November 2021 . . . .


My wife and I agree on many things. Not films. It’s not that she only likes “chick-flicks” and I watch “guy-fare,” although she frequently does and I often do. Our tastes overlap. Sometimes. All good, right?

Well, no. There’s another issue.

Backstory: K selects most movies we watch together. For you husbands married for a little or a long time, this is “common sense,” and it took me a while to recognize this, and to watch whatever she selected without complaint (or worse: scene by scene film-school analysis with color commentary. Like a boxing match.) Much better to just let the motion picture run its electronic course. In our time-together, therefore, I’ve seen some real turkeys, some forgettable light frolic, and the occasionally terrific film. So what, you may ask, is the problem? K almost never stays awake through the whole movie. About a third to a half of the way in. Sometimes she even nods off during the opening scenes, the wide-angle shot, with the orchestra rising in a crescendo. She picks a movie, I do the watching, she can’t remember if she’s seen a movie before (mostly because she hasn’t) and then, down the road, she picks it again and we (ahem, I . . .) watch them again, which is fine if it’s a good one (and we have kettle-corn,) and not very good if the movie sucked badly the first time we (again, just I) watched it.

So what? I guess, in the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal. Except that sometimes I would like K to watch one of my film selections. You know, so that we don’t diverge too much in our “golden years.” Not that I’m overthinking this (I am!) And like I often do with other situations with this level of import — I have a plan. I know from experience that she will probably never watch all of the movies I like, certainly not from beginning all the way to end, with a Q&A period to follow over hazelnut lattes.

My plan: I’ve made a list of movies (well, just the important clips.) It’s a “why they are my favorites” list. If you’ve seen them, I think you’ll know why I picked these bits, and if you haven’t, well, don’t read any further — I don’t want to spoil it for you.

And now, for the person who doesn’t have time for a whole film but wants to see the most phenomenal bits, Garry’s list — totally out of order and out of context.

• The first 17 minutes of “The Best Years of our Lives.” What it’s like to come home again (sorry about that, Mr. Wolfe) and wonder if you’re all right.

• The first 26 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.” Overcoming quite reasonable fear in order to do what must be done.

• The last 7 minutes of “Spartacus.” Love for what someone stands for.

• The blueface scene of “Braveheart” through the battle right up to Mel Gibson shouting “Bragh!” The human child in us standing up to the bully.

• The red dress girl scene from “Schindler’s List.” We so often just watch with curiosity while evil rolls on.

• The Bill Murray hacking away at the flowers with a scythe while he pretends he’s golfing scene from “Caddyshack.” How to be not at all handsome and yet endearingly crazy.

• Steve McQueen’s motorcycle ride in “The Great Escape.” When you can’t fight the bully, make him chase you long and hard.

• Bogie talks to the pretty girl at the roulette table and her husband wins a couple of games so the police chief will give them the documents to get to America in “Casablanca.” Doing the right thing, when it counts.

• The John Travolta paint-can walking scene in “Saturday Night Fever.” Everyone wants to look that confident just once in their life.

• Kevin Costner saying, “It’s my father” in “Field of Dreams.” Because sons should love their fathers.

• Sam Neill and Laura Dern see dinosaurs for the first-time scene in “Jurassic Park.” Childlike wonder, one last time.

• The German girl singing at the end of “Paths of Glory.” Putting off the inevitable for one more moment.

• The Duke shouting at Robert Duvall “fill your hands, you son of a bitch” gunfight scene in “True Grit.” When I’m old, I hope I’m brave, and they have a good soundtrack for me.

• The McQueen/Yul Brynner driving the hearse up boot hill scene in “The Magnificent Seven.” Doing the right thing, just for the fun of it.

• John Wayne walking Maureen O’Hara home from the train station scene in “The Quiet Man.” Never let society get in the way of your marriage.

• The Tonight reprise prior to the rumble in “West Side Story.” Music can be magic.

• The Painless Pole suicide scene in “M*A*S*H.” First, and last, time I ever cared for cynical humor.

• The Omar Sharif walking home from the civil war to Yuriatin through the freezing snow scene in “Doctor Zhivago.” Put your personal problems into perspective.

• The driving in the sports car to Katherine Ross’s wedding scene from “The Graduate.” How fast would you drive for love?

• Paul Newman saying are you stupid? The fall will probably kill you in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Real friends help friends keep from getting killed by posses.

• Faye Dunaway smiles and says we rob banks, in “Bonnie and Clyde.” Because bad girls are fun, but we don’t go on crime sprees with them.

• The Al Pacino shoots the cop in the restaurant with the toilet-pistol scene in “The Godfather.” The benchmark against which we gauge all revenge.

• The Peter O’Toole goes back to rescue the man across the anvil desert scene in “Lawrence of Arabia.” You must fix the things for which you might later be responsible.

• The fixing the CO2 air filter, you, sir, are a steely-eyed missile-man scene from “Apollo 13.” Everyone, even the nerd, can be a hero.

• Leonardo DiCaprio shouting hang on, Rose! as the stern of the ship goes under scene in “Titanic.” Empathy. You will hold your own breath, too.

• The Ed Begley racist rant when the other jurors turn their backs scene in “12 Angry Men.” Sometimes even fools can recognize a fool among them.

