Sunday, September 14, 2008

NO MORE EXCUSES: 12 I NEED TO SEE



I have never thought of the long-running series of SLIFR quizzes that have become a fixture of this blog as memes in the strictest sense. They have always resided here on this page and those who have participated have had to come and get it—oftentimes the quiz-takers have opted to post their answers on their own blogs, but that was never a requirement or suggestion, just a happy outcome which provides further linkage to a lot of other blogs well worth reading. As I understand it, memes are questions or a series of questions sent to a specific person or group of people, who then answer the questions, either at the host’s site or on their own, and then “tag” five or six or ten other people to answer the same questions, presumably people whose answers they would find most interesting/fascinating/curiosity-inspiring. I don’t get tagged with many of these, but when I do it’s usually a pretty challenging question, one that I like to take my time answering. Well, a couple of weeks ago SLIFR reader Joseph B., himself the proprietor of It’saMadMadBlog2, honored me with a tag and the challenge of a good question indeed:

What are 12 Movies I’ve Never Seen and Desperately Want to See?

Well, as happens with memes of this type, the original intent of the question tends to get warped to the participant’s own special purposes, and so it is here. Joseph’s original question included the qualifier that the movies on your list should be ones that are virtually impossible to find. Whether through confessional compulsion or sheer masochism, I bristled at that part of the question because it seemed like an easy out to me—if the important films for me that I haven’t seen are virtually impossible to find, well, then it can hardly be my fault if I haven’t seen them, can it? As it turns out, with maybe one exception, the movies I came up with—off the top of my head and with no reference to lists of any kind—are all movies that are easily (or less easily) available on DVD, either at Best Buy, through Netflix or one of many outré video outlets on the Internet. It’s nobody’s fault but my own that I have not yet found time or opportunity to see them, because the desire is definitely there. These are all movies that most people who know me or my taste in films would be surprised, perplexed or out-and-out confused to find out haven’t yet managed time in my DVD player, as they all (with, again, perhaps one notable exception) are of genres or areas of interest that occupy large chunks of real estate in my cinema wheelhouse.

All right, to the movies.


Ben-Hur (1959; William Wyler)
I’ve never felt an urgent need to see Wyler’s Oscar-winning epic, even though I’ve always wanted to. (What are you scribbling on that pad, Doctor?) I once borrowed the DVD from a friend, kept it for over two years, then returned it to him unwatched. I fear I would do the same if I ever rented it from Netflix. Can anyone convince me to pick up this movie and watch it right now?


Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965; Russ Meyer)
I’ve already confessed having never seen this one in my Dr. Smith Answers, but it’s so iconic that I’m feeling guiltier about this hole in my cinematic education (pneumatic division) as each year passes. No less an authority than Russ Meyer himself recommended it—he was serving popcorn at the old Vagabond Theater off of Macarthur Park in Downtown L.A. when I took my soon-to-be-wife to a double bill of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Cherry, Harry and Raquel, and I asked him which one of his movies I should see right away. He responded with FPKK. Any right-thinking person would have gone out and rented it that very next night. Some 16 years later, I am still delinquent in my responsibility.


God’s Angry Man (1980; Werner Herzog)
This documentary nugget about the oddball televangelist/curmudgeon Dr. Gene Scott, from the oeuvre of the German New Wave’s most durable icon, has been on my must-see list for years. Incredibly, one of my other favorite film directors e-mailed me one day a couple of years ago with a web address where I could find it. I ordered it as soon as I finished this post, and you can too!)


Hickey and Boggs (1972; Robert Culp)
I remember seeing part of this well-regarded thriller, a reteaming of the Culp/Cosby I Spy team in a much different, hard-boiled, sun-scorched noir context (with a script by Walter Hill), on Cinemax in a motel room one night. But as badly as I wanted to stay awake, I simply could not. I’ve never run into it since, and the DVD that’s available looks, to be generous, like it would not be of optimum quality.


