Poppy-Fields Movies: The Couch Of Fame
11/23/14: Please welcome our newest Couch Of Famer, Apollo 13.
What is a poppy-fields movie?
I first mentioned the concept in a very old piece from the "Tomato Nation? It's a web journal" days, but I don't remember when I started pairing it with the poppy fields from The Wizard of Oz. In any case: it's a film you can't not watch when it comes on, whether it's cycling through on HBO or cut up in a hundred pieces on Sunday-afternoon basic cable. You know what happens. You could recite what happens from memory. Sometimes, the memory isn't even that good, because a poppy-fields movie doesn't rely on quality to becalm you, one boot laced up and the other resting patiently on its side, as you get ready to go out or sit down for a TV break between chores.
What does it rely on? Familiarity, partly; a handful of performances in The Godfather get worse with each viewing, but it's a worse I can sing along with. Length helps too, at least for me — many of the films on my all-time poppy-fields list clock in at three hours with commercials. Often there's a moment or scene at the end that I have some Pavlovian need to rewatch, some victory or reunion that gives me a thrill. Sometimes it's straight-ahead quotable fun. Sometimes it's all of those things. Sometimes I own it on DVD/iTunes and I STILL can't pry myself away from a 3 PM showing on TBS.
So, let's review the criteria so far:
- "Greetings, Professor Falken" (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)
- "Wanna have a catch?" (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)
- I'd add caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie to my personal list
- "forget you, melon farmer" (you own it, but will still watch it chopped up with ads/bunged up with fake curse words)
Rarely will a movie score on all of those. It does seem like you need at least three to land a cushion on the PFM Couch Of Fame, but it's no guarantee; Gone With The Wind is endless, rerun frequently, won awards, and owns the AFI top-quotes list — and I find it unbearable.
The Couch Of Fame so far:
A Few Good Men, 9/16/14 (Lis and Esther)
Apollo 13, 11/23/14 (Heather)
Back To The Future, 9/9/14 (NJ)
Clueless, 9/28/14 (Jody)
Diner, 4/24/14 (SDB)
The Fifth Element, 6/13/14 (Kat)
The Fugitive, 8/25/14 (Bill)
The Hunt For Red October, 5/6/14 (Craig)
Jaws, 10/28/14 (Kristin)
The Magnificent Seven, 5/23/14 (Jan)
Sex & The City, 7/17/14 (SDB)
To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. You can win stuff!
Tags: Apollo 13 Back To The Future Clueless daddy issues Diner Field Of Dreams free crap Gone With The Wind movies Ocean's 11 Ocean's 13 poppy-fields movies quotations Sex & The City The Fifth Element The Fugitive The Godfather The Hunt For Red October The Magnificent Seven The Wizard Of Oz WarGames