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Agree, or disagree? Or should we even care?

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klondike

Agree, or disagree? Or should we even care?

Postby klondike » May 4th, 2008, 8:31 am

Check out the feature running as a banner article on MSN this morning r.e. Top Ten Overrated Movies: The Unclassics; although I generally tend to discredit this sort of "criticism by commitee", I felt this often sophomoric rundown did make at least a few salient points . . though probably none them are particularly new.
So what ya'll think of these purported conclusions?
Personally, I feel that Easy Rider & Guess who's Coming to Dinner are the two films most undeserving of being anywhere on this list, but my judgement here might be more than a little biased.
Where do you draw the line?
10 Movies That Deserve To Be Downgraded
-Klondike
Last edited by klondike on May 4th, 2008, 6:43 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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moira finnie
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Postby moira finnie » May 4th, 2008, 12:50 pm

Okay, I'll say it. I hate lists. Great movies, great books, the best actor, the prettiest actress, the worst, the ugliest...they seem pretty arbitrary because it's all subjective. I also find so much more to enjoy in little known films—rather than just the blockbusters of any time—that I usually ignore lists whenever possible.

My attitude not withstanding, it seems that the world loves to codify stuff, especially movies. That confession is not intended in any way as a criticism of anyone's desire to make lists. If that's fun for you, great. But, speaking solely for my Sunday-morning-slightly-ragged self, I think the following might be put back on the shelf as curios, rather than classics. They reflected some of the delusions and hopes of their time, but now seem synthetic to me. Many of the ones that I'd pick as non-classics might be very meaningful to others, and I think all of them qualify as interesting time capsules for the attitudes in the movies.

Not so classic:
Love Story: There are some nice shots of Cambridge and a cranky Ray Milland and John Marley are better than no good actors at all in this movie.

All the King's Men: I love Broderick Crawford. Just not in this "important" film. And too much John Ireland & Mercedes McCambridge for me--though I know others enjoy these actors very much. A Face in the Crowd and other films were better when it came to showing politics and corruption. That said, I really like Anne Seymour as Willie Stark's educated wife. Her warmth and quiet authority makes her small roles special for me.
Image
Anne Seymour keeps her own counsel, letting hubby Brod have his swelled head until it's much too late.

The Seven Year Itch: mechanical, sleazy and how in heck did Tom Ewell ever get into show biz? Billy Wilder at his most heartless and cynical. Sorry, I know there are Marilyn fans who'd disagree, but this is just creepy.

Easy Rider: though I realize that this was groundbreaking, I never want to see another movie that glamorizes being smug while condescending to "normal" people again. I also have a lifelong enmity for Dennis Hopper which I can't explain, but can't ignore. I actually like Nicholson & Fonda in some stuff they've done, though both can be terribly lazy, self-indulgent actors as well.

Fairly classic keepers:
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944): It's not the funniest movie ever made, but put it away, take it out after about two years, and you might find more laughs than you ever expected. Great cast, led by overly frantic but still likable Cary Grant.

Gentleman's Agreement: Peck, by his own admission was in over his head in this part, and couldn't bring the humor or ambiguity needed to leaven his role with some humanity. Anne Revere, Dean Stockwell, and especially Roy Roberts as the smoothly efficient resort manager who keeps the wheels of exclusivity well-oiled are swell. Never regret seeing any of them. Still, the one actor who makes this movie real instead of a dry, well-meaning liberal tract is John Garfield, who is splendid in his supporting role.
Image
Roy Roberts, one of the reasons for seeing this one, still.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Sure, it's flawed if well-meaning, but it was a signpost to the future of race relations in this country. Miscegenation, though a plot point in melodramas since the teens, was never the same after this big ol' highly commercial movie brought it out into the living room, even if there were cheesy sets in some scenes, sitcom acting in others. All redeemed by Spencer Tracy's last scene, ever. Oh, and let's not forget Beah Richards as the wondrous Sidney Poitier's mother.

Gone With the Wind: maybe not impressive if seen on home video. Go see it in a movie house sometime if you can. Not a great movie, but an engaging one & I've liked Vivien Leigh more in other films, esp. St. Martin's Lane & Waterloo Bridge. Should also be seen as the twisted history lesson it is in some context.

The Ten Commandments: Again, get thee to a revival house and see it on a big screen. Love the hokiness, Yul Brynner, Edward G. Robinson's "where's your God now, Moses, nyah, nyah?" routine, & the sheer spectacle of the goofy thing. Besides, other than the underrated but overlong Exodus (1960), few movies about Judaism really cross all lines to create the mass appeal of this movie. Part of our heritage & enormous fun. As to the late Heston's role, the 10 commandments don't seem to be the only thing carved of stone here, but I still enjoy looking at the guy. I don't have to like all his acting or political choices to appreciate his presence.
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Postby Mr. Arkadin » May 4th, 2008, 1:06 pm

While I'd rather talk about films I like than those I don't care for, I would agree with some of Fear's choices, namely Love Story, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Ten Commandments, and Easy Rider.

As for the rest, Gentlemen's Agreement has a fine understated performance by John Garfield, but in my eyes that is the only redeeming quality of the film.