High School (1968; Fredrick Wiseman)
I’ll never forget reading Pauline Kael’s review of this movie 30 or so years ago, in her Deeper into Movies collection, if I’m not mistaken, and thinking I’d probably never get a chance to see it. In the intervening years my interest in documentaries has only increased, and now would seem to be the perfect time to seek out High School and all the other important films made by this pioneering verite filmmaker, many of which are available from Zipporah Films.


I Vitelloni (1953; Federico Fellini)
Of all the films on this list, it’s this one that I’m most embarrassed to admit having never seen. What else can I say?


Mad Love (1935; Karl Freund)
All Karl Freund did before fleeing Germany in the early ‘30s was shoot 70-some movies, including The Golem, The Last Laugh and Metropolis before coming to Hollywood and doing the same for Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) and countless other features (before ending up as the cinematographer on I Love Lucy). His career as a cinematographer was punctuated by a brief run as a director—he made the unfathomably creepy Boris Karloff version of The Mummy (1932) for Universal, and ended in 1935 with this Peter Lorre movie, made famous to me and most of my generation through the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland.


Masculin Feminin (1966; Jean-Luc Godard)
There are many Godard films I haven’t seen. Of the ones I haven’t, it pains me most to have this one still gone missing.


Putney Swope (1969; Robert Downey, Sr.)
I was fascinated by the ads for this movie that ran in the movie pages of the Portland Oregonian, partly because it was rated X, and partly because I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what it might be about. Though I know now what the subject matter is, there’s still an air of mystery for me about this movie and what it might feel like. I look forward to solving that mystery soon.


Ulzana’s Raid (1971; Robert Aldrich)
During the heady days of the Robert Aldrich Blog-a-Thon I had hoped Matt Zoller Seitz was going to write about Ulzana’s Raid, a preamble to my finally getting hold of the film and seeing it. Matt ended up writing about Kiss Me Deadly, and I still haven’t seen Ulzana’s Raid. Coincidence? You make the call…


The Way We Were (1973; Sydney Pollack)
One of those ’70s movies that has always eluded me—I figured the Mad movie satire would be good enough, thank you very much, and never wrung my hands much over this particular oversight. But then Sydney Pollack went and died last year and got me thinking about the scads of movies of his I hadn’t seen-- The Scalphunters, Castle Keep, Jeremiah Johnson-- and I realized that I really did want to see The Way We Were someday. I mean, I saw Havana (and I liked it), but I hadn’t seen this one?


White Heat (1949; Raoul Walsh)
Okay, maybe I’m just as embarrassed to admit I haven’t seen this one as I am about not having seen the Fellini movie. And I can’t possibly hold nearly 70 years of Cagney parodies against this picture—it just looks too damned raw, too damned nasty, too damned good. There really are no more excuses.

***********************************************************************************

And now the tagging. I would love to see a list from anyone who would care to deposit it in the comments column, to be sure, but since it is the rule of the game I must tag five people to come up with 12 titles too. So here I go, tagging away. I wanna see what kinds of unseen movies would make the list of the following 10 (so sue me) film folks, whose viewing habits and backlog of cinematic experience are so rich and varied and scholarly as to make the exposure of the little blots and shadows on their viewing records even more fascinating:

Larry Aydlette Welcome to L.A.

Campaspe Self-Styled Siren

Brian Doan Bubblegum Aesthetics

Jim Emerson Scanners

Jonathan Lapper Cinema Styles

Kimberly Lindbergs Cinebeats

Paul Matwychuk The Moviegoer

Kim Morgan Sunset Gun

Peter Nellhaus Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee

Bill R. The Kind of Face You Hate

50 comments:

Jonathan Lapper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Lapper said...

Sorry, the first deleted comment was me. Some seriously distracting typos going on in that one. Here it is again, corrected.

