tragic love.  I guess I'm a hopeless romantic after all.

I wasn't surprised that Titanic won eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stranger Than Fiction

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

As a writer, I was drawn to this movie about a novelist with writer's block. "Little did I know" that it would be so delightful.

The story was intriguing...a writer actually meets a character in her own novel. How cool is that?

The story is told from the point of view of Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), the main character in Karen Eiffel's (Emma Thompson) novel. Harold is an IRS agent; meticulous, methodical...and very unhappy with his life. When he discovers that he's going to die, he does everything in his power to stop it from happening.

In the mean time, he realizes that he needs to live his life. He learns to play the guitar and falls in love with Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a quirky, radical baker that wants to change the world one cookie at a time. I really liked Ferrell's subdued, sincere performance. It was magical.

What I enjoyed most about this movie was the idea of following your dreams and living life to the fullest.

HAROLD: This may sound like gibberish to you, but I think I'm in a tragedy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

People are always surprised when I tell them that Rocky (1976) is one of my favorite love stories. For me, it's all about Rocky and Adrian.

They had a lot to overcome in their personal lives...she was shy and insecure; Rocky felt that he was just a bum with nothing to offer. But they fell in love. Like Rocky said, "they filled gaps."

The story of the making of Rocky was like the story of Rocky himself. A low-budget movie that came out of nowhere becomes one of the most amazing films in history.

My favorite scenes:
Rocky and Adrian's first date at the skating rink.
Mickey talks to Rocky about being his manager.
Rocky and Adrian's first kiss.
After the fight when Rocky calls for Adrian. This clip shows the end of the movie and we see that even though Rocky "went the distance" with Apollo in the ring, it was all about his love for Adrian. That's all that mattered.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quiz Show

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I watched Quiz Show (1994) for two reasons:

1) It was Ralph Fiennes first film after Schindler's List. I've been a student of WWII and the Holocaust since my 20s when I first read Elie Wiesel's works (Night, The Oath, A Beggar in Jerusalem). 

2) It was directed by Robert Redford, who also directed Ordinary People, one of my top ten all time favorite films. Quiz Show was nominated for four Academy Awards. In my book, if a movie has that many nominations, it's probably worth taking a look at.

It's based on a true story of corruption in a 1950s TV game show and the congressional hearing that followed. At the Oscars, Quiz Show was up against some pretty stiff competition:  Forrest Gump (winner of Best Picture), The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Excellent performances by Ralph Fiennes and John Turturro.

ALBERT FREEDMAN: It's not like we're hardened criminals here. We're in show business.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Planet of the Apes

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I admit it. I'm ape for Planet of the Apes (1968).

This was another "drive-in" movie that I watched with my family when I was a kid. I was too young to understand the "evolutionary" twist, but all those apes! And Charleton Heston was the coolest astronaut ever.

I vividly remember when the space ship landed and the female astronaut was found dead in the protective sleep shield thingy. She had aged during time travel...a crack in the shield or something. That started off one adventure after another. You hardly had time to catch your breath.

We learn that apes inhabit this strange world as superior beings while man is an uncivilized animal. Taylor (Heston) is captured and studied by scientists, Zira and Cornelius, who learn that he can talk and is far superior in intelligence than other humans. When the senate decide that Taylor is dangerous to their civilization, they want him killed, and Zira and Cornelius help him escape.

The ending was INSANE! The image of the Statue of Liberty on the beach has stayed with me my whole life. Looking back, I really think that this is one of the most dramatic visual cinematic moments in history. Considering the filmmaking techniques available in 1967, this was pretty amazing. Not just the physical image, but the truth it represents. The planet of the apes is Earth. Man destroyed his own world.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ordinary People

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

Ordinary People (1980) ranks as one of my all-time favorite films.

It's the story of Conrad (Timothy Hutton), a teen whose older brother was killed in a boating accident. Conrad blames himself for what happened to his brother and attempts suicide. The movie begins when Conrad has come home from the mental hospital and tries to readjust to family life. His mother (Mary Tyler Moore) is cold and aloof toward Conrad, subconsciously blaming him, yet in denial that anything is wrong. His father (Donald Sutherland) tries to keep the peace and hold the family together. He feels badly for Conrad and does everything in his power to support and encourage him.

Conrad's psychiatrist, Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch), helps him overcome the guilt he feels about his brother, his mother's rejection and his father's obsessive concern.

I related to the father in this movie. Our family had a similar dynamic when our teen daughter had problems and was seeing a psychologist. I felt Hubby was too harsh with her and I was stuck in the middle, trying to keep the peace. It was a stressful time in our family.

One of the most powerful scenes is when the family is taking pictures at Christmas. The mother doesn't want a picture of her and Conrad together. It's such a sad moment because Conrad strongly senses her rejection.

