Because really, it’s the reason that I do this one great thing I do every few months.
Still, since the thought comes from Ann Patchett, one of my favorite essayists, I’m happy to share what she has to say about addiction.
Sadly, I can’t find the exact quote, but writing about her love of opera, Patchett thinks that an addict isn’t truly an addict unless he is compelled to share his addiction with others.
That’s exactly how I feel about the movies.
Because they are just so darn awesome, I want all of my friends to know just how astonishingly wonderful the best films can be. And since all of these chums where I now live think a really old movie means that it’s from the 1980s, I feel it’s my sacred duty to screen the classics… often dating back a good 60 years.
So, once every two to three months, I host Girls’ Movie Night.
I’ve been doing this for about four years now, and the template is basically the same.
We start at around six o’clock, with guests out the door by 10 p.m.; that’s because all of us have husbands and kids at home. Men aren’t invited, so my spouse makes himself scarce for a quiet night out alone. Back here, there are always appetizers; a sit-down dinner (where I read interesting facts about the movie aloud), and dessert. Also, everything is made from scratch, with the menu always having something to do with the movie we’ll be watching. (Thank goodness it has been a potluck affair from day one, and thank goodness there are some great cooks in our crew.)
For instance, when I showed The High and the Mighty, the kitschy 1954 John Wayne film that’s also the first airplane disaster movie, we featured tropical food because the action unfolds on a flight from Hawaii to California. (Here’s the trailer, with a luscious score by Dimitri Tolkin, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=64BarFD6Mso.)
Despite the fact that I’ve been doing this get-together for a while, the ideas keep on coming.
Take Gidget (www.youtube.com/watch?v=adtFTiOQMMA), the original beach party movie, starring the adorable Sandra Dee (“…although she’s not king sized, her finger is ring sized…”). It was summertime, and we chowed down on hot dogs, chips and s’more bars. And when I showed the underrated 1950 film Caged, a gritty story about an innocent woman in prison (star Eleanor Parker was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar and should have won), we ate homemade chili ladled from a big steel pot. (Take a look at some of its top-notch performances here, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRY_U4yS1oE)
I’m pretty sure we’ve watched well over a dozen movies by now.
Some others are Sunset Blvd (William Holden is my forever celluloid crush); Double Indemnity (featuring the best screenplay ever written—and oh, that anklet!); It Happened One Night (the first movie to win Oscars in all major categories), and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, with Ellen Burstyn and dreamboat Kris Kristofferson showing us
one of the best on-screen kisses of all time.
I’ve loved movies since middle school.
My best friend then was Linda Mayberry, and it was she who introduced me to the wonderful celluloid gems that would play on TV.
We’d watch them mostly on weekends, but sometimes catch The Million Dollar Movie, where the same film was on the air every night for one full week. Given that the stations showing these movies tried to fit in as many commercials as possible, the editing was often choppy, and the prints weren’t all that great either.
None of this mattered to me.
However, I finally got the chance to see how great films are really made to be viewed—on a huge screen with a crisp print, replete with appreciative audiences and state of the art equipment—when I took an American film class at UCLA.
There, in what’s now called The James Bridges Theater, I watched (among many others) Grapes of Wrath (1940), Strangers on a Train (1951), High Noon (1952) and a sneak preview of Paper Moon (1973). (Director Peter Bogdanovich was around to answer questions afterwards. When I raised my hand, he addressed me as “sweetheart.”)
Today, going out to the movies is still one of my very favorite things to do, especially a few months before the Academy Awards, when so many fantastic films are showing in theatres.
But most of all, I like going back to the classics made so many decades ago. To my mind, that’s when so many of the great movies were made. I’m also lucky right now, because I can watch most of them right at home. There’s no giant screen, of course, but when I get caught up in the story and the acting and the score, it takes me to a place where that’s not necessary.
And of course, being a movie addict, I am compelled, always and forever, to share.
I’d love to hear about your favorite movies! Comments are always most welcomed and most appreciated!
P.S. I grew up to write and co-produce my own movie, Botso. The trailer, and much more, is at www.botsomovie.com.