I cannot convince you to see Ben-Hur as I have never liked it. For me, it's drama is tepid and boring, but it does have two great setpieces: The sea battle and the chariot race. I love the sea battle because of the awesome minatures and great pacing. Then there's the chariot race. If you've ever seen small clips of it it's not the same as seeing the whole thing. It's an amazing scene and it's a wonder that several people didn't die during its filming. That scene is what got it Best Picture, no doubt in my mind. Now if you could just excise everything that surrounds it, it'd be a great short subject.

White Heat I can recommend but then I love pretty much anything with Cagney.

And thanks for the tag. I shall endeavor to get a response up soon, but can't guarantee when.

bill r. said...

Oh, goodness, my first tag! My own post on this should be easy enough (well, the choosing of the films should be, at least). I'm just not sure I know enough bloggers to tag who haven't already been tagged. I really only know about five, and you and Jonathan are two of them...so sad...

I'll do the post anyway, but I may be a dead end as far as the links go.

White Heat is unbelievably great. It is as nasty and crazy and entertaining as you think it is, and Cagney gives, without question, one of the top screen performances of all time. He's so funny and horrible and pitiful, often all in the same scene. Mesmerizing.

Marty McKee said...

HICKEY & BOGGS has been running a lot on the MGM HD channel in a terrific-looking print.

Flickhead said...

I remember finally getting around to Ben Hur out of obligation nearly thirty years ago in a theater in San Francisco. When it came to an end, all I could think was, "Whew! I'm glad that's over with."

Campaspe said...

Oh lord I HATE admitting what I haven't seen, because it is vast. And embarrassing. And every damn day on my blog, my commenters remind me of stuff I want to see.

Is it cheating to just list a bunch of Borzages? probably...

But D., White Heat! If you don't love it I will eat my husband's complete "Man with No Name Trilogy" including the display box. It's a fine, fine movie. Hasn't dated at all in my view, the parodies can't dim it.

krauthammer said...

Totally agree with Jonathan re: Ben Hur & White Heat. Masculine Feminine is on my top ten easily,But I suppose it depends on the Godard you’ve seen, and how you liked those. It’s often absurd and delightful, with blatent experimentation with the form (especially some of the conversations) and a distinct undertone (and sometimes overtones) of despair. I love this movie.

Kimberly said...

Good grief! There are LOTS of films I need to see. Some I should probably see just because I assume I should (just about every Oscar winning film in the past 10 years or more) and then there are all the films I've been desperate to see and can't seem to find or make the time for. My list is endless but I shall try to narrow it down to a Top 12 for you Dennis! We may even share a title since I'm dying to see High School. Wiseman's Titicut Follies is one of my favorite documentaries but I've never managed to see anymore of his films.

I can't recommend Faster Pussycat and Mad Love enough! I also love White Heat and Masculin Feminin, but the last one might be a required taste.

I happen to really like The Way We Were too. It must be the sappy romantic in me but it's one of my favorite Sydney Pollack films and I always weep like a baby at the end. I first saw it when I was just a kid and I didn't know anything about McCarthyism before seeing it so the film probably has some sentimental attachment for me.

And lastly, I'm with the opinions above me in regards to Ben Hur. The film puts me to sleep (YAWN!) but then again, so do most Bible epics.

Driveindude said...

Wow, sorta feel outta place adding a comment here but I take a tiny issue with the minor slams that Ben Hur has been getting. Yes it very over drammatic, but it's a product of the 50's.

Yet it is a very well made film with some of era's great actors looking beautiful and in their prime.

I also happened to finally see it at the glorious Cinerama Dome during a short two week run celebrating the film's restoration at the hands of the UCLA film preservation society back in 1993.

The film looked so beautiful and fresh you could almost swear it was made yesterday, in 1993 terms!

That's my comment. I'll slink away now!

Nate Y. said...

I recommend Mad Love quite a lot. It's one of the truly brilliant films of the 1930s -- a wonderfully grotesque Gothic melodrama with a very modern sensibility (and by modern, I mean perverse).

