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Home » Culture and Criticism, Featured

Poppy-Fields Movies: The Couch Of Fame

Submitted by on November 9, 2017 – 5:03 AM108 Comments


6/5/17: Your objection to The Firm not being on the PFM Couch Of Fame…is sustained!

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:

  • lengthy
  • familiar/frequent
  • classic/award-winner
  • “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)
  • quote-fest
  • 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)
A League Of Their Own, 4/3/17 (Megan, Trip, and Ron)
Almost Famous, 11/9/17 (Greg, Sean, and John)
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 Firm, 6/5/17 (Duchess Kat)
Forrest Gump, 3/6/17 (Alan Swann)
The Fugitive, 8/25/14 (Bill)
Grosse Pointe Blank, 1/23/15 (Rayvyn)
The Hunt For Red October, 5/6/14 (Craig)
Jaws, 10/28/14 (Kristin)
The Long Kiss Goodnight, 1/26/17 (Charlie)
The Magnificent Seven, 5/23/14 (Jan)
The Matrix, 4/24/15 (Crabcakes)
Pretty Woman, 7/20/15 (Crabcakes)
The Princess Bride, 12/9/15 (Meri, Elizabeth, Felis, and Myndi)
Sex & The City, 7/17/14 (SDB)
The Shawshank Redemption, 3/7/15 (E. and Kate)
The Silence Of The Lambs, 8/28/15 (KR)
Working Girl, 9/23/16 (Stephanie)

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!




  • Jana says:

    Terms of Endearment, Dirty Dancing, Sixteen Candles, Lonesome Dove, any of the National Lampoon vacations and of course, Real Genius.

    I will be so happy to refer my husband to this post from now on rather than trying to explain for myself why “Yes, I’ve seen it before, but I have to watch it again. Now.”

  • Sophie says:

    A League of their Own. Steel Magnolias.

    You’ve Got Mail (just me?)

    A relatively new one that’s quickly becoming a classic “can’t tear away”… The Help.

  • ferretrick says:

    The Women-misogynistic, dated, I bet it wouldn’t pass Bechdel even though there’s not one male in the cast, and it’s a completely hilarious bitchfest riddled with quotable lines. Plus classic, award winner and camaraderie.

    Heathers-makes it on quotefest for sure, also possibly classic and sort of caperish/camaraderie. Bitchy frienemy camaraderie, but camaraderie.

    Brokeback Mountain-quotes, classic, award winner, familiar/frequent

  • KT says:

    Another who can’t pass by Steel Magnolias. I just said “my colors are blush and bashful” the other day.

    Probably doesn’t meet a lot of the criteria but The Notebook will always get me. And I’m one of the eleven million women around 40 who won’t pass up Dirty Dancing.

    The original National Lampoon’s Vacation is also on my list.

    Love, Actually. I know this is probably a divisive one.

  • Lore says:

    Most of mine have already been claimed, but, if we’re taking a poll:

    Heathers, The Princess Bride, Better Off Dead (absolutely not anything like a classic, but I use more lines from that movie in daily conversation than anything else), John Hughes pretty much across the board (yes, I graduated from high school in the late eighties, why do you ask?), and anything involving ballet: Center Stage, Fame, The Red Shoes, The Turning Point.

  • KB says:

    @Tyliag – Damn the man! Save the Empire! Warren! Oh how I loved that movie. I need to watch it ASAP.

  • Jenn says:

    I didn’t think of it until I saw a listing for it, but: O Brother, Where Art Thou? “Lots of respectable people been hit by trains.”

    Also the endlessly quotable While You Were Sleeping. “Argentina has great beef. Beef and Nazis.”

  • Maura says:

    It starts with Good and ends with Fellas, because JANICE ROSSI IN 2R IS STILL A WHORE.

  • Meri says:

    Most have already been mentioned- The Princess Bride (basically the whole thing is one giant quote for me), Star Wars, Dirty Dancing, and Real Genius. I’ll throw in Clue, The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper.

  • StatMom says:

    As a few have already said, Shawshank Redemption. It nearly defines the category, as described here. That sequence that starts when the warden asks “Fussy Britches” what she has to say, probably one of the most satisfying in moviedom.

