Fifteen Movies That Made Me Who I Am Today
The internet meme:
Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen movies you’ve seen that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
I took “Fifteen movies…that will always stick with you” at face value. (How could a movie that you have not seen stick with you?) These may not be my favorite movies, but they all were somehow memorable/important to me at the time I saw them.
THE UGLY DACHSHUND: The earliest movie I can recall going to see. To this day I have a grudge against wiener dogs because of the scene where they trash a room in their house and frame that poor Great Dane.
MOTHRA: I spent way too many hours watching stupid Japanese monster movies. Who thought of this stuff? A giant caterpillar wrecking Japan? When the military think they have it beat, it bursts out of its cocoon and becomes an even more destructive moth? Those two Japanese chicks in the wooden box like a little proscenium stage? And my little sister, blubbering nonstop because she thought the Saturday night horror movie on TV was the evening news.
THE GODFATHER: First adult movie I ever saw. Mom got upset when Michael Corleone’s Sicilian bride showed her breasts to him, but she never said anything when Sonny got drilled with over a hundred bullets at that tollbooth.
BLAZING SADDLES: I begged my parents to take me to see this, because my friends had seen it. Mom and Dad sat there in shock. I loved it, but tried not to laugh too hard.
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL: Overeducated silliness taken to a sublime level.
DUCK SOUP: I’d seen the Marx Bros. on TV, but this was the first time on the big screen. I literally wet my pants from laughing so hard.
2001: Mind blowing in the early ’70’s, and still a touchstone for science fiction films.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: Saw it on Pittsburgh TV, uncut. Shocked the hell out of me, and gave me nightmares for months afterwards. Click on the nasty character below to watch the whole damned movie for free over at The Internet Archive!
ANNIE HALL: I’d seen previous Woody Allen movies, but this one really captivated me and made me laugh. 15 years later I saw Amarcord and realized how much Allen stole, I mean borrowed, from Fellini.
ERASERHEAD: $1 midnight show in Ann Arbor my freshman year at U of M. My friends and I sat through the whole time in disbelief, every few minutes saying, “I can’t believe I’m watching this. Let’s get out of here.” Interestingly enough, we stayed through to the end. Carried some of those images around with me for 20 years, saw it again a few years ago, and instead of confusion, really enjoyed it.
TAXI DRIVER: On a double bill with Mean Streets. Changed my attitude about what a movie could be.
THE LAST DETAIL: “Everybody’s old enough for a beer.” For better or worse, Jack Nicholson in all his testosterone-crazed glory taught me and my friends about manhood.
BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR: If you had to bushwhack through a quarter mile of thorns in the dark to sneak into an adult drive-in to see your first porn film, you’d remember that too. Plus, the scene on the trapeze… You kids have it so easy today with your internet porn. When I was a teenager, it took a lot of planning and work to see a little hardcore action.
FANNY AND ALEXANDER: The movie that really turned me on to foreign films, and that showed me that a movie could be a work of art as great as a Shakespeare play or a Beethoven symphony.
THE WILD BUNCH: Didn’t see this until the early 90’s when it was re-released with restored footage. Amazing combination of action, male bonding, and morality: When you can’t tell who the good guys and the bad guys are, how do you make an ethical decision?