Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Then and Now: Films don't change, but we do

When I was young, I was so sure of everything. Now that I’m not, I’m not. 
What does it all mean?
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:

Sunset Boulevard:

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.

Rear Window*

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?

Wuthering Heights

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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

National Classic Movie Day: The Apartment is One Big Movie Hug

This is my contribution to the Classic Comfort Movie Blogathon, hosted by Rick at The Classic Film & TV Cafe. Click HERE and find out what movies comfort us when we need a movie hug. it's an awesome lineup!

Having a bad day? Whose day could be worse than CC Baxter’s?

CC Baxter needs his sleep
Shut out of his own apartment while his married insurance company superiors use it for a trysting place, there is no rest at home for him and no love in his life.Worse still, his boss, Mr. Sheldrake (rhymes with snake), dangles a huge promotion in front of him if CC gives Sheldrake exclusive rights to his apartment for his extra-marital affair.

The key to success

It’s a moral dilemma, but the one shining light in his day is Fran Kubelik, the lovely elevator operator and the object of his affection. He scores a date, but she stands him up.

CC and Fran take a shine to one another

Maybe a worse day than CC’s is Fran’s. Trying to break away from her affair with Sheldrake, she is once again drawn into it with a promise that he will soon leave his wife. And where does he take her for this renewed affair? The apartment, of course.

Same Chinese restaurant, same married man
Pretty much an even more horrible day for both is Christmas Eve. CC is stuck at a bar while his boss spends some time with Fran and Fran tries to kill herself after Sheldrake goes home to celebrate the holiday with his wife and kids (after slipping her some cash for a Christmas present).

Merry *!@#**& Christmas, CC

Now, I’ve had bad days, but never one like these two are having. Time to settle in and let all of my empathy for them warm my heart.

sadness, despair, concern, love
Once CC and Fran learn the truth about one another, they spend some time together while Fran recuperates from her attempted suicide. CC cooks spaghetti for her, plays gin rummy with her and generally shows himself to be the better man for her. He is smitten; she is scared and ashamed.

Bonding over pasta
Their time together in the apartment is like a comfy robe.

Philosophy - gin rummy-wise
In a twist, Sheldrake’s wife is tipped off about his infidelities by a former flame. He is now free to pursue Fran. She assents, but soon realizes that this creep is not the man for her. Racing back to Baxter, "The Apartment" warms my heart because fundamentally decent people win. And sometimes, I just need to believe that is true.

All's well that ends well