Tilting at Windmills || Man of La Mancha

If I haven’t mentioned it before, my gateway drug into classic film was the movie musical. My Father, a trained psychologist, used them to entice his daughters away from a glut of cartoons and into the world of “live-action.” I admit, with all honesty, that I was once terrified by this prospect. I’m not sure precisely what traumatized me about non-animated cinema (I suspect I glimpsed something that I shouldn’t have and my young brain just kind of shut down on the matter), but for years any film that occupied more than two-dimensions gave me a deep sense of unease. 

My Father, however, was undaunted by the challenge, determined to share with us the (age-appropriate) films he loved. A clever man (I learned early-on the significance of Dr. Jeffrey’s Ph.D.), Dad noticed how I relished my Disney Sing-Alongs. Music then (no-imminent-pun-intended), was the key to getting little-Meg to watch something other than Aladdin for the ninth time. We started with Singin’ in the Rain, then Hello Dolly!, and then moved on to the Rodgers and Hammerstein collection. By the time I left my single-digit years behind, I had fallen in love with cinema’s song-and-dance-men (and women).

One afternoon, I recall Papa telling my sister and I to go to our rooms and see what was on our beds. Scurrying down the hallway, I discovered the double-VHS version of Camelot, while my sister, who was a devoted fan of Wishbone, in particular the episode entitled “The Impawssible Dream,” found Man of La Mancha (1972) propped up on her pillow. As summarized on the film’s IMDb page: “The story of a mad, but kind and chivalrous, elderly nobleman, who, aided by his squire Sancho Panza, fights windmills to save his Dulcinea.” 

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Knowledge is Power || Raiders of the Lost Ark

Many an elementary school child has been asked: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It is only later, however, when they discover the challenges that come with being a space explorer, a princess, or a marine biologist (I just wanted to swim with dolphins, but noooooo, I had to take advanced statistics). The future (8-year-old me was certain), was full of the same possibilities I saw projected up on the silver screen. After my parents broke the news that I might not make “Jedi Master” by the time I turned 18, I next considered going into archeology. After all, I looked good in Dad’s fedora, and learning how to sling a whip seemed like a lot of fun.

Judging by the myriad adult males I saw dressed as Indiana Jones last weekend at PAX, it seems I am not alone in my admiration for the titular hero of 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. This film, as they say, is the one that started it all (although it draws inspiration from other adventurers like Tarzan, Tintin and Allan Quartermaine). Here is Harrison Ford at his finest; Steven Spielberg at his funnest; and John Williams… well, John Williams is amazing as always. As summarized on the film’s IMDb page: “In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler’s Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.”

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