Checking off the list: Vacation was prime time for movies

The last time my words filled this space, I detailed plans for my mid-April vacation: to clean, to sleep and to watch some great American movies.

In order, my post-vacation report is: a little bit, not enough and four out of five.

The little bit of cleaning is what I was able to accomplish during my snowy week off from work. Did some floors and some walls, but a lot of what I consider a true “spring cleaning” involves open windows.

Hopefully the weather will stay warm enough soon for me to finish that task.

The not enough was how much sleep I caught up on. But that’s pretty standard, not just for me, but for many people. Reading, sports on TV and movies are reasons to not turn in early, right?

As mentioned in my intentions, movies, of course, were a part of my sleep deprivation and from the list I included in my April 20 column, I did track down four of the five to view.

To briefly recap, these movies came from the American Film Institute’s “100 Greatest American Movies of All Time” list issued in 2007. For my week off, I decided to see the first five of the movies on the list of 100 which I had yet to watch.

Those films, in AFI order, were “Raging Bull” (No. 4 on the list); “Lawrence of Arabia” (No. 7); “City Lights” (No. 11); “The Searchers” (No. 12); and “2001: A Space Odyssey” (No. 15).

The one I didn’t watch during my time off was “2001” – my local video store has it on DVD but it was out all that week. But the store clerk promised to let me know when it’s returned so hopefully, that will be on an evening’s viewing list soon.

As for the films I did see…

“Raging Bull” is masterfully shot and Robert DeNiro is absolutely amazing as boxer Jack LaMotta. While the movie is something to be appreciated, it’s not ever going to be on my favorites list. Too violent, too profane for my taste.

“Lawrence of Arabia” intimidated me with its running time of 216 minutes but the two discs went by quickly. Peter O’Toole was excellent, but Omar Sharif was my favorite thing in the film. What a gorgeous man he is. This 51-year-old film is majestic and visually stunning. I would watch it again as I am sure there a things I missed.

“City Lights” is simple and beautiful. It made me weep. It made me smile. It was my favorite of the four, silent, but profoundly expressive.

Interestingly, it was a movie I couldn’t find to rent, but instead borrowed through the Negaunee Public Library, which found it in downstate Monroe County for me.

The fourth film, “The Searchers,” was excellent. Westerns aren’t my genre, but the story, the cinematography and most of all the presence of John Wayne made this a wonderful movie experience. The copy I rented wouldn’t boot up, but lucky for me, one of my best friends is a John Wayne DVD collector, so I was able to view this classic thanks to him.

Some of the content of “The Searchers” is politically incorrect in 2013 sensibilities but remembering the movie was made in 1956 – and set in post-Civil War America – gives context.

In all, it was fun watching some classic American movies during my days off from work. Hooray for Hollywood, indeed.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is