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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Sad movies always make me cry

Jul 26, 2021 02:24PM ● By Sally Breslin
Young couple in a movie theater, the girl drying her eyes with a tissue, the guy holding popcorn looking annoyed

The other day a friend told me she’d just bought the DVD of the animated film “Bambi II” for her granddaughter. It immediately made me think back to when I was young and saw the original “Bambi” movie. I cried my eyes out when the hunter shot Bambi’s mother. I think the movie emotionally scarred me for life.

I’ve always cried over sad movies. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been too embarrassed to show my mascara-streaked face in the movie-theater lobby after watching a real tearjerker. I also can’t count the number of times my husband relentlessly teased me about it.

For some reason, he and my mother always had a knack for finding the humor in sad movies and spoiling them for me. When I was a kid, my mom took me to see the Disney classic, “Old Yeller”—a movie about a beloved dog that ended up saving the life of the boy he belonged to and then dying of rabies at the end (the dog, not the boy). The name “Yeller” referred to the boy’s pronunciation of the yellow color of the dog.

Well, my mother suddenly started to laugh in the middle of the movie. As heads turned toward us and eyes glared, I asked her why on earth she was laughing. She explained that one of the actresses in the movie had such yellow teeth, she thought that she was Old Yeller, not the dog!

Then there was the time I took her to see the Franco Zeffirelli film “Romeo and Juliet.” I’d already seen it once and had been so touched by it, I wanted my mother to experience the same intense emotion I’d felt.

She was fine until the scene in the square where Juliet’s nurse, who wore a huge, multi-layered puffy skirt, came looking for Romeo. The guys in the square began to taunt the nurse, making faces at her and dancing around her. Then one of them, Mercutio, lifted a corner of the nurse’s skirt, stuck his head underneath it and came out holding his nose and gasping.

That did it. My mother dissolved into fits of laughter. She laughed through the wedding scene. She laughed through the death scene. She laughed all the way out to the car after the movie had ended. And for years afterwards, whenever I mentioned the movie to her, she still laughed. I’m sure we made a lot of enemies in the movie theater that day.

 When my husband and I were dating, I convinced him to take me to see “Love Story” at a small local cinema. About 15 minutes into the movie, I could tell from his sighing and eye-rolling that he’d probably rather have been sitting in a laundromat washing his socks.

He managed to keep silent, however, until Ali MacGraw’s death scene. It was supposed to be romantic and touching—a real “hand me the tissues” moment. But the moment Ali said to Ryan O’Neal, who played her husband, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” my husband couldn’t remain silent any longer.

He burst out laughing. “Give me a break! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“Shhhhh!” I whispered. “This is the sad part! She’s going to die!”

“If we’re lucky, he’ll put a pillow over her face and help her speed things along!” he said.

I heard a few other men in the theater start to laugh. An irritated-sounding “Shhhhh!” came from the woman who was seated directly behind us. Once again, I had to hide my face behind a box of popcorn as I left the movie theater.

When I sobbed through “Wuthering Heights” and the ending of “Funny Girl,” my husband mercilessly teased me. And when I cried buckets over “Brian’s Song,” he jokingly called me a marshmallow, even though I could have sworn I detected him swallowing against a lump in his throat.

But then came the day when Hugh Beaumont, the actor who played one of the world’s most popular dads on TV, Ward Cleaver on “Leave it to Beaver,” passed away.

“Leave it to Beaver” had always been my husband’s favorite TV show. He’d watched all of the originals when he was a kid and then all of the reruns (about 10 times each) when he was older.

When my husband came home from work that night, I casually mentioned that Hugh Beaumont had died. His face immediately paled and, to my shock, tears streamed down his face. 

“Noooo! Not Ward Cleaver! It can’t be!” he wailed.

He spent the rest of the night sniffling, blowing his nose and reminiscing about poor Ward. He was so distraught, he practically needed a sedative.

The next morning, my husband looked beyond embarrassed.

“Gee, I don’t know what got into me,” he said, shrugging. “I mean, after all, Ward Cleaver was just a TV character.”

After that, he never teased me again when I cried during a movie. Was it because he’d learned to become more empathetic? 

Nah. It was because he was afraid I’d tell all of his buddies about the Ward Cleaver incident.