    I’ll add a couple of my personal Poppy Fielders. Center Stage. Ooooh, when Jody shows those uptight ballet folks what she’s made of! You go girl, with your inexplicable costume changes mid-scene. And a newer movie: Music & Lyrics. Those pop songs they have throughout are just so darn catchy! And when Hugh and Drew make the demo tape, again it’s just so satisfying.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Better Off Dead! Yes! Damn kids today, not understanding the depth of the threat behind demanding two dollars!

  • Zipper says:

    The Usual Suspects

    Dangerous Liaisons

    Major League

  • sarah b says:

    This thread validates my collection of worn-out VHS tapes…never actually watch them, can’t throw them away!

    Also on my list, The Usual Suspects, The Fugitive, and Thomas Crown Affair.

  • RC says:

    Has no one said Say Anything… yet? My reading of that one has changed over the years, and it’s not often in high rotation, but I will still always stop for it. And of course Princess Bride, this is just off the top of my gut.

  • merrin says:

    Nthing Hunt for Red October, absolutely. Quotable AND tear-jerking. “I would like to have seen Montana…..” Come on!!! Gets me every time. Bless Sam Neill for committing to the accent, too. God knows it wasn’t required for the film.

    Besides that, I don’t know how often it’s played on cable since I’m pretty much the only person I know who knows this movie, but SNEAKERS is one of my all-time drop-the-other-boot-and-watch-till-the-credits flicks. Endlessly quotable (“You get allllll the fun stuff.” “Remind me to make you an honorary blind person.” “We are the United States government! We don’t do that kind of thing!”), awesome caper/heist action, and the most incredible cast. Robert Redford! Sidney Poitier! James Earl Jones! River Phoenix! David Strathairn! Dan Aykroyd! Mary McDonnell! Ben Kingsley! Donal Logue! Stephen Tobolowsky! Hey-It’s-That-Guy Timothy Busfield! Literally everyone is in this movie. It is not possible to not watch the whole thing.

    I also add to the votes for Center Stage and Galaxy Quest.

  • circlegirl says:

    Lots of mine already mentioned – Shawshank Redemption, Dirty Dancing, A League of Their Own and Fifth Element but a couple to add:

    Fried Green Tomatoes – “A lady always knows when to leave” gets me EVERY time!

    The Green Mile

    And newly added – Pitch Perfect. I KNOW!

  • cayenne says:

    So many of my faves have been mentioned! But I’d also nominate:

    The Philadelphia Story
    Monty Python & The Holy Grail

  • Laura says:

    I’m just piling onto the bandwagon at this point.

    Any of the Ocean’s franchise, The Italian Job, The Thomas Crown AFfair (at my house, heist movies get their own couch), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dirty Dancing and pretty much any other dance movie.

  • Leah in SoCal says:

    I’m gonna n’th Real Genius and the Princess Bride, and add on some Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Which may officially represent my elementary and junior high summer afternoon movie selections.)

  • Maru says:

    I second My Cousin Vinny, and many others, but will add Clueless and (wince) Legally Blonde. Have to see the courtroom scene.

  • Halo says:

    I’m a weirdo, evidently. Mine are Rosemary’s Baby (oddly calming), Dazed and Confused, Silence of the Lambs, Clerks. I’m almost embarrassed to add The Legend of Billie Jean, but it’s true.

    Shawshank and Dirty Dancing are universal!

  • Kristin says:

    Oh egad, ‘Real Genius’. Doesn’t fit the length criteria, but RG quotes become a shorthand all their own with the right people.

    Jaws. I get sucked into it every time. (Kinda like Quint, actually.)

  • MaryAnne says:

    I think I have lots of these types of movies, but my absolute, far-and-away #1 is “Singing in the Rain.”

  • frogprof says:

    Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. And I gave my brother and sister-in-law Top Gun for their wedding gift [what?!] because I couldn’t watch it with him (he anticipates EVERY. SINGLE. LINE.) but thought she needed the experience.

  • Kat From Jersey says:

    Great topic! My favorite, hands down, is The Fifth Element. Glad to see others like it, too.

