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A friend recently asked our daughter to name her three favorite movies. She had a hard time deciding.

“Do you mean science fiction movies or comedies?” she said. Finally she answered with just one title, “The Princess Bride.” This was no surprise to me. My daughter and husband have sat down to watch this cult classic dozens and dozens of times over the years. They quote the lines, “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya” and “As you wish,” so often, I feel like I’m living in the screenplay with Buttercup, Westley and Miracle Max. When our daughter was little, my husband would wave to her as she headed to school and call, “Have fun storming the castle!”

But enough about that movie. It may be their favorite, but it’s not mine. So, I joined in the challenge to pick flicks.

But trying to name your top three isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are all kinds of follow-up questions. For instance, is a movie you watch every year, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “White Christmas,” considered a favorite or a tradition?

I take time to watch “The Quiet Man” every year around St. Patrick’s Day, but I would not name it to my top three list. It was one of my grandmother’s favorites, however. In 1952, when the film starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara was showing in the theater, my Irish grandmother went to the matinee several times just to see the lovely scenes of Ireland.

What about movie series? Why, I could name three all-time faves in the James Bond category alone. Just try getting a “Star Wars” fan to name even one movie title not associated with the power of the Force.

There are some movies you see only once, but they make such an impact on you, they come to mind right away. Some people feel that way about “Passion of the Christ.”

And there are movies you’ll watch over and over again.

“Anytime ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is on TV, I stop to watch it,” said a co-worker.

“You mean the version starring Colin Firth, right?” I said.

“Of course,” she replied. As if there were any other.

When I was a freshman in college, the movie “Caddyshack” was a top feature airing on that new cable channel, HBO. My friends and I watched it over and over. Between classes, at night, on the weekends — we spent every free moment watching Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight and Bill Murray. More than 35 years later, I can still recite all the lines of Carl the groundskeeper. So, I got that going for me, which is nice.

But does repetitive watching and excessive quoting of a movie make it a “favorite”? What special qualities make you love a movie? Maybe it’s a memorable character, like the teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” (“Anyone? Anyone?”) Or Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” (“I hate snakes.”)

Or maybe it’s the riveting story line. For some fans, “The Godfather” trilogy made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Perhaps a movie greatly influenced your young mind and changed your outlook. After seeing “A Hard Day’s Night” on the late show one night, I began a lifelong love of the Beatles.

People judge films based on witty dialogue while others value special effects or epic cinematography. Sometimes, it’s just the experience of going to the movies with someone special.

“’Superman’ will always have a tender place in my heart,” said a friend, “because my husband and I saw it on our first date.”

Like many things in life, preferences can change over time. Your favorite movie in junior high school may seem silly or irrelevant now. But that’s OK; new favorites will soon join the list.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Contact Susan Hazlett at or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.


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