F is for Film: 100 things about Movies

I’ve never seen Gone with the Wind. Feel like I’m supposed to.

This was one of those things that Jaquandor and SamuraiFrog, for two, did last year. But I thought I’d do it now, when I had the time.

1. Possibly the first movie I ever saw in a theater was 101 Dalmatians (1961). And what’s not to like? The lead male adult is named Roger and gets to sing the nasty “Cruella DeVille” song.

2. At this point, I’m not positive when I saw most of the Disney classic films. Disney had this policy of putting out a film, then re-releasing it every seven years. They do similar things with video/DVD/BluRay these days. I’m pretty sure I saw Cinderella but was it in the theater or on TV? I know I saw Lady & the Tramp in the theater. I saw Snow White in the past year with my daughter on TV, and good chunks were unfamiliar.

3. I saw Fantasia (and Fantasia 2000) in movie theaters when I was an adult.

4. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen, in their entirety, Dumbo, Bambi or Pinocchio. The bits of the latter I DID see were dark and terrifying.

5. The first non-animated movie I remember seeing in the movie theater was State Fair. I don’t remember anything about it except the theme: “Our State Fair is a great state fair. Don’t miss it; don’t even be late.” This movie was made thrice, in 1933, 1945, and the badly-reviewed 1962 version with Pat Boone. That’s probably the one I saw.

6. The most significant movie I saw in my childhood was West Side Story. It came out in 1961, but we almost certainly didn’t see it that year, for I saw it with my mother and two sisters, and I remember my sisters being older than that. Still, the ticket taker wanted to know if my mother was sure that she should take us to such a violent film.

7. One of the places we saw movies was at the Ritz Theater, a second-run place on Clinton Street, within walking distance of my house in Binghamton, NY.

8. Another movie venue was near my mother’s office, the Strand Theater. I’m sure there were others but they are not coming to me.

9. Of course, I saw a LOT of movies on TV. This was the period when Saturday afternoon had no programming whatsoever, except an occasional college football game. Saw lots of John Wayne pictures, but they all run together in my mind.

10. The only John Wayne movie I ever saw in the theater was The Green Berets. I hated it, but then I knew I would.

11. One movie that seemed to show up on the TV schedule a LOT was I Was A Communist for the FBI, which came out in 1951 before I was born.

12. Another film that I saw on TV multiple times was the 1949 version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Lilies of the Field (1961) with Sidney Poitier.

13. As I’ve noted, I was terrified by a film called The Leech Woman. I was about nine, and I was freaked out for months.

14. I saw the Beatles’ film HELP! when it came out. But it wasn’t until college that I saw, all on the same day, A Hard Day’s Night, HELP!, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be.

15. The WORST editing of a movie for commercial TV purposes I’ve ever seen was Yellow Submarine, on CBS (I think). Went to a commercial IN THE MIDDLE OF A SONG.

16. The family occasionally went to the drive-in, but for the life of me, the only movie I remember seeing was The Dirty Dozen.

17. In high school, I remember going to see The Night They Raided Minsky’s with my friend Carol, and her friend Judy, who I had a mad crush on.

18. Not far from our high school, there was something called the Roberson Center. My friends and I saw a LOT of classic films there. I know I saw Jules et Jim, Wild Strawberries, The Bicycle Thief, The Birds (Hitchcock), Sunset Boulevard, probably 12 Angry Men, and a number of other films, including, I believe, some Chaplin.

19. I remember seeing, quite possibly in the movie theater, If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium (1969) and With Six, You Get Eggroll (1968).

20. Saw The Great White Hope with my high school girlfriend and her father; that was quite strange.

21. For reasons having to do with affairs of the heart (same girlfriend), I saw the movie version of Catch-22 one and a half times a particular evening.

22. My friends and I sat through the Woodstock movie twice, back in the day that no one cared if you did that. I remember staring at the purple light from the projector when Sly and the Family Stone appeared on the screen.

23. I managed to see Midnight Cowboy four times in a fairly short time. I went with friends, then another bunch of friends, etc.