I'd be interested to see what you think of it.

bill r. said...

Oh yeah, Mad Love! I forgot to mention that one. I'm with Nate: it's perverse, black little movie that, while it occasionally shows its seams, really holds up well. I watched it for the first time in years just a few weeks ago. Lorre is extraordinary. There is absolutely no one today who can so effortlessly pull off that sort of creepy, scary pathos like he could.

Paul Matwychuk said...

I have to add my voice to the chorus of people who've always wanted to see MAD LOVE, a film I've been intrigued by ever since I was 10 and saw a still of Peter Lorre, bug-eyed, clean-shaven, and creepy-looking, in a book about horror movies I'd checked out of the public library.

The titles that immediately come to mind when I think of the movies I've always wanted to see tend to fall into two general categories. There are the movies that I want to see out of a desire to improve my knowledge of world cinema: I know I need to see more Dreyer (I've only ever seen THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC), more Ozu (I've only seen TOKYO STORY and GOOD MORNING), more Naruse (haven't seen any), more Tarkovsky (I've only seen THE SACRIFICE).

Then there the films I want to see out of some sense of morbid curiosity. These are transgressive films like Pasoini's SALO, or CALIGULA, or MANDINGO (which I'm especially anxious to see after reading your essay about it, Dennis), or the holy grail of "unseeable" films, Jerry Lewis' THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED.

Let's see... what else. As an Altman fan, I'd love to cross H.E.A.L.T.H. and QUINTET off my list, even though both titles are widely hated. Something tells me I'd like SCARECROW, the Gene Hackman/Al Pacino picture from the early ’70s. I need to see more Orson Welles movies like MR. ARKADIN, THE TRIAL, and CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT.

I've liked every Peckinpah movie I've seen so far, so I want to investigate his work further—especially since I've still got some key films to take care of, like RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY and PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, before I move onto THE KILLER ELITE or CROSS OF IRON or CONVOY.

I've never seen a single John Cassavetes movie, which is a huge gap in my filmgoing knowledge. I guess A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE would be a good one to start with, right?

Larry Aydlette said...

Why are you always assigning homework! Do you secretly want to be a teacher or something? OK, I'll get to it soon...I swear, teach!

Robert H. said...

Just recently watched PUTNEY SWOPE... some of it is dated, but a lot still holds up. Liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

Joseph B. said...

Great list, Dennis. Thanks for participating. Now, spend less time with blog memes and get to watching these 12 films!

Peter Nellhaus said...

I've seen eight of your twelve, Dennis. I fell asleep during the chariot race the last time I tried to give Ben-Hur a chance. Another vote for Walsh and Godard. I also recommend the Aldrich but make it is quite violent. Also the Fellini was an inspiration for Scorsese and fun to watch as well.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Hi, all. I just spent nearly a half hour writing a comment to all of you, and just as I was about to post it, Internet Explorer chose that moment to wink out on me, obliterating everything I'd written. And I'm just too tired, after spending a day in kindergarten and four hours in L.A./Orange County rush hour traffic this evening, to start afresh. (Gotta get up early tomorrow too.) I promise I will return to the scene of the crime tomorrow and refashion my no-doubt-brilliant blathering, this time in Word.

But I can't resist tweaking your curiosity a bit, Campaspe-- your blind spot re Borzage is about to be illuminated. More when I get back here tomorrow!

And dammit, I'm moving White Heat to the top of my Netflix queue right now.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Okay, I've put mine up on my blog (and conveniently given your blog a great new name). And I now know that everyone in the blogosphere agrees on White Heat and Ben Hur. Somehow I knew we all would. But seriously, with Ben-Hur just go to scene selection and watch the sea battle and the chariot race. No one here will ever hold it against you for not watching the rest of it. Uggghhh.

Jonathan Lapper said...

