Happy Birthday Superman!

The days of my childhood played out like an endless summer with blue skies and backyard barbeques. The wild and wooly back roads of my suburban home still featured  horse trails and big grassy fields with marshy ponds where frogs croaked. Those days my mind was filled with imagination and wonder for the world around me.

I had deep feelings and when I believed something I really believed it. So when I got it in my mind one Fourth of July that it was Superman’s birthday ( it was obvious to me what other day would it be?) my brother almost fell out of his chair in laughter, he flashed an aggressive smile and then told me in no uncertain terms that Superman, my boyhood idol didn’t exist, that he was a made up product to sell comic books.

This didn’t surprise me. My brother was always teasing me;  I knew Superman was real. He had to be real. I mean he was ( and still is) all over the place: T.V series, comic books, coloring books, movies and the like.  It seemed everyone could identify with The Man of Steel.  I definitely did.

I was in awe of this wonderful Superman and I thought about him a lot at that time. His reality was a reassuring presence. I felt that if he was in the world then everything would be O.K.  I felt more hopeful believing in him and it was easy. He seemed to be the perfect ideal. I thought maybe someday I’d grow up to have muscles like him.

The best thing about Superman was that he wasn’t just strong, he was good too. He could do anything…be anything but he chose to help mankind. It was noble to be sure and his need to help came as a sacrifice. It isolated him from society.

In order for Superman to help the world he had to conceal his true self. I could really identify with that. I had always been intrigued with secret identities.

Who would know that at dinner there was a clue to who I really was. And that there was an old towel safety pinned to my shirt like a cape under my clothes. Only I knew this secret and it was important that no one would find out.

I aspired to be just like him: I would run across my bedroom, jump and land onto my bed and there I would “fly” across the world, arms outstretched, cape fluttering in the imaginary wind.

No one likes to be doubted; Of course Superman was real and it’s funny but after all these years later he still seems real

And why shouldn’t he be?  We need him now, especially during times like these.

The idea of Superman is what he stood for then and what he stands for today. He sends a message especially to the young about strength and courage, hope and fairness, about making a difference and trying hard. Superman is a hero of the highest quality. Born a symbol of America in his colorful bright red and blue, he inspires not just Americans but the whole world. He is the best and the brightest and his legend continues.

And he keeps popping up in the strangest places; from the animated series and all of those T-shirts with that big red and gold “S” to the new movie coming out next year. Superman lives and Clark Kent does too!  So Happy Birthday Kal-el, from me to you!

Marc Marrs

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The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bridge On The River Kwai is considered to be one of the finest movies to come out the fifties.

When I think about this particular film one of the first things that comes to my mind is the theme in music and script.  It somehow captures the feeling and meaning of this movie’s message. It means different things to different people.

For some reason a lot of folks got emotional about this film. My father got choked up whenever the movie was mentioned.  “Yes, The Bridge”  he would sigh and at that point the conversation was over, at least for him. It was an emotional thing. It was as if he had made the movie himself.  And he wasn’t the only one overly involved with it.

When this film was released in 1957 it was an instant hit and eventually it became a staple at drive-in movies for years to come. This became the first big screen summer escape.

A good story has that extra boost when there needs to be something done, something built or just a purpose that people will remember.  This bridge has all three.

A Frenchman wrote it, The British produced it and David Lean directed it. With such dedication while the film was being shot in Ceylon, an island off the southern coast of India, the director’s wife divorced him on the grounds of desertion during the extended shoot.

This film is about  psychological warfare between two colonels in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during WWII. There was no guard towers or barbed wire, the jungle was enough.  One the commander, the other a prisoner.  They have one thing in common though, building a bridge over the river Kwai.  For the English the task can and will be to  improve morale under Colonel Nicholson’s single-minded leadership.  For the Japanese, it is a do or die project. The bridge must be completed on time or else.

As it progresses this film turns into a heart of darkness involving a reluctant American hero in the form of an escaped prisoner and a crack team of british professionals determined to complete their mission:   Timing is everything, especially in this case.

