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I swore I wouldn’t do this. At least not today.

I’ll bet that this day will produce a record number of blogs, the vast majority of which will be utterly useless lists of Things I Did This Year, Things I Didn’t Do This Year, or Things I Might (or Might Not) Do Next Year. What else can you expect on New Year’s Eve?

Of course, right behind those will be Greatest Movies of the Year (or of all time), Greatest Songs of the Year (or of all time), or Greatest–insert word here–of the Year.

I swore I wouldn’t do this.

Okay, I can’t help myself. It’s just that, at 70 years of age, I’ve had longer than most to choose favorites. Funny thing, most of my favorites, especially in movies, are at the far end of my memory. Is this typical of old folks, or is it truly that the mere presence of special effects doesn’t guarantee quality as much as story content does? I do have to admit that acting, these days, is much more natural, thanks to technical practices that can catch a feeling with just a glint of a tear rather than the vaudeville-spawned hand-on-the-heart dramatics. But some of the flair is gone; too many of the films are so alike that you can’t identify with a character.

Did I identify with Katharine Hepburn? Heavens, no! But even today, I will encourage friends to watch African Queen and know that it will delight them. What, you don’t know that one? You couldn’t imagine a less-handsome man than the grungy Humphrey Bogart as a romantic leading man, but there he is, in all his glory, next to the prudish Miss Hepburn. The special effects are laughable by today’s standards, a toothpick boat dancing on a whipped-up “river” and, well, I won’t tell you anything more. Take a chance and find it, maybe on eBay.

Other things on my obligatory New Year’s Eve list? Roman Holiday, pure romance, with Gregory Peck and an enchanting Audrey Hepburn. Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail! The pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan was impeccable casting. In another vein altogether, try The Longest Day, a war movie with an huge and incontestable cast apparently chosen with care to portray the essence of the characters.

I’m well aware that my list won’t match anyone else’s. Each of us brings his own experiences with him to the theater, and for all that the nitty-gritty might be set out there for us in Megavision and Octophonic Sound, your eyes and my eyes see different things in the same film.

Books are even more personal, and personalized in the reading, but that’s a story for another post.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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