choices and Dad memories by: Alan Zilberman, Svetlana Legetic, Jason Cauley
Happy Almost Father’s Day! Unlike Mother’s Day which (no offense to it and all) predictably around brunch and whatnot, Father’s Day offers a virtually unlimited opportunity to find quality ways to hang out with the man than is probably, one way or another, responsible for your taste level. And watching movies is a great way to do so. Everyone watched movies with their Dad, providing there was a Dad around to watch movies with. This is such a Dad thing to do. Then AND Now. So we polled some memories about the cinematic moments we spent and cherished with our Fathers, listed them below and, if you’re quick enough, you can probably Amazon Prime these DVD’s (Dads do love their DVD’s still!) to them by Sunday. Trust us, not a bad one in the bunch.
Also, please feel free to share your own cool movies to watch with YOUR cool Dad in the comments. We care.
- Ace in the Hole (1951)
- M*A*S*H – the Robert Altman original, not the TV show (1970)
My Father was born in WWII torn Belgrade in 1943, lived through everything that came after that fact, Fathered two children in Former Yugoslavia in the early 1980s, lived through a war with those children (those children being me and my Brother) and still has a favorite war movie. In fact, he really ONLY LIKES ONE WAR MOVIE. As a result, I really only like one war movie. And that movie is M*A*S*H. Robert Altman’s slice of Korean War heaven and hell is still one of the funniest, smartest, sharpest movies ever written. Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould (two actors Dads pretty universally love) are perfectly matched as two brilliant surgeons trying to make it through the war they have no choice to be in, and get along with people they have no choice to be around. Often laugh out loud funny, often heartbreaking, and always always worth a rewatch due to the infinite subtleties of Altman’s shooting style: surprises are around every corner, but unlike war, in the case of M*A*S*H, they tend to mostly be pleasant – Svetlana
The Long Good Friday (1980)
Certain actors have Dad appeal. Some Dads are into Steve McQueen, Sidney Poitier, or Robert Mitchum. No matter the favorite, all Dads everywhere have mad respect for Bob Hoskins. Compact and ferocious, Hoskins had a magnetic screen presence even though he always had a #dadbod, and The Long Good Friday is his best film. He plays a cockney gangster, a favorite Dad hero, whose business ventures go to shit in spite of his intelligence, mad dog attitude, and propensity for violence. This one also features a young Helen Mirren, so it might be a secret Mom movie, too. – Alan
- To Have and Have Not (1940)
Every Sunday is a good day for a black and white classic. But Father’s Day Sunday with your old man is especially good for it given the right film. For this particular Sunday we offer you, To Have and Have Not. This golden-age standard has you covered at every Dad turn. It’s based (ultimately loosely) on the Ernest Hemingway novel; William Faulkner wrote the bulk of the script; Howard Hawks directed; and Humphrey Bogart gives one of his best antihero performances in a career built on the term. (If that’s not enough manly manliness, you should probably stop reading this now and get back to fighting those fires on your offshore oilrig.)
