Mother’s Day with Comet’s Mama

Comet Over Hollywood is working to bring back our video feature. Our first video back from our lengthy hiatus is in celebration of Mother’s Day.

As I have written many, many times before, my parents have been influential in my classic film love. In this video, my mother speaks to her love of classic films and how she passed that love to her children:

Mother’s Day from the Comet Archives:
-2013: Without Mom, I’d Never See Any Classic Films
-2014: Just Like Mom 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

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Just like Mom

My eyes welled with tears behind my 3D glasses.
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard,” Dorothy Gale said at the end of “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).
I sat in the theater trying to collect myself during this unexpected emotional moment back in October when “Wizard of Oz” was re-released in 3D.
And then it dawned on me: I’m turning into my mother… and I’m fine with that.
For years I’d look over at Mom while we are watching a movie and say, “Mom. Why are you crying?”
Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in “Wizard of Oz.”
Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in “Meet Me In St. Louis.” And then again at the end of the movie when she excitedly says, “Right here, in our hometown” about the World’s Fair.

Now I get it. Now Mom and I wipe our eyes together during the train scene of “Since You Went Away.”
I’ve cried during movies for several years–“West Side Story” and “Music for Millions” at age 13 are the earliest times I can think of.
But now in half the movies I watch, I find myself empathizing instead of sympathizing.  As I have grown up, I find I share a deeper emotional connection with my mom through the movies.
At Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, I left “East of Eden” sobbing.
James Dean’s father, Raymond Massey, has a stroke in the film and they aren’t sure if he can make it.
Massey weakly whispers to his son, “Replace the nurse, but don’t get anyone else. You take care of me.”
The scene reminded me of my Mom care-giving for my Grandmama who passed away in January. Grandmama also gave me the movie as a Christmas gift one year.

James Dean talks to movie father Raymond Massey after his stroke in "East of Eden."

James Dean talks to movie father Raymond Massey after his stroke in “East of Eden.”

When I was in elementary and middle school, I would pick on my Mom and sisters for crying during films. Now I join them.
As we get older and experience more of life, not only are we attached to the characters in the films, we can understand and relate more to what the characters in the films are going through. We may chuckle sheepishly with understanding as we reach for tissues.
Now when I see Bonnie Blue fall off her horse and break her neck in “Gone with the Wind,” I don’t think, “Stupid little girl should have listened to her parents.” I think about how the loss of a child can rip apart a family.

Scout with Boo Radley in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Scout with Boo Radley in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

When Scout sweetly says “Hey Boo” in “To Kill a Mockingbird ” as he’s hiding behind the door, I understand the innocence of a child who sees the good in a man feared by the whole town.
When nurse Paulette Goddard says goodbye to Marine Sonny Tufts in “So Proudly We Hail,” she knows that she may not see him again because he may die in battle.
But I’m not turning into Mom just through film watching. I notice I have picked up her traits as I’m cooking, cleaning and worrying about people I care about. Maybe one day I’ll be just like Mom, but right now I’m not sure if I could even scrape a mixing bowl as beautifully as Lisa Pickens.
My parents introduced me to classic film as a toddler. Now, even through our emotions, crying is just another way movies bring us closer together.
Happy Mother’s Day

I asked Mom to make me a list of films that she cries during.
“I think the list would have been shorter if you had asked for a list that I don’t cry during,” she said.
Here is Mom’s list of weepers:

Jennifer Jones says goodbye to Robert Walker as he leaves for World War II in "Since You Went Away."

Jennifer Jones says goodbye to Robert Walker as he leaves for World War II in “Since You Went Away.”

Gone With The Wind
Wizard of Oz
Sound of Music
Stella Dallas
One Foot in Heaven
Meet Me In St. Louis
Since You Went Away
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Best Years Of Our Lives
How Green Was My Valley
To Each His Own
Penny Serenade
Make Way For Tomorrow
Little Women ( from 1933 and 1949 )
White Christmas
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Mrs. Miniver
The Pride of the Yankees
West Side Story
So Proudly We Hail
Three Came Home
The Homecoming
The Glenn Miller Story
Born Free
Ben Hur
ET
True Grit ( with John Wayne )
Old Yeller
Parent Trap (with Hayley Mills )
Pollyanna
Little Princess ( with Shirley Temple )
Brave
Toy Story 3
Muppets Take Manhattan
Driving Miss Daisy
Field Of Dreams
Lassie Come Home
Homeward Bound
Cinderella
Little Mermaid
Harry and the Hendersons
Forrest Gump
Cheaper By The Dozen ( with Clifton Webb )
The Bishop’s Wife
It’s a Wonderful Life

With Mom, Dad and my two sisters at my sister Andrea's wedding in February 2014.

With Mom, Dad and my two sisters at my sister Andrea’s wedding in February 2014.

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Without mom, I’d never see any classic films

My mother has been instrumental in my classic film interest.

Without her, I wouldn’t have seen 501 musicals…or any classic films for that matter.

When I was five, my mom introduced “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954) to my sisters and me. My sisters and I giggled at “The Lonesome Polecat” song but even in the “pan and scan” VHS format, I loved it.

