Monday, July 31, 2006

The Pearl is in the River

In 1981, our family was on vacation in Wisconsin. Mom had agreed to take us kids to a movie. I wanted to see "The Empire Strikes Back" for the millionth time. Mom suggested we go see the new comedy with Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher instead. I reluctantly agreed and was very pleasantly surprised. In fact, for the next two hours, we were all rolling in the aisles as we watched "Under the Rainbow".

It's not on DVD yet, but Warner Brothers does have plans to release it in the near future.


In the early summer of 1982, my family and I traveled to Waterloo, Iowa to visit our cousins. We stayed there for several days. While visiting, I noticed in the local newspaper that a special sneak preview of an upcoming movie was going to be showing at the Crossroads theatres.

The man who directed this movie had also directed my favorite movie of 1981. In addition, it featured music by the same composer as my '81 fave (as well as my '80 fave for that matter).

I nagged constantly to my mom that day to take us there to see it that night. She relented and so it was that me, my mom, 2 of my siblings, my aunt, and 2 of her kids all went to the theatre that night. I remember it was a sunny early evening as we waited in line with quite a few other people. There was excitement in the air. We didn't know much about the subject matter, only that it had some sci-fi elements to it.

The show started and we were all enraptured from start to finish. There was a roar from the audience when Elliott exclaimed, "It was nothin' like that, penis breath!" There was thunderous applause from the crowd when the credits rolled. We all knew we had seen something special. I remember seeing several women exiting the theatre that had tears in their eyes. As we headed out, ushers gave us all buttons that said, "I saw E.T.". On our way out to the car, my cousin put the button on his shirt. He then went up to some people in the parking lot, pointed to the button, shook his shoulders back and forth, and said, "I...saw...E.T!" I had just seen what would turn out to be my favorite movie of that year.

Several days later when we returned to Rollingstone, life continued as usual. But I remember thinking about the movie I had seen the prior week, thinking about how the whole world was going to love it (just as we did), that most people didn't know it yet, but that they were going to be witness to an extraordinary movie later that summer.

The movie opened nationally a week later and ended up being the top money maker of not only that year, but the top U.S. money maker of all-time (It finally relinquished its crown in 1997).

Here's the original theatrical poster for my favorite movie of 1982 (a black and white version of it was printed in Waterloo's paper the weekend of the sneak preview):

I ended up buying the movie's soundtrack a week or two after I saw the movie. Instead of record, I actually bought it on cassette (Yep, I was on the cutting edge. I remember my aunt saying that cassettes are so much better than records since they don't skip).

I saw "E.T." several times that summer, but not as many as 2 of my family members. My mom and youngest brother (who was almost 4 at that time) went to it practically every weekend that summer. They had it bad for the squishy guy.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


My favorite movie of 1981 had as its star an actor who was also in my fave movie of 1980. The music was done by the same composer as my prior year's favorite and this movie was also the top money maker of the year (just like "TESB"). It was a movie that my parents insisted on seeing first to make sure that it would be "suitable" for me. Even though the villains' heads melted (and in one case, exploded) at the end of the movie, they let me see it at the tender age of 9 and a half. And I did like it, loved it, actually. 2 hours of action adventure taking place all over the world. And what better villiains than Nazis? Our town of 25,000 had a 4-screen theatre at the time and this movie played for 10 straight weeks (held over!), then came back for 5 weeks, then returned later on for a few more. I went to it several times that year. I remember one evening I went to it on my own while my parents went to the Paul Newman - Sally Field courtroom drama "Absence of Malice".

I bought all the ancillary items I could from it. I bought the movie's soundtrack on record (Yes, record!). I remember carrying around the novelization while our family visited my great grandmother at a nursing home. I recall reading the "Making Of" book at my desk at elementary school when I had free time. I remember walking from my grandma's house to JCPenney and seeing that they had the first issue of the comic book adapted from the movie (25 years ago, JCPenney was like Wal-Mart and sold everything, not just clothes like today). I had no moolah, so I hurried back and pleaded with my grandma to give me 50 cents so I could buy it.

Just look at the original theatrical poster:

"Raiders of the Lost Ark", my favorite movie of 1981.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Twice a day

So I have this new toothbrush now. It's called a Sonicare.

It really almost makes brushing too easy. You don't even have to brush with it (just move it to different areas of your mouth). The vibration feels good on the teeth and gum. It has a timer that automatically turns itself off after 2 minutes. I think even this guy would dig it:

Highly recommended.


Today I'm going to be starting a series where I go over my favorite movie from each year going back a full quarter century.

First stop: 1980. My fave movie of this year totally blew me away. It warped my fragile little mind. Well, not quite. But it is one of the reasons I am such a big movie fan to this day. I missed "Star Wars" when it originally rolled out in 1977 (I was 6 at the time), but I would not be denied in 1980 when "The Empire Strikes Back" ("Star Wars" sequel) came to town. Visions of other worlds (a snow world, a city in the clouds), Yoda philosophizing on a jungle planet, heroes (Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, 3PO) that were so easy to root for, an inspiring operatic music score, the evil Darth Vader who had no qualms about killing his own men, the fight against an oppressive empire, and brilliant special effects. It really was totally unlike anything I had ever seen before. The top money maker of 1980, my favorite movie of that year: "The Empire Strikes Back".

Friday, July 28, 2006

Summer 6

I haven't been as passionate about going to the movies this summer as in years past. The films released in June didn't inspire much confidence. In May, I went to "X3" which I found to be quite good, "Over the Hedge" which I felt was better than average, and da "Da Vinci Code" which just barely held my interest throughout its extended running time.

The last really fantastic summer I can remember for good movies was 2002 with "Spider Man", "Star Wars Episode II", "Minority Report" (my favorite movie that year), "The Bourne Identity", "Austin 3", "Unfaithful", "Road to Perdition", "Undercover Brother", "Signs", and "XXX". Just kidding about that last one, but it's no coincidence that was a record breaking summer.

There is still hope for this summer, however, mostly in the form of "Sups Return" and Johnny Depp's Keith Richards Movie Part II. We will see.