Friday, May 12, 2017

Riske Business: 1950s, Movies & More With My Mom

by Adam Riske
In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked my mom about all things 1950s and present from movies to fads to all other things pop culture.

On the Movie Stars of the ‘50s

Adam: Were you a fan of Kirk Douglas in your youth?

Mrs. Riske: He’s a good actor and he’s made a lot of good movies. And I thought he was real ugly.

Adam: Glad to see your objectifying people right from the jump. I can’t say I disagree, though. Was Cary Grant more your speed?

Mrs. Riske: He was suave and funny and I liked a lot of his movies. They were interesting and he was cute.

Adam: For the longest time I didn’t know he was British. Then I found out and was like “WHAT?!” It was a total Bob Hoskins situation. What’s your take on one of the most popular actresses of the 1950s, Grace Kelly?

Mrs. Riske: She was real pretty and I liked reading her biography later. What’s not to like about being a princess?

Adam: I don’t wish I were one but I get the appeal. I knew a girl in high school that I thought looked like Grace Kelly. Her name was Katherine. She dated this guy I knew and people said she ruined his life. After they broke up I wanted her bad. My friends were like “She’ll destroy you” and I was all “I’d let her ruin my life. It would be worth it.” We remained friends instead but we had that unspoken thing going. Palpable heat! How about we pivot from a 2K home wrecker to one from the ‘50s? Did you like Elizabeth Taylor?

Mrs. Riske: She was gorgeous and had good diamonds.

Adam: What did you think of Sophia Loren?

Mrs. Riske: Real pretty, rich and glamorous. Just like I was!

Adam: I think I first saw her in Grumpier Old Men. At 13 years old I was like “I don’t get what all the fuss is about?” Then again, she was over 60 so that’s probably an appropriate response. Did you like William Holden?

Mrs. Riske: My mother had a crush on him.

Adam: Bubbe?

Mrs. Riske: Yeah.
Adam: Interesting. It’s like I know that happens but I never put together that Bubbe would look at William Holden like I look at BeyoncĂ©. Did you like Marlon Brando? He was a big heartthrob of the ‘50s.

Mrs. Riske: He was a talented big schlub. I thought he was the anti-sex symbol.

Adam: Charlton Heston?

Mrs. Riske: Weird old schlub.

On Films of the 1950s

Old Yeller

Mrs. Riske: One of your dad’s favorite movies from when he was a kid and I don’t understand why.

12 Angry Men

Mrs. Riske: Henry Fonda was really good in it and Lee J. Cobb reminded me of my father-in-law facially.

Adam: Grandpa had a Gable thing, I thought.

Stalag 17

Mrs. Riske: I thought it was interesting and William Holden was in it so we had to watch it for my mother.

From Here to Eternity

Mrs. Riske: The acting was really good but I couldn’t understand why Deborah Kerr was sexy and I thought Burt Lancaster was ugly and dorky.

Adam: Yeah, he wasn’t that hot in Field of Dreams, either. Good call.

Jailhouse Rock

Mrs. Riske: I thought the movie was really good and interesting and I enjoyed the music in it. I thought the manager (Mickey Shaughnessy) was a real SOB.

Peyton Place

Mrs. Riske: It was advertised as being adults-only. I went with my mother and the people at the theater said I could go in but I had to sit low in the seat so no one would see me. Everyone thought it was a dirty movie.

Sunset Boulevard

Mrs. Riske: Gloria Swanson creeped me out. I’ve never been able to finish it.


Mrs. Riske: I was in awe of the color and how vivid it was. Cinderella was my favorite princess. I wanted a Cinderella watch at the time but got an Alice in Wonderland watch instead. I was pissed.
F! Marry! Kill!

F! - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Marry - Rear Window
(“I would snoop on the neighbors if I were stuck in a wheelchair.” – Mrs. Riske)
Kill - White Christmas

F! - The Ten Commandments
Marry - Giant
Kill - Around the World in 80 Days

F! - Ben-Hur
Marry - Sleeping Beauty
Kill - North by Northwest

On Genre


Mrs. Riske: It was scarier because of what was going on in real life. All of the kids thought there were really flying saucers. The Day the Earth Stood Still scared me. I liked the Godzilla movies in particular because they were scary but also silly enough to also be fun. Same thing with Creature from the Black Lagoon; Gill-man didn’t scare me at all. My favorite horror movie (and one of my favorite movies of the ‘50s) is The Blob with Steve McQueen, but he sure doesn’t look like a teenager in that movie.

Mrs. Riske: Didn’t like them. Too much music

Adam: I could see where that would be a barrier.


