Many movies are formulaic and simple. Boy meets girl, boy becomes man, etc. Some, however, include tiny hints of personality; magical moments where one can imagine the Director grinning with excitement while filming.
One of my favorite moments is from The Rocketeer. It’s the story of a prototype rocket pack falling into the hands of a young, naive pilot in the late 1930s. Both FBI and Nazi agents are chasing after it, for it is predicted to change the course of war forever. I remember watching this movie fondly as a child, and imagining wearing the rocket pack myself.
We eventually find out that Howard Hughes built the device, and is desperate to destroy it. He knows it will only be used for destruction.
In the scene where our young protagonist learns of the Nazis’ plan to conquer Europe and the United States with this technology, he promises to return the device after using it one last time to rescue his girlfriend, Jennifer Connelly. The FBI is not pleased to hear this, so our hero makes a dashing escape. He leaps off of a balcony, and grabs on to a large model airplane.
The airplane slides along tracks, eventually disconnecting and gliding into darkness. The FBI agents take aim at our hero. “No guns!” shouts Hughes as he watches in awe. “The damn thing will fly.”
The model airplane is actually a model H-4 Hercules, also known as the Spruce Goose. If you missed watching The Aviator, the Hercules is an airplane Hughes designed with the goal of transporting heavy equipment to Britain. No one believed it could fly because of its size and design. You can guess what happened.
Movies are littered with these subtle moments. It can be anything: a dress, a billboard, a character’s name, or even a song. Pay closer attention to the details, and go watch your favorite childhood movies again to see what you missed.