In the end, the father realizes the truth about his wife and confronts her. Afterwards, he and Conrad have a conversation. In the past, the father was always trying to help Conrad by being "understanding" and "encouraging." But now the father has changed. For the first time he is honest about his feelings and tells Conrad the way things are. Ironically, that's really what Conrad needed all along.

DR. BERGER: Feelings are scary. And sometimes they're painful. And if you can't feel pain... you won't feel anything else either.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Nanny

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I first saw The Nanny (1965) on TV and it scared me to death (no pun intended). The story is about a killer Nanny. Only young Joey, Nanny's charge, knows the truth. He had been blamed for his sister's death and sent to an institution for disturbed children.

The movie opens with Joey returning home. No one believed him when he told them it was the Nanny that murdered his sister. Naturally, he doesn't want to be alone with her. He won't eat the food she prepares (it might be poison) and he slides his dresser in front of the door so she can't sneak into his room in the middle of the night and suffocate him with a pillow.

I thought he was pretty brave for a little kid. What else could he do? The adults wouldn't help him. He was on his own. Boy against Nanny.

Watch at your own risk.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Fair Lady

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I love to play around with accents. When I was a teen, I adored watching the standup comedians who did impersonations and created funny characters (Rich Little, Jonathan Winters, Frank Gorshin, Lily Tomlin, etc.)

I also have the knack of mimicry and I especially liked impersonating singers: My specialties were Barbra Streisand (all the songs from Hello, Dolly!), Liza Minnelli (Cabaret) Judy Garland (Over the Rainbow) and Doris Day (Que Sera Sera). I still mimic dialects and accents. When I watch TV and movies, I try on the voices. Drives my family nuts.

My British and Cockney accents were inspired by My Fair Lady (1964). "Owww! Buy a flow'r off a poor girl, Cap'n?"

I love this movie. Hepburn was stunning! And the music was fabulous. I was in high school when I bought the album. I memorized every song and put on a one-woman show in the basement.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Love Story

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I think this movie impacted my life more than any other. I was 13 when I saw Love Story (1970) and had no idea what I was getting into.
The first thing that struck me was the music. My parents were country/western fans and I listened to pop/rock on the radio. I had never really heard classical music before unless you count Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoons that played Mozart or Tchaikovsky during chase scenes. So not only was the Love Story theme song impressive, but I also heard Bach for the first time. I realized that there was this realm of classical music that I never knew existed. I became a lifelong fan because of this movie.

"Jennifer" was everything I wanted to be. Beautiful, smart, funny -- and she played the piano (my dream since fifth grade was to learn piano). The movie was set in the world of the Ivy League, which was totally alien to me as an 8th grader in New Mexico. Thus Love Story instilled in me the desire to go to college. At age 13, I had a romanticized view of college life, but that dream stayed with me through junior high and high school. And despite getting married at 19 and having two children, I finished my Master's at age 26. I am still a life-long learner.
I was literally sobbing at the end of the movie. My friend let me borrow her Love Story sound track album and I would sit in my room listening to the music and crying my eyes out. Good times.

When I saw the movie as an adult, I realized it was totally sappy and corny. But as a young girl with absolutely no life experience other than school, friends and family and who spent most of my time daydreaming, I found Love Story to be the best movie ever. It touched my spirit in a way that I can't really explain. 

When our daughter was born, we named her Jennifer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Karate Kid

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

In 1984, Hubby was on TDY (temporary duty) in Sicily for a year. It was a remote assignment which meant the kids and I could not go with him. If you were ever a military spouse, you know what it was like.

At that time I was going through emotional struggles in my life. I had just graduated with my MA degree and was looking for work. And with my husband in Sicily, I was both Mom and Dad to the kids. I was lonely and miserable.

Then the Karate Kid (1984) shows up. I had no real desire to see it; I just thought it was a silly kids' movie. How wrong I was! The story of a young man learning about life, changing his perception of the world and developing a lifelong friendship was something that touched me on a very deep level.

I empathized with Daniel from the very beginning. He came from a broken family (like me) and was moving to a new school and a new city (yep, me too). I could relate. I don't remember how many times we moved and I had to start all over. Making friends is not easy. I had an immediate connection with Daniel which carried me through the story. 

Daniel's relationship with Mr. Miyagi was beautifully portrayed. I loved the scene where Daniel was accosted on Halloween night by the bullies and Mr. Miyagi leapt over the fence to defend him. There was a lovely shot of Mr. Miyagi posed for battle in the fog, slow was surreal.

MIYAGI: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

I met my hubby in the year of Jaws (1975). It was our second date movie, the first being Shampoo. I was 18 and we were in love. We got married the following year and have been happily married for 34 years.

At the time, my future hubby was into tropical fish. I remember coming back from the movie and watching his fish swimming in the tank, thinking to myself, "I hope sharks don't hold grudges against fish owners." You, know, release of the captives and all that jazz.

