FLINT - I wish my dad had lived to see the new version of "True Grit."
He loved Westerns. He'd have enjoyed sitting there in the dark watching Jeff Bridges, who plays the John Wayne role of U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, take the reins in his teeth and gallop through a hail of gunfire toward the nefarious Lucky Ned Pepper and his gang.
He might even have applauded at the end when Rooster saves young Mattie from a pit of vipers, which is saying something because he wasn't much for showing emotion in public. Few men of his generation are.
Movies like that, though, could bring it out in him. That was the style of movie he liked - anything where the sides were clearly defined and the good guy always won.
He was a product of the 1930s and 1940s and grew up on that kind of story in the movies, on radio and in comic books. He loved The Green Hornet, The Shadow, all the World War II movies, all the super heroes - Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel and others.
Modern cinema critics, I suppose, would sniff and call him a caveman for the lack of subtlety and sophistication in his movie tastes.
But he liked what he liked. He wanted the Americans to always beat the Nazis and the Japanese, the guy to get the girl and good to triumph over evil.
He passed that trait on to me because those are the types of stories I like, too.
The photo I treasure most of the two of us together is one that sits on my dresser to this day. It's from, I think, Christmas 1983.
We're standing together wearing identical brown leather bomber jackets that my mom had bought for us because we both loved World War II airplanes and we both loved "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the Indiana Jones movie that came out two years earlier. (In case you don't remember, Harrison Ford wore a leather jacket.)
That was probably the last movie we saw together. Dad died 10 years later at the age of 60.
Ever since, whenever I go to the movies and it's one I know he'd have loved, I think about him.
It happened with all of the later Star Wars movies, all of the Pirates of the Caribbeans, all of the movies we had a few years ago with aliens invading earth.
And, oh, how I wish he'd lasted long enough to see what they're doing with superhero movies these days. He'd have been in hog heaven. He'd have gone over and over again to see the X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman movies, although he wouldn't have liked the attempts they made at the Hulk or Daredevil. Did anybody?
He's why I never, ever miss a chance to see movies like "True Grit."
They're wonderful on their own, of course. But when I watch them, I feel like he's there watching with me.
And maybe he is. Who's to say?
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.