Set in Martinique against the backdrop of WWII, an American expatriate (Bogart) along with his alcoholic sidekick (the brilliance that is Walter Brennan) begrudgingly help carry the leader of the French Resistance and his (surprise) gorgeous wife to safety as the Nazis advance on the island. As if all this isn’t enough, Lauren Bacall makes her film debut here and damn near sets the screen on fire with her, well EVERYTHING. Bogart (character and real-life legend) falls in love and Bacall’s lounge singing character ‘Slim’ smolders her way through the film, stealing hearts and scenes alike. Hawks lays out the story in masterful fashion, balancing tension with wit and allowing his stars to shine throughout. I promise, Bacall’s little sashay as she and Bogart exit the club at the end of film is worth the price of admission all by itself. – Jason
- Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid (1969)
Hopefully we don’t have to explain this. Paul Newman and Robert Redford and George Roy Hill made two perfect Dad watching movies together, The Sting and Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid (George and Paul later on went to make Slap Shot, which sadly didn’t have Redford in it but does give Roy Hill & Newman a near perfect Father’s Day afternoon movie marathon if you’re ever in search of one). What edges Butch and Sundance over The Sting (the leading duo dynamic in both is flawless) in this round-up is three things: a script by the one of the greatest American screenwriter William Goldman (credits include: Marathon Man, Princess Bride and Misery, on top of this), the Henry Mancini score which every Dad loves whistling to and Katherine Ross, the ultimate crush every Dad had circa 1967-forever. Sam Elliott got her in the end in real life, and that is the one man (aside from the men involved in this movie) even your Dad is ok to losing their crush to. – Svetlana
- Point Break (1991)
At some point every guy wants to be cool. He wants to hang out with cool guys and do cool stuff. They want to be admired by other men and desired by all the ladies. Sadly, most guys don’t ever achieve this. Thank God there’s movies! And arguably the pinnacle of the cool guy, action-bromance movies of the late 80’s and early 90’s (see Top Gun, Lethal Weapon, Midnight Run, etc.), Point Break takes man’s desire to be an exclusively cool dude to it’s rightful crescendo.
Long before Kathryn Bigelow became the first female Academy Award-winning Director, she was skillfully guiding pure testosterone onto celluloid through the form of two adrenaline junkies on opposite sides of the law. FBI agent, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) finds his self being sucked into the counter-culture of adventure chasers while investigating a band of surfers led by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) who may also just be knocking over banks up and down the California Coast.
This film help fuel the explosion of extreme sports that ultimately resulted in the birth of The X Games and what is now a seemingly endless supply of YouTube feats and failures. Point Break set many a young wanna-be-cool-guy down a path of surfing, skydiving, skiing, motocross racing and even induction into special forces … One of them may be your Dad. – Jason
- Fitzcarraldo (1982)
The under appreciated thing about most Dads is that once a upon a time they were all weirdos. Before they had you and me and a mortgage and whatever else, they were young and wild and nerdy and totally themselves. This is why all Dads love Werner Herzog. Because he never stopped being all of that. My Dad’s favorite Herzog movie is Fitzcarraldo, and my family watches this with fair regularity every holiday season (unless my Mom takes the lead and we go down the Victor Victoria rabbit hole first). A story of a man who wanted to get a boat over a mountain in order to build an opera house in the Brazilian jungle. Which is a true story. Klaus Kinski (the other ultimate weirdo Dad hero, and Dad to Nastassja Kinski making him also the ultimate weirdo Dad-In-Law hero) plays the lead with adequate wild eyed abandon. Claudia Cardinale is as gorgeous as ever. And, the movie making process itself was weird (that word again) that it warranted its own movie. A perfect Dad Sunday double feature. Then, plan a retirement trip with him to the Brazilian Jungle to see some opera. He’ll say yes. – Svetlana
- The Road Warrior (1981)
This is the ultimate dad movie, for fathers and sons of any age, and the key is Max’s performance. As with Mad Max Fury Road, Mel Gibson plays Max like a strong, silent protector (he has no lines for the first 15 minutes, and has maybe 20 total in the movie). Max is strong, powerful, silent, a little annoyed, and everyone who interacts with him has a begrudging respect for the guy. He’s my cinematic dad, and by the time he kicks serious ass, he’ll be yours, too. – Alan
At Close Range (1986)
