Forty for Forty – #14. Home Movies

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Editor’s Note:   I turn 40 on June 6, 2012. As a little challenge to myself, I’m spending one calendar year writing 40 posts that say something about my life. Today, it’s all about one of my life’s true loves – the movies. This post was originally published a few years ago but I’ve gone back and freshened it up for the occasion.

It’s safe to say that my Blog serves two very important purposes. For starters, it’s become the digital scrapbook of my life – capturing all of my latest comings and going while also providing a canvas upon which I can paint from memory. Secondly, I’ve used it to create conversation with the folks I love chatting with most. I’ve got a small group of people who frequent this place – most friends and family but a few strangers who stopped in for a spell and decided to keep coming back around. The best part of getting together with familiar faces is the wide and meandering conversations that spark. And over the years, I’ve tried to kick-start the dialogue by offering up a series of lists – where I lob out a theme (i.e. “‘The Top Five Movies that Made this Grown Man Cry“) and then let you all have your say.

A few years back, I posted this piece as a way of signaling the start of the summer movie season. Rather than fixate on my Top Five Favorite Summer Movies, I decided to focus on indelible memories I hold that shall remain forever tattooed to a particular flick. While they are all tethered to movies actually released during summer months, looking over the list I realize these are my five favorite movie memories of all time – independent of release date. These movies always ignite those memories and whether the flick was any good or not; it will always hold a special place in my heart.

So, as I hit #28 in my ongoing Forty for Forty series, I decided to dust off this oldie – as the moments catalogued below certainly played their part in making me the guy I am today.

And away we go…

5.    The Last Starfighter (1984 – Queen Anne’s Corner, Norwell MA)

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I led with The Last Starfighter for a number of reasons. First, let’s get the movie out of the way. It’s not very good. An unabashed mash of Star Wars and Tron, Starfighter leads with the premise that an advanced alien civilization, locked in martial strife, has deposited training simulators disguised as stand-up arcade units, in order to pluck the best and brightest Earth has to offer in order to stave off a very real wave of space invaders. In a desolate trailer park, they find their mark in Alex (Lance Guest) who bests the machine’s high score. Next thing you know, he’s called upon to exercise those mad skillz to save the universe.

As a kid that premise was aces. This coming from a dude who spent the better half of a Summer ’82 bouncing my BMX off curbs in hopes it would fly like E.T. As an adult, well, let’s just say I enjoy more cerebral pursuits (speaking of which – when’s Jack & Jill coming on DVD?)

Nope, the reason this flick makes my list is for the movie memory that happens to open all Pandora-like onto a number of different treats.

First and foremost, this was the first double-feature I ever screened in a theater. Sure, that was a staple of my parent’s generation, but by the mid-80’s, the multiplexes were not given to doling out free flicks. So it was a rare treat when Starfighter was paired up with Conan the Destroyer.

As an aside, Conan played well to my peepers as well. I’ve never seen so many decapitations in a PG-rated flick not to mention it boasted the alluring charms of Olivia D’Abo as the nubile damsel in distress. A sublime bit of casting tempered by the fact that we were also threatened by Grace Jones in a thong. Hey, the producers knew what they were doing. With Conan playing alongside Starfighter – thus guaranteeing a packed house of pre-teens – no theater owner in the country could afford the clean-up costs should 268 post-adolescents achieve simultaneous puberty. By the grace of Jones, this flick had a built in cold shower for a reason.

The second factor was revealed to me years later (not too long ago in fact). Unbeknownst to me, my best bud Sean (whom I would not officially meet for another year or so) was also in attendance at that exact same screening. And once again, I thank Grace Jones. That could have just been real awkward.

Finally, and this is the real reason this film hits the list, The Last Starfighter was one flick, in a long line of films, that my beloved Uncle Ron took me to see. Throughout the lion’s share of my childhood, my Uncle Ron was always there for me. He is, without a doubt, one of the nicest and most generous people I have ever had the good fortune of knowing and from an early age, I took a real shine to him. He was the first person to introduce me to the Boston Museum of Science, where their colossal (and historically inaccurate T-Rex) fueled a life long obsession with those grand thunder lizards. He took me on hikes up Mt. Chocorua and let me vault the velvet rope of his own family’s travel itinerary to become the unofficial fifth Clarke on their various vacation road trips. And as mentioned, he brought me to enough genre flicks (think Dragonslayer, Clash of the Titans, King Kong Lives) to program the Sci-Fi channel for weeks. He (and my Aunt Sharon) had a hand in creating Vacation Man who begat Movie Man who morphed into the Family Man you see today. Their loving familial structure helped inform a lot of the values I hold dear today and I will always be thankful for the great memories they granted me.