    It’s got Bruce Willis, a blue alien Diva opera singer, a futuristic setting, lots of chop-socky action, an awesome musical score, a badass-yet-sensitive Milla Jovovich, lots of gorgeous-yet-strange-looking model extras. And a cameo from Luke Perry! Oh, and did I mention Bruce Willis? Basically, it’s just bizarrely awesome. What more does one need? I just e-mailed Sars with my ‘official’ nomination.

    I love how The Nation thinks alike. So many of my other favorites have already been mentioned. My second nominations would probably be Real Genius and Clueless.

  • Cora says:

    What? No one has mentioned Point Break yet? Really? I mean, we had a discussion about it already a few years ago when it was part of the Crushed Film Festival, but I’m going to reiterate the point I made in the comments there: OMG ANTHONY KIEDIS!!! SQUEE!

    “Dat. would be. a waste. of time.”

    I vote also for Hunt for Red October and Empire Records — “Take your PURSE and get the hell out of my store”; but I can’t get behind Contact. Unless you turn it off before Jodie’s unbelievably nasal Earnest Oscar Speech, I mean, good LORD, woman. If you chew the scenery any harder, the movie company will never afford its insurance premiums, God.

  • Jen H says:

    Don’t judge me: Pretty in Pink

    Vintage Hot/Evil Spader!

    The Otis Redding lip-synch!

    The uber-hideous dress!

    “What about Prom, Blaine? What. About. Prom???”

    The final kiss in the parking lot, surrounded by Beamers!

    *sigh* What’s not to love?

  • Tarn says:

    The original Star Wars trilogy. My husband: “you’re watching this again? You know we own these, right?” Yes, but they’re on RIGHT NOW, without me having to schedule time to watch them or even remove mu bitt from this couch!

    League of Their Own, definitely.

    For a classic, Singin in the Rain. I have to watch it at least up to the Broadway Melody sequence.

  • KarenS says:

    The Big Lebowski – for the strange ‘translations’ (transliterations?) of the profanities.

    Most James Bond films – if only for their comforting familiarity.

  • Sharon says:


  • Rebecca says:

    I love all the love for Bring It On! Just the other day in chorus rehearsal:
    Director: “This is not a democracy…”
    Me, quietly: “This is a cheerocracy! And you are a total cheertator!”

    But really, Independence Day? Anyone? I can watch that movie an infinite number of times.

    (And among all the dance movies, I think “Save the Last Dance” needs its own special niche. “I was dancing, and she was dying!”)

  • Jo says:


    A League of Their Own

    The Sandlot

    Sister Act (either one, but the sequel is my favorite)

    Field of Dreams

    Any Harry Potter except for Prisoner of Azkaban

    Most John Hughes movies

    Most Kevin Smith, even though every other word is edited

  • Belatedly adding:

    * Both Armageddon and Deep Impact (I’m not proud of that).
    * seconding Blow Dry (although as a Minnesotan, Josh Hartnet’s accent embarrasses me)
    * Papillon. In it’s own way, one of the greatest love stories of all time

  • ferretrick says:

    Sorry, I’m slow on the uptake. So are you saying now to nominate, write up something article length and you’ll consider it for the site? Or are you still drawing from the comments on this post and then you will do the detailed write up?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    To nominate, run down the list of reqs and email it to me. These comments are great, but if it’s something I haven’t seen/don’t consider one of my own PFMs, I won’t be writing it up — so if you want to make sure a nominee’s considered, email it.

  • rayvyn2k says:

    Love all the suggestions. I want to submit for your consideration: Grosse Pointe Blank.
    A hitman goes home for his 10 year high school reunion.
    Running time: 107 minutes, so not VERY long.
    John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Dan Ackroyd, Joan Cusack & Alan Arkin.
    This movie is hilarious and I stop every time it’s on. Like you, I bought the video tape and played it over and over. Then I bought the DVD when it came out.
    Sooo many great lines but my favorite:
    “Thanks for the pen.”
    It won a couple of minor awards.
    It has the big payoff/longshot victory when Martin overcomes Grocer, saves Debi’s father instead of killing him and gets the girl.

  • Anna says:

    The Warriors and The Usual Suspects. Also, as I’m thinking, Steel Magnolias. I will watch these movies anywhere, anytime.

