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You’ve lost that loving feeling, Legal Eagles – Film Firsts

I broke my Boy-and-Girl-hate-then-love cherry 25 years ago. So, why does the formula still work?

Today, I was hanging out with my father, for whom I am currently caring. He was flipping through the channels, mid-afternoon. It’s a sleety April day in Provo, Utah. We are both bored. As he was flipping, there were a lot of available movies: The  Bourne Identity, Valentine’s Day, A Single Man. We have seen most of them already.

Then he came across Legal Eagles, and I got a glimpse of Robert Redford’s strong, square jaw before my dad settled on the Military Channel. I sat forward a bit, though, at Legal Eagles, in the grip of a very pleasant sense memory: I felt happy. As a teenager in the 1980s (it came out in 1986), I loved that movie. It’s one of those movies, though, that you might remember fondly from your youth, you will not watch again; because you have discovered already that there are certain formulaic movies that do not endure even five years, never mind 25.

So, why do I have such fond memories of it? Was I really that vapid as a teenager? That is one possibility, certainly. But today it occurred to me that I had loved it because it was fresh and new to me. I had never before seen that particular formula: Boy (Robert Redford) meets Girl (Debra Winger); Boy and Girl HATE each other! Boy and Girl are forced together in close circumstances; Boy and Girl LOVE each other! There is a slight hitch with a vastly More Attractive, Blonde single rival (Daryl Hannah). However, to each insecure teenage girl’s delight, Boy is loyal to Girl because she has Substance.

Therfore, even though I recognize the formula now, immediately, at the time it seemed like a relevation. In fact, I still enjoy formulaic movies — probably far too often. I have an M.A. in English, so I don’t think it’s a lack of ability or sophistication. However, I am a silly, sentimental person, so I don’t mind being reminded of that first flush of seeing a successful movie formula (classic story? The Taming of the Shrew?) and how Substantial it made me feel at the time.

(I still don’t want to see this particular movie again. I remember it fondly and I don’t want that destroyed.)

Do you remember the first time you saw any “formulaic” movies? What was the formula? The movie? Does that formula still work for you?

Photo Credit: Universal

Categories: DVDs, Features, General, Reviews

One Response to “You’ve lost that loving feeling, Legal Eagles – Film Firsts”

April 9, 2011 at 11:24 PM

My first real “formula” movie had to be The Poseidon Adventure. The all-star disaster movie had been done before here and there, and certainly the success of Airport gave birth to Poseidon. That is really the movie that made me the film lover than I am today because it made me want to know how movies were made. That formula got stretched to it’s limits rather quickly, but I will always have a soft spot for The Poseidon Adventure.

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