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Personal Statement:

How I Came to Love the Classics

by Toby Course, age 30

February 16, 2000

I owe all my classic movie watching and just my constant movie watching to my Uncle Bob. My Uncle Bob officially is my ex-uncle of 23 years or so. He is my cousin Jeff's father. Jeff is like my brother. You see, I have no brothers or sisters. When I was 8 or 9, my Uncle Bob and my Aunt Sandy divorced. My Uncle then moved into a condo in downtown Chicago, right off Lake Michigan. My cousin Jeff and his sister Nicky used to see their dad every weekend. I would say almost every month or every other month, I would spend a weekend at the condo. Now, Jeff and I had some most excellent times in the condo. My uncle would let us do many things. He says to this day that sometimes he would just sit back, open a bottle wine and watch us destroy the house. He says it was the only way he could cope with the two of us. But, good times were had every weekend I was there. 

Now, my uncle has loved movies for years. He said he started watching movies when he was working at Campbell's Soup 45 years ago. He would work the late shift, come home and the only thing that there was to do was watch all the old classics that were on the boob tube. Every weekend, my uncle  would take us out to see a movie. I always looked forward to this because it was the only time I would get to see a movie. I guess I must have enjoyed the movies a whole lot because I can't stop watching them. 

Now, there is more to this story. You see at the age of 13, my cousin moved to New Jersey. So, I would only see my uncle when my cousin Jeff would come in town. I was probably 14 when my Uncle sat Jeff and me down and had us watch ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. This movie had a huge impact on me. I love this movie. This movie made me begin to worship Cary Grant. I then rented a whole bunch of his movies and bought pictures and put them up all over the place. As I watched his movies, I began to appreciate the other major stars-- for example, Kate Hepburn (THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, BRINGING UP BABY, SYLVIA SCARLET). About a year later my uncle introduced me to the THIN MAN movies. I immediately went out and saw them all. 

So, by the age of 15, I was primed to be a classic movie watcher. Now, by the age of 21, I had seen many classic movies but not many many many classic movies. I met my wife at 22, and the one thing that we had in common was watching movies. So she and I saw lots of movies. Another thing that happened is that I began to watch the Academy Awards religiously. I started recording them in 1992.

In 1995, I realized that there were only 300 or so Academy Award-nominated movies that I had not seen. So, I made it a goal of mine to get all the nominated pictures. As I was collecting them, I did not watch a single one of them. I told myself that I would first get all of them (or as many as I could), then I would begin watching them. So, in July of 1998, I was able to get all but 19. I began watching them from 1927-28 to 1999. I watched them all in order. I really started to learn many of the supporting players and some of the older actors from the '30s and '40s that weren't as big as some of the greats. When I hit the year 1957, I saw my most favorite picture,  THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. The performances in this picture were outstanding. Before BOTRK, my favorite movie had been RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. You may be surprised that a Cary Grant movie is not number #1. I don't know why either. So, there is my story of why I like classic movies. 

(Please send your comments about this article to its author, Toby Course, at

© 2000 Toby Course

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