Posted at 10:59 AM on February 25, 2009
by Euan Kerr
A few years back Robert Hofler and the staff at Variety Magazine began asking people from all walks of life outside showbusiness about films that had a profound influence on them.
"And it really was kind of amazing to see the people who went into the work that they went into because they had seen a movie."
The interviews became a series, and now after adding conversations from people inside the business it's become a book, called "The movie that changed my life."
Hofler runs through lists of people whose lives changed as the result of a couple of hours in a picture palace.
"For instance Robert F. Kennedy Jr who is an environmentalist who saw "To Kill a Mocking Bird," and that Gregory Peck lawyer is a major reason he became a lawyer. And then you have people like Sen. John McCain, who saw "Viva Zapata" and became really turned on to politics."
The book is interesting to dip into and see how different people reacted to the same movie. Jesse Jackson was stirred by "Imitation of Life," the 1959 Douglas Sirk film about a light-skinned African American trying to pass for white. Jackson saw it as a portrait of the conflicts of people trying to accommodate themselves into a larger society. The movie also had an impact on designer Isaac Mizrahi who raves about the dresses.
Hofler admits that they got the most interesting and profound descriptions from older people. He says younger folk tend to talk in terms of television shows. There's another book in that he admits.
We'll air the interview sometime next week.