Searching For Heroes At The Movies

By: Jeff Lukens

Rarely these days do you see a movie that would make John Wayne proud. In an age of moral equivalence, heroes at the movies have become hard to find. “World Trade Center” is a good film because it stirs the hero inside each of us.

No matter what you may think of Oliver Stone, his new film is a rare and honest salute to family, honor, duty, patriotism, and religious faith. It is as good a film as I have ever seen.

Hey, I’m a movie buff. I love to be inspired by a good movie. Today’s movies, however, have been lacking inspiration. Too often, I seem to be leaving the theater wondering why I still go to them.

About the only genre of film Hollywood can still make well is the boy meets girl romantic comedy. Though the actors are different, the story line of these movies is generally the same as they were in the days of Rock Hudson and Doris Day. It is hard to miss with this template even when bathroom humor and sexual innuendo suffice for comedy.

But what I really want to see is a hero. You know, that’s someone motivated to act beyond his or her own self-interest. It’s that person faced with an overwhelming challenge or moral dilemma. Usually, he or she can do the
easy thing and run away. But instead they muster the courage, stay, and do the right thing.

A great example of a hero in a movie is Rick (played by Humphrey Bogart) in “Casablanca.” In it, he is a disillusioned and world-weary cynic. In a town where he seeks escape, he happens to meet his former lover, Ilsa
(played by Ingrid Bergman).

The problem for him is that she is with her husband. She explains that she was secretly married all along, but her husband was a leader in the Nazi resistance and was presumed dead. Now, she tells Rick she doesn’t know
what to do in the confusing world of love and war, and that he must decide what is best for both of them.

So, what does he do? Why, he does the right thing, of course. He puts her and her husband on the plane so they could continue the resistance movement against the Nazis. And at great risk to himself, Rick shoots a Nazi officer
so the plane can get away.

Great stuff. I never get tired of that film because I always come away from it feeling that great things are possible for anyone willing to stand up for what is right.

“Casablanca” is very different from what passes for a drama flick today. Gratuitous violence and special effects too often substitute for a story line. It is usually a wild ride that only leaves me in a haze.

In days of yore, the film industry had a fondness for ordinary people. They portrayed the hero as one of us, as an example of the best of what we have to offer. They had an understanding and empathy for the American way of life.

In those days, the stars represented the common guy. Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, and Henry Fonda were heroes on and off the screen. They, and many others, even volunteered to serve in the military during wartime.

Obviously, Hollywood no longer connects with the public in that way. Many of today’s directors and stars were born into the movie business, and know of little else. They are fabulously wealthy, and have no clue as to the everyday wants and needs of regular folks.

Their goal is less to entertain and inspire, and more to challenge and shock their audiences. I can only presume this is because of their selfish arrogance and hostility toward the American way of life. And so, less and less people bother going to their movies.

Even a controversial director like Michael Moore recently commented, “The continued decrease in attendance is not because of piracy, video games, or the Internet, it’s because the movies aren’t very good anymore.”

Or, as I would say, “They simply don’t inspire the hero inside us like they once did.” “World Trade Center” is an exception. It is about real-life heroes in our time. I heartily recommend you see it.

Jeff Lukens writes engaging opinion columns from a fresh, conservative point of view. He is also a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets. He can be contacted through his website at

About The Author Jeff Lukens:
Jeff Lukens is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He can be contacted at

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