Frank's Faves: Split-personality movies

Frank's Faves: Split-personality movies

"I'd like to talk for a moment about the very serious subject of schizophrenia." "No, he doesn't." "Shut up, let him talk!" — Robin Williams

Did you catch Sunday night's NFL opener between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers? What a great game, right?

Or horrible heartbreaker, depending on your loyalties.

Which is why, for me, it was sheer torture. Why? Well, since you dragged it out of me, prepare to learn my deepest, darkest secret, revealed here before the whole world:

I AM BOTH A BEARS FAN AND A PACKERS FAN. Equal parts, right down the middle. (Insert horrified gasp here.)

Yeah, I know. Physically, psychologically, humanly impossible, right? That would be like being a fan of both the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals, wouldn't it?

No, of course not. Don't be ridiculous. THAT would be impossible. But being both a Bears and a Packers fan? Yup. It can happen. I'm living proof.

On those rare occasions when I reveal this oddity about myself to someone new, the same question always follows: How on earth did I come to have this bizarre condition?

The best I can explain it is as a cosmic conjunction of time and place. I was 9 when football became the greatest thing in my universe, and at the time, my family was living in Kankakee, at least an hour or so deeper into Bears country. Coincidentally, it was 1967, when the Packers were the gods of the NFL and would beat the Dallas Cowboys in the "Ice Bowl" en route to their Super Bowl II victory and fifth world championship. This would not have impacted me so much had it not been for the annual Punt, Pass and Kick competition that year.

No, I wasn't a contestant, but I did pick up a copy of that year's PP&K handbook and was thrilled to find the section on passing was authored by none other than legendary Packers quarterback BART STARR. I read that handbook cover to cover, and practiced Starr's method for passing every afternoon on my first-ever genuine leather football that I'd gotten for my birthday that fall.

So how could I not have a soft spot for the Packers, even while cheering on GALE SAYERS and DICK BUTKUS, when the greatest Packer ever (at least at that point) had taught me how to float a wobble-free spiral at such a tender age? And before you ask the second-most-common question on the subject, no, it was never easy to be a fan of such rabidly ferocious rivals, although for a couple decades thereafter, neither team did much to cheer about, so my secret remained safely hidden — right up until the Super Bowl Shufflin' Bears of the mid-'80s gave way to the Pack's BRETT FAVRE era in the '90s.

And that's when things got complicated. No longer could I simply root for whichever of my two faves needed the win most (and yes, that's how I decide which of the two I root for when they play each other), because they were both competitive, and both always seemed to need the win. My stress level peaked in 2010, when these two bitter foes met up in the NFC Championship game, with the winner (the wild-card Pack) going on to win Super Bowl XLV over the Steelers, and the loser (the Bears) sent home bitterly disappointed after entering the playoffs a division-winning second seed. So, yes, I was BOTH ECSTATIC AND CRUSHED over the same outcome.

But my internal conflict never manifested itself so dramatically as it did in 2002, when Soldier Field was being renovated, and the Bears had to play their home games at Memorial Stadium in Champaign — which of course meant Favre and the Pack came to town. No way was I going to miss that, so I scored a ticket and threw on my prized suede Bears jacket over the top of my No. 4 Packers jersey to go see the game.

I kid you not, when I got home that evening from watching Favre make mincemeat of the Bears defense, that beautiful suede jacket had A RIP AS LONG AS MY ARM right up the middle of the back. I have no idea how or when that happened, but I'm guessing that once-pristine emblem of Bears fandom couldn't handle the strain of the contradiction I had zipped up inside it and simply split. Whether my mind managed to avoid the same result remains to be seen ...

Of course, in the realm of NFL fandom, I get no sympathy whatsoever, being SOMETHING OF AN ABOMINATION, which is why I've kept my divided loyalties to myself for most of my life. But in the court of public opinion, I prefer to plead insanity — schizophrenia, to be specific — or at least the sports equivalent thereof. After all, that explanation has covered a lot of weirdness in the movies, and we all know what a considerable impact they've had on my fave-addled psyche.

No, I don't believe I have two distinct personalities with different names, one a Bears diehard, the other a cheesehead. But if I did, it would make a terrific movie, wouldn't it? One that would surely make its way onto my list of:


— "Identity" (2003). Ray Liotta, John Cusack and Amanda Peet head a superb cast in this brilliantly crafted homage to Agatha Christie's classic murder mystery "And Then There Were None." Ten people check into an isolated Nevada motel on a dark and stormy night and begin checking out one by one. Who will be the last left alive? You'll never guess — well, I didn't anyway, which is what makes this one, for me, tops in this class of faves.

— "Secret Window" (2004). Johnny Depp stars in this adaptation of a Stephen King story as a struggling author whose recent divorce and severe bout of writer's block drive him to retreat to his cabin in the woods. Things take a turn for the worse when a menacing John Turturro begins stalking him with an allegation of plagiarism and rapidly escalating threats of violence against everyone in his life (even his poor dog!). Yeah, I realize I've already spoiled the ending by including it in this list, but trust me, you'd have to black out for most of this movie not to see where it's going.

— "Mr. Brooks" (2007). This psycho-thriller starring Kevin Costner in a rare villainous turn made my recent list of favorite movies where the bad guy walks away, but it owes its spot on this list to Costner's co-star, William Hurt, who plays the title serial killer's psychopathic alter ego Marshall, whom no one else can see or hear — besides the audience, of course — and yet who successfully convinces Costner's character to end his self-imposed retirement and kill again. And, of course, again ...

— "Shutter Island" (2007). Leonardo DiCaprio plays a federal marshal investigating a disappearance at a remote penitentiary who finds the trail of evidence he's following progressively self-incriminating.

— "Fight Club" (1999). Edward Norton and Brad Pitt co-star in director David Fincher's classic head-scratcher about an insomniac office worker who forms an underground fight club with a devil-may-care soapmaker who is everything he wants to be. In the subgenre of alter-ego films, this one is undisputed champion.

— "Psycho" (1960). Alfred Hitchcock's horror masterpiece casts Anthony Perkins as the hotel manager and amateur taxidermist who not only preserves his dominating mother, but manages to keep her alive in himself as well.

— "Dressed to Kill" (1980). Director Brian DePalma channels Hitchcock in this suspense thriller about a psychiatrist (Michael Caine) whose more fetching clients (Angie Dickinson and Nancy Allen) are being hunted down by a psychotic slasher. Hmmm, considering the topic here, I wonder who that could be?

— "The Three Faces of Eve" (1957). Joanne Woodward won her one and only Oscar for best actress in the title role, which broke ground as one of the first film depictions of multiple personality disorder.

— "Spider-Man" (2002). Willem Dafoe's mirror scene is a classic.

— "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1941). There have been many film adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic horror story, including Fredric March's Oscar-winning turn in 1931, but this one, starring Spencer Tracy in the title roles, is my personal fave. As the good doctor who whips up a drug that brings out his beastly side, it was Tracy at his best. And worst, of course.

BONUS: My favorite split-personality movie I have yet to see: "Split" (2017).

Topics (1):Film