24. Actually saw four of the five nominated films for Best Picture in 1969 in the theater at the time. Besides Midnight Cowboy, which won, I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Hello, Dolly! and the very powerful Z. Have never seen Anne of the Thousand Days. That became true for years thereafter that I saw at least three and sometimes all five films nominated, not because they were Oscar bait but because I saw a lot of films.

25. There was this disturbing film called Last Summer (1969) that I wrote about here, which led to my longtime crush on Barbara Hershey.

26. Watched The Wizard of Oz every year as a kid. But after we got the color TV in 1969, and I GOT the contrast, continued to view it every year for the next 20 years or more.

27. I’ve never seen Gone with the Wind. Feel like I’m supposed to. Tried once when it first came on commercial TV but lost interest.

28. Possibly the funniest movie I ever saw was Young Frankenstein. I had an aisle seat, and I laughed so hard at one point that I was literally rolling in the aisle. Saw a number of Mel Brooks films after this.

29. The very first movie I saw at college (1971) I saw with the Okie, my college girlfriend. It was Rosemary’s Baby (1968).

30. For reasons that escape me, my girlfriend at the time and I saw The Godfather with my friend Carol and her boyfriend at the time. We drove up from Binghamton to Syracuse, and we didn’t take I-81, but the lesser US-11.

31. On a single occasion, four of us went to an adult cinema. It wasn’t in our college town, but a town some miles away. It wasn’t at all sexy; in fact, it was laughable.

32. At some point after seeing A Clockwork Orange, I swore off seeing movies rated R for violence. Stuck to that for about eight years.

33. There were lots of movies I saw at college. A number of them were classics. Then there were others. I know Reefer Madness [watch!] was one; boy, did I get a contact high viewing THAT.

34. I definitely saw Fellini’s Satyricon and Andy Warhol’s Dracula and HATED them. Almost walked out of the Fellini film.

35. There was a movie called The King of Hearts (Le roi de coeur – 1966) that ran at the local theater in town often, and I probably saw it three or four times. I had a mad crush on Geneviève Bujold.

36. This is when I started seeing Woody Allen movies: Bananas; Play It Again, Sam; Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex; Sleeper; and Love and Death

37. Of course, I saw my linchpin film, Annie Hall in 1977. I think I related to it in part because, like Alvy Singer, I just hate going into a movie after the movie starts. For me, that’s in part due to increased night blindness; a dark auditorium, even with an illuminated screen, is treacherous for me.

38. I’m still convinced that Diane Keaton won her Oscar, not just for Annie Hall but Waiting for Mr. Goodbar, which also came out that year, and which I also saw.

39. I’m guessing I saw To Kill a Mockingbird while I was at college, but I’m not sure. Very fond of that picture.

40. In the mid-1970s, at a drive-in somewhere, I saw all five Planet of the Apes movies then extant. I think I fell asleep during the battle scene of the last one.

41. I saw Jane Fonda in pretty much every film she put out in the 1970s.

42. I first saw Casablanca outdoors at a park in Rochester, NY in the mid-1970s with my friend Debi (who I’ve long lost track of). I adore that movie.

43. I remember staying in line – at the Fox Theater in Colonie, NY? – to see the original Star Wars movie, weeks after it had opened. I love that film.

44. Coming Home (1978) is the movie that pretty much defined how I feel about watching movies on TV versus in the theater. I saw it in the theater, liked it. Saw it on HBO, didn’t like it so much; figured it couldn’t withstand a second look. But then saw it in a second-run theater and discovered that I liked it nearly as much as the first time.

45. I saw Gaslight, the latter version, at the public library in Charlotte, NC in 1977. The verb “to gaslight” has been in my vocabulary ever since.

46. The first films I ever bought on VHS tape were Annie Hall and Being There. I tend to buy videos only of films I had seen in the theater first.

47. I started watching Siskel and Ebert back in their early days on PBS. They, more than any other critics, have had a huge impact on how I view films.

48. When I moved to Albany in 1979 and went with this woman named Susan, we started frequently to a movie theater called the 3rd Street Theatre in nearby Rensselaer. It was an “art” cinema, where I’d see the newest Woody Allen film.

