'Groundhog' movies: Let's hear it for the films you can watch again ... and again ... and again
Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in "The Shawshank Redemption," which WPXI anchor David Johnson would watch again and again, anytime.
Share with others:
In "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray plays a jaded Pittsburgh TV weatherman who goes to Punxsutawney and, through some bizarre spell, is forced to wake up at 6 a.m. to the same song -- "I Got You, Babe" -- to relive the same day.
He becomes quite a master of Feb. 2.
You may have seen "Groundhog Day" when it came out in 1993, and you've probably seen it again. And maybe again. Likely in pieces, because the comedy turns up frequently in the cable guide, along with such staples as "Forrest Gump," "Jaws," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Cheaper by the Dozen" and seemingly every Adam Sandler movie.
Clearly, there are some films that people are more than happy to view over and over again.
In celebration of Groundhog Day and recognition of "Groundhog Day," we asked people in the Pittsburgh arts and media scene, along with PG readers on Facebook, what movies they can revisit any old time.
David Johnson, WPXI anchor: Well, it wouldn't be "Groundhog Day"! Even though it was funny and featured Pittsburgh. There are SO many: "The Godfathers," most "Rockys," "Braveheart." But "The Shawshank Redemption" is my favorite: "I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope." I could go on and on.
Marvin Hamlisch, PSO Pops conductor/Oscar-winning composer: It would be "On the Waterfront." I still remember the impact it had on me when I first saw it. The performance of Marlon Brando and the music of [Leonard] Bernstein is spellbinding.
Eric Moe, composer: "This Is Spinal Tap," a movie which appeals to every musician, filled with useful tips ("It's such a fine line between stupid and ... clever"). Over and over again because, as my wife points out, I've only memorized 93 percent of the dialogue.
Cindy Howes, WYEP morning DJ: I could watch "Gosford Park" over and over again. I have seen it about 100 times and still get all bent out of shape whenever I watch it. I literally cry and yell at the screen. The characters, acting and the stories are all golden. The best part about the film is that there are about three to five things going on at once. If you only watch it once, you will miss everything!
Scott Blasey, The Clarks: I can watch "The Pianist" starring Adrien Brody any time. It's a remarkable story of survival amid horrific circumstances that never fails to move and inspire me. Brody's performance is riveting, but the music of Chopin is the heart and soul of this incredible movie.
Bernie Goldmann, Squirrel Hill native and producer of "300" and "Mirror Mirror": This is a difficult question as there are a number of movies that I love to watch over and over again: "Young Frankenstein," "It's a Wonderful Life," "The Sweet Smell of Success," "Toy Story" ... it goes on and on for me. But since you asked for only one -- John Frankenheimer's "Manchurian Candidate." It is a great script perfectly realized. As creepy today as when it was made. And Angela Lansbury ... wow, an outstanding performance.
Joe Wos, ToonSeum executive director: I can watch "Jaws" again and again. The scene where Quint tells the story of the Indianapolis as the three of them sit around drinking is one of the most beautifully told oral stories in the history of film. This film isn't about a shark, it is a film about men. How they interact, how they brag, and ultimately how men earn each other's respect. Every man knows you stop everything when that scene comes on and you sit and listen at the feet of your elders as they teach you about life.
Dawn Keezer, Pittsburgh Film Office: My Pittsburgh-made pick would have to be "Night of the Living Dead." It is the film that really started the film industry in southwestern Pennsylvania, and it is so fun to see that movie. I see something new every time I watch it."
Ted Pappas, Pittsburgh Public Theater: There are several movies that I enjoy re-viewing, depending on my mood: "Casablanca," "Now, Voyager," "Goldfinger" and "Auntie Mame," to name a few. But the all-time champ and the film that I have viewed no less than 200 times is "Breakfast at Tiffany's." I love Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, and the film's romantic image of Manhattan in the 1960s always thrills me. Mancini's score is superb, and "Moon River" is my favorite song.
Jasiri X, rapper: There are so many choices, but I gotta go with "Coming to America." Not only were Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in their prime, but that was the first time I had ever seen actors playing multiple characters. It was cool to see them alongside veteran actors like James Earl Jones and John Amos, plus great cameos by the Dukes from "Trading Places" and a little known Samuel L. Jackson. The film is absolutely hilarious every time I watch it.
