Anyone who knows me knows that I am a latchkey child from the '70s, and if there is one thing I know and love, it's movies. Every great movie that made it to the television, I've watched. I have seen every Godzilla movie, Clint Eastwood movie (pre-1990). I never met a planet of apes I didn't like, even when Charlton Heston only appeared for a short cameo.
So I should make a list of a dozen of my favorite movies that are 50 years old!
First, let's look at a couple of war movies I loved.
TORA, TORA, TORA
The title alone would have kept me from ever wanting to watch this movie if I knew nothing else about it. I guess tora is Japanese for tiger but used as a code for "lightning Attack," which the Japanese called out over the radio before attacking Pearl harbor in 1941. I don't know; tiger, tiger, tiger may have been a cool title?
I would have never seen this movie if it weren't for my Social Studies class movie day in Junior high School. Our teacher felt it was necessary, so we watched it, and I loved it. I always loved anything WWII, so once I found out this was a war flick, I was all in. Great movie.
The next WWII flick on my list is Kelly's heroes. Did I mention I loved WWII films?
With an all-star cast, this was one of my favorites growing up. Even my father and grandfather would watch it with me when it came on.
Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carrol O'Connor, Donald Sutherland, Gavin McCleod, how could you not love this movie?
Usually, when a good movie is playing, you never want it to end. With Kelly's Heroes, it delivers at two hours and twenty minutes long!
TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA
Speaking of Eastwood, he also filmed another favorite of mine, Two Mules for Sister Sara. I loved every cowboy flick that ever featured Eastwood. in 1970, Eastwood somehow fit this movie into his schedule along with Kelly's Heroes. The film is listed in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.
Is it just me, or could Hugh Jackman play Clint Eastwood?
A MAN CALLED HORSE
Another "cowboy" film I loved, A Man Called Horse. Who wouldn't like the white man fitting in with the natives and called one of their own? Especially since, at the time, I believed I was 1/16 Blackfoot-Choctaw.
It wasn't until forty years later when a DNA test would reveal I have precisely 0% native American blood in me. Still, I do have .4% Nigerian, and even though Roots is on my list of favorites, released in 1977, it is not on my list today.
I do, however ow a very nice ROOTS 1976 edition in my book collection.
LITTLE BIG MAN
Little Big Man is the movie that made me love Dustin Hoffman, also starring Faye Dunaway. I just loved this movie.
The plot was, in 1970, 121-year-old Jack Crabb, the oldest man in the world, is residing in a hospice and recounts his life story to a curious historian. Among other things, Crabb claims to have been a captive of the Cheyenne, a gunslinger, an associate of Wild Bill Hickok, a scout for General George Armstrong Custer, and the sole white survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Hoffman would film more of my favorite movies, including psychological thriller Straw Dogs (1971) and a prison film Papillon (1973) alongside Steve McQueen, who I also loved as an actor!
Starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, it is a film I usually wouldn't watch, simply because I really know nothing about sports. I mean, I watched baseball and football and boxing growing up at my grandfather's house. However, I never was interested beyond spending time with him.
This movie was on one day, and he was watching, so I watched it with him. It was good, sad, and enjoyed it, especially when I found it a true story.
Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers was at a Promise Keepers event I attended in Ohio years ago, and I got to meet him. I guess he passed away last year. He was a super guy, and I really liked him, and he loved to joke about how Billy Dee Williams played him in the movie.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
This is another movie I wouldn't have gone out of my way to see; however, channel 50 out of Detroit had Bill Kennedy at the Movies every day at 1:00PM. Again, I was at my grandparent's house, so I watched as I played with my Legos.
I laughed at the singing in some parts, "If I were a rich man," "Matchmaker," you know. A few years later, in the sixth-grade choir, we would choose some songs from Fiddler on the Roof, and I was a natural, having already memorized them in jest.
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
The funny thing about this movie, I first saw it in school. In third grade, we would watch a movie every Friday. One particular Friday, we watched Willy Wonka, and it was great!
My all-time two favorite scenes will always be Veruca Salt singing "I want it now," and the boat scene where Gene Wilder improved most of, which was both scary and amazing.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
Don't worry, I didn't see this as a kid. I watched it in high school, so I wouldn't have to read the book. This was before the book bug bit. The summer before eleventh grade, my friend Chris introduced me to Isaac Asimov, and I read The Robots of Dawn. After that, I was hooked and, if given a choice, would choose the book.
This was also when I started my Stephen King collection of hardcover first editions, which continued until the early '90s when I lost them all during a divorce.
A Clockwork Orange was my introduction to the post-apocalyptic style. I immediately tried finding anything that resembled it. I watched Mad Max, had a newfound love of Planet of the Apes (yay, Charlton Heston), Soylent Green (yay, Charlton Heston, again), THX 1138, Silent Running, and Logan's Run, just to name a few.
BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES
I loved all the ape movies. Even this one, although I was terribly disappointed at Heston's short cameo. However, actor James Grover Franciscus' portrayal of Brent was pretty darn good.
Every summer, channel five would run an Ape marathon, showing all of the Planet of the Apes movies in order. My brother and I would stay up as late as possible watching on our 8" black & white tv on our bedroom floor.
The remakes are OK, but to me, there is something about the originals that the remakes never seem to capture.
FOOTNOTE: In case anyone catches it, I guess Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory actually released in 1971. It will still be 50 years old this year, it just hasn't had it's birthday yet.