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'Peggy Sue Got Married': Life, on Second Thought

While the usual moral lessons about the 20-20-hindsight, a la "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), integral to tales of time travel counsel us not to beat the horse that brought us to our present circumstances, there is a refreshingly delivered, stardust quality in Peggy Sue's genre update.

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'Fatso': The Diet of Pagliacci

Alas, mixed into each laugh-evoking whimsy about the rituals and idiosyncrasies that play into pigging out, there lies in wait the dark truth. And while you're feeling terrible about what society erroneously labels a lack of willpower, thoughts about the impoverished, starving millions not blessed with your curse of overabundance doesn't help.

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'The Last Hurrah': Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Politics, But Were Told Not to Ask

It's cheap, divisive, and keeps two levels of the underclass in tow. Inequitably overtax the bourgeoisie and there you've funded your dominion. It's old school. When you're the minority that's been in power since time immemorial, you get rather canny at controlling the majority.

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'The Last Picture Show': End Credits in a Texas Town

Yet, for all the adult themes set against this backdrop of fatalism and resignation, sure as a tree grows in Brooklyn, a coming of age tale in rural Texas won't be denied its albeit brief day in the sun.

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'Friendly Persuasion': Love, Quaker Style

Now, Jess Birdwell, a handsome, strapping fellow who could probably lick many times his weight in such misguided naysayers, feels no need to prove his fearlessness. Real heroes never do.

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'The Wild One': Wandering Rebel

Everything else about the film inspired by the so-called Hollister Riot of 1947, wherein all hell broke loose when 2,000 members of the American Motorcyclists Association descended on that California town, Fourth of July Weekend, is up for conjecture.

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'Dave': Would Totally Wear a Mask

The beauty of the parable at the heart of director Ivan Reitman's "Dave" (1993) is that the title character isn't beholden to the moneyed scourge that features itself the ruling class. He is the sorcerer's apprentice but with a conscience and a moral purpose, free to right the wrongs that have preceded his ascendancy.

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'Being There': On the Square

What we sense in Chauncey is an aura and impetus totally bereft of such crass dynamics. But whether he is just as advertised or the genius prophet essentially adopted and taken in by Melvyn Douglas' industrial giant, Ben Rand, trusted advisor to Jack Warden's president, his naivete, or what passes for it, invokes a refreshing purity.

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'Auntie Mame': 'Life is a Banquet, and Most Poor Suckers Are Starving to Death'

Combine equal parts love, dreams, farcical folderol, a smartly elegant cascade of splendor and you have the feel-good potion that is "Auntie Mame."

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'Moonstruck': Like a Big Pizza Pie

It's schmaltz Italian style, an homage to what makes the world go 'round, lovingly evinced through an ensemble of wonderfully affable characterizations. And while it may seem at moments that you've been at long last entrusted with the secret of love, "Moonstruck" is but a wisp of joyous tantalization, perhaps meant to inspire your own, firsthand investigation.

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'The Big Lebowski': When Dudes Abide

Their hapless good intentions make us laugh. Whereas in real life, the slough off at your place of employment is a derelict who expends more energy avoiding labor than it would take to just do the job.

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'The Sunshine Boys': 'All the Men & Women Merely Players'

A nostalgic and loving peek into the whys, wherefores and wiles of a lifelong relationship, "The Sunshine Boys" imparts a golden glow that will have you rolling and sighing in the aisles. And if you don't have aisles, the couch will do.

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'The Remains of the Day': What the Butler Didn't See

The question that must follow then, with Mr. Stevens the embodiment of detachment from what may or may not affect the commonweal, is does he really believe that such matters are better left to swells like his employer, or is his personal acquiescence a form of cowardice?

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'The Petrified Forest': Diners, Disillusionment & Diva

Each twitch of a facial muscle, a glint in an eye, half-hopeful smile, momentary sadness and deep, abiding concern are evoked in a phenomenal amalgam of technical and method acting that cannot be attributed to anything but natural talent.

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'Eight Men Out': Say It Ain't So, Joe

Inspired art direction that turned minor league stadiums into yesteryear's baseball emporiums, terrific period costumes and jauntily choreographed hitting, running and fielding romanticize the era while providing rollicking counterpoint to the sad sense of betrayal.

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'The Great Gatsby': Class Distinction by the Book

Everyone in "The Great Gatsby" is of their time, proof positive and point of reference for anyone who cares to peer into the ebullience of the post WWI, Prohibition era of glitzy presumptiveness, and what Fitzgerald declaimed, through narrator Nick Carraway, as careless.

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'Rain Man': If We Only Used Our Brain

Opportunists might speculate what riches could be gleaned from harnessing the paradox, whereas altruists might venture that unlocking the secrets might lead to a cure for cancer, and perhaps along the way a vaccine against the current plague.

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'I Remember Mama': Motherhood: All Love Begins and Ends There

Irene Dunne's wonderfully etched title character esteems truth, morality and respect not just because it is proper, but because her DNA knows that such are the indispensable building blocks of a civilized society.

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'The Fountainhead': Magnificent Confusion

You see, while there is a class of movie that is so bad that it is great fun to watch, "The Fountainhead," starring Gary Cooper as iconoclastic architect Howard Roark, targeted for martyrdom by evil architecture critic Ellsworth M. Toohey, is so paradoxical it's magnetizing.

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'Bang the Drum Slowly': Of Pitchers & Catchers

But the main reason to see this absorbing, character-driven morality tale that Mark Harris adapted for the screen from his novel is for the touching bond into which Moriarty and De Niro breathe life: the pitcher-catcher relationship as a tear-laced, buddy-buddy metaphor for devoted friendship.

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'The Grapes of Wrath': Bleed the Bitter Truth

This epochal contribution to cinema, history and the socioeconomic analysis of the American character, starring Henry Fonda's Tom Joad as a pilgrim amidst the tragedy of a capitalist system blind to society's urgencies, is that rare case where the film is almost as good as the book.

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'Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House': Blueprint for a Comedy

Cary Grant's wonderfully etched Jim Blandings has his own version of the chimera I speak of a haven in the Connecticut sticks where the bigtime Madison Avenue adman can don slippers and smoking jacket, enjoy a snifter of brandy with a good pipe, and play country squire.

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'Boom Town': Bet Your Bottom Dollar You'll Lose the Blues

If you either have, had or someday hope to have that blessed relationship known as a best friend, you'll find the perceptive gist of the lucky circumstance rolled out in spades in director Jack Conway's "Boom Town," a virtual, iconic template for the buddy film.

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