49. The first movie rated R for violence I saw after my hiatus was The Shining (1980). I thought it was ruined early on when Nicholson looked crazy while he was still sitting in Barry Nelson’s office; I thought staying in the hotel was supposed to make him insane. And the wall of blood was comical rather than scary.

50. Probably my least favorite commercially-released movie is Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part 1. A bunch of jokes about urination. I did like the Hitler on Ice part near the end, though.

51. Seems that I have seen one of the Halloween pictures, but not in the theater, and much after the original release. Or maybe it was one of those other horror franchises.

52. When I worked at FantaCo, we sold a lot of Freddy Krueger masks and gloves. Peculiar since I never saw any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

53. FantaCo sponsored a couple of local premieres. The only one I can remember, though, is the debacle that was Howard the Duck. It’s not like we got to see it before it showed.

54. I did see, at 3rd Street, a movie called Eating Raoul (1982). I remember this because it was a running joke aimed at employee Raoul Vezina.

55. The one world premiere film I saw was Twilight Zone: The Movie. It started in Binghamton at the long-defunct Crest Theater. Rod Serling was dead eight years by then, but his favorite teacher, Helen Foley, who was a character in a segment of the film, was there.

56. I saw Chariots of Fire right after it had won Best Picture with my girlfriend at the time, and her son. We were all bored silly by it. I think it was that the weight of the Best Picture distorts expectations, which is why I try to see films before Oscar night.

57. Saw quite a few John Waters films. One was Polyester (1982), after which we went to our friend Miriam’s house and consumed nothing but polyester food, such as Cheez Wiz and Marshmallow Fluff.

58.I saw Rear Window for the first time during a theatrical re-release in the fall of 1983. VERY entertaining.

59. There was an art theater called the Spectrum that opened in Albany in 1983; the 3rd Street, owned by the same folks, closed in Rensselaer a couple of years later. I have probably seen more films there than at any other venue.

60. I’ve seen a lot of John Sayles, Merchant-Ivory, and non-American films, almost all at the Spectrum, as it has expanded to eight theaters over time.

61. I’ve never seen the movie Ironweed. I saw part of it being filmed, it features Meryl Streep who I’ve seen in about 30 movies, it’s about Albany, and I’ve met William Kennedy, who wrote the book.

62. Rob Reiner put out a bunch of really good films (The American President, A Few Good Men, Misery, When Harry Met Sally…, The Princess Bride, Stand by Me, This Is Spinal Tap) for about a decade and a half.

63. After I saw Schindler’s List with two other people, we went somewhere to eat and discuss it for longer than the film’s running time. Glad I saw it, but I may never see it again.

64. I liked the first 2/3s of Terms of Endearment before it turned into Tears of Internment.

65. When I’d visit my mother, we’d invariably see a movie. I know I saw Rocky and Star Trek IV with her. The latter was a bit confusing for her since she hadn’t seen the previous films, but she liked it.

66. I’ve seen the first five Star Trek films, but none since.

67. The only time I fell asleep while going to see a single movie, not at a drive-in, it was the Oscar winner The Last Emperor (1987). Not sure it was the movie.

68. I stood in a ridiculously long line at the Madison Theater to see Pretty Woman.

69. Almost invariably, there is a Best Picture nominee (or even non-nominee) I thought was better than the winner. I’d pick The Shawshank Redemption or Pulp Fiction over Forrest Gump, for instance.

70. I tried to watch Silence of the Lambs on HBO at my parents’ house; couldn’t do it – too scared.

71. I avoided seeing It’s a Wonderful Life for years until my wife talked me into it about a dozen years ago. It’s far better than I would have expected.

72. The first movie I saw with my now-wife was Speed (1994).

73. Saw Braveheart on the BIG screen at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady; I wonder if the larger palate made it even less palatable. I suppose it was good for what it was, but I didn’t much like it. When I was taking the JEOPARDY! test, Braveheart was an answer; I had blocked out the title from my brain but remembered it just in time.

74. Another great venue for films was Page Hall at the downtown UAlbany campus. I saw mostly older films there. But I also saw Devil with a Blue Dress (1995), starring Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle before it was released. Walter Mosley, who wrote the book, was supposed to be there, but couldn’t make it.

