Dr. John R. Gallaher From Post staff reports
Dr. John R. Gallaher, a Lebanon optometrist, who many will remember from his teen years as being a nationally ranked tennis player, is also a credible movie critic who will begin next week offering his opinions on new releases on the silver screen in The Wilson Post.
Gallaher, a Lebanon native and son of Dr. Thomas and the late Elizabeth Gallaher, said he developed an interest in the cinema at an early age.
"As far as movies go, I have always had a love and fascination with the cinema. Growing up watching classics like ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘It's a Wonderful Life’ on television was great.
“But nothing compares to the cinema experience that I remember from an early age when my parents would take me to the old Capitol Theater off the square to see classics like ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Jaws,’ and ‘Poseidon Adventure.’ And then years later going with friends to the Martin Triple (we thought Lebanon had made it big when we got a theater with THREE screens!) to see classics of our youth like ‘ET,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Back to the Future,’” Gallaher said.
Now he said going to the movies is just as important and enjoyable in his life but now it’s with his wife Ashlie and their three children Grace, 11; Anna Belle 10; and Lofton, 7.
They frequent Lebanon’s Roxy 10 theater, a venue that Gallaher says well validates that “Lebanon really has made it big.
"I have always loved discussing movies with my older brother Tom who lives in south Florida. He introduced me to some of the smaller, more independent films years ago (before "INDIE" films were as chic as they are now). I sometimes have to venture to Nashville to the historic Belcourt theater to see some of these films that the larger movie-plexes never have a chance to show. I also have many friends that love to discuss a good film.
“My good friend Dr. Josh Duvall must have over a thousand DVDs in his film collection and he can tell you the producer and director of each one. Many a time, I have had some lively discussions with good friends Rob Gwynne, Dr. Bill Nave, and Dean Adams about which movies were better,” Gallaher said.
Gallaher said many of his patients, while in the examination chair, enjoy discussing current releases.
“I always enjoy discussing the ones I really like along with the ones that were not as good as expected. And even though previews to an upcoming movie can be really exciting and fun to watch, I try my best to avoid them because I don't like knowing any of the events that are going to transpire before I see a movie. That is why a movie like ‘Titanic’ does not interest me as much as some of the more original stories like ‘Rocky’ or more recently ‘No Country for Old Men,’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds.’ The excitement of not knowing what will happen next is a big part of the movie-going experience for me. Just as in life, we don't know exactly what challenges each new day will bring."
A graduate of Montgomery Bell Academy, Middle Tennessee State University, and Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Gallaher began developing his tennis skills at age 9. He started playing tournament tennis at 12 and that same summer won his first state championship, placing fourth in the South, and playing in his first of several national events including the prestigious Sugar Bowl Tennis Tournament in New Orleans.
He earned a tennis scholarship at MTSU and afterwards in the summer of 1986 played in some semi-pro tournaments in Europe.
Upon graduating from optometry school in 1993 he began his practice in Lebanon with his father who has since retired.
"I really look forward to beginning this weekly movie review in The Post. I hope to make it something people will enjoy reading as so many do the works of longtime friend Ken Beck. I don't pretend to have the writing skills Mr. Beck does, but just maybe a little of him and Ann Donnell will rub off on me.
“To me, the movies almost provide an escape, even if just for a couple of hours, from the more serious things going on in the world, and I think everyone could use a break like that from time to time. And even though I enjoy watching a movie with my family or with friends, one of my favorite times going to the theater is by myself. Many times have I visited the Roxy on a weeknight to see a 9:40 p.m. movie after my wife and kids are fast asleep. And unlike on the weekends when nearly every seat is filled, I am often the only one in the theater...and that is just fine with me."
“At the Movies with Doc" will begin next week. Gallaher’s first review will be that of Clash of the Titans, which opens this Friday.