Most of these movies I grew up watching, thanks to cable TV, and they struck a chord with me at my young impressionable age. Then there’s a few here that I managed to catch on a big screen for the first time thanks to revival theaters around town and that’s how I got this list. All of these are favorites for one reason or another, even if I haven’t seen them in a while, the things I love about them won’t change.
AMERICAN HOT WAX - A biopic of Alan Freed, as played by Tim McIntire, the radio disc jockey in the heyday of rock and roll, also featuring some by the performers themselves; Jerry Lee Lewis, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Chuck Berry. There’s a fun cast with Jay Leno, Fran Drescher and Laraine Newman. It takes a look at the rise of the music scene and it’s said that Freed is the one who called it “Rock and Roll”. This is mostly from Freed’s take on the industry and of course some of the drama that came with it and the pay for airplay troubles. Apparently the movie didn’t so well when it came out, but the music was considered great. This was a movie my Dad loved, for the music and it got me watching. It’s a rockin’ look at the 50’s. It’s fun watching the journey of music through the performers and those it inspired. It’s also about being a fan and one key moment of fandom is the young kid who is the head of the Buddy Holly fanclub dealing with Holly’s death. Long Live Rock and Roll. A little tidbit of trivia, a few years before this movie Tim McIntire voiced the dog Blood in A BOY AND HIS DOG.
GOIN’ SOUTH - This movie I saw on cable as a kid, it was quirky and a little wacky to me, and it has John Belushi. It’s a Western directed by Jack Nicholson, who also stars as Henry, an outlaw sentenced to be hanged, unless a woman wants to marry him and be responsible for his good behavior. Mary Steenburgen, in her first role film role, is Julia who decides to marry Henry as she’s in need of some free labor for the mine underneath her property. Henry and Julia do some gold prospecting, and it’s one of those uneasy relationships with more than a few complications. Henry’s old gang wants to know what’s up, and John Belushi is one of those guys. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I just remember finding it funny.
HOT LEAD AND COLD FEET - Another Western made my list! I was lucky to see this on a big screen at a kiddie matinee a few years ago. It’s a fun comedy that gives top billing to Don Knotts, but it’s really a film of Jim Dale who has three different roles in the film. Jim Dale is Eli Bloodshy, Wild Billy Bloodshy, and Jasper Bloodshy, playing a father and his two sons, one a real goodie goodie, and the other a bad guy outlaw type. The father pits his sons against each other in a race to save a little town. It is a super cute Disney film! The best comedy relief bits came from Don Knotts as Sheriff Denver Kid who is having a series of duals with Jack Elam who is Rattlesnake. Sometimes you need a little bit of wholesome family fun and this film delivers.
I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND - Ok, first I’m not a BEATLES fan, I just feel like I should let that be known. But I really do love this movie about a group of girls who do LOVE the BEATLES and they go off on a BEATLMANIA adventure to be a part of their appearance on Ed Sullivan. What a time that is being captured as written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis and it was Zemeckis making his directorial debut. It’s wild, zany as the girls antics get them near THE BEATLES. Nancy Allen is Pam and she has this amazing moment when she find herself trapped in THE BEATLES hotel room! Then there’s the adorable and spunky Rosie played by Wendi Jo Sperber who’s doing all she can to get into the show. This is just a special and fun movie, capturing the spirit of fandom and obsession. If you’re ever down, this is a movie to watch, because it is sure to cheer you up!
PARADISE ALLEY - I have a thing for wrestling so that’s a reason this weird little movie is one of my favorites. Sylvester Stallone wrote, directed and starred in this one. It’s about three brothers in the 40’s trying to get by in their neighborhood. Stallone is middle brother Cosmo, the dreamer with big plans that border on being a hood. There’s Armand Assante as Lenny, the eldest, who’s a war hero vet with a solid profession and lastly Victor the big loveable lug as played by Lee Canalito and he’s the wrestler to be who will be known as Kid Salami. As Cosmo and Victor work on managing Kid Salami, the brother dynamic is challenged; are they looking out for each other or taking advantage of Victor’s abilities? The cast is fun and has Anne Archer as a love interest. There’s slimy Joe Spinell as Burp who brings in Frankie the Thumper, played by Terry Funk (yup, that wrestler!) to take on Kid Salami. It all culminates to a big match, and there’s a lot of heart to this tale.
REMEMBER MY NAME - What a movie, the most serious movie on my list. I first saw it on a big screen back in 2010 and it really hooked me. Geraldine Chaplin is Emily and she has an unhealthy obsession with her ex husband Neil, as played by Anthony Perkins. Emily comes into town and is ready and willing to do anything to get Neil back even though he’s with someone new. It’s mesmerizing watching Emily as she’s causing havoc taking things too far and yet sometimes you’re feeling for her through the struggle. Also sorry if it’s a spoiler but don’t trust Emily with a pencil! That’s one thing I’ll never forget.
THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY - Dancing, Dancing, Dancing! T.G.I.F. is about dancing most of all, and it is on a Friday night when a cast of characters unite at the nightclub ZOO hitting the dance floor, looking for love, a chance to dance, sing and be who they are meant to be. Donna Summer gets a chance to sing LAST DANCE! The Commodores are going to sing for the big dance contest. Jeff Goldblum is the club owner who’s looking to take home a lady that his DJ thinks he can’t bed. But my favorite is Marv Gomez, the Leatherman as played by Chick Vennera. He’s a dancer who gets a great dance number! All these characters and more cross paths and have one hell of a night. It’s a little silly and high on disco but I’m a fan from beginning to end. Dancing, Dancing, Dancing!
SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND - So yeah my first real introduction to THE BEATLES, besides listening to their hits on K-EARTH 101 when all they played was golden oldies, was this movie here. And yes, that makes me more of a Bee Gee’s fan when you think about it. This ridiculous movie takes us on ride of songs and dance and awesome star studded cast like George Burns. How can you not have a good time with Steve Martin singing Maxwell’s Silver Hammer or Billy Preston’s take on Get Back? Well those are things that I latched on to. I watched this whenever it was on as a kid with my sister and nieces. Sure, I will admit to having a skewed view of the film, but I will never deny it as a favorite. I’ve even seen it on a big screen since those young days and I still feel the same about it now, admitting it’s not perfect and still singing along. Oh, and oh so long ago, when I bought the soundtrack at a Virgin Megastore, the guy at the register asked if I was sure I wanted this CD assuming I meant to buy THE BEATLES version and I assured him I damn well knew what I was buying! So remember love the movies you love and then pass it on!