Greetings. I’ve been writing blogs over the past few weeks on very heavy subjects; the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, violence in professional sports, America’s lag behind other countries, etc. This week, I wanted to lighten up a bit and give you a sense of my personality through the movies that I enjoy. It was hard to narrow my list down to ten. Movies are like books to me. I choose them to either match or change my mood. You will see a lot of comedies, but also some dramas and action movies. They may not be the most intellectually stimulating films, but, who cares. I like them.
10. Tommy Boy – OK, it’s a silly movie, but I love the interaction between Chris Farley and David Spade. This movie was made when Chris Farley was at his comedic peak and before he self-destructed ending his career much too soon. I always wanted to try to get out of a speeding ticket by pretending there are bees in my car.
9. Airplane – This was the first, and probably the best, of the parody movies. The gags are plentiful and simplistic, just the way I like them.
Doctor Rumack (Leslie Nielsen): “We have to get these people to a hospital”.
Elaine (Julie Hagerty): “A hospital? What is it?”
Doctor Rumack: “It’s a big building with a lot of windows, but that’s not important now.”
8. Die Hard – It’s a great action movie that was originally supposed to star Frank Sinatra as John McClane. The prequel to Die Hard was a Sinatra vehicle called “The Detective” where he played a character named Joe Leland. In the screen adaptation of the sequel “Nothing Lasts Forever”, the title of the movie was changed to “Die Hard” and the main character’s name was changed to John McClane. I can’t imagine Sinatra in this part instead of Bruce Willis. He would have strutted through the Nakatomi building in his suit and hat and a glass of scotch. Bruce Willis is the master at getting dirty and being a wise ass.
7. Blazing Saddles – Another comedy, but this one is probably Mel Brooks’ best. It is politically incorrect by today’s standards which is interesting when you consider that the script was written in part by Richard Pryor. Additionally, veteran actor Gig Young started in the role of the Waco Kid, but couldn’t continue due to the level of his alcoholism. Gene Wilder took over the role. Richard Pryor was supposed to play Bart, but the studio didn’t want him in the part and Cleavon Little was given the role. The comedic writing and the sight gags are the best that Brooks, in my opinion, has strung together in a movie.
6. Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) – I remember when I was a kid and I went and saw this film on the big screen. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. It captured the imagination of the country. It also introduced us to Harrison Ford who went on to make some of the most iconic movies of all time. I am hoping that the franchise doesn’t get too Disney-fied in the future.
5. Better Off Dead – You may not have heard of this movie, and I’m not sure why it’s on the list other than it’s a family bonding movie. It is a goofy 80’s comedy that stars John Cusack and Curtis Armstrong (later to appear as Booger in Revenge of the Nerds). The appeal to this movie for me is that members of my family quote memorable lines from it in the most awkward of situations. To us, that’s humor. Watch it and you’ll be saying “I’m sorry your mom blew up Ricky” and “I want my two dollars” along with the rest of us.
4. The Blues Brothers – Another comedy, but with a difference. The plot is crazy and the sight gags are funny, but the music also got me in this one. Between the amazing cameos by Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin to the inspired blues singing by John Belushi, the performances were solid. Belushi could have had a career as a singer. He was another self-destructive star that is gone too soon.
3. Office Space – I have spent 30 years of my life in corporate America. This entry does for movies what Scott Adams and Dilbert did for the comic pages. The ridiculous cliches and the treatment of people that slave away every day in the corporate world are often very close to what actually happens. This movie has a cult following and I am part of the cult. I am the proud owner of a tee shirt that has a picture of a red Swingline stapler and the word “Mine” underneath it.
2. The Godfather (Parts I and II) – I’m an Italian American. I know that this movie shows the mob tendencies of my nationality, but that is not why I like the movie. I like it because of the family interactions and the memories of my own childhood. The wedding at the start of the first movie could have been ripped right out my memories. Small observations like these tough mobsters cooking a pot of tomato sauce in the kitchen brought back the smells of my grandmother’s kitchen. Make no mistake, these movies depict organized crime in a brutal and frank manner. That is not why I like the movie. It’s the scenic depictions of Sicily and the Italian dialog that makes me nostalgic. The story is also a good one.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird – It’s my favorite book and the movie adaptation was done very well. Harper Lee only wrote one book in her lifetime. The book is somewhat autobiographical as the character of Atticus Finch is based on her father. In researching the making of this movie, I discovered that Ms. Lee was very much involved in the production and particularly protective of how Atticus would be portrayed by Gregory Peck. She was so happy with his depiction that she provided the pocket watch that he wears in much of the movie. It belonged to her father.
I hope you enjoyed this list. Feel free to criticize it or make comments. Also, I’d love to hear what some of your favorite movies are.
About Don Massenzio
Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.
His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of what will be a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.
The second Frank Rozzani detective novel will be out in October and can be pre-ordered now.
Prior to finishing his books, his published work was comprised of short stories that will be merged into a collection in the near future.
Find out more about Don at his web site: