March 24, 2016

Vola Lawson's Movie Recommendations for Visitors and Immigrants to America

Whenever I try to clean out my files, I run into trouble. I keep finding interesting, forgotten items that always take me off in another direction.

It happened again when I recently discovered a list of our best classic movies prepared several years ago by my dear departed pal Vola Lawson. Memories of my friend came flooding back.

Vola and I met in 1956, when we had apartments in the same house in Georgetown. We became close friends then and kept in touch through our career and family years. A few times each year, we'd have lunch at Chez Andree, her favorite restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. From 1985 to 2000, Vola was Alexandria's city manager.

In recent years, we saw each other much more frequently and rekindled the tight bond of friendship over the bridge table. She got to know Nimesh and Bhawana, the Nepali couple who live with me.

I told Vola I was thinking of having a regular movie night at home to introduce my housemates to the best American film classics. We thought those movies would provide useful introductions to American culture and history.

Vola loved movies, and went often with a good friend who shared her enthusiasm. The two of them co-authored a review of the years' best films for the Alexandria Gazette. 

When Vola came to the house for bridge, she almost always brought Willie, her beloved Jack Russell Terrier shown here in his favorite place: Vola's arms.

To learn more about this lovely lady, click here.

So you can see how one sheet of paper in my old files can send me off on a journey down memory lane.

So -- finally -- here's Vola's list of our all-time best movies:
I'm glad you're starting with To Kill a Mockingbird, maybe my favorite movie of them all. 
Two great movie musicals: Some Like It Hot and Singin' in the Rain
Mockingbird is about the American South in the 1930's, and Driving Miss Daisy is about the changing South in the 1960's with outstanding peforrmances by Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy. An interesting pair would be Gone with the Wind, a romanticized version from the perspective of well-born whites who lost everything in the Civil War, followed by Roots, which documents the misery, pain, and transcendance of blacks from the same period. 
And you will have to have a couple Westerns -- how about The Magnificent Seven. And you need a John Wayne. Critics say The Searchers is his best. 
And I could never make a list of beloved movies without Casablanca, the doomed love story of Rick and Ilsa just prior to the U.S. entering the Second World War, with Nazis, and a great supporting cast. 
And you have to have an Alfred Hitchcock -- Vertigo or Notorious or Psycho. 
Other movies I recommend for your weekly series: 
Annie Hall
Schindler's List
The Verdict

And then The Godfather trilogy -- an American Masterpiece but so dark I'd save it for the end.
Thank you, Vola.

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