All The King's Men should not have won Academy Awards. It's nowhere near as good as the book by a long stretch, but I do think Crawford and McCambridge are perfect embodiments of their literary sources.

The Seven Year Itch and Giant are not really my cup of tea, but that does not mean they are bad films. I haven't seen them more than once, so I will reserve judgment and defer to those who know the films better than I.

Gone With the Wind is an amazing piece of vision and scope. There are flaws, but the movie as a whole supercedes those parts. As for historical accuracy, if you are naive enough to get your history lessons from a film, you deserve whatever you get.

I also found it humorous that this person correctly labeled Arsenic and Old Lace as farce and then was unhappy with all the farcical qualities of the film. Yes, Grant uses deliberate wide expressions--it's intentional. I find the film funny, but then again I know what farcical comedy is.

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Postby Mr. Arkadin » May 4th, 2008, 1:11 pm

Wow Moira, looks like we posted our thoughts at the same time! Taste is pretty close as well. 8)

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classics

Postby melwalton » May 4th, 2008, 5:08 pm

Klondike

Enjoyed reading your post.
Agree or no with the content, the writing is superb.
'Course many will agree and many wont. I'd like to comment on a couple. 'Gentlemen's Agreement" was the most boring picture I ever sat through. I liked 'Arsenic and Old Lace' but more for the cast than the story. So many of my favorite actors Jack Carson, Edward E, Horton, John Alexander, Jimmy Gleason, Peter Lorre, Charles Lane.
I would have liked 'All the King's Men' more if the film had spent more time on Long's political career and less on his romance. But, then. Movies have to have a love story in order to make money.

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classics

Postby melwalton » May 4th, 2008, 6:12 pm

HI, Moira. Nice job of writing.

OK, I'll say it. I LIKE LISTS They make me rack my memory, such as it is. In listing favorite this or that, I don't just write the first thing that pops into my mind. I sometimes stare off into space for a length of time trying to remember, Good mental exercise, I enjoy it. I know these lists tell something about the compiler but I never remember who wrote what

I agree that many a film that doesn'L get the hoopla of a blockbuster is really a better film than many that do As the man said, 'I could write a book, But as you said about lists, it's all subjective.
While I got the floor, about the term 'Classic' Once upon a time ( another lifetime ago )_ classic meant something special ( as well as long hair music ) Then I learned on these sites that it means something relating to a time period as in classic movie. Now it seems to mean both. I know, I'm easily confused..
Your post was very interesting .... mel

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Postby Bogie » May 4th, 2008, 6:34 pm

Love Story is only a minor classic because of Al Gore's lie saying that the story was based on his life at the time.

BLAH...

The only movie on that list that I think needs to be downgraded is GIANT which is pretty blah to me which is strange because the idea behind DALLAS (my fave show ever) was based on that movie.

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Postby SSO Admins » May 4th, 2008, 7:54 pm

Bogie wrote:Love Story is only a minor classic because of Al Gore's lie saying that the story was based on his life at the time.


At least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,000 American soldiers aren't dead because of that "lie."

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Postby SSO Admins » May 4th, 2008, 8:00 pm

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner seems lame today but was a groundbreaking film in its time. But Tracy's last scene is heartbreaking, especially with Hepburn in the background crying. I get choked up at that every time.

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Postby Mr. Arkadin » May 4th, 2008, 8:15 pm

Actually, I think Patch of Blue (1965) achieved much more than GWCTD in the fact that we see a real multiracial relationship between a couple that explores not only societies outside views, but the interaction of the two people involved. There's also a legitimate kiss. No, they don't get married, but it's a much deeper film that goes beyond the surface issues GWCTD attempts to address. To top it all off its a superior film in every respect (in my opinion). As far as heartbreaking, forget the Kleenex--I need a roll of paper towels! 8)

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Postby charliechaplinfan » May 5th, 2008, 1:52 pm

Gone With The Wind and Arsenic and Old Lace are classics and should never be down graded.

I don't care for Giant, it's my least favorite James Dean movie.

The Seven Year Itch is a good looking film and Marilyn looks gorgeous in it but it's one of my least favorite Wilder films.

Easy Rider, although groundbreaking I'm past the point in my life where I find this kind of movie essential viewing.

Love Story
I never took to it, too saccharine for me.

I can't comment on the others but it does annoy me when we get told what we should and shouldn't like and what we should and shouldn't rate.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Essential like air and water...sure

Postby halcarter » May 5th, 2008, 7:28 pm

If some know-all process was developed to determine what separated “essential “movies from all other movies, I bet this list would include a lot of movies TCM does not have the rights to.

My opinion: The term “Essentials “, as employed by TCM, is an inexcusable exercise in chauvinism.

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Postby movieman1957 » May 5th, 2008, 8:32 pm

jondaris wrote:Guess Who's Coming to Dinner seems lame today but was a groundbreaking film in its time. But Tracy's last scene is heartbreaking, especially with Hepburn in the background crying. I get choked up at that every time.


I do too Jon. You get the sense Spencer is doing more than delivering lines. He's delivering experience. That scene and the scene where Sidney and his father going at it in the library are terrific. Those are the only two I care to see anymore.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."


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