We write about the film business cynically as a business, but we’re a bunch of film geeks, really. I thought this when I experienced moments ago the closest thing a guy on his couch will face to a “Sophie’s Choice.” On Spike TV, there was the incomparable Roy Scheider slinging chum off the back of a boat, and a giant great white shark surfacing in Jaws, and Scheider telling Robert Shaw, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” And on AMC, at the same time, there’s Goodfellas, nearing its climax, when Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco) is directed by Jimmy (Robert De Niro) to go in a storefront to pick out dresses. This after she sets up a meeting between Jimmy and her recently pinched husband Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who’s about to go rat on his Lufthansa heist pal. What would have happened had Karen gone into that storefront with those thugs? It haunts me every time I watch that movie, which is like 3,000 hauntings.
It is cruel and a violation of some guy code for these cable networks to schedule competing movies that, with most guys I know, they instinctively are honor bound by some guy code to stop and watch while flipping channels on the remote, no matter where in the movie you come in. Those movies also include The Godfather I and II, Braveheart, Payback, Risky Business, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Heat, Ghostbusters, Last Of The Mohicans, The Town, Collateral, Jerry Maguire, The Shining, In The Name Of The Father, The Silence Of The Lambs and Munich. I think The Wolf of Wall Street will earn this status at some point.
How did I resolve this crisis? I have to admit, I watched Jaws, because Henry Hill was about to rat out everybody he could think of in Goodfellas. Robert Shaw still hadn’t been eaten by a shark, and was still dropping lines like surgical strikes. But damn these cable programmers. Damn them for leaving me in position to make such an unbearable choice! Damn them all. What movies have I forgotten, where guys have to stop and watch no matter where in the movie they stumble in? Does Scarface hit the mark? What about Point Break? Do any recent remakes make this list?