Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No, You Haven't Seen These

Politics never really rests, but unless the Lame Duck Congress comes up with some super stuff (and I'm already on record as saying that these days Congress doesn't count for too much in the big scheme of things), we're due for a little respite. Likewise, unless you're an NFL devotee, the fall sports are winding down. Therefore, we need a new subject to take up your time.
And it might as well be the movies. Of course, movie reviews are as common as belly buttons. Everybody's got 'em. Where movie fans go wrong, I think, is in looking for NEW movies to always solve our cravings. They can't ALL be great. Why not peruse the old ones for surprising themes, scenes and stars? Yes, anyone can make an "all-time classics" list: "Casablanca", High Noon", "Citizen Caine", "The Magnificent Seven", and on and on. What follows is a strictly personal list of movies that deserve more praise than they now get. It's nothing to fight over - it's just a list to have handy when at the rental store. Go to the "Classics" section, pick two or three if you can find them, pay $5 or so and take your chances. Really, how wrong can you go?
OK, here they are, in RANDOM order:
"Breaking Away" - A great "growing up" movie. Bad language, but the opera subtext is great.
"The Great Waldo Pepper" - Redford, with a young Susan Sarandon. Too bad we have to do things other than the things we can do better than anyone else.
"Mrs. Miniver"- Oscar winner of 1942. Early war movie can still jerk the tears. Only real flaw is that b&w means you miss the red hair of Greer Garson.
"Dumbo"- You can actually enjoy this one with the kids. I loved the scat-singing crows.
"The Manchurian Candidate"- Frank Sinatra's best movie. A precurser to modern political thrillers. Don't confuse it with the recent remake.
"The Conversation"- Semi-creepy thriller with a surprise ending. Good Gene Hackman.
"Tucker"- Two things Americans are supposed to like: family and big business.
"Once Upon a Time In the West"- Best of the Italian-made "spaghetti westerns". Henry Fonda plays a bad guy.
"Twelve Angry Men"- The sweat oozes off a jury from a trial we never see. Fonda is the star, but everyone else is either famous or later becomes so.
"The Guns of Navarone"- Almost only one on the list to feature a big explosion. All-famous cast.
"The Big Chill"- Baby boomers in midlife. Good story. Great music.
"The Cincinnati Kid"- Steve McQueen vs. Edward G. Robinson mano a mano at poker. And Tuesday Weld was so, ah, toothsome.
"The Hustler"- The young Paul Newman competes in seedy pool halls. Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie also top notch.
"The Incredible Shrinking Man"- Don't be fooled by the dorky title. Only sci fi/horror flic on the list really makes you think.
"My Fair Lady"- We had to have at least one big musical. Audrey Hepburn was so cute!
"The Sandlot"- The summer version of A Christmas Story". Hits lots of buttons.
"Judgement at Nuremburg"- Interesting take on postwar trials. Loaded with big name actors who take turns, like Judy Garland as a frumpy hausfrau.
"Memphis Belle"- We're shocked at the youth and low-tech gear of crew in a WW II bomber. Another one in which all the actors becaome famous later. Not a pro-war movie.
So that's, what, 18? Unless you're gobbling 'em down from Netflix every week, that should last through the winter. If I'm still alive in the spring we could take a crack at another list. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday, and here's wishing your team success in the Fish Bowl. Impeaching the President can wait a month or two until he does something NEW and outrageous.


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