So we are going to talk about our Mother's Favourite Movie...
I asked my Mum what her favourite film was in preparation for this article, and she had no hesitation in her answer.
'On Golden Pond!!' she told me, with a smile. It's lovely when someone talks about their favourite film, when you know that that particular film has affected their lives in such a positive way to be named their favourite film, the best of the best. Also, for my Mum, who is an avid fan of TV shows normally, On Golden Pond must really mean something to her. That is why I thought it important to describe it today, on Mother's Day.
On Golden Pond was made in 1981 and starred real life father and daughter Henry and Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda bought the rights to Ernest Thompson’s screenplay in order to to offer the role of Norman Thayer to her father, which in her own words was ‘a gift to my father that was so unbelievably successful’. The film was an instant and unexpected success, becoming the second highest grossing film of the year, by making $119,285,432, only being beaten to the punch by Raiders of the Lost Ark grossing $209,562,121. Jane Fonda played Chelsea, Norman’s estranged daughter, and you can see their real father-daughter dynamic coming into play throughout the film, which is finely complimented by Katharine Hepburn, playing the role of Norman’s wife Ethel, and Chelsea’s mother.
The story is of an elderly couple, Ethel and Norman, who spend their Summer time at their cottage on a lake called Golden Pond in New Hampshire. Out of the blue, they are visited by their daughter Chelsea, whom they have not seen in many years. She introduces her parents to her fiancé Billy, and asks if they can look after Bill’s young son Billy while they take some time for themselves. Being a young boy who finds himself stuck with nothing to do with two elderly strangers, Billy is annoyed and resentful at first, especially with Norman’s cantankerous attitude and hard manner. However, he finds that their company isn’t so bad after all, and begins to enjoy going fishing with Norman. Each major character has a great deal to bring to this story, and not one of them are mediocre. Filled with multi-dimensional characters compacted into a small, but serene setting, On Golden Pond has gone down in history as a hallmarked success of a story of the power and importance of family.
It was Henry Fonda’s last film before his death in 1982, for which we won his only Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award in the Best Actor categories. On Golden Pond is said to have been his last but greatest role. Katharine Hepburn also won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and received a nomination for a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
It is a film that is to be enjoyed by anyone, at any age, at any time.
My Mum certainly does!
I have to say, when my mum told me that her favourite film was Cool Hand Luke, I was surprised. I’m not sure what I was expecting her to choose, but it certainly wasn’t the Paul Newman prison drama. My respect for my mother’s taste grew larger than it already was (she was the person who got me into David Bowie, so it was already pretty big) when I found this out, because Cool Hand Luke is an amazing film.
Newman stars as prison inmate Luke, placed in a Florida prison chain gang in the 1940s, run by Strother Martin’s sadistic warden, the Captain. Failing to observe the hierarchy of the inmates, Luke holds his own in a boxing match with leader Dragline, and impresses the other inmates with his poker-playing skill, earning him the nickname “Cool Hand Luke”. The other prisoners begin to idolise him, especially during the famous boiled egg bet, but when Luke’s mother dies and he faces an unjust punishment, Luke is determined to escape, and his various attempts only lead to increasingly sadistic punishments from the Captain.
Nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, along with a host of other awards (Newman was nominated for Best Actor, and Dragline’s actor George Kennedy won Best Supporting Actor), Cool Hand Luke’s most iconic moment is perhaps the line “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” spoken by the Captain and later hauntingly echoed in the film’s climax. But away from that one line, the script is tight, exhilarating and moving, and allows for Newman to showcase the best of his acting ability. Cool Hand Luke rightly takes it’s place alongside greats such as The Shawshank Redemption as an utterly mesmerising, excellently scripted and acted prison drama, and should be considered one of the greats of all cinema. Good choice, mum.
“Anything but that Vanilla Sky crap.”
This basically sums up my mother’s taste in movies. Oh, that and Tom Cruise. In fact, it is such an obsession that until Tom Cruise stops making movies, I can happily buy her birthday, Christmas and Mother’s day gifts. While her preference may be before he took on the remake of Spanish thriller, Open Your Eyes, still Cruise happens to be her screen idol. And it makes my mother’s day gifts a lot easier in deed. I’ve even written her a Tom Cruise based poem this year. It’s pretty epic.
The problem is which eighties iconic Tom Cruise movie is her favourite? Does she love the bar antics of Cocktail? Does she race on with Days of Thunder? Or scream at Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men? Truthfully, I think it is all of these and like me, her favourite film bends and curves with whatever mood she is in. However, if I had to pick between all of them, the one I have seen her put on repeatedly, cry repeatedly and enthuse about more is Top Gun.
Top Gun tells the story of Maverick, a young plucky military based naval fighter pilot who is training to be the very best like no one ever was. Unfortunately, he is a hot head and comes into conflict with his trainees and instructors. Except one instructor, Kelly McGillis (her character name is Charlie, it’s irrelevant,) who pushes him to be a better pilot as well as a better man (and sleeps with him too.) Cue the eighties soundtracks, massive hairdos and a confidence shaken Cruise who needs to be reminded about his love for the career he has chosen.