4.   Star Wars (1977 – Revere Beach Drive-In, Revere MA)

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I am not even going to attempt a description of this flick. If you don’t know what it’s about, pick up a copy of Lego Star Wars II for the Xbox 360 and that ought to bring you up to speed. (I chose that reference as Colin and I are currently working our way through the original trilogy – although he is in the process of rewriting history as he insists Chewie accompany us on every mission – meaning it wasn’t Greedo who shot first, nor was it Han. IT WAS CHEWIE!!!)

This flick is on my list for the pure fact that my first memory of seeing Star Wars is not seeing Star Wars. Ya’ see, after a couple months of pressuring my parents to bring me to the movies, they finally relented in the long, hot August of ’77. (remember – this was the 70’s  – WAAYYYYYYY BAAAAACCKKKKK before mass market cable and DVD – so hit movies ended up playing for years.) My parents decided that they’d make the screening an event so we loaded up the Family Truckster – adorned with the finest faux-wood paneling money could buy – and headed to the Revere Beach Drive-In to catch a twin bill of War of the Worlds and Star Wars.

Now, therein lies the rub. War of the Worlds runs approximately 85 minutes and Drive-In flicks don’t kick off until twilight shadows fall, so by my calculations, Star Wars wasn’t due to boot up and stream through the Truckster 8-Track until well after 9:30 p.m. Still, I was determined to stay awake and see this spectacle and thus I kept my peepers wide as saucers as the alien menace tore Gobbler’s Knob (or whatever that small town Gene Barry was protecting) a new one in WotW. Well, as it turns out, those three fingered bastards did more than irradiate a handful of cows. They also vaporized my will to wake. The final image I saw before nodding off for good was a scrolling scrawl of yellow text rushing off into a dense star field. It’s there in slumber land, that I spied a grand future where wooden child actors and Rastafarian muppets ceased to exist. Ahhh, per chance to dream.

3.   Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 – Hanover Mall Cinemas 4, Hanover MA)

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This was the film that made me want to become an archaeologist. Of course, at the tender age of 9, I was full on in lust with all manner of dinosaurs, and I couldn’t quite make the disconnect from paleontologist to archaeologist. I knew they both toiled at digging up dead things – and while my primary focus was on unearthing a plesiosaur, I knew it would please me greatly if I could dredge up the Lost City of Atlantis, too. Hey, there was always the hope of a two-fer, with the pregnant possibility of an army of Sleestaks staffing that civilization, running through my pre-tween brain.

Much like Starfighter, Raiders makes the list based on who brought me to see it.

I came to reside in Rockland, MA (having relocated from Everett) in 1979. In the summer of ’81, I was still the new guy – meaning it was hard making friends with the great bounty of boys and girls that populated my street. I had assembled a small cadre of cronies but for the most part, I was a year or so away from ruling the roost. In due time, I would be Chairman of the Crosswalk, but not there in the summer of ’81.

One guy that did take a shine to me was my next door neighbor Jay, who eclipsed my young age by several years. At this point in life, I can’t recall the exact particulars of that gulf, but it had to be wide enough as my parents often employed Jay as babysitter to my sisters and I. Having Jay as a babysitter beat the pants off of some random Jennifer, especially at that age, as I suddenly had the one thing I dreamed of most. A Big Brother. The fact that this guy didn’t treat me like a little guy – that he hung out and played Atari with me and tossed the ball around and toyed with my Star Wars figures was the icing on the cake. And, of course, he accompanied me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film of which I had zero knowledge of. Geez – just thinking of that fact – that I was able to experience Raiders (one of my top 5 favorite films) completely spoiler free. I yearn for that innocence again.

Of course, as is often the case in those sepia-hued flashbacks – real life intrudes. Whether it is an unfortunate bee-sting death (see lil’ Mac in My Girl) or a freak drowning (Bridge to Terabathia) – something terrible always robs us of our friends.

