Jul 24

You’re A Boomer If You Love These 10 Movies

From scary to sweet to sad, these iconic films shaped our identity

posted by Linda Bernstein, July 15, 2014 NEXT AVENUE

Linda Bernstein has written hundreds of articles for dozens of magazines and newspapers, writes the blog GenerationBsquared and teaches social media at the Columbia University School of Journalism.
Suddenly (in my mind’s eye) I am seeing thousands of faces smiling, thousands of heads nodding, “yes.”

All you readers out there . . . we all know where we heard those words in The Graduate; some of us may even remember the exact movie theater where we were sitting or the people with whom we shared the moment.

Boomers may be a huge demographic slice — years ago population experts noted that birth rates skyrocketed beginning in 1946 after the soldiers returned from World War II and stayed at high levels until a precipitous drop in 1965. Still, people born within that timespan share a lot of cultural icons. Among them: Movies we loved when we first saw them and will watch again and again on the TCM channel (or Netflix streaming).

Here’s a list (in chronological order) that will take you down memory lane.

20th Century Fox


Why we loved it: The sound of the music! We still sing those tunes.

Memorable line: “Children can’t do all the things they’re supposed to if they’re worried about spoiling their precious clothes.”

Fun fact: Christopher Plummer gave up a role in The Ipcress File to play Captain Von Trapp, something he came to regret. He disliked The Sound of Music so much, he referred to it as “The Sound of Mucus” and “S&M.” He also said that working with Julie Andrews was like being hit over the head every day with a giant valentine. (They did, however, remain good friends.)

The test of time: Even though many people were offended by its historical inaccuracies, The Sound of Music remains one of the highest grossing films of all time, and one of the most beloved. Several remakes (in various forms) have been attempted, but not one has approached the original film in popularity or critical acclaim.



Why we loved it: It was the 60′s. Everyone felt kind of at odds and ends.

Memorable line: (aside from “Plastics.”) “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me . . . aren’t you?”

Fun fact: Right at the very end of the movie, as Elaine and Benjamin escape from her wedding by clambering to the back of a public bus, their faces go from happy to somber, conveying a realization that they their future may not be so rosy. Mike Nichols, the director, achieved that subtle effect by yelling at the actors and scaring them while they were laughing (as they had originally been directed to do).

The test of time: While parents still hold large parties for their college graduates, and adults still harangue young adults with unwanted advice, social mores have changed a lot. A 21-year-old Elaine would unlikely be so innocent. Also, Mrs. Robinson is probably supposed to be about 45 or 50 — and it would be no surprise to any of us that a woman that age is so hot.



Why we loved it: Well, Paul Newman. Robert Redford. Oh, and a great and clever adventure story.

Memorable line: “You just keep thinkin’ Butch. That’s what you’re good at.”

Fun fact: Paul Newman did his own bicycle stunts because the stunt man couldn’t stay on the bike.

The test of time: Spending a few hours with Paul Newman and Robert Redford never grows old.

(MORE: This Summer’s Movies for Grown-Ups)

20th Century Fox


Why we loved it: It was a love story with a heartbreaker ending; a 10-tissue movie.

Memorable line: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Fun fact: Writer Erich Segal partially based the character Oliver Barrett (played by Ryan O’Neal) on his Harvard roommate, future Vice-President Al Gore.

The test of time: Let’s put it this way. In the 1972 film, What’s Up, Doc, Barbra Streisand’s character says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” To which Ryan O’Neal’s character responds, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Though we all had a good cry, the sappy factor became just too yucky pretty quickly.

Paramount Pictures


Why we loved it: We didn’t need professional movie critics to tell us we were watching something extraordinary.

Memorable line: “It’s not personal , Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

Fun Fact: Al Pacino boycotted the Academy Awards because he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor while Marlon Brando, who had less screen time, was nominated (and won) for Best Actor.

The test of time: The Godfather box set is an all time best seller — first on VHS, then DVD, and now digital files.

(MORE: Like Movies? You’ll Love a Film Festival Vacation)

20th Century Fox


Why we loved it: The main character beats the establishment!

