A Movie With Dad: The Best Viewing Experience Ever

Father’s Day is just a few days away. And it offers me a chance to brag about my dad a little bit. I think the world of my dad, and I owe so much of what I am to him. Anything I’ve achieved (or will achieve) in this world is a testament to him. If I can be half the man that he is, then I’ll consider myself a success. This year, Father’s Day is a little bit more special than most years because I shared a really tremendous movie-watching experience with my father a few months back. We sat down together and watched the first film that he ever saw in a theatre- Across the Wide Missouri, a western from 1951.

It’s exactly the kind of movie I never would have watched on my own. I hadn’t even heard of it. But my dad knew all about it. It’s the story of a wily fur trapper, Flint (Clark Gable), who lives and works in the Rocky Mountains. He weds a Native American princess, Kamiah (María Elena Marqués), and they eventually have a son together. In the meantime, a member of Kamiah’s tribe, named Ironshirt (Ricardo Montalban), resents the white trappers in his territory. His anger towards the trappers eventually leads to war. I shan’t say more lest I spoil the film.

Not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but the best viewing experience I’ve ever had.

The film itself was solid and entertaining, sort of a perfect 3 star (out of 5) movie, neither great nor bad. But the actual experience of watching it was tremendous, the best movie-watching experience I’ve ever had. Sometimes, it’s not about the movie itself. It’s about the people you watch them with. In this case, it was my dad, re-living his youth. He told me the story of how he came to see Across the Wide Missouri in a tiny little theatre in southeast Missouri. The film features several characters with accents, including quite a few French Canadians. Listening to my dad parrot the accents during the movie cracked me up. You see, it’s a knack that he has. He is a master of hilarious impersonations. It’s part of the humor I’ve shared with him all of my life. Seeing this movie made me imagine my own father, at age 8, exiting a theatre in southeast Missouri and cracking his own friends up with his impersonations.

There’s an extra dimension here, as well. The film is narrated by Flint’s son, Chip. Not only was this the first film that my dad ever saw. And not only did he share it with me. But it also happened to be about a son, reverentially weaving a tale of his own father’s heroic exploits. It’s a lot like what I’m doing right now by writing this article. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.


12 Comments

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12 responses to “A Movie With Dad: The Best Viewing Experience Ever

  1. Fantastic story. I’ve shared quite a few viewing experiences with my dad. Easily the two most memorable and important ones to me personally are The Poseidon Adventure and See No Evil Hear No Evil. Ever since I was seven years old I’ve been regularly watching The Poseidon Adventure, which is my favourite disaster movie of all time. Gene Hackman is fantastic in it, as is Ernest Borgnine and others, and I cherish that first time I saw it with my father. As for See No Evil Hear No Evil: this movie is a comedy, and another one I watch regularly like Poseidon Adventure. Starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, it’s simply one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, an experience made richer by that vivid memory of seeing it with my Dad on VHS and laughing our heads off. Unforgettable and very valuable memories. Thanks for writing this post which inspired me to remember them.

    • You’re very welcome, Tyler.

      My brother and I were just talking about the Poseidon Adventure the other day. Apparently, my brother saw it (probably with my dad, although I’m not sure) in the theatre. (my brother is six years older than me)

      Wilder and Pryor are a classic combo.

  2. Nice story John! I think a Father and son link is very important. Some of my best movie watching experiences were with my father. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the Back to the Future trilogy, The Sixth Sense, the original Star Wars trilogy were all films that we couldn’t pass a year without watching them together.
    Since I am a French Canadian I would love to hear your dad do an impression of one!

    • Ha… I thought about you when I mentioned the French Canadian impression.

      Afterwards, he asked me what the French Canadian trappers were saying. I could account for a few phrases here and there but not much.

  3. Rich

    My father loved Westerns too. In his final years he’d spend his days watching shows like Bonanza and The Big Valley on TV, and I remember him watching Western movies whenever they were on TV. I used to think they were corny, but I learned to appreciate them over time.

  4. As an 8 year old, I walked in on my parents getting it on. Horrified, I ran downstairs and jumped into my sleeping bag that was on the floor in front of the TV. My Dad grudgingly lumbered downstairs to talk to me about…life, I guess. What I recall most is that Doris Day was on the TV starring in “Calamity Jane”. Good times.

  5. Awesome John! I also love to sit back and watch a movie with my dad every now and then. It’s a really great feeling when we both enjoy a good movie.

  6. Oh, this post made me tear up a bit. You are so lucky John, I never really knew my real dad, but I made a post dedicated to great dads like yours. I should make a post like this for Mother’s Day next year as she was the one who first introduced me to movies and we actually go to a Midnight Double Showing one New Year’s Eve, you won’t believe the movies we saw, but that’s for you to find out 😀

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