And re your comment being lost thanks to I.E. Install a free keylogger on your computer. You can download them in seconds. I've got one because there are many school papers and homework assignments that kids tend to not save properly and then panic because it's gone. So the key logger records everything typed onto the keyboard at all times (so if you're sharing a computer it will record your passwords as well). Lose a comment? Pull up the key logger and it's all there for you to copy and paste without having to write it again.

Jamie said...

man this is a good list. i'd like to add my thoughts and some movies i have always wanted to see as well.

first, love the addition of PUTNEY SWOPE, a movie i have also never seen and wanted to. it's also on netflix so i'm taking care of that right now. another downey sr. movie i've always wanted to see and never been able to find (even netflix can't help here) is GREASERS PALACE. anyone seen it? thoughts? another counter culture movie from that era i just took off my 'must see list' is MEDIUM COOL--which was really fantastic.

i like the addition of MASCULIN FEMININ (with the great poster to boot), this is a great movie what can i say. now i am a huge godard fan (especially his 60's films), so this is a must see. a critic of say paul shrader's weight counts it as godards best, and in the top ten most important films ever made. in terms of godard a movie i have never seen, and shamed to admit is 2 OR 3 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER. there is a rumor of a criterion release soon so i think i'll be able to see this one soon.

i can't say enough about HICKEY AND BOGGS it's an underrated gem, but as you noted the dvd that is out there is very, very poor. i also really like cosby in A PIECE OF THE ACTION and MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED, but i will admit i've never seen any I SPY, oh well.

i can't say enough about WHITE HEAT but i think it's reputation and other posters have said enough. it's a classic. another gangster movie i really wanted to see for a while and finally tracked down was THE GANGSTER (1947, G. Wiles) it's only on VHS at the moment (it meant me paying 18 dollars on amazon) but it's great. highly recommended.

a few others i've never seen but have always wanted to:

MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS, i know it just came out on criterion... i need to get on this.

DILLINGER IS DEAD (1969 M. Ferreri) finally found this on region 2 dvd... now i need a multi region dvd player.

DUEL, never seen this first real spielberg. heard it's very worthwhile, and it is very easy to find i've just never gotten around to it.

LONELY ARE THE BRAVE also only on vhs. have wanted to see it for years as i love kirk douglas. the picture in my head of what this movie is is similar to HUD (which is one of my favorite ten movies probably), so i really need to see this.

CAT PEOPLE (original) as a huge horror fan i am pretty uneducated on those val lewton pictures (i just saw the doc with scorsese) but now i really want to do something about that.

Geek Monkey said...

Dennis - I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Lapper and others concerning both BEN-HUR and WHITE HEAT, and although others have already espoused their love for it, I just wanted to single out MAD LOVE. I had the honor/privilege years ago of seeing it screened and dissected by author and critic Arthur Lennig. He more than anyone helped shaped my love of films, and MAD LOVE was one of the (many) tools he used to do it.

The Mysterious Ad)ri.an B(e;ta[m.a.x. said...

Don't let another Godard slip into this category. Watch the brand-new Godard film premiering on my Cahier2Cinéma site now! :)
(And let's discuss reactions.)

Jacob said...

Hey Dennis,

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but people can see God's Angry Man for free, right here at Filmschatten:

http://filmschatten.blogspot.com/2008/07/gods-angry-man-glaube-und-whrung-dr.html

I don't know how long it will be up, but that video has been up for quite a while. There is a lot of free content on that wondereful blog (not all of it is awesome though), and it's worth checking out.

Alex Jackson said...

Love the idea. I'm oftentimes hella insecure about how much I've seen and knowing that I've seen four out of those 12 (Putney Swope, Masculin/Feminin, Mad Love, and Ben Hur) and considering how much you have watched Dennis, I feel a lot better about my lack of movie viewing experience. One out of three ain't half-bad!