Relax! Jay’s not dead. But he did move. His parents plucked he and his sisters up and headed for Florida. The last I heard was his Dad muttering something about “sick and tired of this blue state crap” as the car sped south of the Mason-Dixon.

Of course, it wasn’t long before a new family settled into Jay’s house – including a little boy about 4 years my Junior. One would like to wish for the karmic ending, where I took Junior under my wing and treated him to Temple of Doom but unfortunately, real life has a way of kicking the door open. I tortured that kid endlessly. Serves him right for killing my friend.

2.   Aliens (1986 – Hanover Mall Cinema 4, Hanover MA)

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This was not the first R rated flick I saw in a theater (Rambo: First Blood Part II beat it by a year) but it was the first R rated flick that I absolutely dreaded seeing – yet somehow was compelled to watch.

While I was a horror fan in my early teens, I was one of those curiosity seekers who had to watch but felt nothing but nerves the entire time. Usually, the end result was much ado about nothing. I remember sampling several serial killer flicks (the Nightmare on Elm Street ilk) and feeling ho-hum about the proceedings. Through my experiments, I felt I was growing numb to the fear. Some of this may have been aided by my early habit for grabbing whatever Stephen King novel my Dad had lying around the house and thumbing the dog-eared copies looking for the good parts. When dissected liked that, even the scariest boogeyman loses his power.

But the very idea of Aliens unnerved me like no other. Some of that may go back to tiny fragments of conversations I cribbed from my parents years earlier, where on a ride to grandma’s house, my Mom regaled my Dad with details from her screening of Alien the night before. The description of the egg sacs and the chest bursting caused nightmares, sight unseen. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a time-traveling Deloreon and a Department of Social Services rep.

So some of that trepidation stuck to me like so much slime and when I got the courage to go see Aliens with a couple buddies from the neighborhood, I masked my fear with brat pack machismo. Hey, if these guys weren’t afraid, then neither was I.

Imagine my surprise when I bore witness to the most ass-kickingest, ball-bustingest display of action movie histrionics a fourteen year-old boy could ever hope to encounter. James Cameron kicked ass on a universal level and this film instantly became my favorite film of all time (at that time). I went back time and again that summer and craved every slime-soaked second of that film. Seeing as how Aliens has informed so many sci-fi action epics since then, I happen to think I wasn’t alone that summer.

1.   There’s Something About Mary (1998 – Some Theater, Harwich MA)

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First, an apology. Once you’ve finished wiping your screen of whatever liquid I made you expel, please accept my sincere regrets for having gifted you with that pleasant image above. Some of you shrieked with laughter. Some of you hurled your munchkins. Hey, it’s the same damn reaction we had back in 1998.

Now, this is not the finest movie on my list, and to be honest, following that gut-busting first 20 minutes, the rest of the movie settles into a spotty mix of amusing moments, flat-out misses and some big, big laughs. But, for my money, that opening sequence culminating in that closing shot, is the most I have ever laughed in a theater in my life. I am talking, ruptured spleen territory here.

But again, this list is about the movie memories and not necessarily the movies themselves, although for my number 1, the memory and the movie have a nice symbiotic relationship.

Ya’ see, in the summer of 1998, at the tail end of an absolutely fantastic vacation in Harwich, MA where my close circle of friends rented a beach house for the week, I received that phone call everyone dreads.

On a week brimming with one glorious sunny day after another – real picture-perfect weather – we all awoke to the one blight on the vacation – a Friday morning rain shower. A week boasting brilliant blues and hazy rays was suddenly punctuated with doom and gloom. While it was merely the luck of the forecast, the day’s backdrop would become alarmingly prescient for the news that was due.

Sometime around 10:30 a.m., the cottage phone rang. All week long, this phone had rung and the call had been for someone among my party. Never for me. How could it be? I was with all of my close friends and I hadn’t given the number out to anyone. So, it was with a bit of surprise that I greeted the news that the call was for me. Of course, nobody really ever thinks the worst until the worst intrudes upon them.

As I picked up the phone I was greeted by the booming voice of my number two in command at the office – who was holding down the fort while the boss was away. Immediately I detected something amiss. This was not going to be a standard – “Where are the TPS forms?” call. There was something more here. Something serious.

