Monday, May 19, 2008

Fear Fights the Classics

David Fear, the movie critic of Time Out, has no fear. He had the gall to downgrade these old-time movie favorites from classics to just good movies.

10. "Love Story" (1970)
9. "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944)
8. "All the King's Men" (1949)
7. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967)
6. "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947)
5. "The Seven Year Itch" (1955)
4. "The Ten Commandments" (1956)
3. "Easy Rider" (1969)
2. "Giant" (1956)
1. "Gone With the Wind" (1939)
Go ahead, say it: The idea that this towering totem of Hollywood's Golden Age may not deserve the praise it's received over the decades is downright sacrilegious, and we should be strung up for saying so. To which we reply: When was the last time you actually watched this marathon paean to the Old South? We can appreciate what producer David O. Selznick accomplished -- after hearing the film's backstory, it's a miracle the movie even managed to get made -- but this template for every bloated spectacle made since is one creaky melodrama. Vivien Leigh's touted performance now seems drastically mannered and camp ("I'll never go hungry again!"), set pieces such as Scarlett O'Hara's tour of the Civil War battlefield stick out like sore thumbs amidst the overwrought "intimate" moments, and Victor Fleming's direction never rises above journeyman level. Even Clark Gable's charismatic Rhett Butler feels less like an actual character and more like a star simply savoring the taste of the scenery between his teeth. You can chalk up the retrograde politics to the times -- still, we dare you to sit through Butterfly McQueen's and Hattie McDaniel's scenes without wincing -- but the sheen of this capo di tutti capi of movies has worn off once and for all. For all its pomp, "Gone With the Wind" no longer blows us away.

Here's the story


Blogger Mel said...

My personal takes:
Love Story - read the book, saw the movie, and asked myself what the fuss was all about. Why, it's the stuff run-of-the-mill Pinoy movies are made of!
All the King's Men - read the book, saw the movie, didn't leave an impact other than to confirm that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Ten Commandments - required viewing for our 5th grade class at the Holy Family. Won't impose it on my grandchildren even during the Holy Week.
Gone With the Wind - saw the movie in the 60s; wasn't too impressed. Read the book later and enjoyed it immensely. My favorite part? Rhett Butler suggesting that Scarlett name the store she was building 'Caveat Emptorium' - and she did just that!

8:25 AM  
Blogger frank said...

They should leave the Top 5 for nostalgia reasons. I remember watching Ten Commendments in Session Theater. When I left the theater into the real world, letdown! Its like you lived the movie.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

Ooops...misread 'All the King's Men' as 'All the President's Men'...

I have a list of personal favorites - for nostalgic reasons like you said - and I saw them all at the Session Theatre.

9:19 AM  

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