Movie choices brighten 'Island'

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

EDITOR'S NOTE: While the Oscars will be awarded to Hollywood's finest Sunday night for films from 2010, a plethora of Southwest Georgians have selected their all-time favorite movie.

Let's pretend that you took a three-hour cruise on the SS Minnow 45 years ago with Gilligan, the Skipper, Thurston Howelll III and his wife Lovey, Ginger, the Professor and Mary Ann and got stuck on Gilligan's Island after the ship sank.

But you had one advantage over the others on the ship. You were clever enough to bring your all-time favorite movie that you could watch over and over again until you were rescued.

Which one would you have taken?

Looking for a short answer, I immediately went to my boss, Albany Herald Deputy News Editor Casey Dixon, who is the antithesis of the flakey Ginger. Her all-time favorite movie is the 1939 epoch "Gone with the Wind" starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

"I love the history of it, the way it brings to life the tragedies of the past and the bravery of those who lived through it. It had strong characters, great acting and a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat no matter how many times you've seen it," Dixon explained.

I then contacted hizzoner, Mayor Willie Adams, and his favorite was the 1977 TV miniseries "Roots," the dramatization of author Alex Haley's family from the enslavement of 18th century African Kunta Kinta, his ancestor, to the liberation of his descendants.

The series starred LeVar Burton, Olivia Cole, Ben Vereen and Oprah Winfrey.

"It was a good story and showed the inequities of the times and how men mistreated women during this era," Adams explained.

I then contacted Dr. Joshua Murfree, the Dougherty County School System's superintendent, because I knew he would give an educated response.

"If it could be only one, I'd have to take 'John Q.' This man exemplifies the extremes of a father's love for his son," Murfree said. "His son needs a heart transplant, and the father is willing to do anything, anything including giving his own life, to give his son a chance to live out his own dreams. The movie makes me think of the Martin Luther King quote that I paraphrase like this, 'If a man does not know what he will die for, his life is not worth living.'

"I believe 'John Q' was Denzel Washington's greatest work. He won an Oscar for another classic ('Training Day'), but he was even better as 'John Q.' Fatherhood is such a great responsibility, and 'John Q' knew that his son was the mission of his life."

The 2002 movie also starred Kimberly Elise as John's wife as well as Robert Duvall, James Woods, Ray Liotta and Anne Heche.

We also managed to extract answers from two longtime Southwest Georgia dentists, Dr. Bob Johnson and Dr. Kent Simmons.

A resident of Albany who has been practicing in Dawson for more than 25 years, Johnson said his favorite movie is "The Patriot," a 2000 American Revoluntionary War film starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger.

"The movie showed what people went through for this country. When the movie ended, you wanted to stand up and shout, and everyone did," Johnson said.

Simmons said he rarely sees a movie more than once and doesn't like violent or sci-fi flicks. He said he would take "Enchanted, " a 2007 animated fantasy-musical produced by Disney.

"It's just a nice, pleasant, upbeat movie, and it's really the kind of film I like," Simmons explained.

Looking for somebody to deliver a good answer, I checked with J.T. Roberts at the Albany Post Office on Meredyth Drive. He has been an employee of the U.S. Postal Service in Albany for the past 37 years.

The soft-spoken Roberts selected "Scent of a Woman" starring Al Pacino.

The 1992 drama tells the story of a prep school student (Chris O'Donnell) who takes the job as an assistant to a blind retired Army officer played by Pacino, who won an Oscar for his performance.

"Pacino is a great, great actor who portrayed a blind man going through difficult things. How he could play the role of a blind man so perfectly through the film was amazing," Roberts said.

I was absolutely positive that Leigh Camp, the teller supervisor at Region's Bank on Dawson Road, would give me an answer that was on the money and I was right.

A 21-year veteran of the banking industry, Camp picked the 1983 movie "The Big Chill." The film centered around seven former college friends who gathered at a posh house following the funeral of one of their college pals.

"The music was great, and it had so many outstanding actors including JoBeth Williams, John Hurt, Kevin Kline and Jeff Goldblum, who I really love. ... I just really liked it," said Camp who has the brightest eyes west of County Cork, Ireland.

I then figured it might be wise to ask two waitresses because they certainly would serve up good answers.

Peachess Wilson, who has been waitressing for 13 years, 11 at Ryan's Steak House in Albany, immediately said her favorite movie was Walt Disney's 1994 animated adventure film "Lion King."

Featuring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons and James Earl Jones, the movie follows the adventures of a guilt-ridden lion club who is tricked into thinking he killed his father and goes into exile.

"The movie shows that humans and animals are so much alike in so many ways," Wilson explained.

Jordan Fletcher, a 17-year-old senior at Westover High School, recently completed her first year of waitressing at Ole Time Country Buffet in Albany.

The perky Fletcher said her favorite film is "Mean Girls," a 2004 movie featuring Lindsay Lohan, Rachael McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried and Tina Fey.

The movie follows 16-year-old home-schooled Cady Haron, played by Lohan, during her first year at a public high school.

"The movie teaches a real good lesson," Fletcher said succinctly.

Taking advantage of writer's privilege, here are my seven favorite movies -- in chronological order -- that I would have snuck onto "Gilligan's Island" to make its film library complete:

-- "Ben-Hur." The 1959 Oscar-winning film followed the life of Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, beginning in 26 AD. The movie's highlight is the unforgettable 20-minute chariot race between Judah Ben-Hur and his childhood friend, Messala, a Roman. The movie set a record by winning 11 Oscars.

-- "To Kill a Mockingbird." Based loosely on events that occured around 1936 in rural Alabama, the 1962 film starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a lawyer who defended Tom Robinson, a black man portrayed by Brock Peters who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman played by Collin Wilcox Paxton.

-- "Patton." The 1970 film depicts Gen. George Patton's battles through Europe during World War II. The movie and George C. Scott, who played Patton, both won Oscars.

-- "Brian's Song." The 1971 ABC-TV Movie of the Week highlighted the relationship between Brian Piccolo (James Caan), a white running back who played for the NFL's Chicago Bears, and Gayle Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), his black backfield mate, and what happens when Piccolo gets cancer.

-- "Hoosiers." Set in 1951-52, the 1986 movie follows a small Indiana high school and its quest to win the state basketball championship. The movie starred Gene Hackman as the team's coach.

-- "Field of Dreams." When I need a baseball fix in January, this is the movie I put in the DVD player. The 1989 film tells the story of Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), a novice Iowa farmer who heard a voice from his cornfield say, "If you build it, he will come." He rips down his cornfield and builds a baseball field equipped with lights. One day, Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) appears, and then other members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox join him.

At the end of the movie, Kinsella recognizes the player in the catcher's gear as his late father John when he was a young man. Addresssing him as Dad, Kinsella asks his father if he would like to have a catch and his father responds, "I would like that."

That scene should bring back memories for every boy who ever put on a glove.

-- "Remember the Ttitans." The story chronicles the combining of black and white Virginia high schools in 1971 and how the players and coaches set aside their differences to capture the state football championship.

Barry Levine can be reached at (229) 888-8783 or by e-mail at barry.levine@albanyherald.com