Movie Treasure

My Favorite Movies

Last week I shared a story of two women who found fortune in searching antique shops when they chanced upon old movie plates used to make movie posters.  The wooden printing plates turned out to be quite valuable.  The women shared that they enjoyed reliving the feeling of seeing many of the movies from the 1950s that they had seen when they were young.  I have some of the same feelings.  I love watching movies.  The best movies ever made, in my opinion, were during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, right when I was growing up.  Consequently, they have had a strong influence on my life.  Are the movies during that time not as realistic as the movies of today?  Perhaps, but I still prefer the romantic and optomistic feeling from the movies that were produced in that period.  It was a very good time in America and I think that was reflected in the movies. The following is a list of my favorite movies with a guess as to what year it was produced and my synopsis of each.

  1. Ben Hur(1959):  A  story of faith.  Judea Ben Hur is a Jew redeemed from the depths of injustice and evil imposed on him by the power of Rome.  His God did not abandon him in his hopeless situation.  A God who does work in the lives of individuals, each person having worth and purpose.  Not just a distant God who created the universe and then sits back immune to our suffering.
  2. Dr. Zhivago (1965):  Romance in the midst of war and overwhelming struggles.  Yuri Zhivago is a Russian doctor and a poet who finds himself on the front in World War I and returns home to a lost way of life as the Russian Revolution occurs.  Cold, hunger, fear, and cruelty cannot squelch his desire for the beautiful things life can offer, including the hope of love, no matter how dark the times are.  All of us want to live life enjoying every moment of beauty, especially the desire to love and be loved.
  3. The Counterfeit Traitor (1960):  Ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times, and trying to confront evil in the process.  A Swedish oilman is reluctantly forced to spy for the allies as he goes on business trips inside the 3rd Reich.  Based on a true story.  He falls in love with his contact within Germany impressed by her character and willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes, possibly her life, to confront Hitler.  As a successful businessman, and one who loved a life of luxury, he thought he could conviently put his conscience in the corner, that is until he met her.  He had to reassess his life’s values.  I have often wondered how I would act if confronted with dire circumstances as they were.          
  4. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956):  A man returning from World War II to the hustle and bustle of New York City is challenged to choose between climbing the corporate ladder or time and devotion to his family.  He also has some demons from the war he has to deal with in the context of his marriage.  It makes me appreciate my wife of 36 years. 
  5. Jason and the Argonauts (1963):  An epic fantasy journey in search of treasure at the ends of the earth as Jacob and his sailors overcome monsters and bigger than life challenges on their quest.  The special effects were quite good for the time in which the movie was made.  I enjoyed watching it with my own kids in the late 1980s.  I still enjoy occasionally watching it.
  6. Them (1954):  A fun cheesy black and white science fiction thriller about   giant ants coming out of the New Mexico desert created by atomic radiation tests.  The bespectacled scientist at the end of the flick says, “when man opened the door to the atomic age he may not have realized what awaits him.”  Another movie I enjoyed sharing with my kids.
  7. The Longest Day (1963):  A film portraying the events of D Day on June 6, 1944.  Lots of action.  I saw it as a kid at the theater when I lived on an Army base.  We were the Americans, we were the good guys and we were go  ing to win.  A very proud and optimistic film about American forces in World War II.  Not too much gore as war films of today, and a feel good movie about our country. It initiated my love of history.
  8. Shane (1953):  It is easy for us to size up and judge others until we have either walked in their shoes or we need them.  Shane is a handsome mysterious stranger on the western frontier who wants to start a new life without the use of his gun.  He hires on to help a family work the land in late 19th century Wyoming only to realize the homesteaders in the valley are being bullied off their land by a greedy  rancher.  In the process of helping them confront the bully, he realizes his way of life is passing but that he cannot change who he is.  I am no Shane, but in all honesty have never found a fit for my life on this earth.  In many ways I am still searching.
  9. A Friendly Persuasion (1957):  A Quaker family living a quiet idyllic life in Southern Indiana is shattered by the trauma of the Civil War.  Do you fight to protect your family, your land, even though in your heart you wish no harm to others.  It makes me want to pause before I get impulsively angry.
  10. Les Miserable (1978):  A timeless story told in theaters and film many times over.  This version with Antony Perkins is my favorite.  It encourages me to strive to be graceful with others.    


Movie Treasure


I really enjoy shows such as The Hunt for Amazing Treasures.  A one hour show will often have half a dozen interesting treasure stories.  One of the discoveries that I wanted retell took place in the Midwest.  Two women would spend time most Saturdays visiting garage sales or traveling to antique shops in the area.  They enjoyed each other’s company as well as the hunt for garage treasure.  Some people really have a knack for this which I do not.  I could not tell you if something is valuable or if it is just junk.  But that is part of the hunt, and not that they can always either.  Many times garage treasure hunters just buy on a hunch hoping it will be worth something.

            The story goes that they had spent most of the day together, were tired and ready to get home, but decided to visit one more antique shop in Omaha, NB.  Towards the back of the shop they noticed what looked like large wooden blocks that a printer might use.  The blocks were of various sizes and they realized were for movies.  The blocks were actually movie poster printing plates.  They seemed unique, different in that they did not look like a whole mass production of the same printing plates but were each different.  In other words, each printing block represented one movie.  As the picked up individual plates they enjoyed thinking about the many movies brought  back to memory.  They checked with the store owner who said she had had the blocks for years and that those on display were just a few of the thousands she had taking up space in the back.  She was willing to sell the whole lot of them.

            They bought all of them for two thousand dollars and then began to research if indeed they were worth anything.  First question was why were the blocks in Nebraska?  What is the connection with Omaha and Hollywood?  In times past the movie industry would have posters printed in Omaha because it was centrally located in the country, and easy to disseminate the posters quickly.  Next question, were they rare and if so, worth anything?  It turns out each block could be worth hundreds of dollars.  The bottom line, the value of their $2000 purchase could be worth over $2,000,000.  The women had enjoyed their time treasure trekking, and now they enjoy sharing their treasure with others who also love movies like they do.

            I won’t be buying any movie memorabilia, but I also like movies.  The women looked to be about my age, in their late fifties and just like me grew up in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when the best movies were made.  At least that is my opinion.  You will have to wait until next week for me to list my all time favorite movies, most of which are in the 50’s & 60’s time frame.  As the women said on the show, “movies are a treasure to them,” and I could not agree more.  Movies have not only brought me much entertainment but in reality have influenced my life more then I probably realize.  They bring back a treasure trove of memories.