Sep 16, 2011

If I Had to Keep 4 | Tom Austin

Hi guys, it's Friday and you know what that means: a new edition of the series If I Had to Keep 4. This time my guest is someone I didn't previously know, Tom Austin from the sci-fi blog The Old Movie House Blog.

Short bio: He was born in 1956. He started writing as a teen and hasn't stopped. He has written for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Radio), helped write the History In Dispute encyclopedia series, and has written many short stories with highly varied subjects. He's been married for 29 years.

Even when the series is about picking the four most special items from the guest's memorabilia, the four you would run to save in a fire or an alien attack; I decided to publish this entry, in which Tom wrote about the 4 films he would keep from his collection. I found his story very powerful and it shows how movies can be a great company through difficult times.

"A burning house is a bummer. After seeing Frederic March go up in flames, or seeing Spencer Tracy get trampled by some highly overweight, slightly crazed, axe wielding fire fighter would not put me in the mood to watch any movie. And if I was alone on an island I would not ask myself “Ok, which film will I watch tonight” because I know there’s no blasted electricity. So I will put myself in a situation I know oh too well. Coming home from the hospital after having a hunk of my person removed. I’ve been in that situation four times already, I’m looking at a fifth time, and I know a steady diet of good films is just the thing to put me in a good mood. After all, having more rope inside your mouth than there is on a Christmas turkey is far from cozy.

For me the choice would be far from easy. Right now I have 104 VHS tapes with 1 or movies on them - forgive me. I know it’s the 21 century, and movies should all be on DVDs, but I’m sort of set in my ways. But I am progressing. I have 43 DVDs, plus a number of special boxed sets. But the question remains. Which will be the four films I take with into my room, “my lair”, as my wife calls it, to watch while my body repairs itself.

Spencer Tracy is a very versatile actor. And Judgement At Nuremburg is an excellent film which is going to “the lair” . But I must get my sci-fi fix or I’ll be cranky as a bear. I think I’ll pick The Day the Earth Stood Still. It’s not too long, so when my wife reminds me its time for my afternoon nap it’ll fit right in. Plus it won’t give me nightmares the way The Thing from Another Planet might. Thanks to the surgeons taking a tumor out of my mouth I’ve developed a bit of a stutter so Jimmy Stewart is going. But which one, Harvey, no, he won’t do. If I laugh too much I might rip my stitches, then I’ll be back on baby food. Maybe I’ll choose Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Nope, that won’t do either. There’s an election coming up, and I might get angry. I’ve got it. No Highway In The Sky. That’s just the film. Kenneth More, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Hawkins, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns. Lets see. So far its Judgement At Nuremburg with Spencer Tracy, The Day the Earth Stood Still with Michael Rennie, and No Highway In The Sky with Jimmy Stewart. One more. Hmmmm.

Got it !. My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn, the fantastic Rex Harrison, the incredible Stanley Holloway, and Wilfrid Hyde-White. As I collect the films my wife stands at the door to “the lair”. She gives me a look, and says “By my count you have one too many films there. So hold your horses young man”. As I look at her, as innocent as could be, purer than new fallen snow, I pick up My Fair Lady and mumble “Long film, two tapes”. My wife waves her hand in front of her face and says “Hey buffalo breath. Wash your mouth out. Your breath stinks !”. As I settle into my favourite chair I look at the haul. Judgement At Nuremburg, The Day The Earth Stood Still, No Highway In The Sky, My Fair Lady, and The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney Jr. And grin. I know that’s five, but in this particular case I’m glad I failed math all through school."

Thanks Tom for being part of this series, and writing about such a personal matter. From the movies he mentioned, I just have seen MFL, so I have some watching to do!

Want to share your favorite items from your classic movies memorabilia? Wanna see your cards, posters, photos, books, special editions, etc etc featured here? Send me an e-mail at kfercovic[at]gmail[dot]com.

PS: This weekend I'm celebrating two very especial events: my country's Independence day and THE GUILTY PLEASURES MOVIE BLOGATHON hosted by the CMBA. The film I picked is Paris when it Sizzles starring Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. Till then :)


  1. You've got to watch Judgment At Nuremberg, Clara. It is a very powerful film. It's also very long but I didn't mind because the story is so intense (and I love courtroom dramas). Spencer Tracy also has some amazing monologues.

  2. Clara, these posts are a lot of fun. Tom is one of my favorites, and boy do I love this list. Judgment at Nuremburg is one of the best movies ever made, and despite its tragic nature, I am always up for watching such a treasure. Actually, ALL of these movies are ones I would pick myself! So Tom, if you ever invite movie nut friends to your lair, I would love any of these!



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