Part of my job entails monitoring social media, so I tend to be up to speed on breaking news. I was pretty heartbroken when I saw the news come across that Esther Williams passed away. I'm sure a lot of you are Googling who that is, but I immediately began to think of the classic films of the '30s, '40s and '50s. The larger than life spectaculars that, in their day, were cutting edge.
Esther Williams was one of the stars of MGM's water movies. I'm sure they have a better title than that, but that's in fact what they were. I remember when I was young seeing one of these films, I could not tell you the name of it, but I was awestruck by it. It was an extravaganza to say the least.
Not only did I think about my first time seeing one of these films, but I started to look back on the times I would watch old films with my Dad. My Dad retired when I was in high school, so we would spend a great deal of time together and one of my favorite things to do with him was watch old movies. We like to joke that my Dad only watches two types of movies: wars and westerns. If John Wayne is in the movie, it is guaranteed to be a superior film.
Let me expand on my Dad's love of The Duke...
In my parents basement there is a painting of John Wayne. No, really. My Dad also owns pretty much every John Wayne film to ever be made. Oh, and when I was pregnant with the kids we tossed around the name Ethan for Aaron. Dad's response? "Ethan...like John Wayne's character in The Searchers? That's a good name."
Of all of the John Wayne films the one we always agreed on was Donovan's Reef. If you have never watched this movie, do it, it's hilarious.
We didn't always watch John Wayne classics. We also watched Humphrey Bogart (Maltese Falcon was my favorite, with Casablanca as a close second), Errol Flynn (Robin Hood and Captain Blood are my favorites) and of course, classic Laurel and Hardy (The Music Box is and always will be my favorite, I still laugh).
I think these moments are where my love of the classics come from. There is something timeless about these films. The story was always the most important piece. There were no CGI effects to hide behind, it was your stars and your story. There was nothing gratuitous, you barely saw your leads kiss, yet you felt the romance.
I'm trying to pass my love of the classics down to our kiddos. We already watch Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music. I plan on incorporating Singin' in the Rain and Footlight Parade at some point. I can only hope that when they are in high school they will want to hang out with me and watch these films.
Thanks, Dad, for my love of the classics.