By Linda Shortman
Books were my primary entertainment as a kid and a teen. I fell in love with storytelling. I read Jaws, Love Story, and The Godfather before I saw the films. In the early ‘70s, I was old enough to go to movies in the theater and I was hooked. Suddenly, all of the stories for which I was supplying the visuals for in my head, were in front of me on a screen, as big and vivid as I could imagine. I also appreciated movies that related to my life experience at the time, though in a much more dramatic way. Movies from the ‘70s started a love affair for me with film that is still strong today. I was drawn in not only by the stories, but with the creative camera work, dramatic lighting, interesting editing, and scores that became iconic.
The following films were all great the first time I saw them, and just get better on every revisit.
This film tells the classic story of lovers from different backgrounds facing adversity. They battle the monster of an untimely demise. Love Story is poignant and very well done. The score and the writing drew me into a familiar story that tugs at the heartstrings.
The Godfather is the story of a mafia family’s transfer of power at its most brutal and sometimes sympathetic. It is a film that I regard as a masterpiece. The saga of the Corleone family is a series of ruthless events, disguised as a business and motivated by what is meant to be best for the family. High drama and brilliant film work gave me a gold standard in my early film experience.
Although I would not graduate from high school for another year, the events on the screen of American Graffiti rang true when my friends and I went to see this in the theater. Though my experience was not as rich in shenanigans as these teens, the emotions and excitement felt very familiar.
I grew up in a beach community and enjoyed swimming and boating for many years. I read the book Jaws on a family vacation, on a boat, in and around Martha’s Vineyard, where the movie was filmed. We watched the crews constructing sets and filming around the island that summer. When I finally saw the finished product in the theater, what was on the screen was impressive. Though the visuals were great, in a master move, what we did not see was where the true horror lived. I love a scary story and Jaws certainly delivered.
I saw Taxi Driver on a blind date. Driving home from the theater, I remember turning down the radio in the car so we could discuss the film. It was the first time I remembered an in-depth conversation about a film. There was certainly a lot to discuss after watching Travis Bickel navigate his gritty world.
The sports genre got a shot in the arm when Rocky hit the screen. The classic underdog story brought a new face and a lot of heart to the otherwise brutal sport of boxing. A franchise was born, and Rocky became a beloved hero.
I have always loved outer space. Stories set there have always dazzled me. The TV shows Star Trek and Lost in Space were favorites when I was growing up. Star Wars took that setting and brought a new level of drama and adventure to a place that is dramatic and romantic by nature… a galaxy far, far away. Add a cast of exotic characters that are brave, smart, funny, and resourceful, and you’ve got a blockbuster.
I graduated from college in 1978. That summer, Animal House was released and the world I knew well for the last 4 years appeared on the screen. The fraternity house a lot of my friends lived in was our school’s Animal House. There was a lot for me to relate to in this crazy story.