So I see on Coosa Creek
Mambo Cinema that top ten lists are hitting the airwaves and I think to myself, "I never see enough new movies to do one of those but I enjoy reading them." Then I think, "Maybe each year around this time I could pick another decade exactly 40 or 60 years back like 1968 or 1948 and do a top ten from that year. And each year pick another decade so that next year I would do 1959 or 1929." Works for me. I think I'll do one this year but haven't picked a decade yet.
And speaking of 1959, for some reason the first movie that pops into my head from that year is Compulsion, starring Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman and Orson Welles, who chews the scenery so voraciously it's surprising there was a set left standing when the cameras stopped rolling. You know who directed Compulsion? Richard Fleischer. His birthday was this week, December 8th. He would have been 92 years old (he died on March 25, 2006). God I love 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (he directed that too). It's one of my favorite adventure movies of all time even considering it has Kirk Douglas singing Whale of a Tale which should have been enough to kill any movie but Fleischer did such a good job with it you didn't even notice. Well, almost didn't notice.
Fleischer was already in my mind the last couple of days anyway because he directed Tora, Tora, Tora which recounted the attack on Pearl Harbor whose anniversary was December 7. It's a movie that flopped badly with critics and audiences alike but for whatever reason I like it and I 'm not afraid to admit it. I think a lot of it has to do with the great models and miniatures used for the attack sequence at the end. I'm a sucker for old school special effects.
Which of course puts me in mind of new school special effects and CGI which I don't like. That made me think of Wall-E which, I probably don't need to tell you, I haven't seen. But I will see it soon. You see, as mentioned on this blog earlier, my wife and I have decided to revamp the DVD collection and we're currently purchasing old movies we want to see and renting the new ones, instead of wasting Netflix rentals on movies we want to own anyway. So I cleared my Netflix cache - yep, I cleared it - and started adding in nothing but movies from 2007 and 2008 that I hadn't seen yet in an effort to catch up with the present. Wall-E is one of those movies. I have absolutely no desire to see it, despite its good reviews, but when it shows up I'll give it a look anyway. At least it's Sci-Fi. I'm always game for Sci-Fi.
Speaking of Sci-Fi, one of my favorite cheesy effects Sci-Fi flicks from the seventies is Logan's Run. What's not to love? Filmed in a Dallas, TX mall it's got Farrah Fawcett, tunics and jumpsuits, soft porn, Roscoe Lee Browne providing the voice of Box (the slowest most awkwardly maneuvering robot imaginable and yet somehow it's killed dozens of runners), Jenny Agutter, hordes of cats at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. and lines like "Run runner!" Did you know they're remaking it and apparently are going to stick more closely to the book? And they've dropped the drop-dead age from 30 to 21. I'm sorry, but I had a hard enough time believing any society could properly function with only people aged 29 and under but 20 and under?!!?!?!? Sorry, but that place is going to be a wreck. I don't care how many computers are running it, I've got teens and I'm telling you that society will be a disaster on a minute by minute basis! I hate to judge a movie in advance but who else is with me on this assessment: Logan's Run the remake will totally suck. Big time.
Hey, that reminds me, Fox did a post on remakes recently and brought up Scarface. I didn't like that remake much but I did like the original and soon someone will be writing about it because it's an early Howard Hawks film and Ed Howard is doing the early Howard Hawks blogathon in January (details here). But here's the thing. I know as a bonafide classic Hollywood buff and a thirties movie lover I'm not supposed to say this but... I never really cared for Paul Muni much. I thought he was a good actor and I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is one of my favorites, and one of the best, of the early thirties dramas. It's just that Muni's performances seem very mannered to me. Around the same time Clark Gable and Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy were breezing through their lines in movie after movie there was Muni, enunciating every syllable or adopting a thick accent that immediately signalled to the viewer, "I'm acting!" So I'm just not a big fan of him or his movies like I am with so many others of the thirties.
And speaking of thirties movies I love, I just recently purchased The Lady Vanishes to add to my collection. It's a favorite early Hitchcock of mine, one that has apparently been used for its plot devices in one way or another many times, including the recent Transiberian, which according to Arbogast did not live up to the standards of Hitchcock or even basic good-movieness (I just coined that word, use it if you like) so I guess I won't be seeing it on any top ten lists this year.
Which brings back to mind those top ten lists that started this spread of activation. I still don't know which 8th year I'm going to do this time, but 1938 is starting to sound like a good one. After all, I already have a movie to put on it, The Lady Vanishes. Thanks Arbo.
*According to psychologists J.R. Anderson and P.L. Pirolli "Spread of activation refers to the cognitive process of retrieving memory. When one part of memory is activated, other parts that are associated with that memory are partly activated as well. "