THE GREATS by Valerie J. Patterson

I turned on the television over the weekend, scanned through the channels at a pretty fair pace, and paused abruptly as my eyes caught hold of a wonderful sight.  Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly.  This film was made in 1952…well before my time, but it holds a very special place in my heart.  I’m sure you’re sitting there asking how an old musical could be special to a person.  Or perhaps you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The very first time I saw Singing in the Rain, I was perhaps 12 years old.  It was a Saturday—a rare one where my dad had to work.  So after the chores were done—yes, I said chores.  Back in those days, kids had chores to do before anything else on a Saturday morning.  I digress.  After the chores were done, Mom fixed lunch, which we all ate in the living room amidst laughter, giggles, and strange noises—most of which were actually coming from my mother, not us girls as one would expect.  She turned on the television, and we watched this fantastic musical.

My mom loves musicals.  So did my father.  It’s no wonder then, that I love them too.  My parents introduced me to a whole new world outside of cartoons and comedies.  Dad with his love of the music by Glen Miller, big bands, and orchestras.  Mom with her love of classic movies, Fred Astaire-type dancing, and music from her generation.  They shared their favorites with me, and in turn gave me an appreciation for all of the aforementioned things, and so much more.

Gene Kelly ranks right up there with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Rosemary Clooney, and so many others that it would take me all day to mention.

The first time I saw My Fair Lady, my mother was scanning the channels late at night much as I had done last evening.  It was after midnight, and the news had gone off.  She saw the movie coming on, and encouraged me to stay up with her and watch it.  Well past two o’clock, we were still riveted to the screen, and I fell in love with another old musical.

Another old movie I hold dear to my heart is To Sir, With Love.  I was probably 13 years old when I went for a weekend stay with Grandma—my dad’s mom.  After a busy morning at her grocery store, we went home and ate lunch.  Then we sat down together and watched this magnificent classic.  I learned right away from talking to Grandma just who Dad got his list of favorites from.

To date, I own a vast collection of the classics.  All of which I’ve seen a dozen times or more.  Each viewing is as fresh and alive as the first time I ever saw it.  Each one has a ‘first time’ story attached to it, too, because of the wonderful people in my childhood.

Holiday Inn and White Christmas are staples at my house during the holidays.  I was with my mom and dad both the first time I watched these movies back-to-back while only a mere 4th-grader.  And, let’s not forget North by Northwest or Arsenic and Old Lace or the numerous faces of Lon Chaney.  And who can forget such funnies as Abbott and Costello?  Or Danny Kaye in just about anything he’d ever done?  Remember Ma and Pa KettleAn American in ParisThree Coins in a Fountain?  Clifton Webb and Cheaper By the Dozen?  Oh, the list can go on and on.

And it was safe to have a child view the greats.  These are good, clean fun!  The sex is hinted at in a way that the adults only know about, and the filthy language is limited to lines like, “Why I otta…” and it goes unfinished.  He knows what he otta do, and you know what he otta do, but no one says it in such a way you need to cover the ears of the young and impressionable.

As far as these grand old movies have taken me, there are, of course, movies I watched for the first time with Steve that will become what we share with our children—along with the classics my parents and family shared with me.

Have you got any classics in your movie closet?  I’ll bet you do.  Tell me about them.  Why not even tell me why they’re memorable?

Until next time, stay well and happy viewing of the greats!    Valerie


*Author’s Note:  I’m sincerely sorry this post did not appear this morning as I scheduled it to appear.  Somehow I inserted the incorrect military time and thus nothing appeared this morning as it should have. ~Valerie


11 responses to “THE GREATS by Valerie J. Patterson

  1. Ah, Valerie, you’ve made me go all shivery. I love all the old movies. They were made to uplift and make you happy.

    I simply loved Gene Kelly, especially in ‘Singing in the rain’. I remember one Christmas Eve staying up to watch ‘Brigadoon’. It was so enchanting. Another Christmas Eve I remember watching ‘The Quiet Man’ with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Fantastic!

