The Godfather is my favorite movie of all time. I read the book in high school and could not wait to see it when it came out. I remember my date and I standing in the first line I have ever stood in to see a movie, and how the screenplay, that was so close to the book, set the standard for so many other movies. How true to the author did the director stay? How well did the director interpret what the author had written? To this day, I remember when the nurse came up on Michael at the hospital where his father was being treated, everyone in the theatre jumped out of their seats, including me. Then there was Santino. James Caan character’s name was so unlike any I had ever heard, I made a commitment to name my son, if I ever had a son, I would name him Santino, and I did.
To Kill a Mockingbird was a movie we saw as a family when I was in grade school. I did not understand prejudice at the time, but the right from wrong message was so strong, you could not mistake it. I remember being scared of the house where Bo lived, and thought Scout was so brave in her convictions. I think I fell in love with courtroom drama because of that movie.
Apocalypse Now. This movie impacted me like no other. I lived in the Philippines during the Viet Nam war when I was in 6th grade, into 7th grade. I have vivid memories of the people, the landscape, the traditions. My dad was a manager of a softball team of active duty personnel that played against teams off and on base and I remember seeing guys that were in transit from Viet Nam to home that hung out at the ball field. I remember talking briefly with one guy who was with a buddy watching the game. He spoke about the opposition team being better than my Dad’s team and I knew he was joking. It was the look in his eyes, like he was in another place, or seeing something other than the game, other than my mom and I, that I have never forgotten. It was the same look I saw in Martin Sheen’s eyes. This movie made me want to understand our country’s involvement in the Viet Nam War more and started a personal research project that extends to this day.
Out of Africa. Stunning cinematography. Breathtaking. I know it’s wrong to think that if I were to visit Africa, the Africa of this movie is what I would see, but it’s what is in my head. The story is compelling on its face, but the movie burned forever in my memory because of the voice of Karen Blixen brought to life by Meryl Streep. When she defied convention and begged for help in a public gathering of her peers, it did not reduce her status, it magnified it.
These are just a few of my all time favorites. I could go on and on about Fried Green Tomatoes, A Field of Dreams, Boys of the Hood, The Color Purple, Gotti, American President, The Big Chill, Tombstone and so many more.