FRESH from celebrating five decades on television, "Mr Movies", Bill Collins will be the guest speaker at a Kiama function in November.
Collins has been widely acknowledged for his contribution to Australian television since he first appeared on screen in 1963.
The Berry resident began his career as a school teacher and later a college lecturer.
He said teaching remained at the core of his being.
"I'm a teacher, and I've been a teacher on television," he said of his presenting role.
"Some people would not appreciate that, if they don't take film seriously.
"The great books are still relevant today, the great music is.
"I've had a person say to me, 'I only see a movie once'.
"I said, 'really? I suppose you'd only listen to a Beethoven symphony once? Would you see the Mona Lisa once?"'
Collins has explored his passion for film in other mediums, including writing books, as well as being a radio presenter, newspaper reviewer and film studies lecturer.
In 1987, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal.
Collins remains part of Foxtel's FOX Classics channel as a presenter, celebrating his 50th anniversary on television in September.
"I think most people if they've got a passion, or something they're really keen on love to talk about it, they love to talk about it with other people who are interested," he said.
"But some people are not always interested, and they don't know how to talk about it.
"I've discovered over the years that people, they know how to talk about their neighbours, their houses, but they don't know how to talk about a movie that they see.
"They don't know what to say, or where to begin."
Collins said many people underestimated the resonance of films.
"A lot of Australians - not all Australians - have an attitude towards films; they're pictures, movies, entertainment for the masses.
"It's something you do when you've got nothing else to do.
"To me, film is the major art of the 20th century, in sad decline at the moment.
"A lot of people, they don't think when they see movies; they just look at the pictures and laugh at the jokes.
"There is a place for escapism, but that's not the totality of it."
Collins will be guest speaker at a joint function to raise funds for the Friends of Kiama Library and the Kiama and District Historical Society.
The event will take place at the Community Centre, Hindmarsh Park, on November 9 from 2.30pm.
"I've been talking for about 50, 60 years, right from the time I left school and went to the university," Collins said.
"I like to be challenged; I don't mind that at all."
Tickets are $10 for non-members, and $5 for members of either group, available from Kiama Library.
Bill on see below.
■ Gone With the Wind is his favourite film. How many times has he seen it?
"I stopped counting when I'd seen it about 25 times. I heard of a woman living in Sydney who actually sees it every day. It's just part of my life.
"I first saw it at the St James Theatre in Sydney, I would probably have been about eight years old. I loved it, and it changed my life. It stands out, because it took people on a long journey in the imagination, and their feelings.
"Some cases there are films where I would prefer . . . I would love to see it with my family, or some of our closest friends. But I wouldn't want to see it with (just) anybody, because it means a lot to me - like a spiritual experience."
■ Any classics that he isn't particularly a fan of?
"The first one that comes to mind is most inappropriate as an answer, because it's a very fine film - The Godfather. People have said to me many times, 'what's your favourite film?' I can go endlessly with favourites.
"I say, 'what's your favourite?' And they say, 'oh, The Godfather'. I say, 'I suppose your favourite book is Hitler's Mein Kampf perhaps?'
"I like films that bring joy, that make life worth living, make you realise that we are lucky to be here to do the things we do.
"But other people wallow in misery, sadness and horror. That's why I don't like a lot of the films these days."
■ Favourite leading lady? "Bette Davis, she's number one I think. One of my great pleasures is I did meet Bette Davis, she talked about me at the Opera House, and mentioned my name on stage."
■ Favourite leading man?
"When I was watching Gone With The Wind again recently, there was Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, and by gosh, he had something."
■ A film he feels didn't get the credit it deserved?
"I saw The Great Gatsby in 1949 with Alan Ladd playing Gatsby. One of the movie critics I remember said, 'Alan Ladd playing Great Gatsby? He looks like a gangster'. I thought, 'he is'. He was a gangster trying to be a man of quality. I thought Alan Ladd was perfectly cast in that; he was just the right actor to play the part. So, sometimes the critics don't understand either. They are poseurs, being very clever."