This post was originally published on July 27 2009
I'd like to start a revolving series of posts where Karen and I shoot your way our opinions of multi-media pop culture. Today I'll start with five movies I really, really like -- they won't necessarily be my "top 5 of all time" or anything like that. But these are movies I'll stop and watch when I see them on the telly, or even fire up the DVD player with them on occasion. So, in no particular order...
I've previously discussed not only this film, but the entire franchise (though not in exhaustive detail -- you can see my musings here: http://bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com/2009/06/get-your-hands-off-me-you-damned-dirty.html). As I commented at the end of the aforementioned post, I caught a few of these films last weekend on the Fox Movie Channel; I also spied the Tim Burton remake on FX just last evening. I started to watch it, and while there is much to love about it (time has been kind in regard to special effects, make-up, etc.), the general story and execution just doesn't do it for me. I think, although grossly different from Pierre Boulle's novel, that the folks at 20th Century Fox created a classic, a masterpiece, back in '68. Heston's melodramatics, Roddy McDowell's coolness, and the emotional acting of Kim Hunter really carry the story -- a morality play in a time when apocalypse in one form or another was (or maybe should have been) on the movie-going public's minds. As I said earlier, Planet of the Apes had a tremendous sense of adventure and even scariness for me as a child that is still there, but to which has been added a sense of appreciation for the larger stereotypes, social mores, and general ecological warnings that have jumped to meet my adult mind.
I think I first saw this on network television in the late '70's, although it could have been a bit earlier on HBO. I've only seen the film all the way through once, but have often caught bits and pieces on the various cable movie channels. What I remember is that sense of futuristic wonder at the cityscape and the terror of the premise that everyone had to die at the age of 30. When I first saw the movie, that didn't seem so bad; at the ripe old age of 43, however...
I recall that Michael York as Logan-5 was just studly enough to carry his part, and his range of emotions was strong. Jenny Agutter was of course beautiful as the VERY scantily-clad Jessica-6, as was Farrah Fawcett (lord, how I loved Charlie's Angels!!) as Holly. The scenes in Washington DC evoked the ending of Planet of the Apes, and further cemented in my mind that we all could be going to hell sooner than later.
Wow. I don't even care to swim all that much and this movie scared me to death. Perhaps my lasting memory of the movie comes from a trip to Florida when I was 12; trust me, I didn't venture too far out into the ocean! As the film was huge that summer of '75, the various companies that bring book orders into the schools filled it up with books about sharks, shark attacks, ocean adventures, etc. I bought a book called Sharks: Attacks on Man. I read it until the pages came out. I recall that there were some photos in that book, mostly of chewed-up surfboards and people with mouth-shaped stitches on their sides and appendages -- ugh...
Steven Spielberg just did a fantastic job with this film. The characterization is wonderful, and the suspense created by the score is virtually without peer. Think how long it is until you see the shark -- but you know, you just know that it is a beast to be reckoned with. Spielberg got more out of a few notes on a piano... The film also has its memorable one-liners, and my favorite is Martin Brody's subtle announcement that, "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
A few weeks ago Karen wrote of her love of Star Trek. For whatever reason, and I don't have a good excuse to offer, I never got into Star Trek. I can't figure out why -- it was syndicated on television when I was a kid, and while I loved reruns of Batman, Wild Wild West, and the various Japanese imports like Ultra Man and Space Giants, I never watched too much Star Trek. However, when Star Wars Episode Four: A New Hope came out I was hooked!!
The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite in the 6-film Star Wars franchise. From the opening scene with the AT-AT Walkers to the ending scenes on the Cloud City, the film is just a whirlwind of amazing sets, new machines and characters, and growing characterization. George Lucas really made the Star Wars Universe with this film. He showed that his story was an incredibly dense tale that really did occupy a galaxy far, far away. The film ended with a feeling of darkness that left this young viewer yearning for the next installment. Three years would be a long time to wait!
Just as a last note -- I am one who really didn't care for the additional footage that Lucas added to his first trilogy of films when they first were pressed onto DVDs. I felt in some way that it was unfair to those who'd seen the movies at the theater, and although they were released theatrically in their updated versions, it still just smacked of money-grubbing. They should have left it alone -- it certainly wasn't broke!
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of the "funnest" films I've ever seen! The chemistry between Paul Newman and Robert Redford is out of sight -- the banter, the physical acting, their facial expressions are just perfect. I know I've heard, as you perhaps have as well, that other actors at one time considered included Steve McQueen and Jack Lemmon. I think they made the right choices.
I think my favorite scene in the film is the battle to see who will become leader of the Hole in the Wall Gang -- just classic Newman! Of course the last scene is great, too -- that on-screen chemistry lasted 'til the end.
So that's five for now -- and I haven't even gotten to Rollerball, Animal House, or Caddyshack!