Here's my twelve:

-Anything by Max Ophuls (kind of cheat, but he seems to have been largely unavailable on DVD)
-Chimes at Midnight (would if I could)
-White Heat (yeah, need to see this already)
-Rules of the Game
-Children of Paradise
-Fitzcaraldo
-Pinnochio (most of the Disney classics, but this one in particular)
-Bambi (ditto)
-The Incredible Shrinking Man
-Ordet
-Day of Wrath
-3 Women

Ben-Hur is not really worth seeing. Pretty dull. I found Putney Swope and Mad Love too uneven to really completely get behind, but they do have a certain something and I would recommend them both.

Masculin/Feminin really is terrific though. Definitely one of Godard's very best. Just bought this one off ebay not too long ago actually.

Brian Doan said...

Dennis,
My list is here. Thanks for tagging me!

Moviezzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimberly said...

The task has been completed and my list can be found here.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I did my list a couple of days ago.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Oh, and I've already commented on both of their lists as well as Brian's - And I didn't even tag them. Come on Cozzalio get with the program.

bill r. said...

Dennis, my list is up, if you're interested...

http://wwwbillblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/12.html

bill r. said...

Sorry, I don't know how to do that fancy embedding-the-link-in-words thing in comments...

Peter Nellhaus said...

You mean like this, Bill?

Jonathan Lapper said...

I think he means like this Peter.

Or maybe he means like this.

Oh, I could do this all night.

Rick Olson said...

I think he means like this. But hey: I hate self promotion.

bill r. said...

Oh, sure, make fun of the dumb guy. You guys suck!

Driveindude said...

Where's that long awaited posting you've been promising Dennis?

Patrick said...

I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that it took me a good long while to come up with this list; either way, here it is. In no particular order:

Deep End. I've wanted to see this since I first read about it in Danny Peary's Cult Movies. The brief clips I've seen on YouTube only whetted my appetite. Any idea why this isn't available?

The Best Years Of Our Lives. One of those Tremendous Achievements in Cinema that I think I'd have to be in just the right mood to watch.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. I'm reading Sloan Wilson's novel for the first time and enjoying it; I can only imagine that Gregory Peck in the title role will make it even better.

The Late Show. I bought this for two bucks based on the cast (Art Carney, Lily Tomlin) and director (Robert Benton), and everything I've read about it makes it sound terrific. And yet I still haven't watched it. What's wrong with me?

Grey Gardens. I've had enough people whose opinions I respect tell me I'd enjoy this that I'm pretty sure I would.

Salesman. I actually watched the first twenty minutes of this, but the DVD was damaged and quit on me.

California Split. This is the one '70s Altman I haven't seen that I'm dying to see - one day at a time. (Not so eager to get to Images or Buffalo Bill & the Indians.)

The Diane Linklater Story. Early John Waters. Enough said.

Drive, He Said. Aside from the fact that it was directed by a young Jack Nicholson, I know nothing about this. I'd like to keep it that way as best I can, and watch it with a wholly naive eye.

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang. Another one of those Tremendous Achievements, but this one I'm more interested in seeing for the story, rather than edification on cinema.

Vanishing Point. I'd only seen clips of this in The Celluloid Closet, which didn't have me sprinting to my local movie emporium. But other things I've read, plus (I'll confess) Tarantino's nattering in Death Proof, has piqued my curiosity.

Destry Rides Again. Dietrich. Stewart. Amen.

jim emerson said...

Yargh! Not only did I just learn, after 11 pm, that I've almost missed National Talk Like A Pirate Day, but I come to visit SLIFR for the first time since I got back from Toronto to find I have been tagged! (But really, at this moment I am so in love with your daughter's Martin Balsam costume that I can barely type.) I will get to it soon as I can. Thanks, Dennis!

aaron said...

I second (or third, or forth, or however many other posts have mentioned it so far) HICKEY & BOGGS, even if it proved a sour experience for Walter Hill (I believe he was re-written extensively).

