Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Filmsite Post: Catching Up for Spring 2011 Part 1 (Movies #4, #5, and #6)

Posted by Gerald on May 14, 2011

Like an old dog to an old bone, I return to gnaw at this blog some more.  I’m hoping to make major inroads on this list over the summer so I can make my goal of watching them all this year).

Just for my own ego, I’m going to mention that I’m starting here with the twenty-some movies on this top 100 list I’ve never seen (although I’ve violated that with the first two, “Casablanca” and “Citizen Kane”) and then am going to move on to about ten more that I’ve seen already but, for various reason, retain little impression of or saw so long ago I need to view them afresh (“The Apartment” is a good example of the former and “Taxi Driver” a good example of the latter.)  After that it is going to be a process of re-watching films I’m more or less familiar with.

Oh, and the numbers are just the order I’m watching them in.

So, onwards.  I’ve watched five more from the list since I last posted.  I’m going to be a bit brief with them in the interests of getting caught up.

First, two Billy Wilder films: #4 “Some Like It Hot” and #5 “Sunset Boulevard”

#4 “Some Like it Hot” (1959): I really enjoyed it, but I don’t have much to say about it.  It is funny (although I’ve never really been bowled over by the who mainstream drag-humor thing – I always found Milton Berle funnier in a tux than in a dress).  I think this is a movie where you can see that “Marilyn Monroe thing.”  Her character should be an instantly forgettable Hollywood stereotype blonde bimbo, but there is something more there.  Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis were hysterical.  Wilder is at his best dealing with showbiz.  It is kind of like “Stagecoach” in that it uses but also invents a genre of films we’ve all seen a hundred times since.  Therefore it is simultaneously epochal and a bit familiar.

#5 “Sunset Boulevard” (1950): Where to start?  You have here a movie that manages to be both a loving tribute and a savage parody of Hollywood at the same time.  Gloria Swanson is funny, poignant, pathetic, and towering.  William Holden is playing that tarnished rogue he perfected and that no one has ever done quite as well since.  Erich von Stroheim, Jack Webb, cameos by half of Golden-Age Hollywood – including Cecil B. DeMille, and a dead chimp – all in a brilliant mishmash of film noir, romance, and Hollywood.  I loved it.

#6 “To Kill a Mockingbird”  (1962): Ever since my father’s death, I’ve become incredibly weepy at stories about fathers and children.  When the reverend tells Jem and Scout to stand as their father leaves the courtroom, I just lost it.  Cynics can call this manipulative, I call it moving.  This is a signature role for one of the greatest actors in American film (or anywhere – let’s face it) – Gregory Peck.  It has Robert Duvall’s first film role.  It combines a great courtroom drama with a great study of American racism, adds in an exploration of what it means to be ethical, what heroism is, and what it means to be a father – and the movie does them all well.  This is one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. 

It is late, so I’m closing this here.  I’ll try to finish the catch-up post tomorrow with #7 Psycho, #8 The Graduate, #9 Singing in the Rain, and #10 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (another I’ve seen many times, but happened to watch again a couple of weeks ago).

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