5 Favorite Movies I’m Watching over the 4th of July Weekend

canstockphoto11411825I’m taking the long 4th of July weekend to work on my new novel, and looking forward to watching some movies (while I’m writing.) Seems like a good way to spend a hot July weekend, right? Because there’s nothing more American than movies featuring fireworks, barbecues and patriotic fervor. These five films are so chock-full of American spirit that you’ll be standing and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” before the credits roll.

In that spirit, here’s my list of Movies for the 4th of July Weekend!

Top Gun (1986)

Pilot prodigy Maverick shuns teamwork and the rules of engagement, while making love to his flight instructor, performing dangerous and daring flying maneuvers, and ultimately causing the death of his best friend. In the end, he learns the importance of cooperation and discipline. It remains one of Cruise’s most iconic roles, and naval aviators have never looked so charismatic. If it does nothing else, “Top Gun” demonstrates the emotional impact of the wind-rippled stars and stripes, waving in slow motion.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAfbp3YX9F0]

 

A League of Their Own (1992)

This movie tends to be most fondly remembered for that important lesson that “There’s no crying in baseball.” But this fictionalized big-screen retelling of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is memorable not just athletically, but historically. The movement that plucked girls out the kitchen and plopped them down on the diamond, with bats in hand, changed the sport of baseball, changed the way the country viewed its female workforce, and most importantly, changed the way women viewed themselves. “A League of Their Own” captures this spirit perfectly with a heart-warming story about the strong, independent women who kept America running while the boys were fighting overseas in World War II. Ultimately though, there’s a deeper lesson about the All-American ideal of equality.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcN392H2jx0]

 

The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot is a true blue, American childhood film set in the summer of 1962. A boy moves to a new town and wants to join the neighborhood kids playing baseball on a vacant lot. He borrows his stepfather’s prized baseball –autographed by Babe Ruth – and loses it in a yard patrolled by a dreaded, killer guard dog. He was looking for friends but finds a summer filled with America’s favorite pastime and good ole backyard adventure. Nice touch when the kids play ball at dusk, aided by the flickering lights from the town’s Fourth of July fireworks. In a display of innocent, youthful patriotism, the boys forget the game and get lost watching the brilliant flashes in the night sky.

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QDq-e1GbjE]

 

Jaws (1975)

Jaws is the summer blockbuster prototype, and practically wrote the rule book for every great monster film that followed. Set over the Fourth of July holiday, vacationing city folk swarm the beach of Amity Island, only to run afoul of a big, bad shark. Some have described the waving flags in the background as representing the idealized American Dream, and the monster shark representing whatever cultural phenomenon that’s corrupting that dream, but I view the movie as just good, old fashioned summer entertainment. Plus, Steven Spielberg’s awe inspiring film career began with this adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMl6t3UYvu8]

 

Independence Day (1996)

There is absolutely no better movie to watch on Independence Day. Not only is it named after the American holiday, but it includes action, sci-fi, humor, romance and cool ’90s Will Smith — all coming to a head on July 4th. In the climatic end, President Bill Pullman declares this day “Independence Day for the world.” Happy Fourth of July, indeed!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGeIsCLOI-U]

 

 

Some attention-grabbing, knock ‘em dead first lines

canstockphoto4734665There seems to be a lot of pressure to write a memorable, attention-grabbing, knock ’em dead first line.

As authors, we’re supposed to understand its critical importance. Without an attention-grabbing, knock ‘em dead first line, readers may not move to the second. So, as I write and rewrite an opening line for my new novel, I thought a look at the first lines of some of my favorite books would provide a little inspiration.

“From the moment the early morning fog had begun to lift, they sensed they were being watched.”
— ‘MEG,’ Steve Alten

“Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.”
— ‘DRAGON TEARS,’ Dean Koontz

“Even before the events in the supermarket, Jim Ironheart should have known trouble was coming.”
— ‘COLD FIRE,’ Dean Koontz

“You’ve been here before.”
— ‘NEEDFUL THINGS,’ Stephen King

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years — if it ever did — began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
— ‘IT,’ Stephen King

“He should never have taken that shortcut.”
— ‘TIMELINE,’ Michael Crichton

“It hovered in the ink-dark water, waiting.”
— ‘BEAST,’ Peter Benchley

“The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.”
— ‘JAWS,’ Peter Benchley

“The Senior Partner studied the resume for the hundredth time and again found nothing he disliked about Mitchell Y. McDeere, at least not on paper.”
— ‘THE FIRM,’ John Grisham

“My decision to become a lawyer was irrevocably sealed when I realized my father hated the legal profession.”
— ‘THE RAINMAKER,’ John Grisham

“The decision to bomb the office of the radical Jew lawyer was reached with relative ease.”
— ‘THE CHAMBER,’ John Grisham

“Benton Wesley was taking off his running shoes in my kitchen when I ran into him, my heart tripping over fear and hate and remembered horror.”
— ‘POINT OF ORIGIN,’ Patricia Cornwell

“Brass stars with celebrities’ names were inlaid in the sidewalk but the stars of the night were toxin merchants, strong-arm specialists, and fifteen-year-olds running from family values turned vicious.”
— ‘SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST,’ Jonathan Kellerman

“The shark on the dock was no monster.”
— ‘THE WEB,’ Jonathan Kellerman

“The Cross house was twenty paces away and the proximity and sight of it made Gary Soneji’s skin prickle.”
— ‘CAT & MOUSE,’ James Patterson

“Brianne Parker didn’t look like a bank robber or a murderer — her pleasantly plumb baby face fooled everyone.”
— ‘ROSES ARE RED,’ James Patterson

“Afterwards, steadfastly through the questioning, Scott Covey tried to make everyone understand just how it had happened.”
— ‘REMEMBER ME,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“Fifteen-year-old Nell MacDermott turned and began the swim back to shore.”
— ‘BEFORE I SAY GOODBYE,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“If Alvirah had known on that July evening what was waiting for her at her fancy new apartment on Central Park South, she would never have gotten off the plane.”
— ‘THE LOTTERY WINNER,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“She undressed slowly, dreamily, and when she was naked, she selected a bright red negligee to wear so that the blood would not show.”
— ‘IF TOMORROW COMES,’ Sidney Sheldon

“The large ballroom was crowded with familiar ghosts come to help celebrate her birthday.”
— ‘MASTER OF THE GAME,’ Sidney Sheldon

“Some kids found her.”
— ‘MY DARK PLACES,’ James Elroy

“If there is anything unusual on Pequod Street, a disturbance in the night suggests impending loss or change, a disruption or a dislocation, Clary Hale’s fatherless children are sleeping too profoundly to hear it.”
— ‘GONE,’ Kit Craig

“Boy, it’s hard to believe now, but not long before the Girl’s Night Out Fiasco, I was complaining about being bored.”
— ‘REVENGE OF THE COOTIE GIRLS,’ Sparkle Hayter

“Chris Mankowski’s last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb.”
— ‘FREAKY DEAKY,’ Elmore Leonard

“When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.”
— ‘FIREBREAK,’ Richard Stark

“The old lady had changed her mind about dying but by then it was too late.”
— ‘CITY OF BONES,’ Michael Connelly

“Three days before her death, my mother told me—they weren’t her last words but they were pretty close—that my brother was still alive.”
— ‘GONE FOR GOOD,’ Harlan Coben

Want more info, check out these articles:

“Thriller First Lines”
http://williamdietrich.com/thriller-first-lines/

Your First Line: The Hook that gets your novel off the bookshelves and onto the checkout counter
http://murderby4.blogspot.com/2009/11/your-first-line-hook-that-gets-your.html