    I also love all the old Fred Astaire films ‘Top Hat’ being my favourite. I always thought Fred Astaire looked like my Grandfather. He was such a gentle man.

    Any film with Cary Grant just has to be a must see. I just love his personality.

    Thanks for reminding me of the Golden Oldies 🙂

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thanks for reading, Jan! Every once in a while a good old classic is just what we need, especially on cold days where going out is not really what you want to do. My favorite memory of “Singing in the Rain” is actually not in the movie. One Christmas Eve my mom and I went for a walk through our neighborhood to see the neighbors’ lights. Instead of snowing, it was raining. A couple streets from our house we created our own singing in the rain dance and sang as we twirled our umbrellas. I’m certain our neighbors were fascinated! Not! 😛 But still, it makes me smile every time I think of that night.

  2. i love old movies as well musicals, dramas you name it! i first watched jane eyre when i was 5(no i’m not making that up!)i waited til i was a bit older then watched arsenic and old lace, casablanca, harvey(always wanted a pookah)fell in love with thedance movies of fred astaire and ginger rogers then i went on to pride and prejudice,mrs. miniver and the list goes on and on!!!!

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Hi Kim! Thank you so much for making the trip here and reading and commenting! You know I appreciate that. “Harvey” is one of my all time favorites. Jimmy Stewart is superb in that one. Just love his character and the life he brings to it. Jane Eyre is a book I read when I was probably 10 or 11. I found it in the library and took it with me on vacation. My dad had to hide it so I would stop reading and go outside and play! 😛 There are a couple movie versions of it, but the book is still the best.

  3. When I was a kid, every girl went dreamy-eyed at the vision of Fred and Ginger dancing. I LOVE musicals. If I had to pick two personal favorites it would be 1) Oklahoma, and 2) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Thank you for this wonderful walk down memorya lane.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thanks for reading, Laurie! Oh! “Oklahoma” is exceptional! And what about “The Music Man” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”? Musicals are my favorite as well. I’m so glad Hollywood has produced a couple musicals in the past few years. That one done with all the old Abba hits was pretty good. They’ve been fairly well done, but of course pale when compared to the old musicals.

  4. Ah, a trip down memory lane. The scene with Gene Kelly and the lamp post is one I have in my memory bank. The King and I and The Sound of Music are two of my favorites.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      “The Sound of Music” is a movie my Aunt Sis turned me onto. We watched it every year for over a decade! They simply do not make them like that anymore! Thanks for reading, Lavada!

  5. Lovely post, Valerie, and a welcome trip down memory lane.

    7 Brides for 7 Brothers is my all time favourite feel-good movie and I never tire of watching it. Oh, the brother in the red shirt *sigh* Bless his beautiful hide….

    Easter Parade, White Christmas (how I wanted legs like Vera Ellen), On the Town and later, Hello Dolly. Fabulous. And all the old Bette Davis films … ahh, they really don’t make ’em like they used to …

  6. Valerie J. Patterson

    Ahhhh, “Easter Parade” another one of my favorites. “Hello Dolly”, too, with Barbara Streisand. Wow! I’m so glad you all are fans of the classics! Recently watched “Vertigo”, which was another good one, but not as good as “Rear Window”. Thanks for reading, Tricia, and for reminding me of “Easter Parade”. I think I’m going to watch that tomorrow after church. 😛

  7. It’s interesting to note how many of us got our love of the Big Band era music and films from our parents. One of my favourite Astaire films is when he paired( trioed) with Burns and Allen for “Damsel In Distress”. They were in England and one of the best sequences occurred at an English amusement park. Most of us remember the Big Band sound, but how many have heard any of the Christmas tunes that came out? WalMart had a collection sponsored by Coca-Cola that is simply marvelous. Artist like Fats Waller, Bob Crosby, Bernie Cummins, Red Norvo, Shep Fields, and naturally the greats, Tommy Dorsey, Sammy Kaye, Les Brown, Louis Prima, Vaughn Monroe, and Lionel Hampton. Now That Was Entertainment.

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