Jim quickly brought me up to speed to the tragic events that had occurred the night before. It turns out my work buddy, Rob Estrada, who also happened to be away on vacation that week – down in New Jersey hanging with his college homies – had been in a car crash the night before and had succumbed to his injuries.

Here was a guy, the exact same age as me in the exact same station in life with the exact same job and the exact same relationship set-up (a steady girl whom he was going to marry) – who had been suddenly and cruely… AND SENSELESSLY… claimed by death’s cool grip.

The news hit me… hard. I’ve been around death enough to know that it’s never easy but something about this just worked something loose in me. I was instantly unhinged.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that Rob was a genuinely great guy. Like I said, we shared a lot in common and our lives were, in a way, a mirror onto themselves. He and I had only been hanging around for a year or so but it was one of those fast friendships that defy temporal logic. Hey, it wasn’t our fault we never met in grade school. It sure felt like we had.

If there is ever a spot for the proverbial “It ain’t fair” then it’s right here. Rob’s death ain’t fair. Never was. Never will be. And I’m not sure I’ll ever make sense of the senselessness or accommodate that selfish spot in my life where a great friendship was beginning to grow. Fourteen years later, as I write this, my eyes still well. It’s a tough lot, this life can be.

It can also be beautiful.

That’s where my friends come in. Seeing my shattered countenance, they immediately surrounded and comforted me. Each one of them – each and every one of these blessed souls – who taken one by one make me the wealthiest man on Earth – taken collectively make me a man without worry – each of my dear friends provided an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a heart to share. And one of them (I don’t recall who), finally suggested that in light of the rain and of the events of the day, that we should all go see a movie. And not some Hollywood action flick. Let’s see something funny.

There’s Something About Mary.

Indeed.

20 minutes in – and while my tears weren’t dry – my heart was soaring and I was laughing. I laughed my ass off. And later, as we capped the day with an evening excursion to Chatham Lighthouse Beach, where under the stars we all talked and joked and laughed and cried, I realized that from great sadness can come great joy.

And I realized that from some of our most painful memories, come some of our fondest.

Comments now closed (20)

  • As the sentimental little tear brought on by #5 drifted and dried on my cheek, you should know that I spit a bit of Poland Spring on my screen as I got to #1…you just run the gamut of emotions, Ed-Man!
    Since I possess an additional 20 summers, it will take awhile for me to think about my list. I don’t suppose you’ll let me count anything I saw at the Surf and Sand Drive-in in Va.Beach…and there was a bunch of summers I was home with baby Jessi while Uncle Ron took in all the really great movies, dragging whatever kid he could find as a cover, nice of you to volunteer for a few! If it will get me any points, we can arrange an introduction to the tall inmate seen canoodling with Ben Stiller in your #1. He’s the brother of Ron’s best friend, Dan Cheney,and Ron has known him forever. Mike owns a great place in Newport called The West Deck,where the Farrelly Bros hang out. They were perverse enough to put him in 4 of their movies.

    As always, great post, Ron is out of town until Friday, but I’m sure he will see it.

  • @Aunt Sharon: As long as you saw the film in the summer (and it was released during a summer month) anything is fair game. So if you caught a double-feature of Dolemite and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again at the Surf and Sand Drive-in (that sounds like a sweet place to see a flick, by the way) and want to include it – then by all means do so.

    I hope everyone gets into the act.

    Also, I don’t want to scare anyone with the soul-searching revealed in my list. If someone found a wrapped Now or Later under their seat while taking in Critters 2: The Main Course and it really made their day, than by all means list it.

    Also – I’m trolling for future ‘My Favorite Things’ topics, so if anyone has ideas, send ’em over.

  • Oh – and I would love to meet anyone that hangs with the Farrely’s.

    Speaking of which, and I don’t know if this is a real memory of mine or if I imagined it (given the circumstances of when the intel was relayed to me) but I could have sworn Uncle Ron told me – in the hospital room when y’all came to welcome Colin to the Earth for the first time – that a scene in the Farrely’s Stuck on You (the siamese goalie scene) was inspired by my Dad’s bubble hockey table – which had a two headed goalie for some reason.

    Again, I’m not sure if he really told me that or I imagined it, but I’ve been running around telling people that so I guess now is the time to make me a hero or a liar.

    I do vaguely remember that hockey table (it’s like foosball only with hockey players) so who knows, anything is possible.