Memorable line: “Aren’t you going to open your grades?” (Asked by Susan Fields as she stands by James Hart on the beach and he folds the envelope into an airplane and lets it fly.)

Fun fact: Director James Bridges asked five actors (including Edward G. Robinson) to play Professor Kingsfield before he approached John Houseman — who ended up with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The test of time: Overheard recently while some 20-something law students were watching the movie: “What’s he doing on the beach? Shouldn’t he be studying for the bar exam?”

Warner Bros.


Why we loved it: We got the jokes!

Memorable line: Reporter: “Sir, those are dummies.” Governor: “How do you think I got elected?”

Fun Fact: Mel Brooks said that the man in the sweater who appears at the end of the movie, as the whole group runs out of the Warner Bros. gates, was not part of the cast. He had wandered onto the set, and they shooed him away. When they viewed the dailies, there he was again, in the film, leaning against the lamppost.

The test of time: A “Western” that is totally anachronistic to begin with and full of terrific gags and roll-on-the-floor lines — something like that never feels “dated.”



Why we love it: We felt it was profound.

Memorable line: “I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.”

Fun Fact: Many of the actors stayed in character even when they weren’t filming — which is kind of scary when you think about it.

The test of time: Although Ken Kesey was so angry about the deviation from his novel (which he told from Chief Bromden’s persepctive) that he never watched the film, most people have a different view. The United States Library of Congress selected this movie for preservation in the National Film Registry.

(MORE: The Best Reasons for Going to the Movies Alone)

Paramount Pictures

GREASE (1978)

Why we loved it: We all wish we had gone to Rydell High.

Memorable line: “You can’t just walk out of a drive-in.”

Fun fact: The high school is named after Bobby Rydell, who was a teen idol in the 1960s and had a smash hit single called “Swingin’ School.”

The test of time: Teenagers are still hanging the movie poster in their bedrooms.

Universal Pictures

E.T. (1982)

Why we loved it: Though most of us were at least two decades older than the kids in the film, the “through the eyes of child” filming techniques and great storytelling went straight to our hearts.

Memorable line: “E.T. phone home.”

Fun Fact: This might have been the first movie that consciously used “product placement.” The filmmakers had wanted E.T. to be lured by a trail of M&Ms, but Mars said no. So Reese’s Pieces were chosen instead, and sales of that candy soared.

The test of time: Special effects may have come a long way since the 20th century (wink), but E.T. as a character is as believable as any Hobbit.

According to my crowdsourcing (done via a Facebook post about a month ago, to which I had nearly 70 responses), these are the movies that made our generation what we are.

Let’s keep this conversation going! Tell us in your comments below about the movies from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s that you loved the most.

What are some movie lines you and your friends repeat all the time? Did any film influence your choice of career or change the way you looked at something? Two of my friends said they didn’t go to law school because of The Paper Chase. Someone else I know, an astronomer, joined the SETI project after seeing E.T. Is life imitating art? I’m looking forward to your movie stories.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.midlifemessages.com/youre-a-boomer-if-you-love-these-10-movies/

Jul 23

Preparing for Death – the Threshold Choir

Video from KarmaTube

Permanent link to this article: http://www.midlifemessages.com/preparing-for-death-the-threshold-choir/

Jul 11

The Gifts of Aging

On the Gifts of Aging – A Meditation on the Inverse Proportionality of Physical Aging and Spiritual Vigor


We live in an age where youth is celebrated and aging is lamented. Generations ago, age was the “hoary crown of wisdom,” the elders were reverenced and the young stood when they entered. But in this age of the visual, this age of television, everything is reversed. I remember a line from a song (by The Who) when I was a teenager which said, “Hope I die before I get old.”