When I was 10, we watched “The Philadelphia Story” (1940) and I remember laughing when Cary Grant pushes Katharine Hepburn in the face and knocks her down at the beginning.

One of our all-time favorites "Since You Went Away" (1944)

One of our all-time favorites “Since You Went Away” (1944)

Along with life lessons and quizzing me on how photosynthesis works, Mom was my IMDB before I knew what IMDB was.

She told me about Ingrid Bergman’s exile from Hollywood because of her affair with Roberto Rossellini, about Annette Funicello’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis and that John Wayne was dying of cancer in “The Shootist.”

My mother has even been amazing enough to record movies off of Turner Classic Movies via VHS for nine years.

Since 2004, I’ve made lists of about 30 films a month that I would like to see.

An example of all the movies my mom records.

An example of all the movies my mom records.

And since then, even when I’m not living at home, my mom still records movies for me and rarely misses any. I probably have at least 200 VHS recorded films waiting to be watched thanks to my mother’s help. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t see any movies.

Each night, when I’m picking out a movie to watch, I set aside movies that I know my mother would want to see.

“Oh this one has Loretta Young,” or “I don’t think she’d want to miss Myrna Loy in this one,” I think as I save the films to watch with her.

Colorful musicals, down to Earth stories and heartwarming romances are some of our favorites to watch together.

Here are a few movies that make me think of my mom:

Since You Went Away (1944): My mom was dying to introduce “Since You Went Away.” She’s a huge Claudette Colbert fan. I saw it for the first time back in 2005 when TCM showed it during a “Films of the 1940s” series. Between us, there isn’t a dry eye in our living room when we watch this movie. After that, it became my favorite movie, replacing my past favorite, “West Side Story” (1961).

One of our favorite outfits in "Gidget"

One of our favorite outfits in “Gidget”

Gidget (1959): My mom and I categorize the Sandra Dee and James Darren movie as one that we never want to end. She showed it to me for the first time in 2004 and I was enchanted. Our favorite things about this film are Dee’s outfits, the lighthearted theme and looking at James Darren.

-Doris Day movies: When Doris Day was Star of the Month in January 2003, I had only seen “Pillow Talk” (1959). To make sure I was introduced to more Day films, my mom recorded several including “The Glass Bottom Boat” (1966), “The Tunnel of Love” (1958), “Julie” (1956) and “Love Me or Leave Me” (1955). After that, Doris Day became my favorite actress.
Since then, Mom has aided me and in seeing all but three of Day’s films. Our favorites to watch together are “On Moonlight Bay” (1951) and “I’ll See You in My Dreams” (1951).

-Jane Powell Films: Whether it’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954), “Luxury Liner” (1948) or “Two Weeks With Love” (1950), we adore Jane Powell. One of my mom’s personal favorites is “A Date with Judy” (1948).

-MGM Series films: There isn’t a “Maisie” or “Dr. Kildaire” movie that we dislike, and we have seen them all. Ann Sothern, Lew Ayers and Lionel Barrymore brighten our evenings. Even though we aren’t huge Mickey Rooney fans, we also love the Andy Hardy series, especially “Love Finds Andy Hardy” (1938).

Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain's dresses are just two of the reasons why we love "State Fair"

Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain’s dresses are just two of the reasons why we love “State Fair”

State Fair (1945): We die for Jeanne Crain’s dresses and Dana Andrews in “State Fair.” We also mourn that no state or county fair is actually like the one in this Roger’s and Hammerstein musical. The colors, the music and the spiked mince meat scene always leaves us smiling.

-Classic Christmas films: I think it’s safe to say that my family has seen nearly every classic Christmas film, because we go out of our way searching for them. “Holiday Affair,” “Christmas in Connecticut,” “White Christmas” and “It Happened on 5th Avenue” are just a few we enjoy.

Other movies we like: Trashy 1950s ones such as “Susan Slade” or “A Summer Place,” Judy Garland Films, the “Four Daughters” trilogy, Hayley Mills films and most 1940s World War II era movies.

I could go on all day with movies my mother and I love, but instead I should thank her for introducing her to my hobby of classic films.

Even with my blog (which she is probably proof reading as she reads this), she’s been supportive of the beauty tips-even bathing in milk and washing my hair with champagne- just as long as I wash out the tub. She also helped me make my fruit hat when I was Carmen Miranda for Halloween in 2010.

I even got a little sad during the Turner Classic Film Festival, because she wasn’t there to hear Kate MacMurray talk about Fred MacMurray or to see Ann Blyth in person.

When I was a child, I’m sure she had no idea what sort of fanatic she was creating as she introduced us to old movies, but I don’t think she minds.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Myrtle Beach with mom

Myrtle Beach with Mom

College graduation in 2011 from Winthrop University with my mom and gradmother

College graduation in 2011 from Winthrop University with my Mom and grandmother

Dressed as Ado Annie when my mom and sister came to see me in Oklahoma

Dressed as Ado Annie when my mom and sister came to see me in Oklahoma