There is a reason why this film garnered seven of the top Oscars in the following spring. The cinematography is the some of the best I have ever seen. It is well paced and the tension never quite lets up.   More than anything else it is about our highest aspirations and deepest intentions. Danger abounds. Simply spectacular entertainment.

Madness! Madness!

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A scene in the film, bridge at Kitulgala in Sr...

A scene in the film, bridge at Kitulgala in Sri Lanka, before the explosion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marc Marrs

Alien

Alien (film)

Image via Wikipedia

This is this first terror movie in my memory that disguised itself as Science Fiction. When this film debuted in the late summer of 1979 the caption catch phrase was:

In space no one can hear you scream.

And in theatres across the country,  no one could hear you shivering either.  This movie is cold, ice-cold and full of lots of hardware. Very few films wake themselves up but this one does.

The movie begins with darkness in deep space and a troubling call to Mother. It’s time to wake the crew up. One switch at a time the mother ship comes to life. Its crew members are slowly emerging out of a deep sleep. There is a task to perform and they have to do it.

Soon they find themselves on a planet where once a race of giants lived. Now only the wreckage remains.  It is a literal nightmare.  The climate reminds me of that red spot on Jupiter  where hurricane winds and hostility prevails.  When they left that foresaken place they return to their ship bringing back with them a hidden menace.    At this point a sense of dread begins to permeate the film. There’s trouble afoot and bad news travels fast.

This all becomes apparent when seemingly all is well and then watch out! There’s a major eruption. I may never look at Spaghetti the same way again. That’s what happens when you dine on Chef Boyardee.  What a mess!

This spaceship western ticks out like High Noon only with a gruesome monster picking off each crew member one by one.   Outwit, outplay and outlast in this ultimate survivor movie.

Next summer if the air conditioning breaks down watch this and chill.

Lurking in the shadows

Lurking in the shadows (Photo credit: Alfred Hermida)

Marc Marrs

The Godfather

The Godfather

Image via Wikipedia

 To me “The Godfather” is like a buffet, something for everyone and it tastes great.  I can’t watch that film without eating. It would be a sacrilege to not have Italian food while watching this first rate  film.  It is a movie which promotes a zesty atmosphere, so much so that I threw an Italian Gangster potluck party complete with a paper mache horse’s head on my bed. The flyer suggested “Lavish Attire” and asked the participants to bring Italian cuisine. It was a smash.

 The Godfather is the kind of movie that I enjoy watching every couple of years. It is timeless and it tells a story that says “Without one’s family life is worthless.”  That’s loyalty for you.  “My Three Sons.”

 “I believe in America.” It is the first line of one of the greatest films in the history of American cinema.  “The Godfather” released in the spring of 1972 was eagerly anticipated. No one was quite sure what Marlon Brando would look like in the role of the Don.  He had never played an Italian before on film. The book, a best-seller by Mario Puzo was extremely popular at the time and everyone had their own idea on who  should play the characters.

Brando as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (...

Image via Wikipedia

Finding out, I was surprised and disappointed. What did I know?  With the exception of Brando, who were these people? For some weird reason I had envisioned a young Tony Curtis type for the role of Michael.  Who in the hell was Al Pacino?  I was suspicious. All my fears were assuaged after sitting down during the first 20 minutes.

The characters are introduced in the beginning at a garden party. It is the last Saturday in September of 1945 and America is ablaze with hope.  The other two Godfather films introduce their main characters in similar fashion; at the beginning at a party. It is his daughter Connie’s wedding day and according to tradition people line up to ask favors from the mighty. So the Don spends a good part of that day granting wishes in his office.  Can’t he just get a day off?  He’s looking for peace, but life is just one damn thing after another.  “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go to my daughter’s Wedding.”

My favorite part of the movie was Michael and Kay leaving the film :”The Bells of St. Mary’s” and Michael realising that his father had been shot.  The camera follows Kay’s reaction before Michael knows. it’s much as though JFK is coming from behind the Stemonds Freeway sign. At that moment the film changes its tone. Michael is now involved and that involvement will lead him to rule. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Or does it?  Watch the movie and find out and if you already know, watch it anyway.  It’s a movie you can’t refuse.

Always

Marc Marrs