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Forming unforgettable bonds with other people because of a passion for classic films?


Herman Bricks
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Has your passion for classic films contributed to forming unforgettable bonds with others? I was thinking about a couple of old friends today who I would not have known had it not been for our shared interest in old movies. If you don't mind I'll tell you about them and I'd love to hear if you have similar stories.

In the 1980's I worked at a restaurant in New York City with a very diverse staff. Among the national origins we represented- China, South Korea, India, Bangladesh... The Dominican Republic, Peru, Argentina... Albania, Hungary, Bosnia,...Barbados, Brazil... Ireland, France, Greece, Hungary... US States- Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Washington, and on and on.

I was hired at about the same date as a guy from NJ named Danny, who was a film student, film fan, and aspiring filmmaker. Because Danny and I were so close in seniority, we worked the same schedule. We chatted a lot about movies and when we worked doubles together (lunch and dinner with a break in between) we would often go see a flick together during the break. There were lots of movie theaters within a few minutes walking distance including one on our block. At work we talked about movies constantly.

So one day, as lunch was winding up, Danny and I are looking at the newspaper (remember newspapers?) and considering which flick to see, contingent on the starting time fitting our break times (2:30-4:45PM). As we were discussing SHOOT TO KILL (1988), a Turkish guy named Nejat passed by and said something like, "not bad, If (Sidney) Poitier was going to come back, it would have to be in a commercial film..."

I had worked with Nejat for years at that point and had never heard him speak a sentence in English. While Danny and I looked at each other dumb-struck, Nejat provided some more comments about SHOOT TO KILL, which Danny and I saw and found to be exactly as Nejat had reviewed it to us.

Nejat did not talk much, so it may have been weeks before we spoke again. But when we did it was about old movies. Nejat told me that as a kid in Turkey, his obsession was to go to the movies and watch American films. He also told me that most of the programming on Turkish TV was old, subtitled American movies. So he spent his childhood watching subtitled classic American cinema, learning a little English and dreaming of moving to America.

Which Nejat did in the 1970's, knowing nobody here, but continuing to go to the movies, and watching old movies on TV. Nejat watched American movies on TV without subtitles, recalled the Turkish translation that he had seen in subtitles, back home in Turkey, and that is how he learned to speak English.

Nejat and I became friends. We started a trivia game between each other, in which one would name a geographic destination and the other would have to name the movie title . For example, Nejat would say " Havana" and I would say OUR MAN IN HAVANA(1959). I actually stumped him with ISTANBUL (1956). We would also quiz each other on movie dialogue.

One day, my friend Danny was arguing with another co-worker who made the mistake of threatening Danny in an uncreative way. Danny's response: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter!"

Nejat: "That's THE MALTESE FALCON, 1941!"

 

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