When I was young, I was so sure of everything. Now that I’m not, I’m not.
My opinions were so solid, my convictions so sure. Now, they are, shall we say, open to suggestion.
Films that I was once so definite about now come at me from another angle. Or, maybe I come to them from another angle. Either way, nothing is quite as it was. Older, yes. Wiser – well, I’m allowed to pretend. Film, with its fixed, repetitive nature, remains unchanged. Oddly, I haven’t.
And so, I've come to these films with new eyes and an ever changing landscape of emotions:
Ah, Norma Desmond, the gift that keeps on giving (movie-wise, that is).
Then: I once viewed Norma Desmond as a nutty old bat – washed up and stuck in the past. Like Joe Gillis tells her: she’s 50 and there’s nothing wrong with being 50 unless you think you’re 25 – or something like that. Except that I kind of thought there was something wrong with being 50. 50? Yikes!
Now: I see a wounded bird. A woman full of pride and passion, still vibrant and still beautiful with so much to give and no one to give it to. Okay, she is a bit batty, but she just needs to get out more.
Then: Oh, how I hated that film. Every “teenager” seemed too old and it was just not as good as the real classic musicals I loved. You know, Astaire and Kelly and Judy.
Now: Oh my, the beauty of all of the youth and youthful fun in that film. Travolta, so talented, such youthful promise.
Then: Poor James Stewart! Trapped in that apartment and longing for travel and adventure. I'd be itching to get out of there, too. Good thing he had a great nurse. As for Grace Kelly's Lisa, she was pretty, but shallow. Jame Russell seemed a better companion.
Now: What an old crab that James Stewart is! And what a great gal Lisa Carol Freemont is. She puts up with that growling old bear, brings him dinner from the 21 Club and shows him that a real adventurous spirit can wear a dress from Paris and face down a murderer. Good thing Jimmy had a good nurse (some thing don't change).
* Note: there are a few James Stewart films that fall into this category, but I don't want to pick on him. I like him, I really do, but he always seems so darn crabby!
Singin' in the Rain
Then: Gene Kelly was a gorgeous man. Everything he did was right and everyone else was wrong. Lina Lamont was a pill and Debbie Reynolds was unworthy.
Now: Gene Kelly is still gorgeous, but Lina Lamont was the bomb and so misunderstood. She was a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament. As for Debbie, gosh I miss her. And Gene, well, wasn't he just a little mean sometimes?
Then: because I developed a mad crush on Laurence Olivier in this film, Heathcliff was a poor, put-upon orphan - wrecked by Cathy's inability to live like a pauper. And I was not happy with Merle Oberon's Cathy.
Now: Gosh, they were a miserable pair, Healthcliff and Cathy. I confess I am still dazzled by Olivier (and the lovely score), but my sympathies reside with the Lintons. I find it hard to sit through this film. Another of those things that don't change: still not happy with Merle Oberon's Cathy.
|I'm shocked, shocked that I like this film|
I could go on - I resisted Casablanca for years because of my resistance to Bogey - but now I give into it. Same, too, for On the Waterfront. Brando to me was like a cross to a vampire, but I admire the film and his performance greatly. I snobbishly pooh-poohed Citizen Kane, only to come to the conclusion that, yes, it is awesome.
I suspect the list will change, because, in spite of all efforts, I keep getting older. One can only hope that means deeper, wiser, and more in touch with the mysteries of the universe that are revealed on film.