Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Classics Kind of Guy

I’m into classics.

I’m not a car guy, but I do hope that before I die I’ll own a 1965 Mustang, preferably a red convertible.

I’m of the opinion that not much music has been produced that is worth listening to since the Beatles broke up.

I’m trying to collect hardback editions of the books that a panel commissioned by The Modern Library designated as the 100 greatest English language novels published since 1900. I’d rather buy a used classic than a brand new novel any day.

Given my career path, it shouldn’t be surprising that I like old things. The languages I’ve studied, biblical Hebrew and koine Greek, haven’t been spoken for centuries. The book that I’ve given my life to studying, preaching, and teaching is almost 2,000 years old, with parts of it going back 1,000 years earlier than that. The institution I serve, the Church, has also been around for two millennia, although the local branch where I work is only seventy-seven years old; it’s just a young upstart compared to some of the other local branches in other places.

I also like old movies. Give me a black and white film noir classic from the 1940s or 1950s (Out of the Past, Kiss Me Deadly) over a new “realistic” bright red blood all over the place crime movie any time. I’d rather watch The Philadelphia Story so I can listen to Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant speaking lines that are so flirtatious you can just about see sparks flying off of them than be titillated by the modern films that not only leave nothing to the imagination but actually chop imagination off at the knees. And don’t even get me started on 1950s science fiction movies that were charming and challenging in their own way as they tried, more often than not, to warn us about the dangers of nuclear testing (Them!, Godzilla) and the then very real possibility of America falling victim to invasion by beings who were intent on destroying human freedom and individuality (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It Came From Outer Space).

The next thirty-one days will be movie heaven for lovers of old films. Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the only indispensable channel on television, begins its special programming called “Thirty-One Days of Oscar” today. From February 1 through March 3, TCM will show only films that were nominated for and/or won the Academy Award. Various categories will be featured along the way, such as Best Song Nominees and Winners (February 9), Best Actress Winners (February 15), and Best Editing Nominees and Winners (March 3).

The apex of Oscar wins is, of course, Best Picture. Beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, February 22, TCM will show a 72-hour marathon of Best Picture Oscar Winners that will lead up to this year’s Academy Awards show. You have my permission to sit in front of your television for that entire 72-hour period and soak up some of the best movies ever made. Well, I’d appreciate it if you would set your TiVo or VCR or whatever device you use and record the ones that come on during Sunday morning worship time and go to church, but other than that, go ahead, stock up on snacks and stay in front of the television. If you do, you will see movies like Ben-Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives, You Can’t Take It With You, On the Waterfront, From Here to Eternity, Gone With the Wind, and Casablanca, and that’s just a sampling.

I’m a classics kind of guy. I’m also grateful for small blessings. To know that I can sit down any time I want over the next thirty-one days and see a classic example of movie-making—now that’s my kind of small blessing.

Now if I could just take a thirty-one day vacation!


Anonymous said...

Will napping during the Sunday morning service be excusable for the duration of "31 Days of Oscar Classics?

Mike Ruffin said...


Absolutely. All that will be required is a signed affidavit testifying to the movies that you watched all night that caused you to nap! Also, it will be required that the preacher be forgiven for napping, too, at least during the music portion of the service.