The fact that we lived in the land-locked Rocky Mountains didn't really enter into the equation.

When I studied film in college, Jaws was used as an example of masterful filmmaking: action, drama, compelling characters, visual motifs, cinematography, internal conflict, strong dialog and superb performances.

If you ever get a chance, watch The Making of Jaws. It shows how Spielberg made the movie. Fascinating.

BRODY: We're gonna need a bigger boat.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

Is there anyone in the universe who hasn't seen It's a Wonderful Life (1946)? Almost everyone I know has fond memories of spending Christmas with George Bailey.

A few years ago I wrote (and performed) a comedy sketch inspired by the movie called "Christmas on Trial" -- a man is put on trial for saying "Merry Christmas." Here is the cast: 

Clarence -- Man on trial
Mr. Potter -- Prosecuting attorney
Ms. Bailey -- Defense attorney
Judge Wainwright -- Judge
Zuzu Petals -- Witness for the defense

My favorite lines from the sketch:
POTTER: I want the truth!
CLARENCE: You can't handle the truth!

My favorite line from the movie:
HARRY: To my brother George. The richest man in town.

Saturday, April 09, 2011


A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

Alfred Hitchcock is in a category all by himself. 

Psycho (1960): "They may have fooled me, but they didn't fool my mother."

Rear Window (1954): Trapped in a wheelchair and your only weapon is a camera.

North by Northwest (1959): "I didn't realize you were an art collector. I thought you just collected corpses."

The Birds (1963): Birds attack Bodega Bay -- blowing up cars, burning down buildings, and mutilating every human within pecking distance. Rambo has nothing on them.

Vertigo (1958): Will the real Madeleine please stand up?

Strangers on a Train (1951): "I have the perfect weapon right here: these two hands."

Friday, April 08, 2011

Gone With the Wind

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

It was 1969 and the world was celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Gone with the Wind (1939). I was 11, and the movie was one of the biggest events in our town. I'd never seen it and I could hardly wait. 

It was playing at the Lincoln downtown and I went with my mother, my Aunt Jean and my Uncle Bobby. When we got to the theatre, the line wrapped around the corner. I had no idea what I was getting into.

The theatre was standing room only. Back then, if the seats were filled, they'd let you stand in the back or sit in the aisles. I sat in the aisle with my Uncle Bobby. And before you could say "Fiddle Dee Dee," I was in the land of cotton and dancing the Virginia Reel!

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. This was an epic film like none other. My previous movie-going experience was limited and most of the movies I'd seen had been on TV, which made watching it in Cinemascope on the big screen even more impressive. I will never forget that day as long as I live. 

A couple of years later I read the book to the point of obsession. I read it over and over, a total of 14 times over two years. Looking back, I think it had to do with the fact that, at the time, we were moving so much and I had to change schools. I had to start over with new friends, new teachers, etc. It was a hard time, but Gone with the Wind got me through. I figured if Scarlett could get Tara back, I could handle the ninth grade.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Firm

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

It was the summer of 1993 and my hubby had just retired from the Air Force after 23 years of service.He was fairly young at the time (41) and was ready to start a new career outside the military. 

Needing to save money, we moved in with my parents for a few months during the transition period: me, hubby, our daughter Jennifer (16) and son Luke (13). So we trekked from Vandenberg AFB in California where we'd lived for seven years, to my folks house in Stroud, Oklahoma. Well, they actually lived five miles outside of Stroud, in a farmhouse on 80 acres.

We were officially in the boonies. No phone, no lights, no motorcar -- not a single luxury. Well, maybe it wasn't that bad. Fortunately, we could escape our troubles by going to the movies. The nearest movie theatre was 12 miles away and that summer The Firm (1993) was playing.

I was captivated right from the beginning as Dave Grusin's score filled the theatre. The music inspired me and my son to learn jazz/blues piano. To this day we play piano music from The Firm. He's currently taking on "Ray's Blues." It also opened up the door to John Grisham's novels. The week I saw the movie, I bought the book and I've been a Grisham fan ever since.

The Firm is one of my favorite Tom Cruise films, along with A Few Good Men and Jerry McGuire. It's about a young lawyer fresh out of Harvard who is hired by a firm. He's given all sorts of perks, such as down payment on a new home, new cars (for him and his wife), payment in full on his student loan, plus a hefty salary. But the dream ends when he discovers that the firm is run by the mob.

Here's a sound clip of "Memphis Stomp," from the sound track performed by Dave Grusin.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Easter Parade

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

Where do I begin? Easter Parade (1948) is my absolute favorite Fred Astaire movie and was shown on TV every year during the Easter season (what a coincidence!) I remember watching it with my kids when they were young. My enthusiasm was contagious and they got a kick out of their mom singing along with Judy and Fred to those luscious Irving Berlin tunes.

