Turning Fantasy into Reality

Posted on April 10, 2018 by Robert Ringer


If there’s one thing I wish I had done more of in my life, it’s watch good movies.  Not just any movies, but good movies.

Unfortunately, that eliminates the vast majority of junk films made over the past thirty or so years.  I’m not the least bit impressed listening to a bunch of young hotshot actors spewing out dialog drenched in verbal filth or watching random violence that seems intended only to shock audiences.

Nevertheless, I occasionally catch a good movie on television, and, when I do, it’s like a relaxing trip down memory lane.  Other than the most somber, true-life stories — such as Gandhi and Schindler’s List — good films are perhaps the most relaxing form of escapism.  They remind me of Ashleigh Brilliant’s classic line, “I have abandoned my search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy.”

That’s precisely what a really good movie is — a fantasy.  From love stories to comedies, from Westerns to musicals, good movies offer a welcome respite from the harshness of day-to-day life.

I once complained that a movie I had taken my children to see wasn’t realistic, to which my youngest daughter replied, “Dad, for crying out loud, it’s only a movie.”  She was right, and I never forgot her ten-year-old words of wisdom.  At their best, good movies are just fantasies that provide great entertainment.

That said, the other night when I got in bed, I checked out TCM to see what was playing.  I often do this to help me fall asleep.  But on this particular evening, one of the greatest movie fantasies of all time, The Graduate, was the featured film.  So much for falling asleep early.

I had seen bits and pieces of The Graduate many times over the years, but hadn’t watched it from beginning to end since it first came out in 1967.  As much as I wanted to go to sleep, I was hooked.

The Graduate is a film that fit the turbulent Sixties perfectly because it was, first and foremost, a story of two upper-middleclass kids rebelling against their materialistic, hypocritical parents.  But it was also a classic example of tragedy and comedy.

Dustin Hoffman, who had never had a major film role before, earned an Oscar nomination with his fumbling, stumbling portrayal of young Ben Braddock, fresh out of college, mouthing such unforgettable lines as, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.  Aren’t you?”  (This is when audiences were treated to that now famous shot of the very nervous Ben framed by Mrs. Robinson’s arched leg.)

The tragedy, of course, was Ben’s steamy affair with the alluring Mrs. Robinson, his subsequently falling in love with her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), and all the ugly family fallout that followed.  As events unfolded, the one law Mrs. Robinson laid down with an iron fist was that young Ben was to stay completely away from her daughter.

To many young men who have testosterone squirting out of their ears, the thought of having an affair with Mrs. Robinson was the ultimate fantasy.  But not for me.  My fantasy was the (then) young and breathtakingly beautiful Katharine Ross.

The climactic fantasy of the movie, of course, was when Dustin Hoffman, with a Rocky-like determination to win his girl, snatched Elaine away (just as she had finished exchanging wedding vows with a supercilious Ivy League bridegroom!) by beating back the angry wedding crowd with a menacing wooden cross, locking them inside the church by jamming the cross between the handles of the double doors, running down the street with his princess, and hopping on a bus (that just happened to be passing by, as one would expect in any good Hollywood fantasy) to … well, no one really knows where they ended up going.

Okay, so it’s a fantasy, but, as my daughter said, it’s only a movie.  Even so, there’s one thing my daughter did not understand at the age of ten — that movies are also reminders that time is relentless, because the fictional characters in them age right before our eyes with the passage of time.

In The Graduate, Katharine Ross will always be a twenty-year-old at UC Berkeley, but in real life she is now a seventy-eight-year-old woman with five marriages under her belt.  Likewise, the beautiful and sexy Mrs. Robinson may still exist on celluloid, but, sadly, Anne Bancroft left us in 2005 at the age of seventy-three.

Unlike people, however, the lessons that great film scripts teach us — fantasies and all — never grow old or die.  And the first and most obvious lesson we can take from The Graduate is a reaffirmation of that age-old, but all-too-true maxim:  Never give up!  Like Rocky Balboa and Detective Colombo in the long-ago TV series, Ben Braddock was a classic antihero, who, notwithstanding his ineptness, somehow managed to find a way to pull victory from defeat.

But perhaps an even more important lesson we can glean from The Graduate is to not be afraid to live out our fantasies.  Fantasy and reality are not mutually exclusive propositions, because relentless determination has actually turned many a fantasy into reality.

As the tapestry of life unfolds, you’ll only have so many chances to jump on a fantasy bus in search of a better life.  A young and beautiful Katharine Ross may not be part of the deal, but who knows where the bus might take you?

