Movies are probably the greatest single treasures of my life. I have, since I can remember been enthralled, no downright obsessed with movies. And not just the movies themselves, but the experience of going to the movie theater. I have so many memories, I’ve easily seen over two thousand movies in theaters, and I still watch them compulsively on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, The Criterion Channel, TCM, HBO Now, and others. I can’t get enough. It’s a full-blown addiction.
The first movie I remember seeing in theaters in The Empire Strikes Back with my father. I was four years old, and while I’m sure some of the narrative complexity eluded me, I was able to track the good vs. evil mythology of it, and I was thrilled and terrified, and to this day the likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and C3PO are more like people from my childhood, rather than characters in a film. They were so real to me.
There are movies that defined moments throughout my life. Star Wars took up much of my childhood, but when I was ten years old my mom and sister and brother went to see a movie one day that my mom had read about. It had three different endings! If we liked the movie, we’d have to see it three times to see all of them Well, the movie was Clue, and we ended up seeing all three versions that same weekend. I’ll never forget the bursts of wild laughter from everyone of my family members when the singing telegram girl is shot mid-song. We are all a little twisted in my family. We couldn’t get enough of it. We went back over and over, so much so that by the time the movie was on VHS my sister and I could perform the entire thing from start to finish- perfectly flawless. We wouldn’t miss a line. We played several parts, obviously, but I was always Wadsworth (The Tim Curry role)- His monologue at the end of the film describing the events of the entire film at top speed is still one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen! And my sister was always Mrs. Peacock (Her neurotic Eileen Brennan was always right on the money.)
When I was two years old and my sister was three, I have no memory of this, but my mom and dad have often spoken of it, my mother took us to see Grease. And we all loved it so much, that she took us back again and again. And again and apparently again. There are rumors that the total number of times we saw the film is into the dozens. I did indeed inherit my obsession with films from my mother. She was my moviegoing buddy for years and years. In fact, we saw so many movies together, she would often let me skip school so we could see the new Woody Allen, or Jack Nicholson, or Meryl Streep or Dustin Hoffman movie that had just come out.
Mom, I will never forget, the year I turned eighteen and we saw In the Name of The Father at least fifteen times in theaters. We went everyday for at least two weeks. Daniel Day-Lewis may not realize it, but he is responsible for maybe the most bizarre mother/son obsession in the history of cinema.
Aunt Angie, I think a lot about the night I made you watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I can still hear your laugh when I see it to this day! How the line “Satanic Mechanic” floored you. And we rewound it again and again.
My entire family has another film that we watched every years, several times, that I bought for my parents this Christmas, with the idea that all of us could watch it again soon with my nieces and nephews…I dare to dream. That movie is Scavenger Hunt, a silly, borderline stupid slapstick seventies comedy with an amazing cast. Plus until I was like sixteen years old I thought Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite was written for this film!
There are so many others from my childhood: Nine to Five, Arthur, Smokey and the Bandit, Jaws, The Exorcist, The In-Laws, Tootsie, Murder by Death, The Cheap Detective, Sleeper…The list is so long….