Look, this is all things Cruise and all things Eighties. There is some cheesy moments and some really strongly played back emotion as characters pout and glare at one another. But I love it. I love it too. For all its sappy faults and the homoerotic volleyball scene, I will watch Top Gun every time my mother puts it on. And we’ll laugh together, we’ll ogle the muscle men in tighty whities on the beach (it’s seriously homoerotic,) and we’ll cry when Goose cries. Tom Cruise is pre-scientology and boy does he act well (and is so incredibly dashing.) It’s a good movie for a throwback and it will always remind me of my mother!
While it’s not Mother’s Day quite yet here in Canada, it is Mothering Sunday over in the UK. When it came to finding out my mum’s favourite film, it was a bit hard. She has quite a few, but I really had to pester her to get an answer, as she wouldn’t tell me. After much nagging, I got a few out, but she chose, in the end, the 1968 film version of Mayerling. Starring Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve, the film revolves around what is known as The Mayerling Incident. The Illusionist also makes reference to the incident (albeit fictionalizing the details around the incident).
Mayerling (The film is not completely accurate, historically speaking, this must be noted) revolves around Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, the constant battles between he and his father over social progression and politics, and his eventual relationship with Baroness Maria Vetsera (in real life, her proper name was Mary). Stuck in a loveless marriage with the Princess Stephanie, Rudolf starts a relationship with Maria, and the film tells of the events that lead to their eventual demise. The film hints that the two killed themselves, when faced with the prospects of not being able to pursue a relationship honestly, and that there wouldn’t be any peace.
While nobody knows, and probably will never be able to confirm, what truly happened but it appears that Rudolf and Mary died as the result of a murder-suicide. Rudolf was married to Princess Stephanie and their marriage was an unhappy and uncomfortable one. Rudolf started an affair with the then 17 year old Mary Vetsera. His parents and Stephanie knew about the affair. During a dinner party, Rudolf excused himself from the party, citing the feeling of being unwell. When he didn’t return, his valet and a friend went to find him. When they finally did, they found Rudolf and Mary dead in, in what appears to this day, a murder-suicide.
My mother chose this film for numerous reasons. A truly beautiful and touching film, it tells of the beauty of a true love, and the need for peace, and the unfortunate circumstances that can happen when neither of these can come about. The film was brilliantly acted, the actors bringing the tenderness of each emotion that was definitely needed for the story. Sets, scripts and costume all had a certain detail to them, and brought about much (well-deserved) attention.
While I’ve never seen the film personally, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. While a sad film, it remains one of my mum’s favourites to this day, due to the numerous reasons stated above. Happy Mothering Sunday, Mum!
I think it’s fair to say that my mum has a favourite genre rather than a specific favourite film, although she did narrow it down to being out of A Taste of Honey (1961), Yanks (1979), Educating Rita (1983) and Shirley Valentine (1989).
The former two were filmed local to my mum’s area and really show off the gloomy mill-filled beauty of Greater Manchester. A Taste of Honey stands out in particular because it is based on the play of the same name written by Shelagh Delaney, the screenplay of which she personally adapted. The film was produced on a budget of just £120,000 and features locations from in and around the town of Stockport before much of it was redeveloped in the years that followed. The film revolves around average white teenage protagonist Jo (Rita Tushingham) who lives with her troubled alcoholic mother, Helen (Dora Bryan). Jo falls in love with a black sailor called Jimmy (Paul Danquah) who proceeds to leave her after a short-lived relationship and instead disappears across the world to parts unknown, leaving Jo alone and pregnant with his child.
After starting a new job, Jo meets homosexual student Geoff (Murray Melvin) who offers to move in with her and be a ‘partner’ to her until she is ready to fall in love again, but then Helen returns to the scene after failing a recent relationship and forces Geoff out of Jo’s life for good. The film ends on a bleak note just like the play, with Helen remaining as Jo’s final branch of support for the impending arrival of her baby. Some of the more controversial subjects in the film include the fact that Jo’s baby would ultimately be of mixed-race descent as Jimmy is black and the date of which the film was released (early sixties) saw the rise of several civil rights movements in America and then subsequently across the world. The film may have therefore helped many viewers to consider the importance of social equality and embrace a newer, more accepting way of thinking. The film also features openly gay character Geoff, who attempts to adopt the role of surrogate father to Jo’s unborn child (before Helen ultimately kicks him out). It is suggested that Geoff may have been a father of acceptable standards had he stayed around long enough for Jo to finally give birth, which itself touches on the opinion of gay men potentially being good parents which again – at the time of the film’s release – may have been seen as extremely divisive for audiences. It is no secret that the post-war society had retained certain norms and values which were growing more and more archaic by each passing year, although a large majority of people weren’t ready to clinch that sort of change just yet.
The film deals with some stirring themes which at the time of its release would have been received as somewhat controversial but – even with them – it still went on to win four BAFTA awards and a Golden Globe