Some supplementary material once you do: "Movie Talk from the Front Lines", by Steven Gaydos and Jerry Roberts. There's quite a lengthy interview with director/star Culp, and it's almost all he talks about.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Okay, let me try this again (I am typing in Word this time, just to be sure)…

First, as you may have deduced from my miniscule output of late, I’m finding that student-teaching kindergarten by day and working my day job at night, plus trying to wrangle kids and sock away some family time, is more taxing and time-consuming than I thought. I do promise that I actually do have some things to write about (their level of actual interest is, as always, in the eye of the beholder), but it’s just more difficult than usual right now to chip away an opportunity to do so.

Marty: Oh, if I only had MGM HD (or, more to the point, an HDTV!) Would it be too much to ask/hope that the appearance of the movie on this network might herald the upcoming appearance of Hickey and Boggs on a legit MGM/Fox DVD? I’ve hoped for a lot less in the past than that…

Jonathan, Bill, Flickhead: I’m afraid I’m all too inclined to give in to my presumptions, and your assessments of Ben-Hur as a spotty piece of epic filmmaking. I still wanna give it a try, but my commitment to it is very much in line with Ray’s sense of historical obligation as opposed to any strong desire to actually see it. White Heat, however, is top of the world on my Netflix queue now, which will really mean something once I actually see the three movies I’ve had in my possession for over a month now. (Dammit.)

And to Jonathan, Brian, Paul and Peter, many sincere apologies for not yet having commented on your lists at your own sites (I did ask, after all!) They are, without exception, much more interesting lists than mine. And Patrick, we gotta talk California Split! It’s absolutely great, but see it in a theater if you get the chance—the DVD was apparently altered slightly and cut to avoid music rights issues. Also, don’t be afraid of Buffalo Bill and the Indians…-- it’s one of Altman’s most underrated and underappreciated gems—it tickles me that he got that one out during the bicentennial!

The only person who I’ve had time to visit and comment all proper-like is Kimberly who, as I hoped she would, came through with a spectacular list of treats, none of which I have seen, some of which I have heard of, and all of which sound intriguing. As I said on your site, Kimberly, your list encapsulates precisely why I asked you to participate, because I knew you’d challenge me and open up new avenues and artists to my eyes. In a nutshell, that’s precisely why I love your site in general.

Campaspe: No need to eat that Leone box! Keep it! Treasure it! Also, re Borzage, we have been going through a LOT of early Borzage stuff for what I’m presuming is an upcoming box set along the lines of the Ford at Fox spectacular (or maybe it’s just a series of individual releases—seems less likely than a box, but I just don’t know. There may even be some info floating around about this by now, I’m not sure. ) But either way, it looks like you’re going to get your chance to fill in that blank in your experience very soon. Some of the ones I worked on were Liliom, Song o’ My Heart, Bad Girl and the Will Rogers starrer They Had to See Paris. Liliom, in particular, was lovely and visually magnificent. Also, many thanks for the mention in your contribution for the recent issue of Cineaste. That meant a lot to me, especially coming from you.

Krauthammer: My current favorite Godard is Pierrot le fou, and I’m going to get a chance to see Vivre sa vie on the big screen in the next couple, of weeks—I’ve been trying to see as many of the Godard rereleases on the big screen as possible (though I did miss Contempt). I’ll let you know when I finally catch up with Masculin Feminin.

Bill, Nate: And Mad Love is one of those movies that get some of the highest raised eyebrows when I admit I haven’t seen it. I just can’t figure out how I’ve missed it so far. But I’m so looking forward to it, and I think that all I read about it as a kid has finally slipped through my mental sieve so I probably can approach it relatively freshly. DON’T TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT IT! Lorre’s not bald or anything in it, is he?