When Ann Miller performed her "Shakin' the Blues Away" number I got chills and wished my mom had given me tap dancing lessons. It is one of the greatest moments in Hollywood Musical history.

My favorite Astaire number was "Steppin' Out with My Baby." There's an awesome slow-motion scene that will blow your mind. And his white suit and red socks? Wow!

The story takes place around 1912 when Vaudeville was all the rage and the Ziegfeld Follies was the place to be. Judy and Fred are a dancing/singing act called "Hannah and Hewes." However, romance is the name of the game:

Johnny (Peter Lawford) is in love with Hannah (Judy Garland).
Hannah is in love with Don (Fred Astaire).
Don is in love with Nadine (Ann Miller).
Nadine is in love with Johnny.

The video clip features "Steppin' Out with My Baby" from the movie:

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Dirty Dozen

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

My mother married my step-father in the summer of 1968 and we started a new life. (I was 11 and my brother was 9). Not long after that, the local drive-in was showing The Dirty Dozen (1967), so we all piled into the car and went to the movies. It was the first movie we saw together as a new family.

Even though I was just a kid, this film made an impression on me. I developed an interest in World War II which lasted my entire life. I was captivated by the story of these men and the things they had done that brought them to death row. 

A few years later, The Dirty Dozen was on TV, and as an emerging dramatist, I watched the credits carefully. That's when I discovered that the film was based on a novel (by E. M. Nathanson). It wasn't the kind of book your typical 15-year-old girl would read. But I wasn't your typical 15-year-old girl. I rote it out as a script. My brother and I played the different characters, and we used the movie as our inspiration.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Cool Hand Luke

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

"What we've got here is... failure to communicate." My mother would quote this line from Cool Hand Luke (1967) when my brother and I were driving her crazy. And she said it exactly like Strother Martin, twang and all.

When I got older and actually saw the movie, I absolutely fell in love with Paul Newman and Cool Hand Luke was my favorite of all his films. Strangely enough, when I got married and had a son, we named him Luke (Lucas). My hubby loved the name and had no idea I was thinking of a Paul Newman character.

George Kennedy played Dragline and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The story is about a prisoner on a chain gang who tries to escape but keeps getting caught. The guards can't break his spirit no matter how hard they try. Luke becomes a "savior" to the other prisoners and represents their desire for freedom.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Big Picture

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

When I graduated from high school in 1975, I dreamed of going to film school in L.A. I wanted to be the next Spielberg. Alas, that never happened. God had other plans for me. And who am I to argue with God?

Nevertheless, when I saw The Big Picture (1989), I was immediately taken with the premise of a young film student who wins an award and begins "swimming with sharks" in Hollywood.

After Nick (Kevin Bacon) wins the award, he becomes a hot comodity and studios are courting him to do a movie. Nick eventually signs with Allen Habel (J. T. Walsh).

The story for Nick's film was a dramatic love triangle among 40-something characters, filmed in black and white and set in an old house during the winter. But the Hollywood movers and shakers turned it into a summer sex comedy with babes in bikinis, frat boys getting drunk and wall to wall pop music. 

Nick butted heads with the studio, but his ideas were dismissed one by one. Although he enjoyed the perks (nice car, great house, fame and fortune) he had become a cog in the Hollywood, money-making machine. He was miserable.

Eventually, Nick loses everything. His movie, his girl, his best friend. He learns his lesson, but it all changes with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Hilarious scenes with Martin Short as Neil, Nick's agent.

NEIL: I don't know you. I don't know your work. But I think you are a genius. And I am never wrong about that.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Annie Hall

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Movie Memories
Blogging about the movies that made an impact on my life

When I was in high school in the mid-1970s, I was a huge Woody Allen fan. While my friends were pinning up posters of Three Dog Night, I was reading Woody's essays in the New Yorker. My infatuation with Woody began in the 1960s when I started listening to Bill Cosby's comedy albums. I especially enjoyed "chicken heart." I've been a fan of stand-up comedy ever since.

In the 1970s, stand-up comedians were often featured on TV (Steve Martin, George Carlin, etc.) and that's when I first saw Woody Allen perform. I loved his dead pan humor, his neurotic mannerisms, and his pseudo-intellectualism. Something in my soul related to his style of humor. So much so, that he inspired me to become a comedy writer.

Annie Hall was released in 1977 and I couldn't wait to see my favorite comedian in a feature film. I was impressed with Allen's brilliant script and his innovative filmmaking techniques, such as breaking the fourth wall and the creative use of animation and flashbacks. 

Also, as a young woman, I was influenced by Annie's fashions. I started wearing men's shirts, neck ties, baggy trousers and vests. Her masculine style was well suited (no pun intended) to my personality at the time. I was not a girly-girl.

The movie went on to win four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay) -- all this without explosions, car chases, and bimbos in bikinis.

ALVY: A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.