I am once again asking you to read a post where I write about some minor meme that sprang up on Twitter… meme in the classic, viral sense rather than the current “funny picture” sense.
The meme going around was asking people to display films they had seen at least seven times via an animated GIF.
Lots of people posted a GIF of a specific film while I, being me, posted a thread of several films and sat and thought about how many titles would actually be on that list, akin to that “games you have played for at least 500 hours” meme about which I wrote a few weeks back.
Here is the thing. While I am not particularly prone to watching films more than once… or TV shows or mini-series or YouTube videos quite frankly… I am also getting along in years so that the opportunity for me to have seen a film more than once factors into this.
I also grew up in an era when, once they left the theater, were elusive. This was pre-VHS, even pre-HBO, as I grew up with what one might jokingly call “wireless TV” as everything we watched was pulled in by a mast antenna sticking up from our house. So movies were kind of special. NBC used to show The Wizard of Oz every Thanksgiving weekend. A local station, KTVU channel 2, used to hype up the fact that they were going to show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Yellow Submarine for weeks in advance. Another, KGSC-TV, on the UFH band at channel 36, seemed to have several films, including Duel, The Flim-flam Man, and Charley Varirck on some sort of monthly rotation.
I am wandering a bit, but the point is that TV back then, even with only a dozen channels available to us in the San Jose area (which was a bounty compared to many places) still had the problem it has today, which is that there are too many hours in the day and not enough new content to fill them, so they ran movies all the time, in the afternoon with Dialing for Dollars, in the evening, late at night, on the weekends, for special events, and whenever else they had some time to fill.
And then there was the video store era, where we used to rent films every weekend because seeing films on demand was such a freeing experience after having grown up with the tyranny of the TV broadcast schedule and the limited movie show times.
Which means that I have seen a lot of movies.
But to have seen a movie seven or more times, that takes some effort. People will say they have seen a film a bunch of times, when the reality is likely three or four at most in many cases. We exaggerate in our heads, thinking we must have seen something many more times than we have, due to the importance or emotional attachment we have to a given work.
So I have set out, as far as is possible, to list out films where I can at least remember enough occasions watching them that I can safely says that I met the required number.
Disney live action
This is could be the film I have seen the most in the actual theater. This was in an era when Disney would push titles back out into the theaters multiple times in order to maximize. This was also my favorite movie around age 5. I managed to wheedle parents and grandparents to take me to see it repeatedly over a two year period. I remember going to see it at a theater twice where they had a VW Bug painted up as Herbie in the lobby. I also recall renting it once from the video store in college just to see it again and watched it once on cable many years later. Oddly, in writing this my wife pointed out that this was one of her favorite films as a child as well. I did not know that.
Arthur and his knights
This falls into the category of films I saw in the theater because I somehow got my grandmother to take me and a friend to see a double feature of this and Jabberwocky. Being the first grandchild and tall for my age let me get away with a lot when I was a kid.
The film would occasionally come up on PBS for a special event like a pledge drive, and I always watched it. It was also the first film that I saw with the director’s commentary audio track, something that was part of the Criterion laser disc release. I also own it on DVD where I have watched the movie a couple of times, including with my daughter, as well as watching through both of the audio commentary tracks available and the version subtitled entirely with lines from Henry V. This might be the film I have seen the most.
Born to kill
This falls into a category of films that I will throw on when there is nothing on and I am sitting around with nothing to do… a situation that was much more common before high speed internet, MMOs, and YouTube were a thing. Other films in this category have included Hot Fuzz, The Worlds End, Megamind, The Emperor’s New Groove, and LEGO Batman Movie. In the late 80s my friend Bill would come over and we would pop it into the VCR and watch from the opening to at least the line “You got girlfriend Vietnam?” while we figured out what we were going to do with our day. Later, when I had a DVD copy, I would put it in the player and swap to the French language track with French subtitles because I knew the English language track so well that I could follow along in French. Cadence shouted in French is never not funny. This is almost certainly the film I have started watching more than any other.
Yeah, it was just that back in 1977
Or, as it is now styled, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. I saw this four times back in 1977. It was the first huge box office film I remember going to see, with lines and sold-out shows. We once went to see it, found it was sold out, bought tickets for another movie, then walked into the Star Wars and on the floor in the aisle to watch… and didn’t even get caught or kicked out. It was like nothing we had ever seen before. This might be the film I have owned in the most formats, as we have VHS, DVD, and BluRay copies around the house. I went back to see it whenever it was re-released in the theaters. This is easily my most watched Star Wars film, and probably science fiction film.
Darth Vader lives
The only other Star Wars film I know I have seen at least seven times. I own all the films on some disc format, have seen them all at least twice and… basically… I like the first two a lot and kind of enjoy the others, but mostly wish they brought me as much joy as this pair.
TESB is such a dark turn, where the rebels are in retreat and the empire looks to be having things going their way, it evokes a mood that none of the subsequent films quite manage.
bump bump bump bummm
Ah, the summer of 1984, no cable TV, no internet, not even a modem attached to my computer yet, and all the spare time of youth on summer break with a car and a part time job. We went and saw this at the Meridian Quad, a cheap set of theaters long gone from the valley, half a dozen times because what else were we going to do? We got in trouble once and nearly got ourselves kicked out of the theater when, for one showing, we sat up front and shouted out the dialog just before the actor would say it on screen. Misspent youth. I’m now the guy that complains to the manager about that sort of thing.
