Friday, April 23, 2010

My "Keeper Shelf"or "Play it again, Sam"

As many of you know, I am a huge classic movie fan. The cadence of the actor’s speech, the beautiful clothes, the dashing heroes, the witty repartee. All of it. You may have seen me blog before about my love of the Screwball Comedies of the 30’s and 40’s. And I do love them. They never fail to make me laugh. They never fail to transport me to a less complicated time and leave me smiling when it’s all over.

But today, I’m not going to talk about my favorite film genre, even though I could go on for days about the subject. I’ll leave that for another time when I’m less talkative. Today I’m going to talk about something slightly different, and perhaps more important…

That classic you just can’t help but watch.

You know what I’m talking about. Those movies that are on your “keeper shelf” of life. We all have a few of these. You can be flipping channels and come across a movie you’ve seen a dozen times before and you’ll watch it all over again no matter if you’re starting in the beginning, middle or end. And no matter what else you had planned to do that day. You get sucked in and the film captures you all over again just like the first time you saw it.

For me these titles include Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, and anything by Tennessee Williams. What is it about these movies that grabs me by the shirt collar and won’t let go? Well, it depends on the movie.

For some it is the quintessential love story, even if it doesn’t end happily. For some it’s a character who’s larger than life, even if they’re not always likable. For some it’s the adventure that captures my imagination. For some it’s the life lessons that are so superbly woven into the story I sense it in my soul. And for others it’s the raw emotion I feel just by getting caught up in the story.

As a writer, I want to dissect those films that I can never let pass me by. I want to figure out what makes them “tick”, what makes them irresistible. I want to figure out what I can learn from them and use in my own writing. Because the greatest compliment of all is being on someone else’s “keeper shelf”. Creating a character or story that so touches someone, they never want to let it go.

What is on your “keeper shelf”? And do you know why they're there?


  1. Believe it or not, I've never really watched many of the films you're talking about here. I know, I know. I need to. One that has always stood out to me, though, is Gone with the Wind. Largely because Scarlet O'Hara is one of those characters you just can't forget, even if you don't like her.

    Other movies that I can watch over and over again? Just about anything directed by John Hughes in the 80's. He took the stereotypes of 80's teenagers and painted lasting images of them. Love or hate the Breakfast Club kids, you remember all of them as clearly as you remember your own days in high school.

  2. Love old films too. Enjoy most anything with Jimmy Stewart in it. A fave is Little Shop Around the Corner.
    Have a blessed weekend,

  3. Lydia, I love this post :) Gone with the Wind is definitely on my keeper shelf, along with The Ten Commandments. It was just on over Easter weekend and I caught it in the middle. My hubby hasn't ever watched it start to finish, so I gave him a run-down of what was going on. Even just recapping the first part was a good time. LOL!

    Most of the old movies on my keeper shelf are musicals, though - 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, Calamity Jane, Hello, Dolly!, all the Rogers and Hammersteins...I used to watch these movies over and over again!

    Nowadays, I turn to light-hearted comedies and animated films. Baby Mama, Bridget Jones and Madagascar are among the ones I could probably recite to you at this point. Oh, and You've Got Mail...if it's on, it's being watched for sure.

    I feel like I could keep going, but I'll stop and let someone else have the floor now. LOL!

  4. LOL - I love movies, old and new, but its too hard to pinpoint favourites. It depends on my mood. My Hubby has three obvious fav's: The Great Escape, Kelly's Heroes and The Sound of Music. That last one cracks me up!