Marvelous movies moved me to mimic them

Published 5:53 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Watching the Oscars presentations Sunday night got me to thinking about my history with movies.

I am a big fan of Turner Classic Movies, especially during its annual “31 Days of Oscar” showings, which begins Feb. 1 each year. All the movies shown during those 31 days are Oscar winners or nominees in at least one Oscar category.

Although I am sure I tagged along with my mother and other grownups to the movies when I was just a towheaded young-un, the first movie I remember seeing was “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Florida Theater in Pensacola, Fla. I recall the scene in which Scout and Jem (that’s right, Jem not Jim) were walking through the woods toward their home. Scout was wearing a ham costume. A stiff breeze was blowing. One could tell something scary and terrible was about to happen. It did.

To this day, I watch that movie whenever possible. And when that scene appears on the screen, the hair on the back of my neck rises.

I also remember watching “The Sword in the Stone” at a double-screen drive-in theater. From time to time, I would look at the rear window of the car we were in to see what was playing on the other screen. I believe it was a western.

That’s a dilemma for a young boy. My neck muscles got a good workout that night as my head swiveled to and fro so I could keep my eyes on both screens.

I soon fell in love with the midnight movies shown on TV during weekends. I didn’t have to go to a theater. I could stay home, in my pajamas, and watch such classics as “The Killer Shrews,” “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” I dare not forget to mention all those Godzilla and Tarzan movies that were shown on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I remember as soon as one of those movies ended, I would head to the backyard and spend an hour trying to kill Godzilla (which I always accomplished) or swinging through the jungle, in which the only danger was the rose bushes climbing on the chain-link fence and the clothesline.

I rarely talked one of my two younger sisters into assuming the role of Cheeta when I was portraying Tarzan. And a Tarzan without a Cheeta is, well, pathetic.

I never wore a loincloth when pretending to be Tarzan. I knew that if I wore one in the backyard, somehow I would end up in those rose bushes. Talk about a thorny situation.

My favorite movie of all time — up to now?


Add “Seven Days in May” and “The Dirty Dozen” and you have my top-three movies.

I’m still waiting for some director to make “Cheeta and the Dirty Dozen Visit Casablanca for Seven Days in May.” Now, that’s a movie that probably would not earn an Oscar nomination, but I would watch over and over.

Pass the buttered popcorn, please.


Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. If he could remake a movie and be its star, he would remake “-30-“ It’s a movie about a newspaper. It stars Jack “Just the facts, ma’am” Webb of “Dragnet” fame.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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