Frank's Faves: Rooftop movies

Frank's Faves: Rooftop movies

A hush has fallen over my household once more.

Not because we've had a houseful of company any time recently. It's actually been more like a yard full. Still, the crew of roofers we've hosted for the past week have become almost like family in that short time. That can happen when you spend nearly a week of 12-hour days with total strangers.

Sure, they're nice and polite as they can be, but they're also early risers. And try as they might, they're not the least bit quiet. Privacy? Not so much, as their faces appear at your windows, upstairs and down, at all sorts of times throughout the day, even though they are rarely interested in coming inside. In fact, you're under their watchful gaze from above any time you set foot outside, which better not be too often, unless you're wearing a hard hat.

On the other hand, they pick up after themselves faithfully, and they have definitely left the premises in better shape than they found it, so what's to complain about?

Not a thing. And yet ...

It will be nice not to start one more day being awakened by a symphony of steel-beaked woodpeckers.

There, I said it. And since I'm so well-rested as a result, I feel like paying a special tribute to those skilled tradesmen and women who do what most of us can not — climb confidently up onto a substandard roof and make it all better.

So this is for all you brave and sure-footed roofers out there — not just a list of my favorite movies prominently featuring rooftops, but a list of the best of the best of those rooftop faves. If I had a hammer (well, one in the immediate vicinity anyway), I'd hammer this in the morning — in big wood-block letters across the peak of my roof:


— Best rooftop career move: "The Santa Clause" (1994). Disney went out on a limb by having Tim Allen kill off Santa early on in this holiday comedy by startling him into a fatal fall off Allen's snow-slick roof. Who knew Santa could break his neck? And who knew landing the best job ever was so easy — or so lethal to your predecessor? Then again, how easy can a job be when it calls for you to scale every roof in the world in one night during the worst weather conditions possible? Up on the housetop, click click click. Watch your step, new-guy St. Nick.

— Best rooftop song and dance: "Mary Poppins" (1964). Most movies aimed at kids and their families include some kind of climactic chase or action-packed, special-effects blowout — obviously to keep those of short attention spans attentive. Dick Van Dyke and his acrobatic crew of chimney sweeps manage to pull off an equally thrilling climax simply by kicking up their heels and stepping in time all over the rooftops of London. Well, with a little close-out help from Admiral Boom's fireworks arsenal, of course.

— Best rooftop concert: "Let It Be" (1970). As captured in this rarely seen doc, the Beatles' last gig was performed unannounced from atop Apple Studios' HQ in London and was shut down by the local police after just 42 minutes. But no rooftop show since will ever measure up to this one. Credit Billy Preston's guest appearance on keyboards with improving the soon-to-split band's vibe 100 percent, as George Harrison put it, "just enough to cut the ice that we'd created among ourselves."

— Best rooftop negotiation: "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994). Tim Robbins as prison convict Andy Dufresne not only talks his way out of being dangled off a roof by the head guard; he dickers for beer for his roof-tarring crew of fellow cons as well. Hey, like the ad says, if you've got the time ...

— Best rooftop date: "King Kong" (1933, 1976 & 2005). Whether Fay Wray, Jessica Lange or Naomi Watts, the big guy knows how to show his best girl an unforgettable evening out — with a view to die for.

— Best rooftop explosion: "Die Hard" (1988). Bruce Willis jumps off the roof of the 35-story Nakatomi building with a fire hose tied around his waist while promising himself he'll never do what he is doing again, just as the terrorists hit the button on the C-4 and ... yippi-ki-yay, indeed.

— Best rooftop chase: "Skyfall" (2012). Daniel Craig as Agent 007 pursues a mercenary on motorbike over the tiled rooftops of Istanbul. Doesn't get his man, ultimately, but who cares? Man, what a ride!

— Best rooftop showdown: "The Matrix" (1999). Keanu Reeves discovers he can dodge bullets while leaning impossibly over backward. At that same iconic instant, Hollywood discovers that, on or off a rooftop, "bullet-time" camera shots look really cool. Even if they make no sense whatsoever.

— Best rooftop breakdown: "Vertigo" (1958). James Stewart gets the title disorder in an opening chase sequence which ends with him clinging to the edge of a roof and the cop who is trying to reach him tumbling to his death instead. Not a good time or place to be a flatfoot.

— Best rooftop kiss: "The Amazing Spider-Man" (2012). Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone prove that the shortest distance between two difficult discussion points is two pairs of lips ... and a bit of webbing.

Topics (2):Film, Television