A few more movies worth a nostalgic look

My wife and I rented few new releases and enjoyed them, but felt nostalgic about some older movies. “Gone Girl” was good, but the characters were not very redeeming. “Interstellar” was good for the relationship between father and daughter, but was on the bizarre side toward the end. Of the three, we did enjoy “Wild” the most with Reece Witherspoon hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself, but Laura Dern helps the movie greatly in flash backs as her mother.

I was thinking about some older movies that may be under the radar screen on searches for movies, but offer a sense of nostalgia as well as coming of age. So, in no particular order:

Breaking Away – made in 1979 and won an Oscar for best screenplay. Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley and Daniel Stern star in a movie about four kids who have graduated high school and are trying to find themselves in Bloomington, Indiana where Indiana University is located. Christopher is fascinated by all things Italian as he has become a world-class bicyclist and the Italian team is the best and coming to town. Paul Dooley, as the former stone cutter and now used car salesman, steals many a scene.

Summer of 42 – made in 1971 and won an Oscar for best music score. Jennifer O’Neill, who every boy falls in love with in the movie and audience, Gary Grimes, Jerry Houser star in the movie based on a summer on the Nantucket shore. The boys are coming of age during the onset of WWII and O’Neill’s husband has been deployed. The story is told from Grimes’ character’s perspective looking back at that summer as he discovers love and loss.

American Graffiti – made in 1973 by George Lucas and starring a huge cast of soon to be famous young actors – Richard Dreyfus, Ron Howard (was only known as Opie at that time), Cindy Williams, Paul Le Mat, Mackenzie Phillips, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Bo Hopkins, Candy Clark and Wolfman Jack. It is nostalgic and mirror into a different time as Dreyfus and Howard’s characters are headed off to college the next day. The movie spawned the TV show “Happy Days” which eventually led to “Laverne and Shirley” as a spin-off.

Each of these movies are nostalgic in nature. Kids are coming of age and wondering what it is all about. “Breaking Away” is set in the 1970s, “Summer of 42” is obviously set during the 1940s and “American Graffiti” is at the brink of the 1960s. Kids have not changed in this outlook to discover what is it all about. Today’s kids are more technologically advanced and are seeing a world change at a fast pace, yet they have many of the same questions.

To me, I go back to “Breaking Away” and the father son chat at the end between Christopher and Dooley’s characters. Christopher and his fellow mates have always felt and been put down as “cutters” short for stone cutters. As they walked through IU’s campus, the father notes “we” carved these beautiful stones that made these buildings on campus, but once they were erected, we felt the buildings were too good for us. The son responds “I don’t mind being a cutter.” The Dad says, “You’re not a cutter. I am cutter.” He is telling his son, do not limit yourself by what I accomplished. Go find yourself.

And, that is the best advice for any of us. Go find yourself. That may be why we liked “Wild” the most of the three new movies, as Witherspoon’s character was looking to find the woman her mother knew was always there.


12 thoughts on “A few more movies worth a nostalgic look

  1. Stand By Me is the coming of age movie I always come back to. I will have to give Breaking Away and American Graffiti a try… I am pretty sure I read Summer of ’42, a long long time ago, so I don’t recall it clearly at all, so that too. Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Oh yes. Stand by Me is outstanding. Great recommendation. The banter between the kids while walking, then turns into mature conversation between the two best friends around the fire.

    • Lisa, it truly is captivating as a night in the life of wanderlust teens. I love that they spent time on different types of young people. I love that Toad got a goodnight kiss after all they went through on their date. And, Mackenzie Phillips’ character interacting with Paul LeMat’s character as he tolerated, but made sure she was OK throughout the night. Thanks for your comments, BTG

  2. Note to Readers: I stayed away from movies where teachers were involved, as I covered them in another post. There are many that could fit the bill as coming of age movies, “To Sir, With Love,” being one of the standouts, but it was just as much about Sidney Poitier’s character realizing this is where he wanted to spend his time and career.

  3. I LOVED Summer of 42. It doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, in my opinion. On the other hand, I can’t bring myself to watch WILD, because, although I’m a Reece Witherspoon (& Laura Dern) fan, the book so enraged me that I don’t want to add another penny to Cheryl Strayed’s silver lined pockets. I’ve rarely had such a negative response to a book, but I simply had no respect for Strayed’s journey, either the metaphysical or the physical one.

    • Linda, thanks for both sets of observations. I cannot say grace over the book “Wild” as I did not read it. The movie was enjoyable, but did not need to show her many trysts. Thanks, BTG

  4. Note to Readers: I re-watched a great movie about a true story called “Radio.” Cuba Gooding stars as the title character, who is mentally disabled. He is befriended by the high school football coach and teacher played by Ed Harris who encourages him to be part of the team after some treat him badly. Radio ends up teaching everyone as much as he gets from them. Alfred Woodard plays the principal, S. Epatha Merkerson plays the mom, and Debra Winger plays the coach’s wife. If you have not seen it, please give it look. Many scenes resonate, but when Radio won’t give up a student who got him trouble and when the coach finally confides to his daughter why he is looking after Radio are very moving,

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