February: A “Free-Form” Month for Film Watching


We here on Cape Cod survived the blizzard of Winter Storm Jonas (12 to 13 inches, depending on your distance from the water) last month. Our temperatures for the following week went up to the high 40s, near 50. Yes, I know February looms; believe me, living in New England all my life (so far),  I am well aware that “all Hell could break loose” in the month of February (I survived the blizzard of 1978, but that’s a story for another time).

However, that being said, I cannot help but feel like spring is just around the corner, and with that a young–or in my case, not so young–man’s fancy turns to..well, movies about the Spring, or at least my interpretation of spring movies. I am after all writing this scenario, so bear with me! February is a kind of “nothing” month, holiday-wise, to me. Oh, yes there is Valentines Day, and because of that we can all picture, from a cinema standpoint, An Affair to Remember, Romeo and Juliet, Love Story, etc. But I am not a Valentines Day fan: been there, done that. I am an old “poop” who doesn’t meet anybody’s demographics, save a funeral director or mortician, so at this stage of my life February is perceived differently.

My February movies are not so much of a romantic nature. Not that I don’t have my romantic moments, they have just given way to seasonal, as opposed to emotional, movies! As to February dates, Groundhog Day–the movie and the holiday–come to mind here in the U.S.A,. along with Presidents Day: I defer to the “groundhog,” respectfully. In Australia there is the Royal Hobart Regatta on Feb. 8th, and in England there is Carnival/Shrove Tuesday on the 9th, Russia has Defender of the Fatherland Day on the 23rd, and last but not least China has their Spring Festival Golden Week, this year from the 9th to the 13th (be there, or be square, no reference to Tiananmen intended). However, no significant movies of note come to mind from those global holidays. Therefore, I decree February a “movie-free” month.

MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS 3So, what movies do you think of in February? Personally, I think of “tween” movies: too late for Christmas/New Years films, and not soon enough for Saint Patrick’s Day films (a major holiday here in the Boston area). I’m talking movies that make “me” think between blizzards, and early thaw, like those wonderful movies that don’t have a home, “seasonally speaking.” No religious epics like King of Kings, Ben Hur, etc.: those are Eastertime movies, Nothing by Tim Burton: they smack of Halloween and Fall. I suppose Meet Me in St. Louis would fit, but then, what season wouldn’t that wonderful movie fit? So February is open season on movies, and in a way that’s the best time, No constraints, nothing you “must” see like Scrooge/A Christmas Carol in late December, or 1776 in early July.

PX*14288217February is a “free form” month for film watching, as I said earlier, for all those movies you love that don’t have a calendar home. I think of all those wonderful, yet, obscure “holiday-less” titles like Sometimes a Great Notion (with Paul Newman and Henry Fonda), Nobody’s Fool (Newman again, alongside Jessica Tandy), Pride of the Marines (John Garfield and Eleanor Parker), George Washington Slept Here (Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan- maybe on Presidents Day), etc.

Actually, now that I re-read this spate of rhetoric, when isn’t it a great time to watch those films that got shuffled to the back of the shelf, those movies that you bump into accidentally and wonder, why you haven’t watched that in such a long time? “I always loved that movie”…you know what I mean!  For February, use that free month, let your mind go blank, think non-seasonal, think of movies you have not seen recently…hell, in years, and go for it. I just went blank and thought of Creature from the Black Lagoon (with Richard Denning and Julie Adams), or And Then There Were None (Walter Houston and Barry Fitzgerald), or wait, what about The Lady Takes a Chance (John Wayne and Jean Arthur)? Yes, I know, my “blank” probably goes back further than yours, but, that’s my story. What’s yours ?

Dig deeper into your own movie history, and pull an oldie out of your library, one that got shunted to the back of the shelf, I guarantee you’ll say “why haven’t I watched that in such a long time?”. Wives, hair, teeth, and sense may leave you, but movies, and the memories they evoke never do. Movies are the true time travel experience. Beam me up Scotty, it’ll probably be a bumpy ride…I hope!

Bill Dunphy enjoys photography, cooking, reading, and, of course, movies–of which he has about 350 in his library.