A few weekends back, I sat down with my wife and mother-in-law and watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
My mother-in-law had invited us over for dinner and my wife thought it would be a good idea if we brought a DVD to watch after dinner. The trouble was, in the three months she had had a DVD player, my mother-in-law had watched all our best DVDs. So, my wife and I headed off to the video store, where I wandered up and down the aisles looking for something that I had not seen, but looked romantic enough for my wife and funny enough for my mother-in-law. My wife’s patience gave out at the thirty minute mark.
I walked back to the classics aisle and grabbed the first thing that caught my eye: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We rented the DVD and the evening proceeded as planned. The next day, I returned the DVD and called my mother-in-law to see if she had any request for the next weekend. She did not, but she mentioned how much she had enjoyed seeing Charley Chaplin and John Wayne movies when she was a girl.
I had known about John Wayne; in fact, some of the DVDs she had borrowed from me were Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Hearing that she also liked Charlie Chaplin, however, sent me searching through the stacks again, looking for a copy of the Little Tramp. When I could not locate a copy at any of the video stores in town, I decided to just buy the DVD and give it to her as a gift.
My wife, upon learning about this, was quite pleased, but also a little jealous. She wanted me to find movies for her; she wanted me to seek out the classics that I know she has not seen and for us to watch them together. This request sent me looking for more modern classics of movie making. (She has not, for example, seen E.T or the Goonies.)
I was having a lot of fun finding movies to show to my wife and / or my mother-in-law. Their very different ages and tastes made it a bit of a challenge to find something that I thought they both might like, and sometimes I went for something that I knew one would love and the other would, well, sit through. At the same time, I was getting a little bored. We, as a family, had sat through several movies, all of which I had already seen, sometimes three or four times. (The Wizard of Oz comes to mind; which, just for the headtrip, I highly recommend watching in Japanese.)
So, I turned my search to Amazon and found this book: The 100 Best Movies to Rent You've Never Heard Of: Hidden Treasures, Neglected Classics, and Hits From By-Gone Eras. The book details just what the title suggests, an eclectic and informed selection of movies that you have probably skipped over in the video store, if your video store even has them. These are not cult films, nor are they all that hard to find, the are more just, lost in the shuffle films – good movies that got passed over for one reason or another. The book arrived and I immediately sat down to watch (and enjoy) the first movie listed – The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn.
Soon after, I started looking for the second film in the book, Aguierre, the Wrath of God. I was now searching out movies for three different people: myself, with this new book of films that I had largely never heard of, my mother-in-law, who likes classic westerns and romantic comedies starring the elite of old Hollywood, and my wife, who likes action and romance in equal parts and who has not seen most of the movies of my childhood and teen years.
It was time to get organized.
I went to Lists of Bests (I'm SunToad) and searched out a couple of classic film lists. I chose to start with Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies as well as building a list based on the book I had bought. I then added the list for Steven Jay Schneider’s 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, just because.
There is a lot of overlap on these lists and I do not intend to complete any of them anytime soon, like within the next decade or two, but I do intend to use them to help me find movies for my family to watch; movies that we can all enjoy with our varied tastes and interests.
And, of course, because they are on the web and they are social, anyone who chooses to can play along at home. So, feel free to copy the lists and delve into the back shelves of your local video store or second hand emporium.
Good luck and thanks for reading.