B.W.'s All-Time list braces for a hit
This is Movie Week at Montag. May as well face it, I can't get my mind off Friday, Sept. 30, when - Lord willing and the creek don't rise - I will be attending the earliest possible matinee of "Serenity," a movie I am anticipating with an anticipation beyond anything I can recall. I spent the summer falling in love with the cast and 'verse of "Firefly," and I want to know what happens next.
I am expecting a huge shakeup in B.W.'s All-Time Favorite Movie List. They say you can learn a lot about a guy by finding out what his favorite movies are - you probably can learn a lot about a guy just knowing he makes lists like this. Ever read or see "High Fidelity"? Then you know what I'm talking about!
So since I expect "Serenity" to crack my top 10, perhaps even the sacred Top Five, let's review that magical list and remember it one last time before Joss Whedon's Big Damn Movie.
1. "It's A Wonderful Life." You have to understand. I never heard of this movie until that Christmas Eve, the loneliest Christmas Eve of my life. My wife wanted a trial separation, and wouldn't you know it, while she was gone I bumped into the woman of my dreams. The timing couldn't be worse. I began that Christmas Eve knowing not only that the marriage was over, but I had blown it with my perfect match, too. So when I turned on the TV, I was George Bailey. I knew about that bridge, and I knew how attractive that swirling maelstrom below was. That night Clarence saved my life, too. This has to be my favorite movie, because I owe it so much.
2. "The Wizard of Oz." Anyone who knows me knows I can't go two days without an Oz reference. Shucks, folks, I'm speechless. People come and go so quickly here. I love this movie, for all the reasons you love it.
3. "Casablanca." Perfect timing again: I first encountered Rick and Ilsa in a college theater filled with kids who hadn't ever seen the movie (This was just before VCRs were invented). You haven't lived until you've discovered this movie together with a real audience.
4. "E.T. The Extraterrestrial." Hmmmm ... "no place like home" and "phone home" both in my top 4. Suppose it means something? Someday watch this movie and do nothing but listen to John Williams' score. It's the greatest symphony ever written. No, really! Try it.
5. "To Kill a Mockingbird." Small town injustice, the innocence of children, and Boo Radley. Oh man, what a great story, what acting, what writing, what a movie.
6. "Shakespeare in Love." The nerdy writer gets Gwyneth Paltrow. Of course I love this movie! Plus the best-ever recreation of the Elizabethan stage, and "It's a mystery!" Tragic love worthy of Rick and Ilsa.
7. "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Every modern action flick starts here. 'Nuff said.
8. "Glory." Oh, what a moving film, full of looks. The grin on Matthew Broderick's face after he gets the shoes. The look of angry resignation on Denzel Washington's face when his commander, too, breaks out the lash. This film haunted me for years. Still does.
9. "A Christmas Story." Catch me in the right mood, and Jean Shepherd's beautiful story jumps eight spaces all the way to the top. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid." "Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie." "The duck is smiling at us." The funniest movie ever, because it's so true.
10. "As Good As It Gets." Performs the miracle of making Jack Nicholson one of the most obnoxious and unlikable characters in the history of movies, and getting you to cheer when he gets the girl. The nice thing he says to Helen Hunt to make up for the "housedress" comment still takes my breath away.
The next 10, several of which have found their way into the Top 10 before easing back out -- Contact. Spider-Man 2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Best Years of Our Lives. Field of Dreams. Singing in the Rain. Toy Story 2. Dances With Wolves. Spider-Man. When Harry Met Sally.
Should be in the top 20 except there were 20 films I liked more: Gojira. It Happened One Night. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The Time of Their Lives.
So now you know about my list of favorite movies. The fun part about lists is that everybody has one. No one reading this will agree with everything. Everybody's right, everybody's wrong.
Talking about these movies was fun because it got my mind off "Serenity" for a little while. Next stop: Hardyville!