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Prompted By Rewatchable Movies

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Thanks for this prompt.  I have added a number of movies to my list as a result of it, and I second the favorites of many of the members who have posted their lists.

You do know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow.

I have several reasons for watching a movie more than once,  The first is to try to understand what was going on in the movie the first time I watched it.  The best example of that would be “Apocalypse Now”.  I love the opening scenes, with Martin Sheen trashing his hotel room while “The End” plays in the background.  But I’m not sure what was happening at the end of the movie.  I bought the enhanced version of the movie on DVD, and the added scenes didn’t make any more sense to me.  And I have now read “Heart of Darkness” three times, and still don’t know what was going on at the end of that book, either.

Another example was “Chinatown”, but I finally understood the second time that it was about the water system in San Francisco.

Another reason to watch a film again is that is simply a great story with great acting.  Of course, Casablanca fits that description perfectly.  How could anyone not love Ilsa?  And I will watch almost any Bogart film, except for “The African Queen”, in which Bogart plays such a weak character.  Of course, his portrayal of a role that is so out of touch with his customary characters may be why he won an Oscar for that one.

And then there are the Bogart movies with Lauren Bacall.  The chemistry between them is so obvious that it is clear they weren’t really acting.  (As an aside, check out the two episodes of “Kung Fu” in which Barbara Hershey plays the love interest of David Carradine – smoking hot in the episodes, and in real life as well.)

Other movies are just visually stunning:  “Out of Africa”, “A River Runs Through It”, “Tous Les Matins du Monde”, “The Red Violin” are examples.

Sometimes there are lines or individual scenes that will keep me coming back:

  • “You do know how to whistle, don’t you?  You just put your lips together and blow.”  That one sends me to take a cold shower.
  • “You aren’t very bright are you?  I like that in a man.”
  • “Why did you come to Casablanca?  I came for the waters.  But there are no waters in Casablanca.  I was misinformed.”
  • “And the restaurant scene in “When Harry Met Sally”, of course.

Finally, I would recommend two documentaries of only limited interest to most of the people in this group:

“Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” is a great movie about a football game that at least some of us attended in the fall of 1968.  It intersperses film of The Game (capitals intended and deserved) with interviews with a number of the people who were on the field, including two who were instrumental in convincing me to choose Harvard over MIT.

“Wilmington on Fire” is not a great film, but an important one, in that it describes the only successful coup d’etat in the history of the United States, when a band of Democrats (they were the bad guys then) attacked the Black citizens of Wilmington, North Carolina after the election of 1898, killing as many as 100 of them and throwing the bodies into the Cape Fear River.  The governor of the state had to escape by hiding in a boxcar on a train that was leaving town.

I live across the river from Wilmington now, and did not know anything about that insurrection until a few years ago.  But the Black people in Wilmington all know the history, and it has affected relations here for more than 120 years.



Profile photo of Jeff Gerken Jeff Gerken

Characterizations: been there, right on!, well written


  1. Marian says:

    Thanks for giving us more interesting movies to consider, Jeff!

  2. Suzy says:

    Lots of great movies here, Jeff. And you’re right that one reason to rewatch a movie is to try to understand a complicated plot. But you didn’t quite get it in Chinatown – it’s about the water battles in LA, not San Francisco, and how the Angelenos were stealing water from the Owens Valley. (I love this Roman Polanski movie, and will probably talk about it on an upcoming prompt.)

    I agree with you about Bogart movies, although I also loved The African Queen. He was at his best with Bacall, but he was also pretty great with Kate Hepburn, imo.

    And of course I know and love “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.” Fabulous movie about a game I was lucky enough to attend, even though women did not get football tickets, and could only go as someone’s date.

    • Jeff Gerken says:

      Okay, now I’m going to have to watch Chinatown once again. I thought it was about San Francisco, because, well, Chinatown. And I was never completely clear about how the connection was made to Chinatown in the first place. So I’ll give it another try.

  3. Thanx for your rewatchables list Jeff, and the whys and the wherefores!

    This indeed has been a fun prompt, now we all have a lot of bingeing to do!

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    This is a great story, Jeff. I learned more about some of my favorite movies and the reason to rewatch them when I am much older than the first time I saw them. I did that recently with Chinatown. And I loved Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.

  5. Hooray for mentioning that a good reason to rewatch a movie is if you don’t get it the first time around…or the second, or third. Chinatown has a complex plot but it’s definitely worth all those rewatches. A few more greats I’d add to my list for just that reason are Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, and Fight Club. Thanks for adding yours, Jeff!

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    Now I want to find 29-29! I was at that game and distinctly recall that Harvard won with that score.

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