‘Out of Africa’ and other places

Bette Burgess
Bette Burgess

I love watching movies. The first movie my brother and I saw was in the living room of our adopted parents’ home. I was around 5 and my brother was 3.

Our Dad pulled up the white screen with tiny white beads on it. The projector was brown and got very hot if it ran for too long. The film was in reels and about the size of a saucer. They were housed in a thin, square, cardboard box with a picture and a name on the front of the cover.

Our first movie was The Three Bears (Bruins). These little bears climbed in a kitchen window and set to work dumping out the flour, the cookies and sugar. The bears opened the refrigerator door and down came the eggs crashing to the floor followed by the milk. What a mess on the floor and on the bruin’s fur. My brother and I watched Popeye the Sailor Man and home movies made by my Dad.

One of my favorite movies is Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. In case you missed it, in the credits, the writer Isak Denesen, the real Karen Blixon, wrote about her life in 20th century Colonial Kenya. She was a Danish Baroness / plantation owner who has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited, big game hunter, Denys Finch Hatten. The Baron, a womanizer, wants a divorce. Karen is a strong woman who survives many harsh realities. The story is wonderful and the musical score and the scenery are resonating and spectacular, respectively. It still makes me weep every time I watch it.

Another favorite is Doctor Zhivago, which was adapted from the novel written by Boris Pasternak. Omar Sharif stars as a Russian physician and poet. He falls in love with Julie Christie, while married to Geraldine Chaplin. Christie is married to a crazy political activist. You don’t know winter until you have seen it in this movie set during the October Revolution.

The worst movie I have ever endured for 10 minutes is Dumb and Dumber. Two young neighbors talked me into taking them, but when I felt my IQ steadily dropping, I told them I would meet them in the lobby in 1 hour, 40 minutes. Jim Carrey needed to go far, far away and in the last 20 years he has.

Here are some of the comedies I found funny and was able to sit through:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

— Ghostbusters starring Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver.

— Caddy Shack with Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield. Bill Murray is the groundskeeper who blows up a golf course trying to rid the course of a gopher. The theatrical poster showcased headshots of the main characters and underneath them was the tagline “Snobs against the Slobs.”

Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.

Blazing Saddles with Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little and Harvey Korman. Cleavon Little becomes the new sheriff and takes on Harvey Korman, the antagonist and the man behind Little becoming sheriff.

The Blues Brothers were played by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Jake Blues, just out of prison, puts together his old band to save the Catholic Home where they were raised. Cab Calloway makes a cameo role and was the Blues Brothers’ mentor.

National Lampoon’s Vacation starred Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. Chase and D’Angelo and their children stop off to see Chase’s Cousin Eddy on their way to Walley World and are asked to take Imogene Coca, the grandma, with them. She ends up riding on the roof. Rent the movie and find out why.

— A little drama that never seems to go away: The Godfather movies. Mario Puzo wrote the novel that Frances Ford Coppola adapted for the screen. Mario Puzo also wrote the screen play for Superman. Al Pacino is the son of mob boss Marlon Brando. Brando transfers the entire empire to the reluctant Pacino.

— In 1993, Steven Spielberg gave us Schindler’s List. You will never get over this powerful movie. Liam Neeson plays Oskar Schindler; Ralph Fiennes plays Amon Goeth, one of the cruel concentration camp Nazi officers. Ben Kingsley plays Ishtak.

Now for the kids and teens:

— Author J. K. Rowling’s books were all adapted into movies and spawned the Harry Potter movie franchise. Harry Potter is admitted to the prestigious Hogwart’s academy for wizards. He finds out that Voldemort (the t is silent), played by Ralph Fiennes, killed his parents and Potter destroys Voldemort from the realm.

— The Twilight Saga, which were adopted into movies beginning in 2009, were adapted from the trilogy written by Stephanie Meyers in 2008. Her three books were adapted into a four part movie franchise. The story introduces a love triangle between a human female, a vampire and a werewolf.

— Last is a huge favorite of generations. Star Wars debuted in 1977 and changed how movie audiences watched movies and how directors saw the stories in their head. The newest Star Wars movie also begins the last trilogy and debuts Dec. 8. I can’t wait.

George Lucas wrote the Star Wars movie and broke it into 9 parts. Parts 4, 5 and 6 debuted in 1977, 1980 and 1983. The books debuted before the movies and differences can be seen throughout the novel. Star Wars became my son’s favorite movies and collectibles. He carried some in his pockets as we flew over the Atlantic to Europe. In fact, I like them myself.

Ralph McQuarrie, a former illustrator for NASA, was commissioned to illustrate scenes for Warner Brothers to have a visual reference. He drew different interpretations of Darth Vader, C-3PO, Chewbacca and R2-D2 from Lucas’ descriptions.

— Since this will be my last column, I would like to thank Mary Murkin for asking me to write for the HUB and Ray Criscoe for publishing my work. Also, thanks to my son Chris Burgess for editing, typing, researching and making pop culture references in my columns into the computer and sending them off to Ray. Chris is working on his Masters to teach Middle School English, so he might soon be teaching your children or grandchildren.

— Email comments to bettecarnesburgess999@yahoo.com

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