• Ted Stillwell's Portraits of the Past: The movies of our lifetime

  • I imagine that I’ve probably seen about every one of the following movies either at a theater or on television.

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  • I imagine that I’ve probably seen about every one of the following movies either at a theater or on television. I read that both “Snow White” in 1937 and “Gone With the Wind” of 1939 have generated considerably more income than any of the other pre-World War II movies. “Gone With the Wind” is ranked in the Top 40 greatest movies of all time. If the money was adjusted to allow for inflation today it could easily be regarded as the most successful film ever to come out of Hollywood. Of course, there were a few other great films from the 1930s, such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “King Kong,” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” but their earnings weren’t quite as good.
    In the 1940s, the top five movies were the classic Disney cartoons, “Bambi,” “Fantasia,” “Cinderella,” “Pinocchio,” and “Song of the South.” While “Song of the South” was part animated and part live action, the 1940s may truly be regarded as the golden age of animation. This genre was especially appealing in that era as a colorful escape from the realities of those war years.
    A few of the other great movies to come out of that decade were “Samson and Delilah,” “Duel in the Sun,” “This is the Army” and “The Best Years of Our Lives.”
    While the popularity of animated movies continued through the 1950s with “Lady and the Tramp,” “Peter Pan” and “Sleeping Beauty,” the decade was outstanding for the “big” production pictures – movies such as “The Ten Commandments,” “The Robe,” “Ben Hur,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “South Pacific” and “Bridge on the River Kwai.”
    “The Robe” was the first picture to offer the wide screen in 1953, and “Around the World...” had no less that 44 stars. “Ben Hur” with its vast movie sets broke all previous records, costing a staggering $4 million to make.
    Four of the Top 10 movies of the 1960s were musicals, “The Sound of Music,” “Mary Poppins,” “Doctor Zhivago” and “My Fair Lady.” “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” made about as much in record album and tape sales as they did in the theaters. The 1960s also brought us “101 Dalmatians,” “The Jungle Book,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Graduate” and “Funny Girl.”
    In the 1970s we were introduced to two young prodigies, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and they set the scene for several high adventure blockbusters. Between the two of them, they either produced, directed, or wrote “Star Wars,” “THX 1138,” “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The 1970s also brought back “Superman,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Grease,” “The Exorcist,” “The Godfather,” “The Sting” and “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”
    George Lucas and Steven Spielberg continued with their high adventure movies in the 1980s. Lucas wrote and produced the two sequels to Star Wars, “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi.” Spielberg directed “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestial.” Those blockbusters were high earners, but none of those six movies won an Oscar. The decade also brought us “Batman,” “Ghostbusters,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Back to the Future.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Then, the 1990s belong to “Home Alone” which was so successful that it now ranks in the Top 10 movies of all time. The sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York City” is No. 16 on that list – believe it or not. The ’90s have made more money for the Hollywood production companies than any of the previous years. But gee, we were also treated to “Jurassic Park,” “The Lion King,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Terminator 2,” “Batman Returns,” “Ghost” and “The Fugitive.” What more could you ask for?
    Ref: The Top Ten of Everything by Russell Ash.
    Ted W. Stillwell is available to speak before any club, church, civic, senior, or school groups.
    To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to teddystillwell@yahoo.com or call him at 816-252-9909.

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