I don’t know what it is about movies I love — but I want other people to appreciate them as much as I do. Why can’t I ever get the point that I’m playing a losing game?
Take the time a young French couple came to stay overnight with us in Dallas about 20 years ago. My husband and I were surprised and a little appalled they’d never seen our very favorite movie on the face of the earth, Casablanca. “You’ll love it!” we said — and rushed out to rent the videotape.
After the kids were in bed, we fired up the video. God, what a wonderful movie. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it, but it’s never enough. “This is the best movie ever made,” we assured the French couple. “Just wonderful! Wait till you see the scene with the Marseillaise!” They smiled politely.
We kept clueing them in to key scenes and they kept nodding. Finally, we just shut up and gave ourselves over to the movie. As usual, my husband and I both became emotional basket cases during the Marseillaise scene — tears in our eyes, hearts thumping madly.
At the end of the scene, after I’d calmed down a little, I turned to the French couple, hoping they’d managed to control their own violently patriotic emotions. Turns out, they had. They were fast asleep.
You’d think that would have taught us something, but oh, mais non, au contraire. A few months later, on a hot Saturday afternoon, we gave our two kids the great opportunity to watch one of the most heartrending movies from our childhood — Old Yeller. This time, though, we didn’t waste our time getting them excited; we figured the sheer magic of the movie, with its canine hero and homespun life lessons, would work its own way into their little hearts.
Ninety minutes later, after my violent sobs about Old Yeller’s death had subsided, I looked around for the children. “Oh, they went outside about an hour ago,” my husband reported.
So. Enough with this movie proselytizing, the pearls before swine, the bubbles around hatpins. We’d keep our movies and our opinions to ourselves.
All of which worked for a good 20 years, until this holiday season with our two now-grown children. It concerned me that, at their age, they still knew nothing about the Bible and they’d never seen Godfather I and 2. I’d leave their little heathen problem to another year. But in the meantime, they needed to catch up with Coppola.
After Christmas Eve dinner, we arranged a little family time with the first Godfather. Fifteen minutes later, our son, yawning, went to bed. Our constantly texting daughter lasted a little longer before she announced her departure, too. My husband and I looked at each other and shrugged. We settled back on the couch and pressed “play.” The familiar music, haunting and plaintive, filled the air.
We didn’t have to tell anybody in the room how great the movie was or when a classic scene was coming up. No reason to preach when you’re both in the choir.
(Copyright 2011 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read another of my favorite posts on Too Many Lessons From the Godfather