My dad, the practical movie watcher

My dad, Bill Pickens, is a practical movie watcher.

When the Wicked Witch of the West cries “I’m melting!” after water is thrown on her in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) he says, “Water wouldn’t make her melt. She would dissolve.”

James Stewart as George Bailey asks Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy how he lost the money in "It's a Wonderful Life."

James Stewart as George Bailey asks Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy how he lost the money in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

When Uncle Billy in “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946) loses the check that would save George Bailey’s bank, my financially responsible father is furious.

In mystery films, he is always trying to figure out the plot twist or who-done-it before the movie is over.

Maybe it’s because he’s an engineer.

But along with teaching me to drive, helping me with long nights of math homework and moving me into new apartments in college and for jobs, my dad has always been supportive of my classic film watching.

Classic films are what my parents grew up on and in return, showed my sisters and me when we were young.

It was even my dad who suggested that I watch “West Side Story” (1961) in 2003 since I was starting to show an interest in musicals.

When I became obsessed with the movie, trying to learn the dances and listening to the soundtrack every day my dad later said he “created a monster.”

But without my dad suggesting that film, I wouldn’t have gone on to see 502 musicals.

Whenever I’m home, my mom, dad and I pick out a classic movie to watch together in the evening. I try to pick out one I didn’t want to watch without them or that I feel everyone would enjoy.

Doris Day as a sheep raising suffragette in "The Ballad of Jose" (1967)

Doris Day as a sheep raising suffragette in “The Ballad of Jose” (1967)

My dad has been a pretty good sport over the last 10 years with my selections. He has sat through frothy musicals such as “Luxury Liner” (1948) starring Jane Powell and even sat through Doris Day’s last and probably worst film “The Ballad of Josie” (1967).

Another time my mom and I had him watch the smutty 1950s film “A Summer Place” (1959) starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.

We chuckled as Dad shouted things about Sandra Dee’s crazy mother in the film. He made jokes like “Whatever you do that woman shoots dogs, I wouldn’t trust her” about Dorothy McGuire who was also in “Old Yeller.”

Doris Day singing "Deadwood Stage" in "Calamity Jane" (1953)

Doris Day singing “Deadwood Stage” in “Calamity Jane” (1953)

One of the only movies he has ever snuck out on and never returned was “Calamity Jane” (1953). I think it was the rather long song “The Deadwood Stage” that starts as soon as the movie begins that drove him from the room. I guess I don’t blame him.

But my favorite movies to watch with my parents are World War II films and thrillers. We all seem to enjoy those.

Films like “Battleground” (1949), “The Longest Day” (1962), “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” (1944) and “Objective Burma” (1945) are some of our favorite war films.

Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne movies and live action Disney films are more of our favorites.

Some of dad’s other favorite films are “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), “TThe King and I” (1956) and “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962).

I guess I’m a pretty terrible daughter. After my dad has watched everything down to “Gold Diggers of 1935” (1935) and “Rose Marie” (1936), I have never seen “Lawrence of Arabia.” I guess well have to watch that sometime.

Peter O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962)

Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)

I call my mom the agent of my blog Comet Over Hollywood, because she proof reads everything and listens to my ideas.

But my dad has helped out with my film interest as well.

In 2006 we went on a family vacation to Hollywood to tour studios such as Paramount and take pictures of the hand prints in the cement outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Recently when I was traveling again to Hollywood for the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, my parents drove me two hours to the Atlanta airport. Atlanta was a straight flight to Los Angeles and they worried about their youngest child making a connecting flight.

When I was a child, I don’t think my parents had any idea what sort of film fanatic they were creating as they introduced us to old movies, but I don’t think they mind.

Happy Father’s Day!

2007 at Disney World with dad

2007 at Disney World with Dad

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10 thoughts on “My dad, the practical movie watcher

  1. Lovely post, Jessica. A very nice tribute to not only your dad, but to your mom as well.

    I think it’s cool that they introduced you to the the classics at a young age. Wise parents!!

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  2. I cannot believe a real movie lover has NOT seen “Lawrence of Arabia”. That’s like a baker saying she’s never made a loaf of bread!…When we were young, our parents dropped us off at the movie theater to see “Swiss Family Robinson” or “The Parent Trap”. One day the movie was “Lawrence of Arabia”. I was 11 years old and I. was. blown. away. I was utterly transfixed. And I fell violently in love with Peter O’Toole. (and I knew what was REALLY going on in the scene with cruel Jose Ferrer. They didn’t show it, but I knew!) I demanded to be taken back to see it again, and I’ve watched it so many times over the years I can recite the dialogue. So get a copy and watch it (hopefully on a huge TV screen) with your dad. It is an essential movie experience.

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    • We own it on DVD and it’s been on my radar, we just haven’t had a chance to watch it. I have over 200 films recorded to watch that ones that my family or I own get put on the back burner.

      I’m not sure what you mean by a “real movie lover.” We all have our own areas of interest and our means of exploration so as long as the appreciation of film is there. Should I say someone isn’t a real fan of musicals if they haven’t seen over 500 like I have? Naw.

      Thanks for reading!

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  3. Your dad sounds like my dad when watching classic films. Give him the oldest, grainiest mystery you can find and he’s in heaven. But the minute someone opens their mouth to sing a cheesy, bubblegum pop song, he leaves the room! Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Pickens!

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    • That’s funny! He’s usually a good sport, but Calamity Jane is the only one I can distinctly remember he walked out on.
      Thanks for reading, Beth 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Father’s Day with Comet’s Dad | Comet Over Hollywood

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