As the erudite Joseph Campbell once put it, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”  Have a good trip.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

28 responses to “Turning Fantasy into Reality”

  1. noah300g says:

    Ruggles of Red Gap was on the other night. Kept me up a couple extra hours. Fun if you happen to come across it. Arsenic and Old Lace is even better!

  2. Victor says:

    My dear Robert, you do write great when you steps out of main stream politics. My greatest fantasy is for you to write about life's philosophy all the time. I guess never give up attitude from me would make this fantasy a reality. Thanks.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      Robert is a great writer and communicator – PERIOD! No matter the topic, the discussion is intelligebnt and inspiring. Since I share his libertarian philosophy, I have no quibble with the political angle either, though I think many readers often misconstrue some of his points, particularly vas-a-vis Donald Trump. DT is NOT a libertarian in the classic sense, but he gave us some hope he could reverse some of the libtard nonsense promoted nonstop by al the progressives with their lying shills, the media, carrying their water.

  3. thebacksaver says:

    Still looking for the movie version of Winning Through Intimidation. (I like the original title.) Upon reflection, maybe its best that this never happens. Some ideas are best portrayed through the "fantasy" of ones own mind, as we read.
    Like for so many others, the book was a turning point for me. Could I have learned the same ideas from others? ("When the student is willing, the teacher will appear".) Sure. But I'm glad it was WTI and the style of WTI was so very original.
    Thank you RR.

  4. Rick G. says:

    Yes I do remember The Graduate and the hit song that came from it in the summer of '68, Mrs.Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel, one of their biggest hits.

    My favorite has been the Jurassic Park series, I, II, and III, and the latest to date, Jurassic World. On June 22 this year Jurassic World II – The Fallen Kingdom will premier and you can bet I'll be there. Already I hear that they are planning more Jurassic Worlds in the future with talk about a Jurassic World III. Steven Spielberg never ceases to amaze me on these movies as to what he comes up with. Believe it or not, after the first Jurassic Park was released way back when, I saw it a grand total of twenty five times, most of which were in the one dollar movie theaters! The characters who played in the movie were absolutely the greatest. And I actually had most of the lines committed to memory! I hate when some people say they liked I, but not II and III as well. To me, they are all great and connect so well with each other. Also too, I have the t-shirts, posters, and a lot of the merchandise that go come with the movie. All of this gives me a break away from all the BS that comes with living everyday life and a chance just to get away from it all, for a while at least.

    Overall, I'm not a big movie buff, but there have been some movies I really liked over the years. They include the Psycho series, I, II, III, and IV with Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. The first Psycho, an Alfred Hitchcock movie is a well-loved and remembered classic. Anthony Perkins had always said he never wanted to be known and remembered as Norman Bates, but his fate was sealed. Other movies I liked a lot of the years was the 1960 release, Gorgo, (remember that one?) Earthquake, Twister, Red Dawn (with Brad Pitt), The Knowing, just to name a few. The Knowing with Nicholas Cage really made a great impact on me because it had a very shocking and unexpected ending……and I'm not going to tell you what it is! So, see it! And last but not least, one of my all-time faves, Rod Serling. I loved all of his Twilight Zone episodes and subsequent Night Gallery episodes. I bought box sets for both from Amazon and never tire of watching them. That was back in the day when it was possible to have good television and still have it free from sex and bad language. These two, sex and bad language, are a great fantasy getaway for me, because I get really burnt out hearing that all day long in the outside world.

    As for me though, I am more into audio than video, hence more into music and music artists than movies. Music, especially older songs really bring back vivid memories of years gone past, more than movies do. Music is a great escape for me when I need some relief from the hassles of everyday living. When I look back over the years along my lifeline, I always remember what songs and groups were playing on the radio at that time. And when I hear these musical greats from time to time, it is great for me to escape to a much better and simpler time.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      I, too, am moved by music, which is why 2 of my all-time favorite films are Dr. Zhivago and Chariots of Fire, as both were great cinematically, acted well, and had very moving musical scores. I could also add The Mission, with Jeremy Irons, the breath-taking Iguazu Falls, and the incredible score by Morricone. These were great fantasies, and not ti ged by filth, decadence, or a big Hollywood political agenda.

      • Angedur says:

        Wish I saw Zhivago when I was younger, a good lesson to learn. 2 kinds of women, good girls and sluts. Dont marry the latter.

