March 20, 2012 · 10:49 am
If I had a dollar for every time I found my dad watching “Casablanca” when I was a kid, I probably wouldn’t have to go to work today. As a child, the old black-and-white movies bored me to death, but now I have quite a large classic movie selection. I definitely prefer the classics to most of the movies being made today.
I guess Dad felt the same way. I remember how Mom and I would want to go to the mall or on some outing on a Sunday afternoon, and Dad would tell us to wait until the end of the movie. Even my mom would be miffed. “You’ve seen that movie over and over, you know how it ends,” she would scold him out of frustration. It didn’t matter because it was “Casablanca” and Humphrey Bogart was lighting up the screen. Dad would sit in front of the TV, transfixed, and not budge until the credits started rolling.
That’s why I was thrilled to find this photo of Dad, who looks like he’s doing his best Bogart impersonation. It’s obviously a photo booth photo, but there’s no date and I have no idea where it was taken. I know Dad wanted to get into acting, and judging by this photo, he could have easily been an extra in a film noir movie of the era. He’s definitely going for the hard-boiled detective look in this photo.
It seems that people of my parents’ generation found simple ways to escape out of the doldrums of daily life. My dad was not the most fascinating person in the world, but I’ve stumbled upon great photos like these that show a completely different side of him. When I think back on the photos I have of myself, there’s nothing nearly as interesting. I think now we are more concerned about being seen at XYZ tourist destination, thinking that by being present in a certain location, it will transform us, but back in the day, when perhaps travel wasn’t as easy for everyone, people like my Dad transformed themselves instead of their environment.
January 25, 2012 · 1:45 pm
On a recent trip home, about a month before my father passed away, my mom brought out a few shoeboxes of old family photos. Most I had seen before, but there was one photograph of my dad that stood out to me. It looked more like a headshot than a candid pose as most of the other photos were. When I showed it to my mom she said that it was the photo dad sent to the Hollywood movie studios, to try to get into the movies.
I knew dad had a lifelong love for the cinema, having escaped war-torn Belfast as a child by becoming a fan of the silver screen. Among his favorite actors were Humphrey Bogart and Jack Nicholson. If I had a dollar for every time I remembered dad watching “Casablanca” I’d be a wealthy woman by now. I just watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” again, having seen it several times before. This time, I viewed the movie from a slightly different perspective, as there are some similarities that I noticed of the mental health facility depicted in the movie and the care center that my dad was placed in at the end of his life. There’s always the issue of medication and its use in controlling patients’ behaviors, the staff’s handling of patients, how patients get along with one another and the level of freedom provided to the patients. These facilities are filled with moments of humor and tragedy, just as depicted in the movie.
Anyways, my dad’s glamour shot is a keeper, even if he never landed a film role. He was lucky enough to have kept his pitch-black hair most of his life, and while typically shy, his personality shines through in this image. It’s always interesting to see one’s parents as they lived before they became mom or dad, to get a glimpse into their hopes, dreams and ambitions. In the end, I’m glad dad didn’t become a movie star, because then he may never have been my dad.