Monday, October 22, 2007

Moment o' Dad..."Dawsonian Film Festivals"

Today's Moment O' Dad is all about Dad and "da movies".

From the time I was little, one family activity we enjoyed was watching movies. When network TV was more prone to showing movies, we would gather around the telly for cinematic bonding.

I remember one big occasion when Mom made pizza and all of us watched "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" together. Ruthi was trying to scam my pizza crust (she wouldn't eat all the pizza, just the crust) and I was mad, but we had fun watching the movie anyway.

Dad was a movie buff in his own way...he preferred Westerns, sci-fi, good mysteries, or comedies.

One thing that was rarely practiced in our house while watching movies was the concept of "suspension of disbelief". Another way to put it was, "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Oh, God forbid if there was a blooper in how a character used a gun or something else in a movie. Dad was all over it like Rosie O'Donnell on a 9/11 conspiracy theory. By the time I hit junior high, I knew that you couldn't use a silencer on a revolver, but I would consistently forget my math book at home. Priorities, right?

If the protests grew too great from Dad re: accuracy in the film, we'd simply state, "Dad, you're thinking again. Knock it off!" This command was met with grumbles, but he'd manage to enjoy the movie in spite of its inaccuracies.

Most of Dad's movie choices were inherently masculine, but...he also liked some musicals.

Oh yeah...musicals were big in our house anyway, but Dad was usually willing to go along with it.

Because Dad was a "leg man". You see, many of those lovely movie musicals contained female dancers with nice LONG LEGS. Whether the dancer was Gwen Verdon, Julie Newmar, Cyd Charisse, Leslie Caron, or whoever....if the dancer was leggy (the proper descriptor in our house was "legs up to the armpits"), Dad was a HAPPY man.

As a matter of fact, he ID'd Gwen Verdon for me one night. I had rented "Damn Yankees" to watch - I hadn't seen it before and had always wanted to. I started the movie, and Dad came in just in time for "Whatever Lola Wants".

I wasn't sure who the actress was, and Dad looked...well, "besotted" is the correct word, I think.

"Dad...uh, Dad?" (Sudie snapped fingers in Dad's face in an attempt to rouse him...)

"Huh?" (Dad tried to cover up the fact that he was drooling...)

"Who's the redhead?" I asked.

In a worshipful tone, Dad replied, "That's Gwen Verdon." He then proceeded to drool again. I left him alone in the living room so he could be alone with Gwen. I felt it was the proper thing to do.

Another film series Dad LOVED were the "007" movies. When ABC had exclusive rights to them (again, when network TV was worth a damn), they'd show Bond flicks every once in a while. This event was highly anticipated in our house and we would consider them "Bond-ing" time with Dad. Popcorn was prepared, and Mom's presence was optional. Sometimes she stuck around, sometimes she didn't.

I think one of the best movie viewings I had with Dad was when I was in college and home for a weekend. Dad was recovering from a bout with Graves' Disease, and I was feeling the last few stings of a hangover. I had rented a few movies to occupy the time while Dad was home sick. We had my uncle and one cousin over for some "Star Trek" thing, and they didn't leave until midnight.

However, Dad wasn't sleepy yet after the uncle and cousin left (Graves' disease will do that to a person) and he was up for watching one more movie.

That movie? "The Manchurian Candidate"...the ORIGINAL one with Frank Sinatra.

We were caught up in that movie so thoroughly, we didn't turn it off until it was OVER (about 2 AM or so). "The Manchurian Candidate" is not exactly happy, feel-good family fare, but when you have a father and daughter watching a movie...totally caught up in the plot and the might as well be. We didn't even try to guess at the ending, and it caught us by surprise.

That my parents' livingroom with the VCR whirring away...was a span of time that I'm glad I had with Dad. If I were asked what times with Dad I'd like to relive with him, that night would be on the top five list.