  5. larajf says:

    At the party for my daughter when she graduated from high school, one neighbor jokingly said "invest in plastics." We adults all roared with laughter. Daughter said "I don't get it." I'll have to have her watch the movie through the eyes of learning to fight and persist for your dreams against all odds and any mistakes.

  6. RealitySeeker says:

    If you you want to watch a real fantasy, just turn on CNN…..

    The old movies are actually less farcical than is modern Hollywood in living color. They don't call it "La La Land" for nothing.

    And talk about fantasy land: look no further than Washington D.C..aka The Fantastical Swamp Land.

    The politicians live in Marxist Dream World.

    I actually rewind back to an old movie to get closer to reality, not farther away….

    • Rick G. says:

      Hey, that's a good one. Actually, all of liberalism is a fantasy.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      While I agree with you wholeheartedly, the fantasies RR is talking about are plesant ones, while CNN aand the DC criminal enterprise are HORROR shows more akin to Friday the 13th or Psycho!!

      • Rick G. says:

        Lols! Yes sir!

      • RealitySeeker says:

        LA is painting the streets white ( at a cost of 40k per mile) in order to combat climate change….

        You can't make this shit up. So, I'm very serious when I point out that old movies are far closer to reality than LA LA Land…. And the above is just one example.

        You don't need an old movie to escape to fantasy land; you need an old movie to escape FROM fantasy land….

        • Jim Hallett says:

          Your last statement is SO TRUE! Despite all the REAL facts that we are in a period of global COOLING, unrelated to man and his impact, the Nature Nazi liars continue to spread outrageous LIES, and then claim it is not debateable. How convenient for these close-minded fascists. Keep wasting your $$, LA, as it gives the rest of us much to laugh about your GROSS stupidity!!!

  7. notpropagandized says:

    It is literally impossible for me to see nearly any movie or TV production without gleaning some surreptitious, mischievous propagandistic intent behind same, thus my moniker, notpropagandized. It's compulsive simply because there is nearly nothing produced by popular entertainment culture that does not attempt to steer us away from traditional judeo-christian culture, organization and rule of law which I clearly fault for the immense success and productivity, warts and all, of high civilization and self actualization of a people. I view that historical development as partly divinely guided and partly accidental for the simple reason that any human can screw up the best circumstances and it seems impossible that we have come so far without ruining everything much sooner. It would be a treasure indeed for all the peoples of the world to join with the scattered europeans and some non-europeans to participate in and enjoy the fruits of high civilization together. But, alas, it all must be torn down despite having within its structure the ability to adjust to injustice. However, it does not seem well equipped to adjust to "Social Justice" that is designed to destroy and suppress without leaving a trace of responsibility for that outcome. Sigh…

    • Jim Hallett says:

      Well said, and a very SAD situation with the demise of western civilization, as Roberts previous 4-part series addressed! Keep the faith, as there are many of us that still believe, and revere the tenets of that civilization.

      • notpropagandized says:

        Yes, encouragement appreciated. There's a fight coming and no plans to secede or divide will avoid it. The left is fine with the notion of eliminating those that bother to oppose their idiotic ideas. It does not make sense to sit around and get steamrolled which is the plan we observe in the left's mobilization and use of general mobbery, but I remain a happy warrior as long as am able. Faith matters immensely. We should give thanks for the hidden blessings that came with DT who delivered us for a wile longer, hopefully much longer.

  8. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    Speaking of FANTASY, only recently have I begun scanning TV movie channels to find an interesting old movie to engage and relax me. The last one was THE WIZARD OF OZ! WowWowWow! How did I ever miss that way back when?! Nothing like the Universal Good against Evil theme! I mean, Good OVERCOMING Evil! As I believe it ALWAYS DOES, sooner or later, if only after great devastation, such as WWII for example. Yes, the CRAP MOVIES ought NOT to be endured/suffered!

  9. Richard says:

    Robert- Excellent! Well said! Movies offer an escape from the everyday ho-hums and doldrums we all face.
    In the relentless attacks of "fake news" and media claims that President Trump is a double agent for Russia, going to even a so-so movie is good for the mind and body.

  10. Jim Hallett says:

    It was interesting to me, Robert, that you chose The Graduate as your fantasy example. I was only 17 when it came out, so had to wait a bit before being allowed to see it, but it had quite an impact. The openi g shot of Dustin Hoffman riding across the Bay Bridge i to SF with a red Alfa Romeo convertible led to imprinting so strongly that I moved to SF in 1974, and bought almost the exact same model of Alfa Romeo a few years after that when I was living in LA. I did drive it over the Bay Bridge and alongg Highway 1 many times. Alas, that fantasy died, as the car was stolen while living back in SF in 1978, and the weirdness and political foolishness of the Bay Area also turned me away from my love affair with San Francisco. Ah, the cruel reality of fantasy crashing to earth, but I still love a great movie that can transport me to another realm! Thanks for reigniting a former fantasy!

