When someone is as prolific as Garry Marshall was, it can be hard to keep track of their extensive list of works. Even if some of those works are considered classics. I, like you, know Marshall for his fun, light, and palatable holiday-themed rom coms in an era where most films of the same genre seemed too saccharine to bear, and of course, Pretty Woman. Duh. I know Marshall for The Princess Diaries, one of my all-time favorite childhood book series that he morphed into a timeless, comedic favorite. But, honestly, that's barely scratching the surface of what he did. So, while you might recognize the films I've listed, I know that there's definitely one movie that you forgot that Garry Marshall directed. I'm betting on it. And, once you realize what it is, you will be downright ashamed of yourself, you Garry Marshall heathen, you.
The film that you have lost in the sea of his other film and TV projects is Beaches. Yes, THE Beaches. You know, the one where Bette Midler and Barbara Hersey present to us one of the most beautiful, enduring, and tragic friendships in fictional history. Listen, there were quite a few defining moments in my childhood, like flipping over my bicycle handle bars and running off the stage at my very first dance recital, but having an existential crisis over Beaches was definitely up there with the more memorable ones.
Being used to fairytales with neatly tied, happy endings, and cartoons where characters came back from continuous anvil crushes, watching Hillary, a nice person, a good person, get sick and not recover was a shock to my system. I mean in that in the literal sense of the word. The heartbreaking scene in which Hillary realizes she has her mother's hands is forever etched into my memory from my first watch at probably 7-years-old. Through fiction, death became real to me. Beaches was a hard but necessary lesson — life isn't fair, even for the good people. But it's also what you make of it, as evidenced by CC taking in Hillary's daughter after her death.
If you're now scandalized by your forgetfulness over this classic, don't be too hard on yourself. You know, even though I was honestly pretty unforgiving of the oversight at first. I've gotten over it, because recalling the morose events of Beaches really puts things into perspective. The thing is, the reason you probably didn't realize Beaches was a Marshall-directed film was, because, while it had outstanding comedic moments, the takeaway from that movie is typically the day-long headache one suffers from after all the sobbing. And I think we tend to associate the ever-jovial Marshall with feel good shows and films, rather than the tragic ones. So, I get it. I really do. And, hey, that's not a bad way to be remembered anyway, right?
But to honor this film and Marshall's versatility in making movies that could make us feel, for better or worse, I propose we do the only thing I could think to do in the wake of the news of his passing, in order to properly and cathartically mourn him:
It's only right.
Images: Buena Vista Pictures