75. I saw every movie nominated for an Oscar in the Best Picture, Best Director, all acting categories, and both screenplay categories for the year 1997 except one. Peter Fonda nominated for Best Actor in Ulee’s Gold; I STILL haven’t seen it.

76. The only time I put salt on any food is movie popcorn.

77. I went to an IMAX theater in Boston in 1998 to see a movie about Himalayan avalanches. Very effective.

78. The greatest number of films I’ve seen in a three-day weekend: 5 on Presidents Day weekend in 1998; four of them were Oscar nominees. The Apostle (Robert Duvall- best actor nom), Afterglow (Julie Christie- best actress nom), Mrs. Brown (Judi Dench- best actress nom), and L.A. Confidential (best pic nom; Kim Basinger- best supporting actress win.)

79. I’ve seen all the Pixar films except Monsters Inc., the new Brave, and the two Cars films. My favorite is The Incredibles.

80. Lots of people seem to hate Jim Carrey, but I especially liked him in two films, The Truman Show and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

81. I’ve seen many of the “newer” Disney animations, which I count from The Little Mermaid (1989), and I didn’t have a child at the time.

82. Raising Arizona is my favorite movie before the opening credits roll.

83. Saw Spy Kids at the Madison Theater and I was the ONLY person there.

84. Groundhog Day is a movie that spoke to me in a profound way. Maybe it’s the JEOPARDY! sequence. I love movies with JEOPARDY! sequences, such as Airplane 2 (the only original bit) and White Men Can’t Jump.

85. The Graduate and Raging Bull I only saw a few years ago, on DVD. I liked the former but felt impatient with the latter.

86. I’ve watched only the first Harry Potter movie, the first Lord of the Rings movie, and the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie; call me an incompletist.

87. I tend to like Charlie Kauffman’s movies, but I hated the last third of Adaptation (2002).

88. When my wife got pregnant, I went through a period where there just certain films that I would have otherwise seen that I suddenly just didn’t want to: Mystic River and Hotel Rwanda for two.

89. Unsurprisingly, we saw few films in 2004; we were just too tired, and getting a babysitter was a new issue.

90. When we were at a timeshare in western Massachusetts, Carol tried to take Lydia, who was three at the time to the movie Charlotte’s Web. Lydia freaked out so that they left in 10 minutes.

91. At that same venue, I got to see Spider-Man 2, arguably my favorite superhero movie ever, though I do have a soft spot for the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve.

92. The best feature about the Madison Theatre – it’s three blocks away.

93. I tried to take the Daughter to see The Princess and the Frog, which scared her, though we stayed. In recompense, I took her to see the squeakwell to the Alvin and Chipmunks movie. She liked it, but I loathed it.

94. The first movie Lydia and I saw together that we BOTH liked was Ramona and Beezus (2010).

95. The first movie all three of us went to was Dolphin Tale (2011).

96. When my buddy Greg Burgas would do a recasting of films, I was always the one who wanted to find the non-white actor or the female actor in the white male role.

97. I have quite a few movie soundtracks, some to films I have never seen.

98. I canceled my Netflix subscription, not because of the pricing debacle but because I had a difficult time actually having time to carve out to watch what I took out. I had The Hurt Locker for FIVE MONTHS and never watched it; never found the quiet time with the Daughter not around. Unlike movies I’ve seen before, where I don’t mind seeing part of now, and more later, I feel a video of an unfamiliar should be viewed in one sitting.

99. All things being equal, I’ll go see a movie with George Clooney in it.

100. I refer to my movie reference books at least weekly, even when I’m not seeing movies, because questions always arise. Yeah, there’s Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, and OSCARS.org, but I still need my books.

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

37 thoughts on “F is for Film: 100 things about Movies”

  1. Hi Roger! The first movie I saw was “Snowwhite and the seven Dwarfs”. I was with a friend. We were both 7 years old. When the witch came looking for Snowwhite , we were so scared that we hid under the chairs.All in all we liked it and after that all Disney films.
    Roger, I want to thank you for your support in this ABC round!

