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By LuAnn Schindler


Original views on life in rural America


January 21, 2021

If I asked you to name four movies that define your teenage years, what would be your response?

In the past two weeks, I’ve seen social media posts asking individuals to select four films they identify with from their teen years.

Naming four would be a snap if I grew up in the 1980s ... “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Karate Kid,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Those ‘80s comedies celebrated teen angst at its best and provided comic relief.

Movies from my era, a decade prior, ran the gamut from classic horror flicks - like “Alien” or “Halloween” - to westerns - “The Outlaw Josey Wale”s or “The Cowboys” - to musicals and comedies and plain, old raunchy fun - think “Animal House.”

Dad’s family owned The Empress in Wausa for years. He grew up watching what we consider classics: “Gone With the Wind,” “Little Orphan Annie,” “The Wizard of Oz.” Naturally, he shared his love of film with us. Oh, how I wish I could ask him to share his answers to this question.

If our family wasn’t at Husker football, more than likely, you would find us at The Strand or Rivoli Theaters, in Hastings. Like Memorial Stadium, the theater was a second home.

For nearly two weeks, I’ve been assembling a laundry list of films, erasing some as others etch a mark. Ask me tomorrow and I may select four different movies, but today, these are the titles that stick with me ... and probably prove I’m a sentimental sap.

First pick: “The Great Gatsby,” released in 1974. Our family viewed the movie in Lincoln. I fell in puppy love with Sam Waterston and Robert Redford that day, and maybe more so with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story of the search for the American dream. Two scenes still stand out. Daisy throwing Jay Gatsby’s dress shirts in the air. It was a brilliant rainbow of pastels, a contrast to Gatsby’s stark white suit. The second, a growing pool of blood set against a blue-green swimming pool outlined in pristine white, after Wilson shoots Gatsby, and then, himself.

Next up: “Rocky,” which debuted in 1976. This one may stand out because my parents actually let me go on a date to see the movie ... on a school night. Trust me, that never happened until then. The film chronicles teen and adult themes: good girl/bad boy relationships, believing in yourself and others, winning versus losing and how attitude and values define those terms.

Another 1976 movie that may characterize those years is Barbra Streisand’s and Kris Kristofferson’s version of “A Star is Born.” This third version featured okay acting. It wasn’t really about the storyline. It was about music ... songs spoke of love and longing, about taking a leap of faith to reach goals, women’s voices being heard and respected. And, true to the other versions of the film, it was about wanting one more look at the person you love and yearning to give them the best in life. Plus, we owned the LP and listened to it all the time, rocking the huge console turntable/radio/tape player. And if the record wasn’t spinning, I was playing the tunes on the piano.

The next film is a toss-up between two musicals: “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever.” Both have some sentimental memories. Both have fantastic soundtracks. Saturday Night Fever introduced the world to disco music. Saturday evenings meant a dance-filled date night for me and my high school beau. Shiny satin shirts, flashy gold chains and clunky high heels were all the rage. It’s a wonder I didn’t break an already tender ankle. Besides, watching young John Travolta strut across the dance floor ... swoon. Now, maybe not so much.

What movies from your teen years left a lasting impression? Share your list on SAM’s Facebook page.


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