Stuck in the Past: Movies are Comfort Food for the Soul


07 Jan
07Jan

Susan Leighton

Movies have always been an important part of my life. I think I was predisposed to loving popular culture when I came out of the womb. 

Certain milestone events for me are inextricably intertwined with films. One of the most treasured memories of my youth is how my father took me to the cinema to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind when I was having a rough time in school. 

I remember watching the Steven Spielberg spectacle and being absolutely mesmerized by the special effects. Just being there in the theater with my dad made all the problems that I was having melt away. 

As an adult, I still find refuge on the silver screen especially in these turbulent times. Recently, I have been revisiting the past by indulging my love of the classics. There is something about watching an older film that feels like time traveling. 

When I was a child, my mother introduced me to Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart and Rock Hudson. So, I grew up with black and white films. Everything didn’t need to be in technicolor. It was the stories that mattered to me. 

Recently, I rewatched one of my favorite films of the 1950’s, the rom-com, Pillow Talk starring Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall and the scene stealing, Thelma Ritter. Sure, it isn’t an Academy Award winner but it is delightful. There is no shame in just wanting to escape from reality for a few hours and be entertained. 

Of course, Hudson plays a songwriting cad named Brad Allen and Day is no-nonsense career gal, Jan Morrow. The two immediately dislike one another because Brad constantly ties up Jan’s telephone party line chatting with his gal pals. 

Finally, when the pair meet face to face, Brad finds himself attracted to Jan so he assumes the persona of a shy Texan named Rex to see if he can woo her. Sparks fly and the relationship gets more intense much to the dismay of Jan’s neurotic friend, Jonathan (played to the hilt by Tony Randall) who secretly pines after her.   

Several farcical situations ensue, Brad’s real identity is exposed and Jan is brokenhearted. In the end, the duo discover that they really do love one another and they live happily ever after. How can you not enjoy a film where lovers reunite and you manage to have a few laughs along the way? 

While the world around us seems to be falling apart, movies are a respite from the storm. Every day we are bombarded by a constant barrage of hateful images on social media and the news that can make us despair. We all need that one comfort food that nurtures our spirits and our souls. For me, it will always be the movies…

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