    Anyway, from my recollection, I believe Mike Cheney may have played this hockey game at some point WAAAAAYYYYYY back and then years later told the Farrely’s about the hockey table who then incorporated the image into the flick.

  • The hockey story is true, your Dad and Uncle Ron had some kind of a weird male-bonding table-top hockey league for awhile, played at Albion St, using the game.
    The West Deck is a beautiful gourmet restaurant on the harbor in Newport, with a great deckside bar for more casual dining. For our 25th wedding anniversary, we went there and Mike had prepared a special menu where the already “gourmet” prices were tripled! A side salad was $36.00, the entree’s were $100, and so on..until you got to the very bottom, where it allowed that anyone from Weymouth that had played street hockey celebrating a 25th anniversary ( or something like that!) was exempt! He was killing himself laughing in the corner, watching the look on our faces! It is well worth taking the lovely Andi for a weekend in Newport, tell ’em Ronster sent ya’!

  • That picture just made me smile as the movie did that the whole way through….I did cringe too

    5. Jurassic Park II (Braintree) – First time I ever left a movie theather with my heart racing over just the movie.
    4. Batman Begins – After 3 sub par sequels to Tim Burton’s dark originial, finally a movie worthy of my favorite superhero and Mookie’s Under Roos.
    3. Revenge of the Sith (Framingham)- The second trilogy is complete. Worth the wait.
    2. Ferris Buehler’s Day off (Pembroke)- Loved the movie so much, stayed in the theather for the 9:50 show too. First back to backer of the same movie.
    1. Empire Strikes Back – (Billerica) First movie I remember seeing in the theater. At age 7 dad tries to take me to the 7:00 show…all shows sold out til the midnight show and dad keeps me out and up til 2:30 am. Hooked from the start.

  • Soooo tempted to write my own post like Jason did, but only for fear of commenting too long here. It’s a habit I have lately, not something I want to keep going either.

    Okay, I don’t have nearly the same memory attachment to movies like Ed does, but I’m going to give it a go because it did get me thinking and I came up with a few (numbered, but not in a particular order):

    1. Star Wars: I know I saw this in a drive-in (down the Cape I think) at some point, just not sure if it was a first time viewing or not. While there is something to be said for the modern multiplex, it will never replace the memory of taking in a movie in your PJ’s while sitting in the back seat of (or on top of) a car on a warm Summer night. I too remember falling asleep during my share of second acts.

    2. Smokey and the Bandit: Also taken in at the drive-in, but this time I’m pretty sure it was Braintree. While the Bandit was of course cool, I remember sneaking a peek at the other screen and getting a taste of a five-story sized woman’s bare chest — yes, boobies… what the heck, it is no family site anymore — and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I ever saw that in a movie, never mind so large! I don’t recall what movie it was now — I really want to say Jaws, but that could just be because I also saw pieces of that on another drive-in screen because I was too a-scared to see it as a kid — but really, really wish I could remember! Since we are on the subject, I think I also peeped a little bit of Porky’s at a drive-in too.

    3. Return of the Jedi: Definitely taken in at the Hanover Mall. I remember riding bikes there with a friend (Sean McLaughlin I think) to see it on opening day.

    4. Saving Private Ryan: Not your typical Summer fare for sure, but I remember leaving the theater on a very warm, bright day, almost shell-shocked at what I had just experienced.

    5a. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Not because it was great, but because it finally became a reality. Also because I had to try to fulfill a bet I made with a college buddy to see it 10 times in the theater. I had vowed to do so should it ever drop. I split that and made it five times, with the fifth time pretty hard to make it thru. Damn you Jar Jar!

    5b. There’s Something About Mary: Yes, I too had not laughed so hard in a movie theater (and maybe since) than that viewing. I add to this list because while that was great, and a great vacation overall, there was that dark and dreary day and I remember how taking in that movie made a difference in starting the healing process. That morning sucked. Plain and simple.

    I love that Last Starfighter story and it was a funny realization when we made it. I also remember really liking the flick and seeing it at least once more, if not twice more, in that same theater (my Mom had her Summer, non-teaching job around the corner), which was how I ended up there.

    Also, I’d throw Raiders in my list, but I don’t think I ever saw it in a theater. I might have peeped it my first time on broadcast TV, but I’m not positive on that one.

