Movies. They can be fun. They can be enjoyable. They can be downright terrible. Every once in a while though, they can be life changing. I know how movies have shaped my life and career choices and that got me wondering what movies influenced others in the entertainment field. I’m joined by best selling author Casey Sherman whose book The Finest Hours was adapted by Disney and hits movie theaters in 2016, actor/director and author Ross Patterson, author/TV writer Caroline Kepnes, and Emmy winning writer/producer Mike Scully. These are our picks for the movies that moved us.
- All The President’s Men – This is a film that I watch at least once a year. It’s a great example of how journalists can be tireless advocates for the truth.
- Rear Window – This is my personal favorite from the Alfred Hitchcock collection. It explores voyeurism and our fascination with the macabre in a unique and revealing way. It also perfectly captures the most beautiful woman ever put on film – Grace Kelly
- Enter the Dragon – An odd choice maybe. But I was a huge Bruce Lee fan growing up and the way that he expresses himself physically in this movie is without rival.
- Tombstone – I snuck out of class and saw it 12 times in the theater. I love westerns and this one was my favorite ever made.
- Swingers – This was the first time that I had seen someone on screen (Vince Vaughn) who was doing something that I believed I could do. It made me believe the dream could be accomplished.
- Black Dynamite – I saw this with 1,000 people at a festival screening right after I finished shooting a movie called Poolboy: Drowning Out The Fury. It was very similar in tone, but I wasn’t sure mine was going to work because of how absurd it was. Watching Black Dynamite eased all my worries and made me realize mine could be successful. That screening was still to this day, the best experience of watching a comedy on the big screen with an audience.
- Xanadu – The struggle was real for dreamy, petulant artiste Sonny Malone. But it goes to show that if you refuse to cave to the studio executive’s outrageous demands, if you blow off your day job and wander around Venice waiting for the muse to strike and talking to strangers, you wind up running the best dancing/rollerskating night club in town. I don’t know how you watch that movie and don’t want to move to Hollywood.
- School Ties – My brother was an extra and I tagged along to the set, stayed up late trying to figure out which relatively unknown actor I wanted to “interview” for my high school paper: Chris O’Donnell or Matt Damon, Ben Affleck or Brendan Fraser. There was no internet back then, so I picked up the landline, called information and got the number for YM Magazine. A woman named Linda Friedman answered. Linda was kind and helpful, got me in touch with Chris O’Donnell’s publicist. I got my twenty minutes on the phone and sold the story to the local newspaper. To this day, Linda is a mentor and a friend. And School Ties is a movie I watch whenever it’s on, especially this part: Smokey Joe’s Cafe
- Annie Hall – It’s brimming with specifics: swap meets and lobsters, Coney Island and white pants, androgynous fashion and alfalfa sprouts, New York and Los Angeles, Marshall McLuhan and Tony Lacey, bad dates and real love, love that doesn’t call for a big over the top happy white wedding scene at the end of the movie. (Not that those aren’t fun.) Woody Allen’s classic masterpiece is show-don’t-tell writing, self-aware without being smug. It’s caustic and empathetic. Annie Hall, thank you. You are perfect.
Mike Scully – The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation, Everybody Loves Raymond @scullymike
- Blazing Saddles – It was a movie I saw close to 40 times with a friend because we taped the lock on the Showcase Cinemas back door so we could sneak in every night it was there and memorize every line. Every time I’m at a movie ticket window, I want to do Harvey Korman holding up a fake ID and saying “Student?” then angrily buying Raisinets.
- The Ghost and Mr. Chicken – I mention The Ghost and Mr. Chicken because I loved Don Knotts. Woody Allen and Don Knotts let me see that a skinny, nervous guy (me) could be the star of a movie, although I wound up being more comfortable writing than performing. Those movies, along with the Marx Brothers and Monty Python shaped my comic sensibilities. They spoke to me in a way beyond just enjoying them. For some reason, I felt I could do that, although it would take me years to get up the nerve to try.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show – It was the first thing that made me see comedy writing as a potential job. It looked like fun, just sitting around an office making each other laugh all day. I also just love writing jokes and the comedy of Johnny Carson, The Smothers Brothers and George Carlin was a huge inspiration.
- Good Will Hunting – I was the typical kid growing up watching movies and TV. I loved pop culture, but it wasn’t until Good Will Hunting where I saw 2 guys from my area in a movie about Boston that made me think I could/should do that. They were from Boston, made a movie in Boston, about Boston. I was hooked.
- The Brothers McMullen – To me no one writes more honest and genuine dialogue than Edward Burns (especially if you grew up in an Irish family) and The Brothers McMullen was my introduction to Burns. A Sundance winner, the film was my baptism into independent film and changed how I thought about production and what made a movie a movie.
- Dogma – I most likely could pick any Kevin Smith movie from the 1990s, but I saw this at the theater and from the opening joke about God and a platypus, I knew this was a different kind of comedy. It was poking fun at things without being mean spirited or bitter. Smith had a lot to say, but hid his message with slapstick and his trademark dick and fart jokes. For anyone that uses comedy or sarcasm as a defense mechanism, this movie covers all the bases.
So what movies moved you? What movies made you want to get into filmmaking or make your way to Hollywood?