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Movies and TV shows that shaped my childhood

Updated on September 17, 2014
Scene from Birds. Taken in Public Library.
Scene from Birds. Taken in Public Library.
Scene from Birds. Taken in Public Library.
Scene from Birds. Taken in Public Library.

Dallas

Dallas TV series was one of my favorite shows and probably the first one that I ever watched. I started watching it when I was about 3 years old and guess who hooked me onto it. My grandparents! That's right, they had been drawn to J.R. Ewing's despicable character, Bobby's righteousness and Miss Ellie's kind heart. It was a show that had so much influence on me that I dreamed of becoming an oil tycoon and swore to myself that I would live right where they lived - in Southfork Ranch, Texas. I started wearing grandfather's suits and ties and I would impersonate both J.R. and Bobby fighting with each other. J.R., played by the late Larry Hagman, was probably the most lovable evil man that has ever showed up on TV, and he sure was, for some strange reason, a hero of mine. Maybe it's the wicked sense of humor that he had when he was talking in a condescending tone to his brother Bobby, Bobby's wife Pamela or Pamela's brother Cliff Barnes, that made him so lovable among all of the Dallas' fans. And let's face it, J.R.'s character is what made the show. And I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be a J.R. if it wasn't for Hagman's great talent and charisma. Isn't there a little bit of J.R. in all of us?

Poltergeist

I stayed up one night watching TCM not knowing what I was about to see. Everybody in my family was asleep but I just couldn't get myself to bed. The movie began as a nice family movie, they moved in a new place and everything was going fine. Until weird things started happening around. Yes, Poltergeist (directed by Steven Spielberg) definitely shaped my childhood and even got into my dreams! I once dreamed of the very same place from the opening scene, the hills, the row of houses, and it awakened a desire in me to live in such a place one day. I remember the first time I saw the movie, the second and the third. TMC tended to repeat some of the movies, but every time Poltergeist was on a feeling of euphoria took over my body. My mind would completely be in the movie, in that very place where the ghosts were hunting the family who just moved in. It's weird how anybody in his teens would want to live in a place that he or she saw in a horror movie. It saddened me later to learn that in real life the little girl from the movie, Heather O'Rourke, died at the age of 12.

Before becoming popular as J.R., he was known as Major Nelson in the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.
Before becoming popular as J.R., he was known as Major Nelson in the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.
Larry Hagman died in 2012 at the age of 81.
Larry Hagman died in 2012 at the age of 81.

Duel

Another one of Spielberg's master pieces (at least in my opinion) that had an enormous influence on me was the movie Duel, from 1971. Many of you haven't even heard of it, I bet. It's not one of the most well-known Spielberg's movies but I sure watched it more than a few times. Why was I so taken by it? Well, the road itself! I love road movies and the fact that you're being chased by someone who's face you don't see the entire movie, driving a much bigger vehicle than yours, is as thrilling as it can get. Or could get back in 1971. Now, even though it came out almost two decades before I was born, I've learned to appreciate those kind of films, and not just the classic ones that everyone knows about, even the younger generations.

Dennis Weaver had it all - the mustache, the shades, the 1971 Plymouth Valiant sedan and the highway all to himself. Everything that I could ever wish to have, especially the times when I wanted to escape my own uninteresting reality, he had it. Until a tanker truck showed up, determined to kill him. That's when the fun starts but that certainly is not when the excitement starts for me. The excitement starts when the movie itself starts and from the first to the last scene I can't do anything but enjoy the ride, the desert, the road and the chase. This film left a deep mark on me so much that I started making drawings of a road through desert with a car driving down. I became obsessed with it but nobody in my family knew about my obsession. They all just thought the drawings were nice. Meanwhile all along in my mind I was creating this little world of mine, dreaming of driving an old town car with nothing around me but cactuses, sand and dust. And an occasional tanker truck.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Ah, the famous spaghetti westerns. I lived by them. In fact, I still do. And if there's any period of time I would travel back to it would most definitely be the Wild West era. Sure, spaghetti westerns are just movies that was directed by an Italian (Sergio Leone) and filmed mostly in the deserts of Spain, but after reading books and books on the Gold rush, cowboys and Indians, I came to a conclusion that Sergio knew what he was doing and that there were the good ones like Blondie, the bad ones like Angel Eyes and the ugly ones like Tuco. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the most popular of all the movies from the Dollar Trilogy (which also includes A Fistfull of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More) and is probably the first one to come to one's mind when mentioning Clint Eastwood's name. But what follows that thought are the melodies of Ennio Morricone's brilliant compositions, the theme song from the opening scene and The Ecstasy of Gold. The songs that still ring in my head every time I see a Clint's movie (be that Dirty Harry or Play Misty for Me). The hat, the poncho and the mule would be good enough for me, I would think as I was growing up. I would stand in front of the mirror, narrow my eyes with my index finger and thumb pointed out and repeat the famous line "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig." Being a nineteenth century cowboy sure sounded like a promising career.

Birds

Never did I look at little innocent birds the same way again. After seeing Hitchcock's splendid horror one can only admire the creativity of this genius director. It was one of those movies that would me leave me with a "what if" question every time I saw it. What if birds really turned against us? What would I really do in that situation? How could I protect myself? They're only birds. But if they unite like in the movie, then I'm helpless. These question still bother me sometimes but every time I have a chance to see the movie, I watch it with pleasure. It was a big part of my growing up and it brings back some cozy memories when I was sitting on sofa in the living room late at night with the lights off. Even though most of Hitchcock's movies have a slow pace in the beginning and sometimes far into the movie, the culmination is so intense, it makes such a contrast that you will remember it for a very long time. And that is exactly what happened to me as a thirteen-year-old. Hitchcock was one and only and the Birds was such a creative movie that I could only imagine the impact it had on public when it came out first in 1963. Today it is mostly watched by older people and young ones don't have any interest in movies from the sixties. And I get it, it's not that kind of a movie you would watch in cinema or at home with friends. But I have hopes for all you teenagers out there that one day, when you're all alone in your room, and you don't feel like doing your homework, and you turn your TV on, and Birds comes on, that you won't change the channel. It definitely is a life changer. The question is: are you brave enough to watch it?

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    • Gordan Zunar profile image
      Author

      Gordan Zunar 3 years ago from New York

      Thank you, exactly, and even if I missed on something I wouldn't worry much, I'd just be happy that the show is still on and that J.R. hasn't changed.

    • mio cid profile image

      mio cid 3 years ago from Uruguay

      good choices I watched dallas on and off for years the good thing is that you could miss episodes and when you got back you caught up right to it.