  2. I got a kick out of reading this list, because some of these movies that you didn’t like or have never seen(The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street, Braveheart) were staples of my youth and/or generation. Between your dislike of The Shining and swearing off violent movies because of A Clockwork Orange, I think it’s fair to say you’re not a fan of Stanley Kubrik…

  3. Steve- I did see 2001, and liked it, if I understood it. And I like Spartacus. Barry Lyndon, though, was boring to me. And I NEED to see Dr. Strangelove!

  4. Dr. Strangelove is a great movie. And I agree with Greg, it’s impressive that you remember all this stuff.

  5. I also found Dumbo and Pinocchio frightening as sin and A Clockwork Orange incredible disturbing (although the latter was clearly supposed to be)!! LOVED Young Frankenstein (and Blazing Saddles – thought they were brilliantly done and can watch them over and over again).

    I can’t believe you haven’t seen the new Star Trek film!! IT’s AWESOME – see it and let me know what you think!!!

    Sweet post… worth the time to write and read!!!

  6. Fabulous Roger! Some FOOD for thought here. One film which sticks in my mind was “The Sound of Music” I was slightly bored and got my finger stuck in a coca cola bottle – then roared! I was 9 at the time! lol!
    Denise ABC Team

  7. What was scary about Silence of the Lambs? I can’t even think of a scary scene other than possibly the bit in the basement or when Clarice opens the self-storage.

  8. I am rocking and reeling about all the film detail in this post! The films are like milestones in your life! I too like to see movies before they hit the popular bandwagon! Then I can appreciate them without the propaganda hype!

  9. OK, Rog, where in heaven’s name did you find the time to come up with such an impressive list? I am amazed.
    My husband has never seen ‘Gone With the Wind’ either and probably never will for the same reason you listed.

  10. Dumbo is my favorite Disney movie, you should watch it with your daughter, especially the scene with Dumbo’s mom locked up! At Fantaco, we gave away free tickets to the first Tim Burton Batman film, a near-riot broke out, people were pushing kids to get tickets. A policeman yeelled at me for not notifying them in advance.

  11. What a great idea for a post,squirreling this away for later on my blog! As I read my own memories of films came along for the ride. I also realized my Mom took me along for company to a lot of movies that may have not been age appropriate even though there were not ratings as such on most movies in the 1960s.
    I also went to matinees with my friends and nobody ever thought to question weather it was OK to see a movie or not so I saw Rosemary’s Baby in a dark theater when I was 8 years old with my best friend…we may be damaged!

  12. Wow Roger, you must keep the movie industry in business! The first movie I ever saw was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was about five years old and was so scared my parents had to take me out because I was screaming. But then they took me to see the Roy Rogers movies and I loved those. I love most musicals from the 50’s on. I think my most favorite movie in recent years was “Amazing Grace” and children’s movie was “Robin Hood” with Roger Miller. I must have been in my forties when I saw that.

  13. Wow, 100 things are way too many for me to handle right now but I can say the first Disney film I saw must have been Cinderella, at the drive-in, with my parents and four younger siblings, sometime in the early 1950’s! It made quite an impression on my young little mind.

  14. Noticed films disappearing and reappearing but didn’t know it’s a policy of Disney. I’ve never watched Star Trek, at least not yet.

  15. I don’t remember the first film I saw, because my father used to take the entire family to the movies every Sunday afternoon. Thus, I must have seen many movies since I was a toddler.

    You mentioned many movies here that I had seen myself. Midnight Cowboy was the very first I saw in NYC. I also went to see almost all of Wooden Allen films, including Manhattan.

    Your post certainly provoked many fond memories, Roger.

  16. lots of info here, and i could make lots of comments. i thought the last emperor was rather boring also. very drawn out.

    i saw help when it first came out, but i was about four.

    i was the only person when i saw spy kids, but i saw it on a DVD. LOL

  17. I can’t watch IMAX, it gives me a headache. The first 3 D movie here in NZ was a mexico YoYo movie. awful.

    Before I had children, the company I worked for owned lots of cinemas. We watched for free. I watched enough to last me a life time.