The Photo below is me at 5 years old, my dad to the right was 38, my grandfather was 68. All three of us were named “Charles Evans Pope.” Now they’re both gone on, and its just me. The world laments age and death, But as I look at this photo I rejoice for them and myself. They were men of faith, their journey is done, and my is well past noon. And as I journey in their wake, I marvel at what the Lord is doing for me.Charles-E-Pope-I-II-and-III-ca-1966-276x300

Yes, as for me, I must say, I’m glad I’m getting older. I know, you’ll say, “At 50 you’re just a child.” But I am not child, I’m half past dying and celebrating that God has brought me a mighty long way. Yes, I’ve discovered that the gifts of God have come more alive in me as my youthful vigor has dissipated.  I see those old pictures of myself in my twenties, looking young, tan and trim, now I’m old(er), white and fat. But though my body has gone south for the winter of life, now my soul has come alive as never before.

St. Paul says, Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16).

Yes, indeed, I am a witness. I have to admit, my body isn’t exactly wasting away (it actually tends to gain weight), but it surely is not the sound sleek body of my youth.But this I can surely attest, my inmost self is being renewed and strengthened with each passing day. I have become more prayerful, more joyful at what God is doing, more aware of his presence and his ways. I am seeing sins put to death and better things come alive.I am less fearful, more confident, less angry, more serene.

Inverse proportionality – Yes, even though my physical stamina is less, I get winded climbing stairs now, my spiritual strength is better than ever. At age 50, I am more alive than I was at age 20. Glory be to God! I would never want to be 20 again, the Lord has just brought me too far and done too much for me, to ever want to set the clock back again. A few particulars occur to me that suggest an inverse proportion between youthful vigor and spiritual growth.

  1. My physical eyesight has become very poor. I am quite crippled without my glasses now. Until forty I did not wear glasses at all. But since forty I have come to place where, without my glasses everything is just a hazy blur. And yet, I spiritually see things I never did before. The word of God jumps off the page in new ways. There are new insights, new enlightenment as to what God is saying. I rejoice in this new inner vision that has come upon me in this second half of my life and I look with great expectation to the even deeper vision He will give me as I age.
  2. My hearing has become poorer with the onset of middle age. I have had a certain hearing loss since birth but now it becomes worse. But here too, I have learned to listen more attentively and to look at others while they speak. This connects me more deeply to them.
  3. I also have new insights into the people I am privileged to know. I have come to appreciate how wonderfully quirky we all are and how closely related our gifts are to our deficits. Though my physical vision is poor, my insight into the glory and the struggle of those closest to me is a gift I appreciate and hope to see grow even more with the passing years.
  4. Even as my physical hearing has diminished, my spiritual hearing has become far more acute. I hear things in God’s word I never did before. I hear God speaking to me on my spiritual walk with greater sensitivity. We have very good lectors and a marvelous choir in my parish and I marvel at what I hear from them each Sunday. Faith comes by hearing, and as I age I am more sensitive to what I hear at Mass and in sacred moments. When I was young, I was tuned out at Mass. The priest was just “some dude” up there talking and the Choir, well they weren’t singing rock, so what did it matter. But God has opened my ears as I have aged to appreciate his voice in newer and wider ways. Thanks be to God. He speaks to me throughout my day and I hear his voice more consistently.
  5. As I age, I am less physically able to accomplish things I once did on my own. I now fear heights and can’t climb tall ladders. I have a hard time lifting heavy things without injury. But all this has made me more humble and more appreciative of the help that others can give. Gratitude and an proper sense of interdependence are a gift I have discovered with age.  In the gift of age God has helped me be more grateful and connected to others.
  6. As I age and become less physically “glorious,” I appreciate more deeply the beauty and glory of Creation. Indeed, it astounds me in new ways. Each new discovery shouts out the glory of God to me. I am far more appreciative of the present glory of God than I ever was as a youth, when the focus was more on me. Now simple things, like the color purple, the magnificence of Spring, the quiet still after a heavy snow, the wonder and awe created by watching a science channel show on the mysteries of the deep oceans. As I have become more vincible and fragile with age, the world far more astonishes me and makes me cry, Glory to God!
  7. As I have aged I have discovered limitations. But this has made more humble and understanding of the struggles of others. When I was young I was impatient. There was little I could not do, or at lost thought I could not do. But, now, experiencing more of my limits I have seen compassion and understanding awaken in me, patience too.
  8. As I have aged, I am more easily fatigued. I usually need an afternoon nap and am blessed to be able to take one, living as I do “above the store.” It’s the only way I can get through my evening appointments. Yet, what a gift a nap is. I am mindful of Psalm 127 which says, In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat; for the Lord pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber (v. 4). Yes, God does pour his gifts on us even when we slumber. And as I age a I grateful even for the gift of a brief rest.

