Can a Movie Help You Remember? Write Your Memoir Says It Can

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Writeyourmemoir.com has wonderful advice and support for people who want to tell their stories.  I love Martha Jewett’s suggestion of using movies to jar memories.

Rita’s mother was a hidden child during the Holocaust. She never talked about it. Then she fell and broke her heel. She went to Rita’s house to recuperate.

To relax in the evenings, Rita and her mother watched movies on Netflix. Seven nights in a row they glommed The Winds of War, a 1983 TV miniseries starring Robert Mitchum, Ali MacGraw, and Jan-Michael Vincent.

Robert Mitchum plays U.S. Navy officer Victor “Pug” Henry, stationed in Europe before World War II officially begins. The script by Herman Wouk (based on his novel) is a period drama full of leisurely conversations and formal cocktail parties, cut in with combat newsreel footage. As the Nazis invade and Europe unravels, communication lines are cut off. Messages don’t get through. Family members can’t find one another.

All of a sudden, Rita’s mother started talking to Rita about all her experiences. She talked and talked and talked.

“She told me everything,” Rita said. “It was amazing.”

I know that showing movies to our children gave us a chance to talk to them about historical events, technology (“Mom, what is a telegram?”), and our own family memories.  Even if you’re not writing a memoir, it can be a great way to begin conversations about memories and family history.

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Internet, Gaming, Podcasts, and Apps

A Documentary About Roger Ebert

Posted on September 13, 2012 at 8:00 am

I was moved and inspired by Roger Ebert’s book Life Itself: A Memoir and I’m thrilled to hear that it may become a documentary thanks to three brilliant filmmakers, Martin Scorsese (“Goodfellas,” “Hugo,” “Raging Bull”), Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List,” “Moneyball,” “Searching for Bobby Fischer”), and Steven James of “Hoop Dreams.”

According to Ebert’s paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert said,

“When I first learned they were interested, the news came out of a clear blue sky,” Ebert wrote in an e-mail. “I once wrote a blog about Steve James’ ‘Hoop Dreams,’ calling it the ‘The Great American Documentary.’ His ‘The Interrupters,’ about volunteers trying to stop street violence in Chicago, is urgent and brave. Now to think of him interested in my memoir is awesome. Zaillian and Scorsese are also brilliant filmmakers. I couldn’t be happier, especially since I never thought of ‘Life Itself’ as a film.”

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Ron Masak Meets His Heroes

Posted on May 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Ron Masak’s face and voice are more familiar than his name. As Sheriff Mort Metzger in “Murder She Wrote” he appeared with Angela Lansbury as the mystery novelist who ran into a different real-life mystery every week. And he has been called the “King of Commercials” for his appearance in hundreds of radio and television ads. This career has given him the opportunity to meet up with many of the biggest stars of sports, show business, and more. He has written about his encounters with heroes from Buzz Aldrin and Muhammad Ali to Bill Cosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, and Elvis Presley in a charming book called I’ve Met All My Heroes From A To Z. Send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com to tell me what celebrity you’d like to meet and the first one I receive will win a copy of this book.

Ron was nice enough to answer my questions.

Which of the people you met was least like his or her public persona?

The fact that they made the book means that they were all pretty much what they appeared to be. Lucy of course was a brilliant business woman as well.

Which one taught you the most important lesson?

My wife…taught me to “be yourself. My college director had the same advice.

My favorite part of your book is your loving tribute to your wife. What did she
teach your children about how to be a parent?

Be a living example to them…Teach them right from wrong, to “be themselves” and never let them leave the house without hearing “I love you.”

I’m a Chicagoan, too — so what’s your favorite place for pizza in Chicago?

In my youth it was Venuccis, Chesdens, and Home Run Inn.

Do you find that the same qualities lead to achievement whether it is in acting, sports, or the military?

Yes, the challenge, the preparation, the ability to perform your duties.

Who is the bravest of your heroes and why?

Audie Murphy, most decorated man in WWII, medal of honor winner. Who could top that?

Who is the funniest?

In my book a tie between George Burns, Jerry Lewis, Lucy, and Cosby. Not in my book? Shecky Greene.

As the King of Commercials, what is the most important thing to remember in
making an ad?

Timing…If you are brilliant and it’s too long it is wasted.

Do you really have to like the product?

I do.

One surprising thing about your book is the unexpected kindness shown by many of
the people you write about. Do you have a favorite example?

They were all so generous with their time and talent. Roy Rogers, catching a Special Olympian out of the corner of his eye as we were leaving, going over to him in his wheelchair, kneeling and spending time with him. He was special….he was everything you wanted your hero to be.

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