This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Forrest Gump. The now classic film dominated the 1995 Academy Awards with six winning Oscars.
But that’s not why I like the movie.
Forrest Gump is the type of film people see more than once. It’s kind of like Gone with the Wind and The Godfather and Titanic—all are more like events than movies.
But that’s not why the film continues to make me smile.
People remember when and where and who they were with when they first saw Forrest Gump. For me, it was an afternoon matinee at Tygart Valley Cinemas in Fairmont.
My husband did not go with me. After seeing the teaser that advertised the film, Gary said, “Looks like a ridiculous movie. I’ll skip that one.”
No problem. I took my Dad.
Aside from Tom Hanks playing the lead character, neither of us knew anything about the movie—just the way I like it. Dad and I had no idea that we were in for an unforgettable treat.
We settled in with a tub of popcorn nestled between us. Then, Forrest took his seat at the bus stop and reeled us into the story of his life, weaved oh, so cleverly, into a history lesson.
After the last credit rolled, Dad and I remained in our seats. It was like turning the final page of an extraordinary book; we didn’t want the story to end. One thing is certain, we would have been content to watch the movie all over again right then and there.
Before Forrest Gump, friends often serenaded me with Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309.” After Forrest Gump hit the big screen, Tommy’s tune was replaced with two new greetings: “Hey, Gen-ny” and “I love Gen-ny.”
Twenty-five years later, I’m still feeling that love.
As much as I enjoyed Forrest Gump, what I most remember when it pops up on TV or when I catch a glimpse of the movie poster, is seeing the film with my father.
And that is why the film will always resonate with me.
It was the only time Dad and I went—just the two of us—to a movie theatre. Oh, we saw lots of films together in front of our television at home. Dad was a movie buff.
He is the reason I am a huge fan of Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. Thanks to my father, my own children appreciate films like To Kill a Mockingbird, Roman Holiday, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Philadelphia Story, and It’s a Wonderful Life.
I admit that admiration for the cowboy genre did not come naturally to me. But one could not live in our home and not like John Wayne. McClintock! and The Quiet Man are my favorite Wayne films. In one, he’s a cowboy. In the other, he is not.
Dad used to tell me stories about how he took his mother to see screwball comedies. He chuckled when recalling how they cried in laughter at Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and The Three Stooges.
My father helped me acquire a taste for westerns, but he was unsuccessful in convincing me that The Three Stooges were worth watching. It mattered not. Though the Stooges fell well beneath my entertainment line, my brothers and husband were more than happy to join Dad in howling at Moe, Larry, and Curly’s painful antics.
Speaking of Gary, he did buy a ticket to see Forrest Gump—at my insistence. It was my second time around, and I had fun just watching him enjoy the story unfold.
My father taught me many valuable lessons over the course of his endless scope of love for me. His appreciation for films was just one small piece of the fun he also shared.