Things That The Movies Have Taught Me

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Movies have always had a strong effect on me.  As a young kid, I saw Rex Harrison as Doctor Dolittle.  I was struck by The Doctor’s world of imagination and his absolute love for animals.  I indulged my fantasy world and magically my backyard became “Puddleby by the Sea,” and the area behind the my block’s cul-de-sac became the wilds of Sea Star island.  I tried to communicate with animals with dreadful effects, my scars show that.

The first time I saw “To Sir with Love,” I wanted to be a teacher like Sidney Poitier.  My father’s name was Sidney, and I saw in Poitier’s character, Mark Thackery, a kinder, more understanding man.  Sir, as the students start calling him, was a man of quiet dignity, totally the opposite of my father.  He lost his temper, but made amends after he acknowledged his error.  He taught to the students and helped them find who they were going to become after high school.  He liked to eat light for lunch and he loved food, I made that my rule.  He made me want to be a better man, I still feel love for Sir.

Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, showed me in brilliant black and white who I wanted to be.  Strong and stoic, everything I wasn’t. Atticus faced heart breaking events with strength and pose.  “To Kill A Mockingbird” is an American classic and one of the greatest movies ever made.  It is said that Atticus Finch gave Gregory Peck a chance to play himself.  The most decent of humans, Finch embodies everything I think is important in a man.  Both book and movie don’t disappoint and both are important works in their own rights.

“The Godfather” is a great movie.  More than it’s parts, the movie is chock full of important advice for business and life.  The idea of “Going to the Mattresses” is a powerful lesson: Don’t get in a fight if you’re not willing to sleep together on mattresses for protection for months.  There’s always someone crazier than you and will keep the fight going longer than you want!  “The one that comes to you with the deal is the traitor!”  This is a clever restating of the “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  Those with the biggest smiles are your biggest betrayer.  Lastly, the movie teaches you that your family pays the price for your wrong doings, there is no way to keep them separate.  My favorite line from the movie: “Leave the gun, take the cannoli!”   

How many of you quote “Roadhouse?”  Come on? “It ain’t nothing but pain.” “I want you to be nice until it’s time not to be nice.”  “Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee and he’ll drop like a stone.”  Patrick Swayze played a cooler for a wild bar.  He was awesome.  Dalton is a favorite character and my favorite from Swayze.  His ability to hold his temper, and he only fought when he needed to.  Then, it was done efficiently, without anger.  That is until the end. Then he freaking kicks ass like a real action star, well done.  Lastly, Dalton said it best, “Nobody ever wins a fight.”

I find myself quoting this movie on a regular basis, “Joe Vs. the Volcano” was an early Tom Hanks movie, featuring the amazing talents of Meg Ryan playing three different characters. This early John Patrick Stanley (Stanley would go on to win a Pulitzer, a Tony, and an Oscar) movie is full of quirky characters with profound bits of philosophy and knowledge. The movie somehow helped me look at myself and the things I believe and the things I made true.  Like Meg Ryan said to Joe after being shot out of a volcano and surviving.  He was worried about what to do next and Ryan says “it’s always going to be something with you!” They were miraculously alive and the miracle meant nothing to Tom Hank’s character.  This movie reminds me to be in the moment and never let happiness get by without taking part.

The movies have taught me so many lessons, and inspired me to be the man I am today.  Life has given me a chance to see my values in action, some with disastrous results.  Each of us creates an identity from many sources: heroes, idols, family, teachers, and others, but the movies have a power to show values in action.  For me, movies have been like essential vitamins for my personality and I use my favorite movie characters as bench marks of what I would like to be.