The Movie That Changed My Life

By: Natoya Raymond

My profession is teaching people to enjoy literature on the one hand and to find information on the other

William Thompson

Continuing my search for other friends that are eager to share their own life-changing movies, I discovered that one of my Professors, William Aufderheide Thompson, who works in the English Dept and library, was more than willing to share!!

Natoya: Hey Professor, What movie was life-changing for you? and why? 

Professor Thompson: Peter Bogdonavich made several important films, Paper Moon not least among them, but undoubtedly his single work of genius is the screwball comedy, What’s Up, Doc? with a screenplay written by, among others, Robert Benton and Buck Henry and starring Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’Neal, Madeline Kahn (her first film), and August Pendleton.

What’s Up Doc? is loosely based on the film, Bringing Up Baby (another act of unbridled filmic genius) and unleashed in me a lifelong affection for the absurd, the ironic witty dialogue with a deadpan delivery, as well as preparing me to enjoy the screwball absurdist comedies of Preston Sturges and the Marx Brothers, among others.

Need I add I was also a youthful enthusiast of Jerry Lewis films?  I was 10 years old when I  saw What’s Up Doc? and have seen it dozens of times since, even as recently as last year.

Natoya: I see, and what character or characters did you resonate with within the movie?

Professor Thompson: I came away from What’s Up Doc? wanting to be the Barbara Streisand character in the film.

still want to be her. She was smart, blond, beautiful, sexy, witty, and could sing like nobodies business. She moved from Nietzche to Groucho without batting an eye and when she did bat her eyes Ryan O’Neal melted.

Natoya: What specific scene/line touched you the most? 

Professor Thompson: It’s not one of the numerous funny ones, like the immortal “Yes, Eunice.” Or “He’s conducting an avalanche in F Minor.” Or “Unhand that dangerously unbalanced woman!” 

No, it’s “You can’t fight a tidal wave,” which is what Barbara Streisand’s character, “Judy,” says to Ryan O’Neal’s character, “Steve,” when he tells her, “I think I’m falling in love with you.” 

“You can’t fight a tidal wave,” what a great line. It touched me then. It touches me now.

Natoya: Lastly Professor, if you are recommending this movie to someone else, how would you pitch it in one line?

If you want a deep understanding of the human condition, you must see What’s Up Doc?