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What Are Your Comfort Food Movies?

I saw Casablanca again this week, and I enjoyed it as much as ever. I’ve seen it in theatres, outside venues and at home at least 20 times over 45 years. The first time I saw it was at the Varsity Theatre when I was 11, back in 1972. It’s still the perfect movie with its stellar cast, world-stage story and impeccable script. That script includes the most classic lines—according to the American Film Institute’s (AFI) listing of the most famous movie quotes—with six of the top 100 most memorable movie quotes. But, that list doesn’t even include my favorite line: Captain Renault assuring Nazi Major Heinrich Strasser that, “Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects.”

Casablanca on the screen at the Des Moines Art Center.jpg You Must Remember This, Casablanca at the Des Moines Art Center.jpg

I can’t get enough of my favorite “comfort food” films, because they are just so well made. Classics like “North by Northwest,” “Annie Hall” or “The Graduate” will always hit the spot. In the case of many comedies – “This is Spinal Tap,” “Animal House” or any Marx Brothers film – they still break me up every time. Sometimes the soundtrack to a film is key, boosting films like “The Big Chill,” “Almost Famous” or “A Hard Day’s Night” as perennials. And, yes, sometimes it’s a holiday thing, with seasonal viewings of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Planes Trains and Automobiles” and “Going My Way.”

But primarily it’s the memories and feelings that the films provide, remembering the people that I saw the film with or special moments throughout life. That’s where the real value lies, and why I can watch these films many times through the years.

What are some of your comfort food movies that you can watch over and over? The ones that still get you right where it counts, filling you with laughter or inspiring positive memories?

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