Movie Title Story

Michael Burg, MD

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The Godfather gave me his gift, and just like that I started planning my trip to Casablanca. He called me “The Graduate,” so proud of my graduation from college.

He can be quite the Raging Bull, my godfather Shane, but he always expresses his Terms of Endearment to me in Giant ways. It’s a Wonderful Life with him in it.

I’d never been farther east than Sunset Blvd. I’m a West Side Story kind of girl. But now, I was about to be The African Queen.

Since I’d hardly traveled at all I went with friends.

Rocky came along of course. He’s like a Rebel Without a Cause and would be our protector on the road. My running buddy, the one we all called Forrest Gump, came too. The Third Man on the trip, Good Will Hunting, the smart one, the travel strategist. All three, my Goodfellas.

The four of us would be like characters from The Wizard of Oz, with a twist. Maybe The Good, the Bad and the Ugly plus one, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid plus two.

I thought of inviting others.

My friends, Bonnie and Clyde would have been good travel buddies, but they had other plans. Annie Hall decided to stay behind too.

We left at High Noon. Our Taxi Driver for the trip to the airport was a TRIP! He said his name was “Rain Man” or something like that. He was an excellent driver, but he drove so fast that I barely had time to wave goodbye out the Rear Window. Strangely, even though I live in Wuthering Heights, he drove North by Northwest to get to the airport.

As we boarded, Will nicknamed our plane The Maltese Falcon, clever boy, I told you. We taxied, took off and left LA’s City Lights far below. Just like that, we were Gone with the Wind.

The flight was pretty crazy.

I think our pilot fancied himself The Great Dictator. He flew like he was driving a Stagecoach, never mind the bumps.

I had drunk a fair amount of wine to steady my nerves and got a wicked case of Vertigo. I thought I was going Psycho. Clenching my Jaws though I was able to avoid The Grapes of Wrath aftermath (or perhaps it’s the Wrath of Grapes), and didn’t paint the aisle The Green Mile.

Also, I was seated between two helpful guys, Doctor Zhivago and Dr. Strangelove. Doctor Z taught me some deep breathing exercises. Dr. Strangelove was a bit of an odd duck. He kept muttering that he wanted to read me his life story “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” but I couldn’t focus. At least he distracted me from my woes.

It was also helpful that I had my headphones with me. I like The Sound of Music, any music. I listened to Amadeus, Yankee Doodle Dandy, even some selections from The Pianist.

Sensing something akin to a Mutiny on the Bounty our pilot lightened up a little and called out some of the cities we were flying over. FargoNashville … He even cracked some lame jokes as we passed the East Coast, something about Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Philadelphia Story. His best one though, as we passed D.C., ended with the punchline, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Out over the Atlantic he kept quiet. Good judgment on his part not to share stories about the Titanic.

As we neared the European coast, our pilot perked up again, tossing off some more bad one-liners about An American in Paris and The French Connection. Later, as we turned south, a lame Lawrence of Arabia meets Patton story that made no sense.

As we neared Africa I felt like I’d flown From Here to Eternity. Some of the other passengers felt the same way. There was a group of 12 Angry Men just barely keeping it together.

Once in Casablanca it’s a good thing that Some Like It Hot, because it was blazing there.

I’d read about a place called “The Apartment” that was recommended as a wonderful place to stay. It was either near The Bridge Over the River Kwai or in Chinatown, or maybe it was Jurassic Park-adjacent. I don’t remember which. I may have my details confused. All I knew for sure was that it was On the Waterfront and was supposedly not A Place in the Sun.

Later, after we napped and got settled in, we headed out to Bar Ben-Hur. It seemed like a fun place based on the reading I’d done in my Schindler’s List travel guide, but boy were they wrong. That was some misguided Pulp Fiction. The music was good but the men were super aggressive. It was like Dances with Wolves! Will, Forrest and Rocky had a good time though. Rocky met some girl, and then kept telling us he was Gladiator. Will and Forrest would crack up, but I didn’t get the joke.

There’s plenty more to tell about my other adventures in Casablanca but I’ll save that for another story. I will say though that the four of us came to think of ourselves as Raiders of the Lost Ark. We had many “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” if you know what I mean.

The four of us continued to travel all over the world.

Those were The Best Years of Our Lives. We skipped around the planet just Singin’ in the Rain and even mined for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Eventually though all good things come to an end.

Rocky married some crazy chick we nicknamed “The Deer Hunter.”

My Fair Lady swept Will off his feet.

And Forrest, AKA the Midnight Cowboy, came out of the closet and ran off with Citizen Kane.

I’ll always fondly remember our Network of four travel buddies, our Platoon. Back in the day, before I had a Braveheart and felt comfortable traveling solo, those three guys helped prevent The African Queen from having an Apocalypse Now moment in Casablanca.

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San Luis Obispo, CA
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