If the world’s gotcha down

Ryan DeFusco

Ryan reminds us to welcome mystery and adventure.

My house was the wrong place to be when I was a kid.

I have invested a considerable amount of time, effort, and dinero in finding peace of mind.

If you experience some time of being down, I recommend the following films and books. They have helped me, and perhaps they will do the same for you. This is a simple list, not a ranking. And, of course, there are so many more. I will profile the books in my next post.

These films have one particular thing in common: they portray the evolution of character and courage among people facing profound challenges and self-doubt.

It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart owns a savings and loan in a small town, and his scatter-brained uncle loses a big chunk of money that puts the business at risk. Jimmy’s character declares himself worthless, and announces that he would rather be dead.

His guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, takes him into a dream state in which he can witness what the world would be like without him. He is able to reconnect with his sense of purpose, value, and identity once he understands his contributions to the world.

What is remarkable about “It’s a Wonderful Life” is how well it holds up over the years; it’s one of those ageless movies, like “Casablanca” or “The Third Man,” that improves with age.—Roger Ebert

Field of Dreams. If you build it, he will come. Kevin Costner cuts out a baseball diamond in his lush field of corn because a voice tells him to do that.

As “Field of Dreams” developed this fantasy, I found myself being willingly drawn into it. Movies are often so timid these days, so afraid to take flights of the imagination, that there is something grand and brave about a movie where a voice tells a farmer to build a baseball diamond so that Shoeless Joe Jackson can materialize out of the cornfield and hit a few fly balls. This is the kind of movie Frank Capra might have directed, and James Stewart might have starred in — a movie about dreams.—Roger Ebert

As Mr. Ebert says, there is something grand and brave in this movie.

We’re No Angels. Humphrey Bogart is as wonderful in this film as he is in Casablanca and in African Queen. He and two pals escape from a tropical prison and befriend Leo G. Carroll, a shop owner, and the actor who went on to play Cosmo Topper on television. As a shop owner he needs some assistance to resist the cruel and merciless Andre Trochard, played by a sinister Basil Rathbone, the actor who went on to play Sherlock Holmes on television. “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Aldo Ray’s poisonous snake kills Andre, thereby ending the threat to the store, and the three “bad guys” voluntarily return to prison.

Sirens. This film is made all the more charming, in my opinion, by the generous amount of nudity it contains. Hugh Grant is offended by nudity, and that provides one of the central plot lines. He has been assigned to scold Sam Neill’s character for painting offensive works that offend the church leaders.

What we see immediately is that the bearded Lindsay is a Pan of sorts, under whose direction people are inspired to have experiences that might lessen their inhibitions. And we learn that the Campion marriage could benefit from such experiences.—Roger Ebert

A League of Their Own. “There’s no crying in baseball!”

I’ll leave this to Roger Ebert.

“A League of Their Own” follows many of the time-honored formulas of sports movies, and has a fair assortment of stock characters (the plain girl who gains confidence, the brash girl with the heart of gold, the jealous sisters), but it has another level that’s a lot more interesting.

After years of perpetrating the image of the docile little woman who sat at home caring for her lord and master, American society suddenly found that it needed women who were competent to do hard, skilled work during World War II. Rosie the Riveter became a national emblem, Hollywood threw out its romance scripts and started making movies about strong, independent females, and it was discovered that women could actually excel at professional sports.

If you have seen any of these, or decide to, I welcome your comments.

2 thoughts on “If the world’s gotcha down

  1. Field of Dreams, one of my all time favorites. Along with The Wizard of Oz. Surprised you didn’t mention that one Daniel.

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