  • Fafolguy says:

    My number one is Lord of the Rings: Return of the King:

    Lengthy: Duh. 4+ hours on TNT

    Familiar/Frequent: To a certain kind of nerd, absolutely

    Classic/Award Winner: It won all the awards that year.

    Big Payoff/ long-shot victory: Mordor and Sauron crumbling to dust is pretty freakin’ epic.

    Pavlovian tear jerk: “Rosie Cotton dancing. She had ribbons in her hair. If ever I was to marry someone… it would have been her. It would have been her!” and “My friends, you bow to no one”

    Caper-ish: multiple capers weaving themselves together.

    Quote fest: again, to a certain kind of nerd, tons.

  • drsue says:

    The Princess Bride!

    Quotes galore!

    “As you wish”
    “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”
    “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means”
    “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!”
    and so on

    Definitely caperish

    If i come by it on cable i will ALWAYS watch it.

    I will also always watch any of the Star Wars (IV-VI only)and Lord of the Rings movies.

    Not terribly long, but i think it has a satisfactory payoff.

  • Barb says:

    seconding or thirding

    Steel Magnolias
    Silence of the Lambs

  • Hopscotch. Which I can’t believe no one else has mentioned! That is all.

  • Reader Gretchen says:

    @Sharon and Cara: Steel Mag. is one of mine as well. Love me some Dolly, too!

    League of their Own, I concur.

  • Cij says:

    Galaxy Quest yes! It may not meet all the criteria, but damn, it’s hilarious. And due to fx, I can totally see how some of these superhero movies will one day be on the list.

    (I’m also glad I didn’t hallucinate Scavenger Hunt too).

    I find it’s more tv shows that I have to rematch when it comes up in syndication.

    Field of Dreams gets me every. damn. time. Also, Uptown Girls (don’t judge me).

  • Danie says:

    Shag. Only it doesn’t really count because it’s pretty much never on TV. But, yeah, I love that movie despite itself.

    Everyone’s come up with some excellent options here many of which I second but I don’t see anyone else mentioning Grease? For the record, I also can’t tear my eyes away from Grease II but that’s more horrified fascination than pleasurable viewing.

  • Cassie says:

    The Birdcage – I’ll watch the whole thing, but I really watch it for Robin Williams doing his dance medley. It also suffers from being on cable, has a great father-son-second-father-in-drag payoff, and serious highjinks.

  • Angie says:

    Rebecca–Yes to Independence Day!! Every time, no matter how late it is when it comes on.

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned my #1 Poppy-Field movie: Drum Line. I. Love. It.

  • year of the cat says:

    Even the one quote “Flames…on the sides of my face” would be enough.
    but there are millions of them. Millions. And three endings! and J Edgar Hoover! And the cast is perfect, you can’t change a thing.
    “Why is the car stopped?” “It’s frightened /.”

  • Sister Surprise says:

    Wanna Have a catch moment in Hunt for Red October is Sam Neil’s dying line about rabbits.

    Seconding Coal Miner’s Daughter – an absolute MUST watch!

  • Jean R says:

    The Abyss and Terminator 2 can’t stop watching…..

  • turtle says:

    I gotta go with Titanic

    lengthy: *Two* VHS tapes?? Yah!!
    familiar/frequent: God yes.
    classic/award-winner: Yeah… but, especially looking back, not really deserved (except: Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets over Kate Winslet?? Booo.)
    “Greetings, Professor Falken”: She’s had the diamond all along!!!
    “Wanna have a catch?”: Jack dies!! And she meets him in the afterlife!!! (Apparently with all the other people she was on a boat with for like 3 days…)
    quote-fest: I’m king of the world!! I’ll never let go!
    caper-ish: I guess, if you count the scene before they get busy in the back of the car, running away from her fiance’s henchman.
    “forget you, melon farmer” I don’t think so? I think they just blank the line out (“This is horse…!”) I’m pretty sure they delete the scene of her popping the finger, so henchman looks astonished/pissed at…nothing?

    Also, for some unknown reason, He’s Just Not That Into You, even though the only story-line I even remotely like is the Affleck-Aniston one.

    And any of the Zucker-Zucker-Abrams oeuvre!

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