Grease – Last week, I saw an article about the passing of Jeff Conaway (right in the picture) and it made me a bit sad.  In 1978, he co-starred with a young John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John and many other soon-to-be famous actors from the 70’s in a movie called Grease.  This is a great musical and fun to watch time and time again.  This movie takes you back when Americans were cool with cool cars, rock n’ roll, leather jackets, and drive-in movie theaters.  It’s a great big slice of Americana that just makes you feel good.

The plot surrounds the senior year of group of friends in the 50’s and focuses on the budding relationship of local 50’s greaser Danny (John Travolta) and good girl Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) that begins at the beach.  But, when Sandy is transferred to Rydell High, the school that Danny is at, she finds that Danny has a new attitude.  They realize that they are both going to have to change some for them to be together in the end.  Their friends also have some growing up to do as well, but not before some high school hijinks and mischief before they’re done.  As they go through their senior year of high school, working out their romances on dates, the big dance, and the tests to their relationships, they try to see if they can reach the next level in life?

I have to admit that this movie is one of my guilty pleasures.  Many people think a guy liking a musical would have to get his “man card” checked.  But, this is a fun movie full of all of the positive 50’s nostalgia.  There are great songs, dance numbers, and drama to keep you entertained the full time and the ending leaves you feeling good.  The men sing and dance generally like men would.  They are not choreographed into sissy moves.  The girls hold their own with their rebellious sides as they grow up as well.  And, you’ve got all the drama that high school guys and girls have.  Honestly, I still want the car of the leader of the Scorpions gang.  Fire coming out of the tail pipes…Are you kidding me?  I believe it’s illegal now, but I don’t care.  That is cool.  On a night when you just want some great fun with great music, this is your movie.  You’ll be humming these songs for quite some time.

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Wizard of Oz

     Wizard of Oz – Who doesn’t love this great movie?  Pure 100% classic.  There is no greater wicked witch in history than Margaret Hamilton and the flying monkeys were down right creepy.  The songs are classic as well with just about everyone knowing “Over the Rainbow”, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, & “We’re Off to See the Wizard”.  In fact, you’re probably humming them in your head right now.  I have loved this film since the first time I watched it and watch it at least once a year, but so does most of America.  This is movie making at its finest.  In 1939, this fantasy was released to the public.  It didn’t initially do that great at the box office, but would eventually become a part of American pop culture.

The plot is Dorothy, a farm girl from Kansas, is whisked “Over the Rainbow” (pun intended) to the magical land of Oz by a cyclone.  Unfortunately for her, her house fell on the Wicked Witch of the East.  The Good Witch of the North, Glinda, comes to her aid, but the Wicked Witch of the West appears rather upset that a house killed her sister.  The Wicked Witch of the East had powerful ruby slippers, but their now on Dorothy’s feet.  This infuriates the Wicked Witch, but she can do nothing now.  Dorothy just wants to get home and is sent to Emerald City to a wizard who can help.  Along the way, she meets a scarecrow, tin man, and a cowardly lion who wants something to improve themselves from the wizard.  They team up and the wicked witch gets after them all.  The wizard demands the wicked witch’s broom to give them their desires.  Ultimately, Dorothy is captured and our 3 heroes launch a daring rescue.  In the end, they are able to kill the witch and take it back to the wizard.  He reluctantly helps them all improve themselves, but a mistake causes Dorothy to be stranded in Oz.  Glinda, the good witch, reappears and tells her the ruby slippers can send her home….”There’s no place like home.”

This is a great film that won 3 oscars, nominated for several more, and labeled the “most-watched film in history” by the Library of Congress.  It is also listed as the #10 greatest movie of all time by AFI.  The plot description above can not do this movie justice in this limited space as there is so much action and fun in this film.  The special affects are impressive even unto this day.  The cyclone scene is outstanding and the wizard’s first appearance is still intimidating.  The story and acting are perfect and all of your emotions will be touched.  This fun and fanciful journey has everything a great family movie should.  Everyone in your family should love it.

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Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – This 1971 classic is a childhood favorite.  As Easter approaches, there are 3 movies that comes to my mind to see and this is one of them.  Easter, to me, brings me thoughts of candy and who is the “candy man”?  Willy Wonka of course.  Gene Wilder is forever Willy Wonka to me and it is hard to watch him in other movies because of how well he does this character.

The plot is simple.  Willy Wonka is looking for a good-hearted child that he can teach all of his candy making secrets too, but a good, honest lad is not easy to find.  Several kids find a special ticket for a tour of the “factory” and Wonka tests them to see if any are worthy.  Throughout the movie as kids are eliminated by their own bad behavior.  Morals are taught and specified by songs of the Oompa Loompas.

While a 40 year old man watching a bit of a kids movie may sound odd, this charming movie takes me back to my childhood when I was a candy fiend (since cured by my wife).  Also, it is rather enjoyable watching spoiled brats get put in their place.  So, if you have kids, this is definitely one to watch.  If not, don’t dismiss it.  Let your inner child free for a couple of hours.  However, be careful not to accidentally waste your time with that train wreck of a re-make version starring Johnny Depp.  You’ll be disappointed beyond belief.

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The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments (1956) – This site is not intended to be religious, but some great movies are based on religious themes.  This oscar winning movie from the 50’s is a great movie whether you are religious or not.  Considering the technology of the 50’s, this epic drama is one that should be seen as the enormousness and powerful visions will still amaze.  The oscar won was for the visual effects of the film.

The plot is based on the biblical story of Exodus of the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt.  The life of Moses, which is Hebrew born and Egyptian adopted, is found by a princess in Egypt and is raised as a prince in Egypt, but once he learns of his heritage, turns into “The Deliverer” that the Egyptian Pharoah had been trying to kill.  Rameses II, who was once a brother to Moses, is now in struggle against Moses who is threatening Egypt’s power.  Ultimately, he has no choice and yields to forces he can not understand.

The cast is incredible with Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses II, Anne Baxter, Edward G Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Vincent Price, and other stars from the 50’s.  The film is the final film by Cecil B. DeMille and he delivers a powerful and epic drama for all movie fans.  Whether you are religious or not, this movie is an all-time classic.

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