Do you ever wonder who would buy any of those obsolescent VHS movies donated to thrift stores? I can name at least one person: me. I add them to my collection of favorite movies that I want to replay during our scorchingly hot summer afternoons. At this time there's nothing like the escape of a great movie I've already seen; watching one is like visiting an old friend.
Without having to expend the mental energy required to understand the story, I can concentrate on the often overlooked details such as set design, music and especially the most memorable lines. They're in my memory bank, waiting to be retrieved and re-relished.
My most favorite movie lines vary from a few words to a sentence or two that say what I've felt but say it better than I ever could. Perhaps English poet Alexander Pope articulated it best: "What oft' was thought but ne'er so well expressed."
Every golden oldie movie I've watched this summer has one or more of those beautifully expressed lines that give me food for thought and often serve as inspiration. They include:
• "I'm 60 years old, Gene, what are you going to do: write me a recommendation for the morgue?" Asked bitterly by music teacher Glenn Holland in "Mr. Holland's Opus" after the principal has just announced the cancellation of the school's fine arts program. This question is as relevant today as when Mr. Holland asked it 18 years ago. We read in the paper that this or that school closed, that this or that program has been cut.
Behind the sad headlines, what has happened to those teachers who are victims of the budget cuts? Does anybody know? Does anybody care?
• "The snowflakes are perfect, the stars are perfect, not us." Spoken by Ronny to Loretta in "Moonstruck" as he tries to persuade her to be with him and not his brother Johnny, to whom she is engaged.
Even though most of us have not cheated with a sibling's fiancé, we all make mistakes. Though we may want to do the right thing, temptation can be overpowering; judgment can be faulty.
• "If you're tangled up, just tango on," Charlie Simms admonishes the suicidal Lt. Col. Frank Slade, playing on the latter's own words in "Scent of a Woman." When we mess up, we need to move forward; i.e., "tango on." But how do we do this? How do we avoid staying stuck? From listening to a few experts in the field of psychology, I've learned that a first step when it comes to a misunderstanding between friends or acquaintances is a sincere apology; if possible, restitution needs to be made. We then resolve to do better in the future. Equally important and perhaps most difficult, we need to forgive ourselves.
• "I'm here … I'm listening." Paula tenderly expresses these words to her roommate Elliot in "The Goodbye Girl." Elliot has just come home demoralized after a scathing review of his performance in "Richard III." This line is a good reminder that when we want to be there for others, there is no need to search for the "right" words. Just showing up and listening can be the greatest gift we can give to someone in need.
I'm grateful to my good friends who have done just that when I needed them most.
• " … most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself." These words were pronounced by Elle Woods, valedictorian at Harvard Law School during her commencement address in "Legally Blonde." Her advice is invaluable to anyone starting out in the world. Not landing an interview, never getting a call back after applying for a job, being passed over for a promotion and much more in life can cause our spirits to quickly spiral downward. Belief in ourselves motivates us to rise up and try again.
I would love to read your favorite movie lines. Email them to me at Babette2@comcast.net