Mr. Movie

Which movies influenced you as a child?

We all have at least one film that has profoundly impacted who we are and how we think.

What are yours? And what movie did you or would you insist that your children see?

When I was 6, my mother took me to a theater and plunked me down on a rock hard seat and let me see The Wizard of Oz. It was on its last trip through real theaters before television bought it, and it became an annual family TV event. We lived in Umatilla and I think at the time there was just one TV station in the area and it was out of Tri-Cities. Not that it mattered, we didn't have a TV anyway.

So The Wizard of Oz is the first movie I ever saw. It blew my mind. And one thing I learned once we picked up a TV, movies are a heck of a lot more impressive.

The first "message" movie of my life was when I was 8. Again my mom, who was a movie buff, took me to see Cecil B. DeMille's The 10 Commandments. The explanation ahead of time about the commandments wasn't nearly as interesting as Chuck Heston parting the Red Sea and all those cool special-effect calamities visited upon the scary and very stubborn Yul Brynner and the cruel Egyptians.

Heston was much more impressive to me later when he did Ben-Hur.

Brynner was really intense and almost as scary as Margaret Hamilton's wicked witch. Being eight and not understanding that he shaved his head and chose to look that way, I really felt sorry for him being totally bald and all. And Edward G. Robinson's slimeball Dathan was almost as creepy as The Oz monkeys.

But I digress. The point is that my mother felt that these were two movies I absolutely had to see for my development as a human being. The Wizard of Oz I got to see mostly because my mom loved music and even at six, she knew that I as I grew up I would also really love music and movies. That single act sparked something in me and to this day, I still love them and now review them. Movies and reviewing them, it turns out, are the most rewarding part of a varied and fulfilling career as a writer, musician, and broadcast personality.

By the way, the only person I know who can come close to singing Over the Rainbow as well as Judy Garland is my mother.

Again, I digress.

My son Andy got the brunt of my movie push. His lesson movie was Schindler's List when he was somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 or 12. On lighter fare, I picked up copies of Hard Days Night, Yellow Submarine and Help. He liked them but Woodstock was a little over the top. We also caught classics like The Invisible Man and the original Time Machine, films that I loved as a kid. Ben-Hur was a must, so was Heston's Omega Man. And I dropped in Clash of the Titans, too.

He loved them.

There are others, but you get the point. Three questions this time:

1. What is a film you saw as a kid that impacted your life and that you have insisted on sharing with your children?

2. How about other films that you saw as a child that you think or thought your children would like?

3. And add an explanation why to each question.

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