Adam: How often did you go to the movies in the ‘50s?

Mrs. Riske: Maybe once a week or once every two weeks.

Adam: Did the introduction of television affect the number of times you went to movie theaters?

Mrs. Riske: No. I probably went around the same amount of times.

Adam: What did you think of the theaters back in the ‘50s?

Mrs. Riske: They were really fancy movie palaces; very ornate and gothic with red velvet, throne chairs and balconies. I was always impressed by how grand they were.

Adam: Did you go to the drive-in?

Mrs. Riske: Yes. They were real popular and fun to go to. You could go in your pajamas and sleep in the car if you were tired. I also liked that they had playgrounds and your parents would go get refreshments for you.
‘50s Fads & Trends

Adam: Was the drink Tang any good?

Mrs. Riske: It tasted like sweet orange water.

Adam: Were Beatniks all over the place?

Mrs. Riske: I saw them on TV shows. They looked like slobs.

Adam: Could you wear a poodle skirt at the movies?

Mrs. Riske: Yeah, they were good for getting your twirl on.

Adam: Did a lot of greasers go to the movies?

Mrs. Riske: Yeah. About one-third of the audience was greasers with swirly hairdos. I don’t know really. I made that up.

This or That

Adam: Tyrone Power or Pogo Sticks?

Mrs. Riske: About equal. Tyrone Power was in movies for old people and I couldn’t get the hang of pogo sticks.

Adam: What did you like more – hula hoops or movies?

Mrs. Riske: Both.

Modern Musings

Adam: Who would play you in a movie?

Mrs. Riske: Sofia Vergara. She looks a lot like me. You would be Bradley Cooper.
Adam: I’ll take that. I look a bit like an old, fat Russell Crowe. I appreciate that he met me halfway.

Mrs. Riske: Dad is Clint Eastwood.

Adam: Speaking of Eastwood, what did you think of Scott in The Fate of the Furious?

Mrs. Riske: He’s milquetoast and sure not his father. Why wouldn’t Vin Diesel hint to his team why he was acting like a bad guy?

Adam: In recent years, you said I should date Jennifer Lopez so I could do her marketing. Still stand by that?

Mrs. Riske: No, you should date Jennifer Lawrence. She’s more a real person and less high maintenance. She’d enjoy your marketing and you’d enjoy moving into her mansion.

Adam: A Bachelor of Science in Marketing is a natural aphrodisiac. That’s certain. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love ya.

Mrs. Riske: Love you too!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my mom readers! You’re the best!


  1. Do you like Kat Dennings? I was watching Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist recently and thought maybe Adam Riske would like her. I love her- I love the girls in that movie, I don't know why but I just do. The rest of it is embarrassing.

    I'm also a big fan of Giant.

    I miss drive in theaters so bad!

    1. I like Kat Dennings in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. She's pretty much my dream woman in that movie. Sometimes, in other things, she reminds me of myself actually (mostly the constant sarcasm) and it's a little weird.

    2. Tadaaa! Adam's perfect movie dream girl. I REALLY REALLY like her in N&N. She's the responsible one and is really accustomed to being invisible and people disappointing her. And yet there's this cutesy childish, vulnerable side of her. I just love it.

  2. I was going to ask what mom's opinion was on Gene Kelly, but then I read her take on musicals in general. I think I have my answer.

  3. Your mom seems like a great person Adam but kill North By Northwest? That's my favorite Hitchcock lol

    1. I was surprised too. The heart wants what the heart wants.

  4. I lold at the part about making up the number of greasers. Classic Riske humor.
    I've just finished listening to You Must Remember This's series on dead blondes. Grace Kelley as princess didn't sound too happy.
    Last time I watched a movie with my mum was Pleasantville, which she didn't like. Maybe I was adopted.

    1. I need to listen to that show. I've heard a lot of good things.

    2. Just listened to that Grace Kelly episode. Yeah, not much fun at all.

    3. I wish I hadn't listened to the Grace Kelly episode. I had no idea what miseries lurked.

    4. The Audrey Hepburn made me feel a little better. A little.

    5. Grace Kelly is dead. Audrey Hepburn is dead. How good can you feel? I'm gonna die some day too, and I'm not even famous.

      Existential cry of angst as I contemplate the futility of existence in an uncaring universe!

      Hold me, someone. Ghost of Edvard Munch? Anyone?


    6. "Mmmkay" as in you're giving me a cybercuddle across the vast expanses of the universe/internet?

      Thanks, Adam, I feel better now.

      Whistles happily

  5. One of my favourite columns of the year - I come from a long line of movie-meh'ers so I enjoy living vicariously through you and your ma!