    Finally, what about the entire Summers of 94 and 95 when we took in just about every movie released?! Crazy!

  • I have a very specific memory of Ed and I discussing Die Hard: With a Vengeance—specifically McClane’s response to one of Simon’s little poems (“Nice, it rhymes”).

    Speaking of which, despite the fact it might suck, I’m going to see Live Free or Die Hard.

  • Well, I’ve had time to think about it,found out that some of my all-time favorite movies did not meet the date deadlines, so confining myself to those SUMMER movies that left an indelible impression on me, I was able to put together my list, as well. Please remember that I don’t want to write for movies, act in movies, or what I really don’t want to do is direct, so my movie experiences are based solely on whether I loved it, liked it, if the popcorn was fresh, and more recently, if the seats are good for my aging back!

    5.A Hard Day’s Night ( 1964)- in the only theater Key West had:my mother paid my older brother to take me to see what was not only my first movie, but THE BEATLES first movie at that. I was 9, he was 11, he bought me a 3′ rope of red licorice and then left me there. I wasn’t supposed to tell Mom, and I probably didn’t. I promptly took up the guitar so that someday I could meet and marry Paul.It hasn’t worked out so far, but I hear he’s available again…

    4.Alien ( 1979)-Loew’s in Boston. I LOVE scary movies, especially the ones that drive you psychologically nuts waiting for the blood. A bunch of us went into Boston to see this one because it wasn’t coming out to the ‘burbs, it was a ” rocking chair” theater set-up, and when the baby alien jumped out of John Hurt’s chest, the entire row flipped so hard back that we all shot out of our seats on the forward return. It was the first movie I remember where the ending just wasn’t the ending…

    3. Pirates of the Caribbean-The Curse of the Black Pearl ( 2003)-Flagship Cinema, Wareham. I just flat-out LOVE this movie,Johnny Depp every twist in the story, every bit of dialogue, Johnny Depp, the ships, the scenary, did I mention Johnny Depp? Disappointed with the sequel, haven’t seen #3 yet, but I’m certain it will not be as good as the original. It is one of the very few movies that I saw twice at the theater.

    2.Star Wars (1977) Hanover Mall Cinema. Having grown up with Star Trek and all early attempts at special effects, I was stunned by the ships and story, no real need to go into it. Ron had gone to see it first with his buddy Danny, while I stayed home and feathered the nuptial nest, having gotten married that summer, and he couldn’t wait for us to see it together. I think we saw it 3 times over the course of the summer. Believed in the Force, loved everything about it, wanted to name Jason “Luke” but Ron wouldn’t let me since it was sort of close to the last name of an old boyfriend. Star Wars became a huge part of our family for a very,very long time.

    1.Jaws ( 1975) Hanover Mall Cinema – Ron and I were just dating when this came out. I had been raised on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, had seen my share of sharks, and I wasn’t afraid of them. However, I did NOT know that these were the creatures of Ron’s nightmares. From the opening sequence, his imagination worked overtime, the vertical leap out of his seat when Ben Gardner’s head bobbed out of the hole in the boat startled me, Ron crashed back into his seat, cold and white, I reached over to take his hand, and he was just gone into some fearful place in his head until it was over. That was NOT a movie we saw more than once at the theater, as he’s been in recovery ever since. I liked the movie better than the book, which I had read before, and, again, the special effects for the time were awesome. I can do vitually every line of the movie ( who can’t?), which also contains one of the greatest movie lines EVER ” You’re gonna need a bigger boat”

    Is there a prize for the oldest summer release????

  • Here’s my list. As Ed says, these aren’t so much the best summer movies as the ones that, for me, defined a summer.

    5.) Men in Black—For me, summer 1997 was that magical period between high school graduation and the freshman year of college. I spent almost all of that summer working and playing Diablo, but I did come up for air long enough to see this movie three or four times. I loved pretty much everything about this movie and I’m still fond of it.

    4.) Batman—Summer 1989 was all about Batman for me. I remember my dad and I trying to see it opening night only to discover it was sold out. To make up for the disappointment, my dad took me to the toy store, where I picked up a Joker figure (since there were no Batman figures to be found). Later, I finally saw the movie with my mom at the Hoyts theater in Plymouth, which moved by the end of that year to the Independence Mall.

