Movietime is magic time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Featured Columnist

March 21, 2001 10 PM

It’s magic time again. Come Sunday evening, I’ll curl up on the sofa, sniffle through the memorials to now departed actors, rejoice at a chance to laugh at beautiful people with ugly clothes and marvel at those dressed to the nines. Oscar night. Call me unsophisticated, call me naive, but I couldn’t love the Academy Awards more if I were on stage accepting, instead of lounging about in my Dr. Seuss slippers.

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Unlike Roger Ebert, Leonard Maltin and Gene Shalit, all of whom make megabucks for critiquing movies on television, my standard of measure is "Can I pass up this movie when it comes on TV even if I’ve seen it 25 times?" As a young girl when someone wanted to give me a very special treat, they would hand me 25 cents and drop me at a movie theater. Armed with a box of Jujubes, a packet of Necco Wafers and a drink that would always slosh into my lap, I would enter the dark theater full of anticipation and count on being magically transported to another place. My favorite part was the coming attractions where they would show "previews" of movies "soon to be on your screen."

I used to think of them as "tiny movies."

Then I would sit through the double feature, the cowboy-on-the-cliff serial, and hope that my ride would be late in coming to pick me up so I could see some of it all over again.

I rode my imaginary black-and-white paint across the screen with Bob Steele and Hoot Gibson. I dreamed of tapping my way into "Singing in the Rain," and my mother even sewed me a dress exactly like the one Debbie Reynolds wore for the "dancing-over-the-sofa number. It was a Simplicity pattern and she looked everywhere for the right fabric to allow for the flippy skirt.

Memories of best movies and best times as I looked through the Atlanta newspaper for past winners.

My personal pics (in alphabetical order) include some Oscars for Best Movie and some of which won nothing except my loyal admiration:

A Christmas Story (1983). Hilarious 40’s story of boy (Peter Billingsley) with a BB gun wish and whacko father (Darren McGavin.) Gave way to shout of "You’ll shootchur eye out!"

American Graffiti (1973) A wonderful essay about American youth, funny and touching and starring many of today’s top stars when they were just getting started. Didn’t win a thing.

Dances with Wolves (1990). Civil War soldier (Kevin Costner) makes friends with a Sioux Indian tribe and becomes one of them. Beautiful and informative. Won Best Picture, Best Director (Costner) and numerous awards.

Frankie and Johnny (1991). Nothing to do with the song, but an ode to love and loneliness. Al Pacino as a sensitive guy (that’s a switch) and Michelle Pfeiffer is Frankie. No awards.

Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947). Daring story of writer (Gregory Peck) who pretends to be Jewish to uncover anti-Semitism. Won Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan) and Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm.) John Garfield (yum) didn’t win anything, but he looked mahhhvelous.

Jaws (1975). I hate horror films, but the opening scene will curl your hair and made a believer out of me. The shark ravages the quiet beaches and Robert Shaw sings about going swimming with bow-legged women. Oscar for musical score.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). A long and violent western starring Clint Eastwood and with some outstanding character acting by Chief Dan George and Paula Trueman. Eastwood directed most of it.

The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974). This is really a set. You have to see both and some stations are now showing them back to back. Each won Oscars for Best Picture and GFII for Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola).

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962): A Southern lawyer (Gregory Peck) teaches his children that people are people while he defends a black man in court. Robert Duvall plays Boo.

Rain Man (1988) Self-centered loner (Tom Cruise) meets and is enlightened by autistic brother (Dustin Hoffman). Beautifully done with a most touching dance scene. Oscars for Best Picture, Actor Hoffman and Director Barry Levinson.

And what about Old Yeller and Dr. Strangelove, you ask? Pass the popcorn. We’ll be here for awhile.

Fran Sharp is a freelance writer who shushes talking patrons in movie theaters. E-mail her at  

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