' ' Cinema Romantico: The Films That Define Me

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Films That Define Me

Marc from Go, See, Talk is spearheading a multi-blog event today entitled "The Films That Defined Us." The post is intended to be about "the movies," he writes, "we were raised on which (probably) forever defined our tastes." And for me this statement is essentially critical. As most of you know "The Last of the Mohicans" is truly the movie that defines me. But I saw that in the summer of 1993, long after I had begun watching movies. So how did I get there? How did I become what I am? How did I turn into a maniac for Michael Mann, a Kate Winslet worshiper, the only person on the face of the earth who believes "Oceans Twelve" is far better than the original (and it is), and a man who will fight anyone to the death who dares diss "Titanic"? Let's get to it, shall we? The Films That Define Me...


Captain Blood (1935) & The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Much like the child I may or may not have will be raised on the music of Bruce Springsteen whether he or she likes it or not, my mother raised me on the swashbucklers of Errol Flynn and gave me absolutely no choice in the matter whatsoever. My hopeless romanticism, my eternal love of melodramatic epics, my hatred of all who bring the "real world" into the movies can be traced directly here. These two movies, all these years later, still rock.


"Stars Wars" (1977). What guy my age could make a list like this and not include "Stars Wars"? And I specifically say the (real) first "Star Wars". None of the rest. And it has nothing to do with sci fi or the cool special effects or the whatever but something much, much simpler. It's so old fashioned. Seeing Luke stare out at the twin suns longingly....damn, man, my heart cracked. I may as well have been staring out at the Des Moines Weather Beacon longingly.


"Ghostbusters" (1984). My cinematic comedic tastes were settled forevermore upon seeing this movie as a wee lad at the Valley 3 Theater in West Des Moines, Iowa in the glorious summer of '84. I didn't get all the jokes then, but I got enough of them, and over time I realized irreverent dryness was my funny movie m├ętier. The effects have aged but the jokes have only become better. ("Maybe now you'll never slime a guy with a positron glider.")


"Glory" (1989). It's always a chore to find movie characters with whom you can truly identify but then suddenly there was Matthew Broderick's Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. Now this isn't to say that I could ever ably lead a charge on a Confederate redoubt, never mind properly unsheathe a sabre, because I couldn't. It wasn't what Shaw did, it's who he was. An idealist, a romantic, a guy who never used foul language beyond "rat filth" and "nasty little cuss", and, in one of my favorite passages ever of movie dialogue, requests the honor of leading the fateful attack on South Carolina's Fort Wagner by declaring, "There's more to fighting than rest, sir. There's character. There's strength of heart." I'm fairly certain that was how I scored my date to the junior prom: There's more to dating than having your own car, Michelle. There's character. There's strength of heart.

14 comments:

Aiden said...

Ghostbusters, damn, how did I forget that one. Awesome list, right there with ya' on Star Wars. Time for me to go back and revisit Glory, too. That one'll stick with ya'.

Castor said...

Glory, hell yea! A heck of a great movie! Loved Denzel Washington in this, he certainly showed a lot more heart here than you are used to since he became such a huge star.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Yeah, "Glory" really is something else. In fact making this list made me realize I need to re-watch it for one of my Great Movies posts. It deserves it.

oliveobrien1978 said...

Ghostbusters, that was another one I was going to include. It was between that and Back to the Future and chose the latter in the end.

Vancetastic said...

And how much better is Glory than most of the rest of the films Edward Zwick has churned out?

Also, I've never heard of a Star Wars fan who didn't at least give Empire some props.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Good call. "Glory" is the anomaly in the Zwick canon. And I love "Empire". I do. It's great. I don't even mind the ewoks that much. But I'm just a "New Hope" guy. Through and through. "New Hope" is truly the one that defined me.

Vancetastic said...

Ewoks? In Empire? ;-)

Nicholas Prigge said...

No, no, no, no! "Jedi!" People always seem to be crapping on the ewoks in "Jedi" and I don't actually mind them that much. At least they're not CGI.

The Mad Hatter said...

Fantastic list - especially the bit about being raised on Errol Flynn movies. I think such parental decisions are good for a kid's development...look at how well you turned out!

Your mention of GHOSTBUSTERS reminds me of a particular phenomenon I experienced over and over as a kid...being caught on the fringes of the pop culture loop.

There were many event movies that came and went when I was younger (BATMAN, ROGER RABBIT, CROCODILE DUNDEE, and the aforementioned 'BUSTERS) that had everybody quoting lines, everybody wearing tee shirts, everybody enjoying. But because I never saw these films until they came to video months and months later (remember the release cycle was way longer back then)...I often felt a little left out of the party.

All I could do to keep up was shine it on and continually refer back to the glimmers I got in commercials and trailers.

But I can't cry too much...like you and your Errol Flynn education, I turned out alright!

Nicholas Prigge said...

Thanks. Kind words. Being raised partly on classics certainly shaped me into a certain kind of moviegoer. It's also why I got so defensive about Ridley Scott's Robin Hood movie.

H-Rod said...

Star Wars is becoming a common staple amongst us on these lists, and I'm not getting slightly tired of seeing it!

Nice call on Ghostbusters. It is still such a great movie to watch, cheesey effects and all.

Glory is a wonderful movie, and one I haven't see in years.

sundryandco said...

Good (who ya gonna) call on Ghostbusters :D

Every time I see Ghostbusters on someone's list, I hear the intro to the theme tune.

One of my favourite childhood films. I ain't afraid of no ghost!

Wretched Genius said...

Is it sad that every time someone mentions Ghostbusters, my brain defaults not to the film, but to the animated series that always happened to be airing right as I got home from school? And by proxy, it also makes me think of Ecto Cooler Hi-C (aka the greatest Hi-C flavor ever, and the high-bar for all movie-related food tie-ins).

Nicholas Prigge said...

Ah, Ecto Cooler Hi-C. Nostalgia in a juicebox. I almost loved that stuff as much as my "Raiders of the Lost Ark" lunch box.