Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"What's that line about the beginning of some sort of friendship?"

I had decided that during the month of August, I would watch all of the movies on my queue that Netflix has labeled "Classics."  These are things that I added probably when I joined Netflix and just never got around to watching.  So since there has not been a whole of TV to watch this summer, I figured now was as good a time as any.  The first few on my list are Casablanca, The Philadelphia Story and The Sting.
I really enjoyed Casablanca.  I do not really know what I was expecting when I started to watch it, but I definitely was not expecting it to have so many funny parts.  Everyone knows the famous lines: "Here's lookin' at you, kid" and "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," but I think my favorite was when the Nazi's want the local sherriff to close Humphrey Bogart's club and he really does not have a good reason to do so:

Rick: How can you close me up?! On what grounds?!
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Croupier: (handing Renault a pile of money) Your winnings, sir
Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much (yelling) Everybody out at once!

And, even though it takes place during World War II, I feel that the story is timeless and stands up to most modern romances.  However, I will say that Humphrey Bogart is not an attractive man :o)  It did not move too slowly, as some older movies tend to do, and is definitely a movie that you should see at some point in your life.  There is a reason why it is a "classic" and I do not know why I waited so long to see it!

The Philadelphia Story was also very good.  Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart all gave excellent performances, as was to be expected, but it was long and at times moved a little too slowly for my taste.  One thing that I did find especially interesting was how openly everyone talked about their personal lives with each other.  At the beginning of the movie, Hepburn's character, Tracy Lord, originally agrees to having reporters at her upcoming wedding in order to keep another story about her father's affair out of the paper.  In one scene, the family has a very open conversation about the whole situation where Mr. Lord actually says to his wife that it is not her fault that he is having an affair.  He says it has to do with, "a reluctance to grow old."  It was also weird to me that throughout the entire movie, Cary Grant refers to Hepburn as "Red," even though the movie is in black and white.  I mean, I know it was probably well-known that Hepburn had red hair, but it was still odd to me.  Overall, I would say I enjoyed the movie, but could have been a bit shorter.  Still, another movie that everyone should see.

The Sting, on the other hand, I found to be mostly overrated.  Paul Newman and Robert Redford are good-looking, charming actors, but they just were not good enough to make me like the movie.  It was way too long and I did not like how, between each section of the movie, there were headings to tell you what part of the con we were about to see.  I will say that the costumes and "aged" look of the film were definitely well-done, but by the end of the movie I was just ready for it to be over.  I am glad that I watched it, as it is still an important film and has influenced many other films, but it was just stiff and not as entertaining as I was hoping it would be.

I really should have done this years ago because, while I definitely have not loved all of these films, I really feel like I was missing out on a piece of American culture by not having seen them.  I know that sounds a little corny, but it is true.  So many things from old movies show up in popular culture, from simple references to similar styles and plots. There is a reason why these films have withstood the test of time and are still talked about today.
The next three movies on my list are Funny Girl, The Maltese Falcon and Midnight Cowboy.