There are some movies that when they come on TV you're done. You're not getting up, changing the channel or turning it off ... even though you own the DVD and to just keep watching it on TV means you have to sit through commercials.
The champion of The Can't Turn It Off Genre is The Shawshank Redemption, which is celebrating its release 20 years ago this week. That's right - we are all 20 years older. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Without the use of violence, this may be the single best guy movie ever made. Guys wish they had a friend like Andy, or Red.
For a variety of reasons, Shawshank was not an instant hit - many people thought it was because of the title - but thanks to cable TV, more specifically TNT, the film has turned into one of the most celebrated, and enduring pieces of modern day cinema. The movie is like Law and Order - it's always on. And should you stumble across it, you are not turning it off.
You are not turning it off because you are looking for these scenes, or these lines.
Andy Plays Some Opera
This is the scene that likely most people relate to this film - Andy locks himself in a prison office and plays a record of "The Marriage of Figaro" on the public address system so all of the prisoners can hear.
"I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free."
Suds on the Roof
Andy leans and manipultes the prison guards to allow the inmates who had laying down tar on the roof for some beer after their job was done.
"We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy - he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer."
The Warden Figures it Out
The morning after Andy acts like a man who is on the brink of suicide, the brutal prison warden enters Andy's empty jail cell. When he throws one of Andy's hand-made chess pieces at the large poster of Rita Hayworth, it punctures the paper and reveals a massive hole.
This scene kicks off a long explanation of how Andy out-smarted everybody in the prison, and escaped.
"Sometimes it makes me sad, though... Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."
Red's Parole Hearing
Near the end of the film, Red enters yet another parole hearing with the board. He is older, wiser, resigned, and out of the business of telling people what they want to hear. We only know him as this, and never met his younger, stupid, crime-committing self.
"There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I wanna talk to him. I wanna try to talk some sense to him -- tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I gotta live with that."
And the best of them all .... Red Reads the Letter
This remains the personal favorite. After his release from prison, Red (Morgan Freeman) ventures to the big hayfield near Buxton where Andy (Tim Robbins) had asked. When Red opens the letter, and Andy's voice over begins, Thomas Newman's string soundtrack comes over and there is not a single time I fail to feel a chill.
"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."