Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How Many Times Can You Watch That Movie?

My Favorite Colors: Black and White!
Oprah calls them "Aha Moments," those moments in life when you are struck by a clarity of purpose and discover your defining passion in life. As a movie-mad kid, that moment came for me when, after watching the same Abbott and Costello movie countless nights in a row on TV, my father finally exploded and said "how many times can you watch that movie?" That's when I knew I was different from everyone else in the house. I could watch it endlessly!

Anyone who grew up in the New York Metropolitan area in the 1950s and early 1960s should remember  WOR-TV Channel 9's "Million Dollar Movie." The same movie aired every night from 7 pm - 9:30 pm. "King Kong" and "Mighty Joe Young" were aired frequently, but I was transfixed by Abbot and Costello's "The Time of Their Lives."

I was already a fan of Bud and Lou (courtesy of their TV show, which aired in the afternoons after school), but this  movie contained many of the ingredients that would forever constitute the recipe for favorite films: humorous men, a beautiful woman, a suspenseful atmosphere, menacing supporting players, a mystery and some history. In case this little classic passed you by, Lou plays a tinker at the time of the American Revolution. Bud is a bad guy with bad relatives. In a plot that involves George Washington, traitors loyal to the British, a purloined letter hidden in a clock, and thwarted romance, Lou and Marjorie Reynolds (playing a lady of higher social standing than he), are patriots who get killed. Their bodies are dumped in a well because they are mistaken for traitors. Only the letter in the clock can exonerate them! They roam the earth as ghosts, waiting for someone to discover that letter and set their souls free. Finally, in 1946, the old estate is due to be purchased by some relatives of the baddies who crossed Lou and Marjorie back in the time of the Revolution. Gale Sondergaard, as a creepy housekeeper straight out of "Rebecca" is on hand for some sinister humor. Hilarity ensues, the letter is discovered, and Lou and Marjorie's souls are set free to be re-united with their respective loves.
Unfortunately, Lou's long-awaited admission into Heaven is delayed, due to a certain holiday.

1940s-style special effects: good enough to provoke laughter
I loved every minute of it, but the one scene that delighted me every single time was the one where Melody (Marjorie's charcter), investigating the fashions of 1946, comes upon some nylon stockings. In the middle of modeling them, she is interrupted by the residents of the house. She makes herself invisible, but, alas, the stockings are real. When she runs up the staircase, only the stockings are visible. Well, I was a kid (but I think I'd still laugh at this scene today - just for old times sake).

While my brothers could view "King Kong" and "Mighty Joe Young" frequently, I was the only one who was faithful night after night to a movie I loved. If I loved it, I never tired of it. Over the years, those favorite films became like old friends. Movies are always the same no matter how many times repeated. They, unlike life and people, never change.You can always count on the movies.

And so it is today. Some of my very best friends:
Sunset Boulevard
North by Northwest
Singing in the Rain
City Lights
The Apartment
Some Like it Hot
Love Me or Leave Me
Gone With the Wind
The Philadelphia Story
Citizen Kane
Shadow of a Doubt
And the list goes on....

If I love it, I never tire of it. Just like a true friend.
Thank Heavens For Movies!


Freder said...

A great post, and a great list! (I recognize the importance of Gone With The Wind, even if it isn't my cup of fur!)

The Lady Eve said...

Loved your post and list...reminded me of the time (1960s) when the L.A. station that aired the same movie every weeknight at 8pm (& on Sat. nite) aired "Dial M for Murder." I watched it every night...and each night in the back of my mind was the hope that Milland would get away with it - this time. That devil Alfred Hitchcock manipulated the h*@$ out of me!
But back to your point. Not too long ago I saw "Bob Le Flambeur" for the first time, got hooked and watched it over and over. Same with "Moontide," etc., etc., etc.

Jan Miner said...

A great post and fun to get a glimpse of the little FlickChick. Although the foci of my obsessive watching/rewatching were different, I can truly relate. Certain movies, like certain books, do become almost like real friends. Almost. :-)

Anonymous said...

I did grow up watching million dollar movie, for me it was Jane Russel and Macao. My sister and I watched it every time it was on. Oh how we loved her and the movies.
Thanks for the memories.

ClassicBecky said...

I love posts like this! I can easily watch favorite movies as often as I visit with friends -- they are friends to me. I probably know most of Errol Flynn's movies by heart. George Sanders as the Saint, Bette Davis (everything!), the Universal original horror movies, Lon Chaney's best silents, so many more -- when they are on, I can't help but watch them. It's like a drug!

I am a big fan of Abbott and Costello too. My favorite is Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. My favorite line is when Lon Chaney Jr. says "every full moon moon I turn into a wolf" and Lou answers "You and a milion other guys!"

Rick29 said...

How delightful to read about THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES! It's the most different A&C movie and I think it's their career highlight(even better than A&C MEET FRANKENSTEIN). As for movie I can watch the most, there are almost too many to mention, but THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD probably tops the list. Wonderful idea for a post.

Unknown said...

Great! Old movies are the best! That old Abbott & Costello movie was one I'd forgotten! Thanks for the memories and the smile!

FlickChick said...

Thanks, everyone, and so glad we can share those movie-mad moments!

Dawn said...

Wonderful post. Some of my movie friends are that are not on your list are:
Moon Over Miami
On an Island With You
Neptunes Daughter
Romance on the High Seas

And my best movie freind is, Leave Her to Heaven..

brandy beth said...

I have been asked that question so many times "didn't you just watch this?". i love watching my favorites (which by the way, my list would have EVERY movie that is on your list, except i have not seen City Lights) over and over as there is so much you miss the first or third or tenth time watching it. especially film noir...the lighting, the camera angles, the true brilliant acting, the metaphors...i could go on forever. i so enjoy your posts and am thrilled that there are so many out there who appreciate and celebrate TRUE classic Hollywood movies. thanks, and keep up the great work!

Debbie said...

I LOVED the Time of their Lives! When I was younger and watching that movie over and over on Channel (, I even thought about name a daughter Melody.