By Beth Hannan Rimmels
A disclaimer: Since it was the end of the century, one of the publications I write for requested a list of the most memorable entertainment events in my lifetime. I make no claims that these are the best movies, TV shows, etc. that I've ever seen, but for one reason or another, these are the ones that changed my life, opened my mind and continue to haunt or entertain me no matter how many times I've seen them.
A film that was dismissed at first but later shown to be eerily ahead of its time. It should be required viewing to prove that even the most innocuous, friendly people can conceal a malignant hatred, and that itís easy to kill if you convince yourself that "others" are less than human.
2. Gone With the Wind
When inflation is considered, this 60-year-old film, not the one about the big boat, is still box office champ. Why? Besides the gorgeous sets and cinematography, fabulous acting and juicy characters, GWTW still makes subtle and poignant comments on Southern life before, during and after the Civil War, some of which still haunt us today.
3. Star Wars
Star Wars broke new ground in special effects, summer movie crazes and merchandizing, but also proved that science fiction films were not passť and that archetypal myths will always be with us in some form. Besides, itís the first movie I paid to see more than once, and itís the movie that made me want to go into the entertainment field.
4. The Princess Bride
The perfect swashbuckler movie with a deft sense of humor. Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Douglas Fairbanks and company would be proud.
5. Beauty & The Beast (Disney)
The best musical in decades still makes me miss the wit and artistry of writer/lyricist Howard Ashman. The seamless blend of classic and computer animation accent rather than detract from a perfectly crafted story and beautiful songs.
The ultimate romantic drama, its plot has been copied numerous times but never duplicated. Humphrey Bogartís at his most ruggedly sexy, Ingrid Bergman is luminous in her beauty and the supporting cast, especially Claude Rains, is stellar.
A very underrated musical that not only gets the historic details right (it was written by a professor frustrated that students thought history was boring) but makes them extremely entertaining. The founding fathers are shown honestly, yet without cynicism, and John Cullum not only brings the house down with "Molasses to Rum" but foreshadows the coming of the Civil War a century later.
8. The Wizard of Oz
A classic for good reason. The Technicolor process might as well as been invented for this telling of L. Frank Baumís most famous novel. Everyone knows the songs and star Judy Garlandís talent was perfectly showcased.
9. Auntie Mame
Rosalind Russell is superb as the most famous eccentric in New York City (or at least Beekman Place). Hilariously funny, with a few pieces of wisdom mixed in like, "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."
1. Babylon 5
The true successor to the original Star Trek. A real "novel" written for television, B5 showed humanity at its worst and best, and in the process commented on life, honor and sacrifice in a way that only the best science fiction ever can. Certain scenes still make me cry despite having seem them at least 10 times.
2. Homicide: Life on the Street
The cop show that did not go for the flashy attention via naked butts like NYPD Blue. Instead, through stellar acting and stories that were gut-wrenching without being exploitive, it grabbed you by the throat and demanded that you think and feel about the most realistic police unit ever shown on television.
3. Star Trek (the original)
Star Trek, besides almost single-handedly popularizing the science fiction convention and proving that syndication is where the real money is, combined imagination and action with Twilight Zone-influenced morality plays. No one cared that the planets all looked alike because the stories were great, a formula later ST series got backwards. Plus growing up, it fed my hunger for science fiction.
Stephen J. Cannell took the undercover police drama one step further by using story arcs that sometimes lasted half a season as he took us inside the double life of FBI Organized Crime Bureau agent Vinnie Terranova. Besides great, uncompromising stories that featured every shade of gray morality, the series had wonderful guest stars including Ray Sharkey, Kevin Spacey, David Straithern (before their film careers), Tim Curry, Paul Winfield, Debbie Harry and Glenn Frey, to name a few.
American television audiences discovered comedian Rowen Atkinson through this and Mr. Bean long before his tongue-tied minister in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Through four six-episode seasons and one Christmas special, Atkinson's acid humor skewers stupidity, bureaucracy and pretentious using various characters from English history. No one is sacred, including Elizabeth I.
6. Red Dwarf
Imagine the cast of Monty Python doing a science fiction series and you have Red Dwarf. Somehow it manages to be totally outrageous without ever losing it completely. Unfortunately, audiences are at the mercy of local PBS programming to find it or they have to hunt down the video compilations.
7. Robin of Sherwood
After Errol Flynn's adventurous romp, this is my favorite version of Robin Hood. Shot on location, the series not only depicted the time period accurately but managed to blend Celtic mythology with the familiar stories, making them fresh. It even managed to survive Michael Praed's exit by claiming that Robin of Huntington took up the mantle of the Robin of Locksley (many version simply say that Robin of Locksley was named Earl of Huntington by King Richard) and casting Jason Connery, Sean's son, in the role. Add background music by Clannad, and it's nearly perfect (only the last episode of the series disappoints).
8. I, Claudius
People who haven't seen it dismiss this PBS miniseries as high-brow and hard to follow. In reality, it's a historically accurate (though some liberties were taken) soap opera set in ancient Rome featuring some of the best British actors of our time. I'm sure it's no accident that the twisted matriarch on The Sopranos is named Livia like Sian Phillips' scheming empress.
9. The Wave
A made-for-TV movie targeted to students that aired in prime time, few people know about it today, which is a crime. Based on a true story of how a high school history teacher showed students the dark attraction of fascism in an unauthorized and unconventional experiment. The students never forgot how close they came to true evil and neither has anyone who watched it.
1. Les Miserables
I grew up on musical theater and knew more about it as a teenager than I did rock or pop music. But despite the fabulous shows I had seen both live and on film, it wasnít until I saw Les Miserables on stage that I could name a single favorite. The first time I saw it, I cried through almost the entire show because the emotion of the story was so raw ó and I rarely cry.
2. Being introduced to heavy metal (circa 1984)
Somewhere along the way in high school I began playing catch up with pop/rock music. Then in college, my then friend/now husband introduced me to Black Sabbath, Rainbow, AC DC, Ozzy Osbourne, and other heavy metal gods. It became the soundtrack for the dark side of imagination, and I finally understood its cathartic power.
3. Stevie Nicks
I still remember the first time I heard Fleetwood Macís Rumours at a girlfriendís house and Nickís voice on "Dreams," "The Chain" and "Gold Dust Woman." From that point on, the Welsh Witch wove a spell on me. At times, her songs seemed to be commenting on my life with their ethereal melodies and grace.
4. Seeing Angela Lansbury as Mame
You never forget your first, and I was six years old when I saw my first live musical starring Lansbury as the irrepressible Mame Dennis at the now-gone Painterís Mill Playhouse in Md. Iíll never forget her tearing down the aisle next to us, running onto the theater-in-the-round stage in a streak of yellow for her scripted late entry during "The Man in the Moon." From then on, I was hooked on musical theater.
5. A Billy Idol concert in 1985
It was my first rock concert, and I only went because it was on campus and my friends talked me into it. We had seats right in front that we had to fight to keep from moochers. We also had a view of Idol puking off stage between songs. It was deafening and raucous just like rock should be.