  18. It’s been fun to learn what movies made impressions on you. Kind of like learning which songs are part of the soundtrack of your life. My first movie was Alice in Wonderland. I was 4. I was so frightened when Alice grew too big for the house that I started to cry. Loudly. My mother had to take me out of the theater. Many years later I saw the Exorcist, basically “watching” it with my eyes shut and fingers in my ears. Yet several adults brought their small children with them. What in the world were they thinking?

  19. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was Sound of Music. I’m sure I caught most of the Disney flicks, but except for Fantasia, I really only remember them while watching with my kids. The ones I remember well I can count on one hand. Guess there’s a lot that didn’t impress me one way or the other all that much!

  20. Roger, thats quite a list–I’ll keep it for a list of movies to look for. The ONE movie I cannot ever get through is “The Exorsist”, it scares me to death!!!
    I go to see almost all of the Disney movies.

  21. Wow you really took a lot of time to come up with all these facts. I can’t remember what I saw last month yet alone the first movie! Have a great week.

  22. As a Saturday afternoon matinee attendee (what did it cost – a nickel, a dime, a quarter?) the best movies I remember from that time are the Broadway Melody series from the 1930’s.

  23. Wow, great idea for a post! I should…oh yeah.

    This week I’ve met two people, on consecutive days, who don’t like the first Superman movie. It makes me feel like I’ve entered some kind of Bizarro world.

  24. What a wonderful idea your 100 things is, the sort of list you could discuss for ever. I’m always juggling my top 20 in my head but this movies through life list is even better.
    The first films I saw, when I must have been about 6 or 7 were a double bill of Brigadoon which I remember being bored by and only interested in the cupboard beds they slept in. I found the canoodling couple behind us was of more interest than the film. All was not lost though because the other film was The Wizard of Oz, (terrified of the witch)which of course is still in my top ten of favourite films. The cinema house still survives, although a little worn, but I can still see the exact place where I sat with my father and fell in love with films.

  25. Whew…what a list♫ Just today I attended the matinee with hubby while the car was in the shop. Had planned to see The Bourne Legacy, but I got the time wrong and ended up seeing The Expendables 2…Enjoyed Hollywood’s testosteronical over-the-top action-packed salute to tough guys everywhere♫♪

  26. Roger, I also remember the Capri and the Strand, which I think might have been attached to the Riviera?

    We own “Young Frankenstein” and quote it all the time. “SAY IT!” “He… WAS.. MY… BOYFRIEND!” Cloris Leachman and the horses and “Roll, roll…” I mean, it’s our favorite. Others include “In & Out” and anything with Bogie and Bacall, Cary Grant, Hepburns (both), Spencer Tracy.

    I remember a Dick Van Dyke episode where he was arrested for something and his defense was that he was in a movie theater, asleep. The judge: “You SLEPT through ‘The Guns of Navarone’?!” Also Seinfeld’s mother: “You made out during “Schindler’s List”?!”

    Only movie I ever walked out on was “Caligula,” a misogynist, ill-begotten flop by one of those girlie mag publishers. Malcolm MacDowell should hide his head in shame for putting so much gusto into as much of the performance as I saw…

    Thanks for your great meme, Roger, and you know how I love movies! OH – my first movie was at the V Drive-In (folks couldn’t afford a sitter). We three girls were in the back seat, supposed to be asleep by the time “To Kill a Mockingbird” ended (guess they thought it would bore us to sleep, but we were all engrossed). Then came… ELMER GANTRY! Wow, a real eye-re-opener for a four-year-old girl! Amy

  27. Amy – Ah, the Vestal Drive-In. There was also one near the airport, which I believe we went to more often.

  28. Concerning #15, worst editing of a movie for TV. When they showed 2001 A Space Odyssey on TV for the first time, the IBM Corporation paid what was then a record amount for ALL of the commercial spots. You might recall that the computer that goes crazy in the movie was named HAL. It was common knowledge at the time that each letter of HAL was exactly one letter in the same direction on the alphabet from the letters IBM, a little joke by Mr. Kubrick.

    I watched it. They cut out every single scene involving HAL. Not much left of the story after that.

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