More could be said. I am glad to be getting just a bit older. I am running to meet God, and every day brings me closer. I can’t wait to see Him. I am like a child in Mid December who can’t wait for Christmas morning. That the days speed by more quickly only increases the longing for me. Each day, each step, closer to God.

And while my body goes south, my soul looks up. The weaker my physical flesh, the stronger my spirit and soul. The weaker my eyes, the deeper my spiritual vision and insight. The duller my physical hearing, the more intent my spiritual ears. God is good, he takes the one gift and returns another and greater gift.

And the best is yet to come! The Gospel today was of the man born blind who came to see, and God said to me at Mass today, in the words of a Gospel song,  “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Scripture affirms: Beyond these, many things lie hid; only a few of his works have we seen (Sirach 43:34).St. Paul says, When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor 13:11-12)

I’m running to meet God. Age is a glorious thing, bring it on

Permanent link to this article: http://www.midlifemessages.com/the-gifts-of-aging/

Jul 09

Aging Gracefully


Permanent link to this article: http://www.midlifemessages.com/2983/

Jul 09

Spiritual Lessons from the Aging Process

One of the benefits I have found in aging is learning finally to admit what I don’t know and can’t do. When I was young, I used to berate myself for the things I didn’t do well and work hard to learn them; as I age, I stick with what I know well and I hire those who can do what I can’t!


One of the other experiences that we can see as GIFT as we age, is that we can begin to learn to ask for and accept help. When we become more vulnerable and dependent on others, we often don’t like the idea. Most of us fight to not lose our independence.


Actually, when we are younger, we delude ourselves into thinking we’re independent, when in fact, we’re constantly dependent on others. We depend on our parents to feed, clothe and change us when we are born. We depend on our employers for our paychecks, or our customers to buy our goods or services. When we drive, we depend on the people who deliver gas to the station. The only thing that doesn’t change is what’s inside us.


Having faith and cultivating faith is first and foremost about trusting in life and learning to trust in other people.

Our ego desire is still always about autonomy. And our loss of autonomy could produce feelings of frustration, anger and bitterness or, it could allow us to grow in our awareness of the interdependence of all of life and that indeed we are all ONE. Once again, an important spiritual truth.


It is my belief that all of us are here to grow into truly experiencing ONENESS & God-consciousness. This growth is an evolution of consciousness that when we allow it, occurs quite naturally through the lessons that life provides, especially as we age.


The soul chooses to experience circumstances that will help it cultivate an ever-deepening ability to love unconditionally and consciously embody its true nature which is Divine. When we FULLY learn this, we come to know that we are never alone.


As we age, many of our loved ones leave us, whether through divorce or death, and we may feel increasingly alone and lonely. When we are no longer defined by jobs that gave us meaning and satisfaction, we could in fact, feel like we’ve lost our identity. If we are no longer “productive” in the ways we used to be, what is our role?


These very things can become our greatest catalysts for growth. When we do our life review, we can see the talents we have been given and perhaps haven’t used fully. As we age, we have more freedom to give of ourselves without looking for monetary award or without needing approval and acceptance. It becomes a time of true generative sharing. There are some spiritual teachings that tell us that until we reach this level of selfless giving, we have not yet achieved our purpose for being.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.midlifemessages.com/spiritual-lessons-from-the-aging-process/

Jul 05

Second Fifty – Conscious Aging

This movie is coming soon… I’ll keep you posted

Permanent link to this article: http://www.midlifemessages.com/second-fifty-conscious-aging/

Older posts «