When I was six or thereabouts, good behaviour was rewarded by a trip to the video tape store (those were the days of VCR) and a film of my choice. Yay! You got to understand, we already had a ton of tapes just for me (As a baby, I was plonked in front to view a tape of nursery rhymes acted out and I would cry bitterly when Twelve days of Christmas played. Strange.) This was the beginning of a long love affair I have with the movies. For me a film isn’t really watched, unless you’ve watched it twice or even four times. As a kid, I already established that my favourites were musicals (Take me to St.Louis, Singing in the rain, My fair lady and Hello dolly.) Today I can sing every song from these films standing on my head.
This column is kind of a nostalgia trip, so if any of you don’t like my weepy side, step aside and move on to brighter things.
Dick van Dyke: He will always be Bert from Mary Poppins for me, no matter how much people criticise his cockney accent. And Bert can do no wrong in the eyes of a child, whether it’s surveying Londons’ rooftops as a chimney sweep or drawing pictures on pavements.
Barom Bomburst trying to kill his wife in Chitty chitty bang bang.
Julie Andrews: The golden girl of movies. When I was too young to know any better I thought she had flown away from the Banks residence to be governess for the Von Trapp kids and I kept expecting her to whip out an umbrella in front of them and start cleaning up.
The child snatcher from Chitty Chitty bang bang. Scariest scene ever. Even now, when I hear the syrupy “come my little mice,” I shudder.
Judy Garland singing, “We’re off to see the wizard,” on the yellow brick road with her peeps.
Eliza Doolittle before she became a lady. The best scenes from My fair lady are when she imagines “’Enry ‘Iggin’s dead,” and when she swears at the races. And don’t ask me to choose among the songs. Except maybe that awfully boring.
The line, “Stop that wailin’ or I’ll sell you South, I will.” Gone with the wind. Disturbing but contextually hilarious. Contextually.
The song “Feed the birds,” from Mary Poppins always making me cry even though I didn’t get the subtext.
Speaking of not getting stuff, why were the Von Trapps hiding and who were they hiding from? My moms’ succinct, “They’re the bad people,” held fast as an explanation for many years. I wasn’t really the questioning kind.
Dolly Levi from Hello Dolly. The woman who arranges things. I loved how my mom would cheer and clap when Louis Armstrong came on and sang like a stuffed bullfrog.