• Rod Steiger shouts at Sidney Poitier, I got a motive which is money and a body which is dead! in “In the Heat of the Night.” People can change. Even older people.

• The student’s mom’s funeral scene in “To Sir, With Love.” And so can young people.

• The Stanley Baker saying, the Welsh can do better than that scene from “Zulu.” Courage is being five seconds slower to run away from danger.

• The we don’t need no stinking badges scene in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Greed is, unfortunately, universal.

• The Steven Boyd growl, It goes on, Judah! after the chariot race scene in “Ben-Hur.” Love sometimes shows up as hate.

• Gregory Peck’s Ahab shouting, for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee! scene in “Moby Dick.” Hate sometimes shows up as madness.

• The Matthew Broderick saying, “If this man falls, who will take his place” pointing at the soldier holding the American flag scene in “Glory.” There was a time where patriotism was . . . something.

• The crop-duster biplane knocking down Cary Grant scene in “North by Northwest.” If you gotta have a chase, well make it a good one.

• Marlon Brando saying to Rod Steiger, I coulda been a contender . . . from “On the Waterfront.” What catharsis is.

• The Marlon Brando saying, what kind do you got? scene from “The Wild One.” What rejection of flawed authority is.

• The Marlon Brando madman’s monologue scene from “Apocalypse, Now.” What self-examination is.

• The taking apart of HAL while it’s singing Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do, scene from “2001, A Space Odyssey.” Technology is not magic. Most problems can be fixed.

• The Luke and Obi-Wan in the saloon scene from “Star Wars.” Racism is something you are taught, folks.

• The Clint Eastwood talking about “free ones” with the scar-faced whore in “Unforgiven.” Be kind, even if it’s difficult.

• The gunfight in the rock-quarry scene in “Dirty Harry.” Not all endings are what they seem.

• The Alec Guinness realizes that William Holden has come back to blow up the bridge scene in “Bridge on the River Kwai.” On the other hand, some endings are precisely what they seem.

• The pinging torpedo scene at the end of “The Hunt for Red October.” You have time, but don’t waste it.

• The bicycling boys flying chase scene in “ET.” Grow up, but don’t stop dreaming.

• The Tom Cruise . . . galactically stupid shouting at Demi Moore scene in “A Few Good Men.” Yes, you will have to apologize. Get ready to do it.

• The He Liebs Mir, He Liebs mir Nicht Springtime for Hitler scene in “The Producers.” Laughter conquers everything.

• The farting around the campfire scene in “Blazing Saddles.” I promise, laughter conquers everything.

• The Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland swaggering toward the Tiger tank scene in “Kelly’s Heroes.” You can be brave, if you look like you are.

• The Stallone chases after manager Burgess Meredith right after shouting at him scene in “Rocky.” You can be humble, if you actually are.

• The Burt Reynolds looks directly at the camera, breaks the fourth wall and wiggles his eyebrows scene in “Smokey and the Bandit.” Don’t take anything too seriously, especially yourself.

• The McQueen hugs Hoffman, then turns and jumps off the cliff into the ocean scene near the end of “Papillon.” A good hug makes up for a lot of lost time.

• Matthew Broderick sings “Danke Schoen” scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Never miss an opportunity for karaoke.

• The Anthony Perkins says “A boy’s best friend is his mother” to Janet Leigh scene from “Psycho.” No matter how nuts it feels, it’s true.

• The buffalo hunt scene in “Dances with Wolves.” Teamwork!

• The Katherine Hepburn steers the boat past the Germans only to end up in the rapids of the river scene in “The African Queen.” Share responsibility, enjoy the rewards together.

• The Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia stepping out chopsticks on the floor-piano scene in “Big.” How cool would it be if you could play Mendelssohn right now? I mean in a store, on a toy piano?

• The Richard Dreyfuss sculpting Devil’s Tower in his TV room scene in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Do your homework steadily, so you’ll be prepared for the big test.

• The home video scene at the end of “Philadelphia.” Nostalgia is based on the pain of memory.

• The woman gives Jimmy Stewart her compact mirror scene just before he takes off in “Spirit of St. Louis.” Thank everyone who helps, even a little bit.

• The Gary Cooper today I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth scene in “Pride of the Yankees.” I mean it. Thank everyone!

• The first 5 minutes — all music and biplanes flying — of “The Blue Max.” Find beauty in the darkest moments.

• The Nurse Ratched discovers the ward is a party-mess scene in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” Find humor in the unfunniest of places.

• The stand up, your father is passing by, after the trial scene from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Remember to give respect where it is due.

• The “Tracks of My Tears” dancing while high scene from “Platoon.” Dance when the music plays. Tomorrow it might be too late.

• The Tippi Hedren comes in from being attacked to find the cowering diner patrons in “The Birds.” When people are afraid, don’t argue why.

• The Robert Shaw talking about how he was on the USS Indianapolis scene in “Jaws.” Tell your old stories well.

• The George C. Scott shooting at the German airplanes with a pistol scene from “Patton.” Do something crazy from time to time.

• The last 6 minutes of “Driving Miss Daisy.” Keep your old friends closer.

So, your own list might be different. Should be. That’s how we humans roll.