12/26/1983 at 01:00 AM EST
The actor plays a shy, Iowa banker in Terms of Endearment and, modesty aside, Terms happens to be his favorite '83 movie. He loathes films like the teenage titillater Private School, which "seem to be made by market research." On his bookshelf is Alice Walker's The Color Purple ("It made me cry"), but no body-beautiful how-tos. "They ushered in an age of narcissism, which I feel is unhealthy," Lithgow explains. "Maybe I hate them because they make me feel out of shape." He loved PBS's Vietnam series; his least favorite show was the NBA championship game when the Los Angeles Lakers lost to Philadelphia. In music, his 11-year-old turned him on to the Police and Michael Jackson, and he thinks Men at Work are terrific. "They seem like exuberant, wide-open Australians."