This is an excerpt. To see Ms. Fisher’s entire list, please purchase the November/December 2011 issue.
Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
It was one of Billy Wilder’s first writing credits, starring Olivia de Havilland and Charles Boyer, and it’s about people who just don’t belong. She’s a schoolteacher, and he can’t get over the border, so he marries her by lying to her because, really, he just wants to get into the States. He’s a gigolo, but ultimately he falls in love with her. I went up to Billy Wilder once and said, “I love that movie.” And he looked at me like I was insane.
The Canterville Ghost (1944)
Charles Laughton is a ghost who’s stuck in a tree because all his descendants are cowards. Margaret O’Brien turns out to be a distant ancestor, and she allows him to have eternal rest. Finally. I like Margaret O’Brien in this one because she’s going up against her ancestor who’s literally like Henry VIII, and she’s the only one who’s not afraid of him.
The Enchanted Cottage (1945)
I like movies that deal with amnesia and ghosts. This one I really like. It’s about this cottage that makes ugly people good-looking. Robert Young’s character has been disfigured in a horrible accident, and he goes to this cottage. I love things like this.
Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)
Esther Williams gets on a trapeze, and goes sailing through a ring of fire and into a pool. It’s absurd and it’s incredible and you have to be on acid.
Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
It’s so bad, it’s not even good. They could use it now instead of waterboarding. It should be funny, with Art Carney there; it should be insane, but it’s so boring. It’s better in the telling than in the watching. But there’s a song in that thing that I really want to start singing again: “Happy Life Day.”
I have to say that I’m not a fan of the ghost-hunting shows that are on now. I had to give them a shot, to decide if I’m a fan or not, and I’m not. Ghost movies are better because you have to have a real ghost. With ghosts, you need to find somebody. I like there to be someone. Like Patrick Swayze.