The Gospel Truth

The Moviegoer | October 3, 2012

I read the book, The Moviegoer just recently.

The main character day-dreams constantly.

He has trouble engaging in lasting relationships and finds more meaning and immediacy in movies and books than in his own routine life.

It was Percy’s first, most famous, and most widely praised novel.

I was somewhat disappointed because there weren’t that many movie references that supported the theme of his book.

Movies have always been a big part of my life.

I just love movies.

I have been a regular moviegoer since I was about eight years old and my mother took me to the movie theaters–we had two of them–in Forest Hills.

It was always a double-feature–usually cowboy movies, starring, Randolph Scott, Alan Ladd or John Wayne.

The first movie I can remember was a war movie–The Sands of Iwo Jima, starring John Wayne.

My first movie

It was probably my first experience of a war in any sense.

I had a vicarious experience that both excited and frightened me.

That movie and others like it were probably the main reason I did not want to go to Vietnam many years later.

Yet I enjoyed the thrill of battle on the screen.

I still go to movies and thanks to modern technology I have a large collection of DVDs that keep my interest alive.

There is nothing like the freedom of knowing that I can see almost any movie, past and present at any time I want.

Movies has served as a metaphor for my life.

I have experienced so many different emotions watching films of all kinds.

Unlike most men–for most men who won’t admit it–I just love chick flicks–films that appeal to my inner feminine side I guess.

I just saw the film, adapted from a Nicholas Sparks book, The Lucky One that made me tear up at the end.

I guess I am obsessed by a happy ending.

Love his happy endings

But isn’t that what is essentially the promise of Heaven?

Movies help me to communicate to others about many ideas, feelings and observations I have made over the course of my life.

It is difficult for me to talk with some people or tell any of my warehouse of personal stories without using a popular movie for illustrative purposes.

They punctuate my personal stories with an intimacy that makes them almost real or should I say reel?

My favorite comedy is What About Bob, starring Bill Murray as the eponymous Bob Wiley and  Richard Dreyfus, who played his beleaguered psychiatrist, Leo Marvin.

Bob is a consummate neurotic..a pan-phobic–just like me…

That’s why they had to get a zany Bill to play the lead role.

He is so much like me in his fears, doubts and infectious good nature that I can watch the movie three or four times every year and still find it enlightening.

One example should illustrate this.

Midway through the movie, he follows Marvin up to Lake Winnipesaukee where the doctor was vacationing with his fam as Bob called them.

He sails!!!

(Yes this is the same place Mitt Romney vacations.  Maybe Bob still lives there.)

Marvin’s daughter asks Bob to go sailing with her and her friends.

He politely refuses…not because he doesn’t want to go–but because his fears of something new paralyze him into inaction.

The very thought made his lips numb.

But her sad, wistful look immediately energizes him.

The next sequence shows a close-up shows Bob looking like a natural sailor with the wind blowing through his bushy hair and the sun shinning brightly on his smiling face.

Think Leonardo DiCaprio on the Titanic!

Bob was yelling in proud accomplishment: I’m sailing!! I’m sailing! for the whole world and especially his fears to hear.

As the camera recedes we see that he is tied to the mast.

This happened to me in a way.

Years ago on a trip to Seattle on a trip, the rest of my party wanted to go up in the Space Needle, which was featured in an Elvis movie many years ago.

I had no need to go up in the Needle.

I don’t do heights very well and it was 791 feet high

That’s why I am afraid to fly.

I have used up about 350 of my 1000 deaths just flying.

I was even more terrified as we approached the tourist attraction.

It seemed to be that the circumference of the needle was pin-thick–maybe for or five inches at best.

A small breeze would have it wavering in the wind like the flag over Iwo Jima.

To make matters worse the elevator was on the outside of the Space Needle, making sure that I could see my death seconds before impact.

I turned inward and closed my eyes the whole way up!

I was flying!

My brother-in-law took pictures to blackmail me for years.

Once we got inside the restaurant, I told him that there was no way I could stay up here.

He told me he had a way.

He took me by my shaking hand into the bar and order me a Mai Tai, which I quickly gulped down.

Things felt just a little bit less scary but the high anxiety was still there.

So he bought me another one.

I didn’t drink it quite as fast but it seemed to do the trick.

On the trip down I would have hung over the side of the elevator car if he had been open and told the world that I was flying…flying into the face of my fears, fortified, not by ropes by sweet alcohol.

Two of my all-time favorite movies are The Eye of the Needle and Three Days of the Condor.

Donald Sutherland plays the Needle, which had nothing to do with Seattle.

It was a reference to his stiletto-like weapon that he adroitly used several times in the movie.

He is a Nazi Spy, working undercover for Admiral Wilhelm Canaris’ Abwehr.

He had proof that the D-Day invasion was really for Normandy and not the expected Port Calais.

His boat is shipwrecked on a small island, where acress Kate Nellington lived with her paralyzed husband.

The face of strong fear

The Needle lets his stoic guard down and falls for the winsome and sexually frustrated wife.

During their brief sexual congress she discovers his true origins and in the final scene tries to stop his escape to a waiting submarine.

During the climactic final scene, Nellington has the Needle cornered on the beach.

As she holds her ancient pistol on him, I was mesmerised by the look in her eyes–one of complete femininity–vulnerable yet strong, resourceful enough to conquer her own passion for him and save the day for the Allies.

This was one strong woman.

Robert Redford starred in Condor, his CIA code name for his work as a book-reader in an intelligence cell in New York City,

After he is the only survivor in an international hit on his team–he was literally out-to-lunch–he has to kidnap a sultry independent woman–photographer Faye Dunaway.

In her apartment as he tried to collect his thoughts and plan his next move, he takes time to critique her art work hanging on the walls.

Her B&W stills show stark scenes that he observes that had no people in them.

Thinking out loud he wonders what kind of person would take pictures without people.

That happened to me years ago.

Stark pictures on her walls

I knew this female photographer who had similar kinds of pictures–beautiful and poignant pictures as Redford would have said but empty…cold and very, very sad.

And finally where would I be without some of the great lines in movie history?

As Marlon Brando spoke through the wad of cotton in his mafia mouth in The GodfatherI want to make you an offer you can’t refuse!

But my favorite is that of chain gain boss, Strother  Martin, who says to a Cool Hand Luke–Paul Newman…What we have her is a failure to communicate.

I just hope that will not be the case to whomever reads this post.



  1. You are,amazing Mr.B: Great piece of lit.

    Comment by Jim — October 3, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  2. I like it.

    Comment by Mary B. Lachney — October 4, 2012 @ 12:16 am

  3. One reader wrote:

    Bill – I grew up in New Hyde Park, but had relatives in Forest Hills. One summer evening a very long time ago, Judy Garland was performing (in poor voice and with the occasional train running behind her) at the tennis stadium, but the audience still loved her. What rapport! Was it because she was perceived as being vulnerable – or something else?

    Dear Jim:

    You could be right but iI tend to think Americans…at least now attack the vulnerable. We sometimes create them to destroy them—look at M. Monroe. I think the event you witnessed attested to J. Garland’s stage presence that exists even when the talent has dissipated. That was probably ingrained in her at an early age and it is probably the last thing to go. BB

    Comment by bbprof — October 8, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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