Thursday, March 19, 2009

Medium Popcorn, Please

We could live without movies, but I'd rather not.
There are a number of them I remember fondly, but are in general forgotten. They just seemed to hit the right note: Robert Newton, above, is the foremost example, from Disney's first live-action film, 1950's Treasure Island. That became my favorite book because of the movie, and it remains the perfect theatric rendition of it. And one commentator on IMDB added that "Talk Like a Pirate Day" would not be what it is without Newton's growling West Country accent, which established forever what we think pirates sound like. A lot of them came from Wales, so it may even be accurate. "Them that die'll be the lucky ones!"
He was a lovable ham, perfectly cast and let loose by the director; you can see why he was so good as Blackbeard and as Bill Sikes in 1948's Oliver Twist.

Not as well regarded critically, another film I can't forget is 1967's Charlie Bubbles, a personal project by producer, director and star Peter Finch. I'm a sucker for these introspective character studies, existential stories where nothing much really happens. Unsatisfied with their early success, both Finch himself and the title character became detached and confused after they found that when you get what you want it's not quite what you thought. The silent final scene is the memorable part: Charlie parks his Jaguar by a green pasture in the countryside, and walks wonderingly toward a red hot-air balloon anchored by a fence. He gets into the basket, looses the weights, and just drifts up and away. Perfect.

When I saw 1970's Adam at 6 A.M. on late night television, I was shocked. Shocked!
Michael Douglas' second movie was pretty much a story I was writing in my head at the time. Well, damn! -- no screenwriting fame for me. The story is very similar to Charlie: Mike is a California university professor who travels to Missouri to attend a relative's funeral, decides to try something different and stays the summer, and, being Mike, finds romance. He works as a laborer. A long journey to a disorienting time and place results in self-discovery, and questions about which direction to take in life.

I'll trade you some Raisinets for some of that popcorn.

1 comment:

  1. It's most fun to watch a movie with your sweetie ;-)