    3.) Gladiator—I freakin’ loved this movie. I saw it four times that summer, including once in England. I don’t find it quite as entertaining now as I did then—it’s a depressing movie, really—but it was definitely a defining film for summer 2000.

    2.) Jurassic Park—Again, I obsessed about this movie for months before it came out. Everything was dinosaurs for me in summer 1993. It’s worth noting this was the first movie I geeked out about over the Internet, way back in the days of Prodigy.

    1.) Terminator 2: Judgment Day—I vividly remember my dad coming back from seeing T2 and giving me the thumbs-up, meaning I could go see it. The only catch was I had to close my eyes at certain parts (such as the armageddon dream sequence and several of the stabbings). It was the first rated-R film I saw in the theater, at the age of twelve. I’m still grateful to my dad for taking me to see it.

  • Hmmmm….I had Gladiator down, but I wasn’t sure of the May 5 release date, although Ed DID say it just had to be in May, Russell Crowe in a skirt with a biiiiiiig sword, just says summertime….another Honorable Mention, ID4! Love that one too! I think we saw that as one of our vacation kick-offs…

  • I think the Summer Movie season now begins ’round MLK day and ends on Veteran’s Day so almost any movie is fair game.

  • Here are the definitive top 5 blockbusters of all time…please, everybody, don’t even try to debate these…you’ll just look silly!

    1. Jaws
    2. Star Wars
    3. Alien
    4. Jurassic Park
    5. Raiders of teh Lost Ark

    Thank you for your attention, and i hope you found this educational.

    PS – Movie-man, back at you…I have often thought I should round you and Jason up and start a new monthly traditon of guys movie night just like the old days. The logistics makes it a little harder than it used to be, but worthy of consideration?

    Ed, I appreciate the thoughts you expressed about our relationship when you were a tad younger, and hope you know that time and distance has done nothing to diminish our relationship. and never will…

  • @Ronster – You warned us not to debate you and quite likely, most will head your call.

    But I’m not like most.

    I think 3 of your 5 are sound – essentially, I agree with the Spielberg pics. And that there, says an awful lot about the greatness that man has exhibited throughout his career. Hands down, he’s my favorite filmmaker of all time, simply due to those films and so many others (Close Encounters, of course.)

    So the two I argue are your #2 – Star Wars and #3 – Alien. What would I put in their place? Simple – their sequels.

    I think James Cameron’s Aliens is superior to the already excellent Alien and I think Empire Strikes Back is the definitive Star Wars flick – for it’s in that film, that the entire series hit its mythological peak. Empire is Olympus.

    I guess that’s the folly in a Top 5 list – it’s so hard to cram them all in. In fact, T2 probably demands a 5a.

    That’s why I decided to cover my Top 5 Summer Movie Memories versus Top 5 Summer Movies. The latter list was too hard to whittle down.

    On your other point – Guys Night Out at the Movies – no distance is too far. I can easily swing it and would love to do it. We should make an evening of it – catch the flick then some food and beer where we can all argue over where the flick falls in our current Five. Let’s make this a plan, Stan.

    Thanks for the kind words on your last piece. It’s funny – when writing this stuff I figure it’s too easy to apply the internal edit and dispense with some of the soul-baring for fear people will find it corny. But then I remind myself how short and fleeting this life is. Life is too short to let the important things go unsaid.

    So with that, thank you (and Aunt Sharon) for everything… Always!!!

  • Hmm… if this were a Summer only list, then yes, The Empire Strikes Back, and potentially T2, would be on my list, but he said memories.

    Funny thing about Empire is I don’t actually ever remember seeing it in the theater (or drive-in)! I think I must have erased it upon the realization that Han was frozen in carbonite and Vader was Luke’s fah-zah!!!

    AND, just to get in on the feel good stuff, I too had an Uncle (and family) that I used to become the third child for and go on vacations with and to Sox games as a kid. In fact, it is the same said Uncle with which I climbed Chocorua. I almost related that story on Jason’s post, but held it back, but now… I just have to share!!! 🙂

  • “Is it the Frank or the Beans?”

    “Franks and Beans!”

    I love that movie!

  • How on earth do you remember the theatres??
    For whatever reason, I can remember the actual movie experience for only two movies, Rocky III and Star Trek The Motion Picture. I don;t know why. Not much else come to mind…I know this wasn;t all about that but just sayin’