Those of you who know me, also know that movies, film, cinema, whatever you want to call them, are a major part of my life. They rank, just behind my wife and family, breaded tenderloins, and naps, as the major necessities of my existence. The first movie that I do remember seeing was Prince Valiant made in 1954 with Robert Wagner and Janet Leigh. It was probably at the Rivoli Theater but I’m not sure. The first fantasy/adventure I remember was Ulysses with Kirk Douglas. There is a scene when Ulysses and his men are captured by Polyphemus the giant cyclops and several are eaten. This was my first experience with a fright scene. It stayed with me. The Ten Commandments was the first movie to really impress me. The scene where Moses “Chuck Heston” parts the Red Sea so the Hebrews can escape and then closes it again to drown the Pharaoh’s chariots really grabbed me.
In 1959 I had my first really horrifying screen moment. I had seen Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Son of Frankenstein, and the Mummy on late night TV so I considered myself to be a real devotee of horror movies. I friend of mine named David and I went to see the movie The Fly at the Arlington Theater the Friday right after Thanksgiving of 1959. I sat through it without a care. I saw Patricia Owens pull the towel off the man fly’s head and it didn’t bother me. I WAS TOUGH. But then almost at the end of the movie in the fly man scene where he’s stuck in the spider web and the huge spider is moving toward him to eat him. He is screaming in that gut wretchingly high pitched voice “HELP ME HELP ME!” It’s a moment that still gives me the major willies even today. I am apparently not alone with this feeling. Film critics have voted this the #19 most terrifying scene in film history.
Ben-Hur and Spartacus made a deep impression on me. There was also a film called Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas that really was an incredible film.
The Ox-Bow Incident with Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan is perhaps my favorite film of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The Maltese Falcon with Bogie and Greenstreet is right up there. However my favorite film that came from the war years is The Wolfman with Lon Chaney Jr. It was also my favorite guilty pleasure movie. I know I should say its Citizen Kane or Gone With the Wind but it’s Lon as the Lycanthrope Larry Talbot that has my heart.
The Haunting is yet another horror film that is close to my heart. I saw it first at the Emerson Theater and it scared the poodie out of me. Even now 54 years later it still affects me. It’s become a family favorite.
Like so many other Boomers at the time, the film The Graduate strongly influenced me. It still does. The movie The Lion in Winter is another film that is very special to me and not just because it is a great film, which it is. It’s also the first film that “The Boss” and I saw together as a couple. I will never forget the joy I felt sitting next to her, sharing a box of popcorn and watching the screen. It was magic.
Finally, there was a movie released in 1970 called “The Owl and the Pussycat!” It starred Barbara Streisand and George Segal. It was the first film Barbara made where she did not sing. I had a big crush on Barbara and I thought she really looked hot and lovely in this film. There was also a lot of great comic dialog and hilarious moments. It’s still a favorite.
Favorite movies — everyone has one (or two or ten).
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