  11. Steve M. says:

    Doris Day was offered the role of Mrs. Robinson but spurned it because it was "too vulgar." How amazing she would have been — better than Anne Bancroft!

  12. Robby Bonfire says:

    People, it seems, have different reasons for watching movies – from an escape into fantasy, to the seeking of reality; to the broadening of one's knowledge and education; to the pursuit of nostalgia, as I do on a regular basis having taken my fascination with films of the 1940's to a serious level of study of the culture and in particular the female luminaries of that remarkable time in the world.

    This begins with my acquiring an appreciation for several female actresses (long they became "actors") of that era who did not become superstars, but who nevertheless projected the beauty, the intelligence, the fashion and a certain style and charisma not remotely possessed by their female counterparts in the Hollywood of today.

    Among my b & w celluloid favorites in this respect are Sharon Douglas, one refined and polished beauty in "Fog Island" from 1945; Evelyn Ankers, whose roles ranged from a Basil Rathbone/Sherlock Holmes film to starring opposite the Clark Gable "B" movie clone Alan Curtis in "Flight To Nowhere;" to the beguiling Martha Vickers who falls all over Humphrey Bogart in the beginning of "The Big Sleep;" to my favorite 1940's actress whose real life was a truncated tragedy, the compelling Carole Landis, perhaps as talented, beautiful, and charismatic as any of the major female stars of the day, but who was relegated to big parts in small-production movies, to the everlasting shame of the studio moguls who failed to appreciate the immense potential for first rank popularity she had.

    Often Carole was cast opposite Cesar Romero, and they were a fine pairing, but watching "Weekend In Havana" last week, (a Carmen Miranda musical), I couldn't help feeling that Alice Faye was miscast in that film, where Carole would have been the far better choice for a role that was right down her alley for ballroom dancing, for emotional expression, and for dealing with both Casar Romero and John Payne on a self-assertive basis.

    I often lament that the 1940's were marred by world war, given how extraordinary a time in the world that decade was, before the advent of commercial television, jungle warfare thousands of miles from our shores, and the musically-instigated generation gap which grows wider with passing decade. You look around today you do not see standards, anymore, such as were exhibited in the 40s', standards of manners, speech, dress, wholesome nutrition without the junk food options, etc. It was a time of sophistication, not boorishness so in evidence, today.

    It was a time when people did not need to bring attention to themselves, via "eccentric" behavior as exhibited through gruesome-looking tattoos, goofy buffoonery like baseball caps worn backwards, the complete abandonment of physical fitness in so many cases, etc.

    I say the 40's were America's last stand as a great nation and we can learn a lot from that time, to where it is my contention that there is no such thing as a "bad" 1940's movie, simply because all movies from that decade were the genuine article as regards that culture of the times, however lacking for substance some of the Hollywood productions back then seemed to be. There was something magical about movies, "The Golden Age Of Radio," travel by train and ship, and an America obsessed with baseball, boxing, and horse racing. How the times have changed, and not for the better, given how our landscape today is littered with shopping malls, fast food restaurants and "convenience stores." Take me back, please, to a better time in the world, when we won the war and still had our soul as a nation.

  13. Wes says:

    Another interesting article, Robert. I too was thinking about "The Graduate" recently, although I first saw it long ago, just a few years before I read your first book, which was another eye-opening experience. For what it is worth, here it is:

  14. Harry Hagan says:


  15. Jurgy says:

    the finale – featuring the cross – classic!

  16. Rock Roach says:

    Not to mention, that great songs and lyrics are hardly ever written anymore.The classical rock song(Here's to you) Mrs.Robinson by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel is still a great song and refreshing to hear.I think one link to our gradually dimminishing culture is the garbage music that is produced today.

  17. johnyLLB says:

    How Hard Is The Cscp Exam I think one link to our gradually dimminishing culture is the garbage music that is produced today.

  18. Angedur says:

    When I was a teen Saturday Night Fever was released and considered taboo.
    Didnt see it for decades. And after watching it, wondered why it was all that controversial.
    Actually a good coming of age movie to leave the jerks and idiots of your life, peers and family, that are constrained to be gooftards.