Gary Kaboly, Pittsburgh Filmmakers director of exhibitions: Early Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal action films, the ones always playing on late-night TV, which is the only way I would see something over and over again. Very entertaining, easy to digest and nothing to think about. Would rather not watch films of quality or substance multiple times. On second and third viewings, I always end up deconstructing the process, analyzing shots, composition, timing, etc. ... and then they lose their sense of disbelief and emotional impact, which is why we watch them anyway. So, stick with Chuck Norris.
Manfred Honeck, Pittsburgh Symphony music director: Since I was young I loved black and white movies about Don Camillo and Peppone from the '50s, because it combines fun with spirituality and political day life. The same with Charlie Chaplin.
Billy Price, R&B singer: I recently watched "The Last Waltz" again, and I could happily watch it many more times and still enjoy it. The Band is my all-time favorite rock band, and the concerts, brilliantly captured by [Martin] Scorsese, include cameos by a bunch of other great artists in their prime: Dr. John, Dylan, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Hawkins, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Van Morrison and the Staple Singers. The version of "The Weight," in which Mavis Staples sings one verse, makes it easy to understand why Dylan once proposed marriage to her (if indeed this is true).
Sally Wiggin, WTAE anchor: "Lawrence of Arabia." It changed my life and determined my course of study for the next six years. It has everything I love in a movie. A grand score. A cast of the best of British actors -- and a gorgeous Omar Sharif. Fabulous horses. One of the most literate scripts in the history of cinema. But most importantly, Peter O'Toole. My gracious, he was superb. I first saw it when I was 12. Why my mother took me to see such a violent movie at that age, I will never know. At the time I was unaware of its historical inaccuracies, but now that I do know, I don't care.
Thomas Douglas, artistic director of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh: I could watch "Jackie's Back" over and over, as I have. It's a little known masterpiece featuring Jenifer Lewis as Jackie Washington, a pop diva making a comeback. Now, if you mean a film that other people can watch over and over, I'd suggest Robert Downey's "Heart and Souls," "The Color Purple" or "Field of Dreams."
Tall Cathy, KISS-FM DJ: "Spaceballs" was my favorite movie growing up, and it's still my favorite today. It never fails to make me laugh. May the Schwartz be with you.
Kellee Maize, rapper/singer: I could watch "Labyrinth" again and again. It was my favorite movie as a child. I still just love the story, the characters and David Bowie's cheesy songs and outfits. He rocks! I would also be willing to watch "Kymatica" on repeat so that I could literally memorize all of its contents. That movie feels like complete truth to me and inspires my music a great deal.
Andrew Fouts, Chatham Baroque first violinist: "Room With a View." It was my favorite, which I still revisit from time to time. Mostly because the effect of seeing it again evokes a whole spectrum of nostalgia from my youth, completely unrelated to the narrative. When I see any of the actors -- Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Daniel Day Lewis, Judy Dench, et al -- in another movie, I cannot believe their characters so well; they are completely owned by "A Room With a View," inescapably Edwardian, forever set to Puccini. Actors in any other context.
Carl Kurlander, screenwriter/executive producer of Steeltown Entertainment Project: I once showed "Annie Hall," "The Graduate" and "Taxi Driver" in a film class, and a female student asked me why I was showing the same movie over and over again. I asked what she meant. And she said they are all about guys going after girls who are out of their league.
Ken Rice, KDKA anchor, who had a small role in "Striking Distance": Gotta go with the filmed-in-Pittsburgh 1993 magnum opus "Striking Distance." The film showcases the city's skyline, rivers and hills so beautifully. And while stars Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker are perfectly adequate, what makes this movie endlessly watchable for me is the performance of some of the most briefly seen characters. I'm thinking, in particular, of a certain voluminously coiffed young newsman whose smoldering intensity practically leaps off the screen. And the Academy's snub? Still hurts.
-- Compiled by Scott Mervis, Rob Owen, Andrew Druckenbrod and Sharon Eberson
First Published February 2, 2012 12:00 am