I am a self-proclaimed “movie guy.” My wife is passionate about music, and I am the same way about movies. I like to see new ones whenever I can, but generally I am relegated to re-watching older ones. And now it has become a tradition to re-watch certain movies on a regular basis. Below is a short list of movies that I make it a point to watch once every few months.
(Note: long-time readers may recognize two things. First, that I have discussed many of these before, and second, that most of these come from a specific period in my life.)
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
No matter how much time passes, this film will probably always be in my top 5 movies of all time. When I was in high school, I was gifted with a hand-me-down TV and VCR from my parents, and while wiling away hours in my room doing fuck-all, this was one of two movies that was most likely to be playing in the background (the other was The Empire Strikes Back). The film catches a lot of flak from Robert E. Howard purists, and for good reasons. But, it is arguably one of the best sword & sorcery films ever made, with the greatest soundtrack in history, IMHO.
The Wild Geese (1978)
This is gritty mercenary action at its best. With a stellar cast, a fantastic story, and some really memorable acting, this is the movie I immediately think of when I hear the word “mercenary” (followed closely by The Expendables). This film was largely responsible for my interest in military action, and lead directly to me starting to read Mack Bolan books. I would say it probably even influenced my decision to become a paratrooper myself. Although my favorite war movie is A Bridge Too Far, it takes some real stamina to watch. The Wild Geese gets more viewings, simply because it is so straight-forward and fun.
The Dark Crystal (1981)
I can still remember seeing this one in the theater. I was mesmerized by the visuals, haunted by the overtones, and I felt like I was on that emotionally turbulent ride right along with the Gelflings. Lord Chamberlain scared me, but I also felt pity for him. Fizgig made me laugh, and Ogra made me smile. Even though there were no human actors featured in this film, the voice-acting and characters were so wonderfully done. Honestly, this movie should be used to teach film classes. It’s damn-near perfect. And I still enjoy the hell out of it to this day.
Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
Everyone knows that Chuck Norris is legend. As the indestructible Karate Cop/Soldier of the 70’s and 80’s, he has made a lot of movies that, while the overall quality may have been hit or miss, he still kicked ass in every one of them. This one is my favorite of his, and I can’t really say why. It’s got a great story, some superb supporting cast members (including a young Robert Beltran, aka Chakotay), and some of the best, gritty action scenes. But, the one element that stands out the most is the fact that Chuck kicks David Carradine’s ass. I have never liked Carradine. He was a mediocre actor with questionable fighting skills, and I really never understood how he became as popular as he did. Personally I always viewed this movie as Chuck getting some on-screen revenge on behalf of Stallone for his having to suffer the indignity of being beat up by Carradine in Death Race 2000.
Rocky III (1982)
Speaking of Sly, what list of mine would be complete without at least one entry of his? I am a huge fan of all of the Rocky films (even V, which Sly himself doesn’t like). I remember my first exposure was seeing Rocky on my grandparents’ 13” b&w TV. I only saw bits of it (mainly the scene in the ice rink), but I thought the character was pretty cool. Then I saw Rocky III in the theater by myself (first time I ever got to do that) and I was hooked! Been an unabashed fan of the character, and of Stallone himself ever since. When I first moved to Wisconsin, I discovered that my wife (to be at the time) had never seen any but the first one. So, we binge-watched all five over the course of a few days, and now she regularly suggests we need to do that again (along with all of the Rambo films).
The Hobbit (1977)
This film was a very important piece of my childhood. The story itself is one of my all-time favorites (I like it better than LotR), and this presentation is like a Reader’s Digest version. The visuals are very cool for the time, and carry a certain charm unlike anything else. The voice-acting is great, and whenever I read anything by Tolkien, I hear John Huston’s voice. Smaug was the standard by which all dragons would be judged for years to come. Bard the Guardsman was my primary inspiration during my first forays into playing D&D. And the music! Magical to me. I even downloaded a program that allows you to strip the sound files from YouTube videos, just so I could have the soundtrack on my iPod. My kids even like this one, and Connor sat in my lap and watched most of it with me one time when he was barely 4 years old.
Honorable Mentions – I don’t watch these with quite as much regularity, but I do still put them in on occasion.
Enter the Dragon (1974) – Bruce Lee at the top of his game.
The Last Dragon (1984) – Corny, campy, and oh so damn much fun!
The Empire Strikes Back (1981) – The best Star Wars movie ever made.
First Blood (1982) – The godfather of the modern “lone hero” action movie.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) – Still my favorite Star Trek movie.
DC Cab (1981) – First movie I ever memorized from beginning to end. Hilarious!