Nothing brings a father and a son together like committing crime. In At Close Range, Christopher Walken and Sean Penn make up one of the ultimate intense father-son duos in screen history. Legendary casting director, Billy Hopkins nails it in this James Foley sleeper by pairing Walken and Penn who deliver some of the most concentrated and visceral work of their careers – and that’s saying something. Brad Jr.’s (Penn) shiftless small town existence is shotgunned into ambition when the oft-absent Brad Sr. (Walken) re-enters his life. Son quickly follows father in the family business of stealing heavy machinery, and anything else not nailed down, and selling it on the black market. Despite the hints of acceptance and approval Brad Jr. desperately craves, he ultimately discovers that not only will dear old dad never be the father he needs, but he may also be a very dangerous enemy. (If it’s not completely evident by now, I’ll go ahead and say this here: This is a film best experienced by those fathers and sons who enjoy a loving and mutually respectful relationship.) What ultimately transpires in the film’s climax is of such high-caliber acting it should reside in a pantheon somewhere north of Mulholland sitting next to the final scenes of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and There Will Be Blood. This is most certainly not the feel-good movie on this list, but it is definitely a father-son dynamo. (Did I mention it’s also based very closely on the true story of notorious Philadelphia criminal Bruce Johnston, Sr. and his son? Good times!) – Jason
- Andrei Rublev (1966)
Only Tarkovsky (the man behind the original Solaris) could make a movie about something as seemingly uncompelling as a 15th century iconographer be so beautiful (the movie is in black and white, aside from when showing the works of the titular character), and arresting (the backstory, the ongoing underlying tension) that it would change your idea of what movies (and not just art house movies) are like forever. My Dad could watch Andrei Rublev on loop (only life sometimes gets in the way) and it is because of his deep, devoted love of this film that I truly understood that my (engineer) Dad was special and that really, there would never be a piece of art or film or literature that I could not share with him. – Svetlana
Army of Shadows (1969)
All dads everywhere love shit about World War 2, and that’s a fact. Those movies are the only time they’re allowed to cry, other than the birth of their children. Army of Shadows, however, has no time for emotion. It tells a different WW2 story: directed by Jean Pierre Melville, it is about the silent, taciturn freedom fighters in the French Resistance. They know they’d be anonymous – no one would ever know their name – yet they believed their cause is greater than glory that might come afterward. The cool thing about dad is that they will silently appreciate a film with subtitles: this is the sort of movie that’ll heighten their respect for you, although they might be put off by the secret honor of these French badasses. – Alan
- Jungle Book (1967)
Ok, a cartoon. But what a cartoon. Disney’s Jungle Book is a movie that teaches you that a Father figure doesn’t necessarily have to be a biological one, as well as the fact that there can, in fact, be more than one Father Figure out there in your world, and no matter how unorthodox the set-up, through song, dance, and general can-do attitude all can be overcome. To wit: are Bagheera and Balloo the first “two Dads” family the universe not only accepted but rooted for? – Svetlana
Not having a Wes Anderson film on this list would be absurd, especially given that all of his films directly or indirect … Nope, directly center around some dis-function of the father-son dynamic. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is no exception. Steve Zissou (Bill Murray straight challenging Jacques Cousteau) is setting out to avenge the death of his partner and document the never-before-seen Jaguar Shark. Among the band of misfits along for this ride is a very pregnant journalist, Jane (Cate Blanchett) and Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who claims to be Zissou’s son. Both Zissou and Ned fall for Jane further complicating their newfound relationship.
Everything about this film that he co-wrote with Noah Baumbach allows for Anderson to revel in all things that make his films so uniquely Wes Anderson: elaborate set pieces, hilariously but meticulous costumes, detailed props (complete with antiquated analogue electronics), a large ensemble cast, stop-motion photography, and a story at it’s core that wrestles with themes of manhood, responsibility and acceptance. The parallels to Cousteau’s own life are plentiful throughout the film, not the least of which center around the death of Cousteau’s own son. All this drama and the movie is still fucking HILARIOUS! Unbelievable. And I haven’t even mentioned the music: Beautiful Portuguese translations of David Bowie classics performed on camera at perfect juxtapositions in the film’s narrative by Seu Jorge. The only actual Bowie recording comes at the film’s poignant conclusion. Zissou is outside a screening of his film when a small boy exits the theater and comes to sit next to him. “This is an adventure,” says Zissou to himself and in a classic dad move, he hoists the boy onto his shoulders. The two walk away, paparazzi and exiting attendees in tow, all in a single take as Bowie’s “Queen Bitch” kicks in and the credits roll. Try watching that with Dad at not be affected! – Jason
Your turn now.