I actually like Terminator 2 better as a film, but I have definitely seen this more.
Multipass for multiple viewings
This is the first movie that my wife and I went and saw together. This is our film, and we watch it whenever it comes up on cable or when we hit an anniversary and we have nothing else going on. Bruce Wills and Chris Tucker make this film. They had a 20th anniversary showing back in 2017 and we showed up to find a full theater. We got seats, but clearly we’re not alone in enjoying this film.
The uncola of Bond films
Again, my wife and I are fans of the Bond films, and I have written about them before. We own them all on disk, and have been through the whole series at least twice for our own mini-Bond film festival, save for the latest outing, which is not yet available on video. We have also seen many of them in the theater, even some that we were probably too young to go see at the drive-in, thanks to parental negligence.
But Live and Let Die is the only one I will swear to having seen at least seven times. Goldfinger might be there, but only LaLD is a sure thing. It is my favorite in the series, and is the film we put in any time we have some new audio or video hardware addition to our home TV setup.
Trivia: We bought a Bose sound system and watched it when my wife was 9 months pregnant. After it ended, just past midnight, we went to bed and then fifteen minutes later her water broke and we were up again and off to the hospital.
Yossarian, Tappman and Danby
There is a dichotomy in film between seeing more films, to expand the breadth of your experience, and re-watching films in order to get to know them better, to discover the nuances. There are films that just are not digestible on the first pass. I tend towards breadth these days, in part because my wife favors that, but this is one I will put on to watch to discover new things. Filmed in a era before digital effects, in an era where WWII surplus was still readily available, they assembled 17 flying B-25s as part of its production, something unimaginable today.
The use of lighting and color and the casting and the dialog… it did not do well at the box office, and was an initial disappointment because it wasn’t a literal translation of the book… is magical at times. The copy I have includes a director’s commentary that has Steven Soderbergh talking to director Mike Nichols about making the film that is a class in and of itself. While an imperfect vessel for Joseph Heller’s novel, as are all film adaptations, it probably suffered more from releasing the same year as M*A*S*H and Patton.
I saw it when it came out in theaters and have pretty much watched it every time it has come up on TV or cable for years. The original Alien was a good horror film, but this was an excellent action film. Oddly, this stands out on the list as being one of two films that I do not own in any format.
Lots of things roll down hill
I had to go look at the videos we have to help spark some memories, and this was the first thing that jumped out at me where I clearly had seen it at least seven times. In the theater, on HBO back when it was a microwave broadcast service, on VHS, on DVD, and on cable a bunch of times.
The movie montage
Maybe the film I have seen the most versions of. It is another film where the story… I am not all that invested in. But the images of the future, the way it looked up on the big screen… that had stuck with me for decades. We went and saw the original, voice over version a few times, then the version cut for television, then the director’s cut release in the theater, then again on video, and at last the final cut. I was actually fine with the voice over version back in the day, but I’ll sit and watch any of them just for the way the film makes me feel.
I wrote about this up top, then forgot to put it on the list initially. I have easily seen this seven times, probably by the time I was 13. You have to have worked at avoiding this film in order to be my age and not have seen it at least a couple of times. An iconic film and an amazing early use of color. Also a film I bring up whenever somebody starts going on about Hollywood running out of ideas for films, this version being the fourth, and certainly not the last, time the story was brought to film.
From the comments, Bhagpuss reminded me of the Marx Brothers, I can stipulate that I have seen Duck Soup at least seven times, though how many it really is might be a bit vague. In the days before VHS I made an audio recording of the film on a 90 minute cassette and used to listen to it a lot. I don’t know if that counts as watching, but I also watched it whenever it came up on TV and own a copy on disk. While I have seen most of the Marx Brothers films, this remains my favorite. (Coconuts is probably in second place.)
No, this isn’t a film. Rather, this is a secondary list of possible candidates that might have made the list, but I really can’t pin down enough showings in my head to declare for them. Some of these are in the “I just feel like I have seen this a bunch of times, but maybe not quite seven times” category.
- The Emperor’s New Groove
- The Lion King
- Toy Story 2
- Die Hard
- Die Hard with a Vengeance
- School of Rock
- High Fidelity
- The Wild Bunch
- The Usual Suspects
- Hot Fuzz
- The Worlds End
- The Matrix
- The Sting
- The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen
- Dangerous Liaisons
- Life of Brian
- Take the Money and Run
- The Great Escape
- A Fish Called Wanda
- To Have and Have Not
Anyway, that is a list, along with an extra bonus list. This, of course, is making me think again about a series of posts about television and video and how I experienced it growing up, how it has changed over time, and how different it is today. We’ll see if I get to any of that.
Similar posts were done at Contains Moderate Peril and Tales of the Aggronaut, and it probably speaks to our relative ages, but the one film all three of us have in common on this front is Aliens.