Friday, January 31, 2014

Classic Movies: Standing The Test of Time-Sometimes

As many regular readers know, I occasionally have shared that my 24 year old college student (who attends school from  home) has decided to watch every single one of the movies on the American Film Institute top 100 movies of all time lists. Both versions-it was adjusted once. I can tell you that he chose to do this without my input. Not that I think it's a bad idea.

Not to do things by half, he also is watching every movie that has the top 50 villains and good guys from the same list-most are the same, but not all. He is also on a mission to see every worthwhile World War II and Vietnam War film, but that is secondary.  Many of these he has already seen, some of which of course are on this list (The Deer Hunter, for example, and Platoon).

Admittedly he gets his movie addiction from me. I suppose I know as much or more about movies as Bob over at Satisfying retirement knows about classic rock. I am the person my twenty one year old daughter calls when driving back from the Outer Banks at two am. She wants to know who were in both versions of the movie Cape Fear and her mother doesn't just tell her the names of the leads, but the whole laundry list. I am also opinionated about those films.  Recently I could be heard saying "Really?  They are remaking Endless Love?  Why would they do that?" I can tell you the title of that weird Clint Eastwood movie where he's in a fog and all the young girls are around.  I've shamed my sister into finally watching Witness for the Prosecution, but she has yet to watch A Place in the Sun.

I thought I would share some of the movies that he (and by proxy me, most of the time) has watched in the past few weeks, and his opinion on some of those movies.  Much of the time (but not always), I watch those films with him, and that gives me a chance to see them from a new perspective-often years later.  I will say here that I have in fact seen every movie on the list - with the exception of Rebecca and a couple of the silents. He is, by nature a person who prefers drama to comedy or satire (which means Some Like It Hot has come way down on the list for viewing).  Still, I am occasionally surprised at those that he finds mesmerizing and those he dislikes. 

Without further ado, these are the movies most recently watched on his slowly disappearing list (there are more than usual during these past few weeks as being bedridden with the flu limits the opportunity for more meaningful activities. When you cannot do Chemistry for science majors or deliver phone books, you lie on the couch and watch mindless (or mindful) DVDs.

12 Angry Men:  I did not watch this movie when he watched it, but we were in the same location. I could hear, and I have seen it enough times that I knew what was going on. He literally did not move during the entire film, and has actually refused to see the old classic TV teleplay or the new one. Unfortunately the themes in this movie are, it would seem, very current and relevant today. Black and white film or no. 

Casablanca:  To my eternal distress, he sees this as a love story only and not a war movie. Although his mother considers it the best movie ever (should be number one, not number two) , he does not agree. This surprised me, not just because I love the film, but because this is an adult who sat through The Longest Day in black and white. At six years old. Without getting up to eat or go to the bathroom. At it's heart it is a war move, with a little romance. I guess he doesn't like them well mixed, which is why he has hesitated to see From Here to Eternity, since every mention of it shows the scene on the beach. For me, I can watch this movie at least once a month. What can I say. Maybe we'll try again later, lol. And, for the record, if you were to ask me about movies that are better than the book, that movie would probably be one of perhaps a very few.

A Clockwork Orange.  I had never seen this film, but I decided to break down and see it with my son.  Is it a classic?  Yes. Should everyone see it? Probably. Will I ever watch it again? Absolutely not. And I will never, ever think of Beethoven's Fifth the same way again. If you've seen it you understand, if you have not, watch it. On this movie,  we agree.

Citizen Kane:  This one is a surprise to me. On some level, I think I understand the reasoning for the high rating of this film when it comes to cinematography and such. On another, I think it's extremely overrated.  This is an area where my son again give the movie an A plus, saying "now I understand why it's considered the best movie ever". I continue to not understand why and how it is number one on every list, every time.

Chinatown:  If you have never seen this film, the last three minutes inevitably result in the viewer saying "What the.............",( insert your favorite unrepeatable word of choice here).  You think that The Sixth Sense is a shocker? You have no idea. For me, this is one of those movies that once in a lifetime was enough. Is it a damned good movie? Absolutely. But I've never seen it since, nor the sequel.  Son was extremely impressed with this movie and gave it five stars. I did not watch this movie with him, and took myself out of hearing

Dr Strangelove:  The younger member of this family considers this the most overrated movie on the list that he has seen yet. Why? I'm not sure. While it certainly has Cold War themes, it is filled with satire (and admittedly he thought the falling bomb scene was hilarious). Even though this movie has a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, he found this movie to be about a fifty percent on his personal meter. However, in all fairness, he is not big on satire, and would give Fail Safe (not reviewed here) a one hundred percent.

So there you have it, our recent month of classic movie viewing. This particular month was heavy on the black and white and on the serious. My son has shared with me that the coming month includes Some Like it Hot, Raging Bull, and The Searchers.  

The more movies, the merrier!


  1. I always think to myself when I hear that Hollywood is remaking a classic that those people should give their heads a good shake. Sometimes I even think someone should give them a swat across the head and say "What are you thinking."

    God bless.

  2. As a movie lover myself, Barb, I agree with your son about Citizen Kane. Welles implemented camera techniques that had never been used before (shooting from below, etc.) and the scene between Kane and his wife that uses only 5 frames to show the disintegration of a marriage is genius.


  3. Lawrence of Arabia, Godfather, Singing in the Rain, Bridge over the River Kwai
    I looked at the AFT list and there is only one I haven't seen- Sunset Blvd.
    the two modern war movies I think are well done are: We were Soldiers Once and Black Hawk Down. I hated Deer Hunter- but agree it was a great film for the era.
    What modern movies (1995 to now) do you think might end up on the list one day?


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