Paul: As one Altman fan to another, I’d be interested in hearing your reactions to H.E.A.L.T.H., a movie I’ve always quite liked (though it’s not in the same league as its thematic/stylistic cousins in the Altman oeuvre, Nashville or even Brewster McCloud.) I drove seven hours during the winter from my Oregon hometown to see it in Portland when it played there around 1981, so of course I loved it! My reaction was more muted when I came across it (cropped) on cable years later, and I’d love to compare notes with you if and when we ever get to see it again. As for Quintet, a movie I hated when I saw in theatrically, I actually liked it a little better when I did the subtitles for the recent DVD release. Which is still not to say it’s a good movie—it’s easily Altman’s most perversely pretentious and incoherent work. But it’s more entertaining (often because of the fact that it doesn’t hold together) than I was willing to admit back in 1979.

And I realize this is close to heresy in some quarters, but with the exception of Love Streams and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, I remain underwhelmed by Cassavetes as a director (I feel like Husbands may be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.)

Peter: I know I’ll love the Fellini—there’s just too much precedent for me to think otherwise, particularly about his movies from this period. And I suspect I’ll feel equally taken by Ulzana’s Raid-- I don’t know exactly why I keyed into Aldrich’s sensibility to the degree I have over the last four or five years, but I have (it’s a little frightening, actually!), and I look forward to the grueling experience that likely lies in wait for me with that movie.

Patrick: Just by coincidence, I recently saw both Grey Gardens and Salesman. Both were fascinating, but I’m afraid I’ve got some of the well-explored issues about exploitation with Grey Gardens. Salesman, however, is absolutely heartbreaking.

Aaron: thanks for the tip and info on Hickey and Boggs. And like a jackass I just realized, I don’t think I ever thanked you for the birthday package you sent me—the Pauline Kael interview was very keen, and I am forever in your debt for Matinee (and Mant!). You are aces. Thank you a hundred times over! (By the way, my daughters and I are seeing Explorers next Sunday at the New Beverly! I will say hi to Joe for you if I see him!)

Jim: That picture just bowled me over too! I’m glad it tickled someone else as much as it did me! And as with Kimberly and everyone I tagged, I really look forward to seeing what you come up with because I know I’m going to learn something and have even more dark, cobwebby corners of my own experience exposed as a result, on top of a wave of inspiration to seek out more great films. I hope Toronto was rewarding and fun! And how’s Frances?

Okay, guys and dolls, I promise to do some actual writing this week, even if it kills me (and it might—just getting that guilt trip thing early in case I forget!) Thanks for sticking with me.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Working day and night, with a family at home? I understand more than you know, alternating time between my job, gallery work with my wife and chaotic family life at home. It's not easy, but that's so great that you're student teaching kindergarten Dennis. I bet the kids all love you.

Jamie said...

good to hear 'Pierrot le fou' is your current Godard right now, if i had to pick one that would probably be my favorite Godard as well. is Krauthammer the resident Godard buff around here? if so i'd love to know if he/she has a blog.


off topic, but on the topic of 'movies i've always wanted to see but never been lucky enough too' i checked 'johnny guitar' off that list last night. for commenters here that are chicagoians and have cable/on demand service (it's comes free with cable i believe), it's a free rental for the next few weeks. it looks fantastic, i was so excited i taped it as well. as for the movie? as great as i expected.

Campaspe said...

Dennis, to my dismay the Borzage/Murnau set will probably cost around $240 retail. I guess I will have to say nice things about Fox between now and Christmas in hopes some flack will take pity and comp me one!

Bob Cumbow said...

I guess I'm the only responder with a 50s sensibility. I like a lot about BEN-HUR besides the two big action pieces. I like the literate writing. I like the costumes and sets. I like the composition. I love the music. I like seeing lots of great British actors in bit parts. I even like the corny, overheated dramatics. I like spotting the ways in which it influenced peplums and spaghetti westerns. This is what's known as a guilty pleasure. I watch this film at least once every year. I admit it's too long--but only by about 20 minutes in my book.

Bob Cumbow

krauthammer said...

Jamie, I'm by no means an expert in Godard but I am a great fan. And no, I don't have a blog, I'm saving that up for when I get, you know, good at writing.

Campaspe said...

Dennis, my meme is up. And I realized I needed to come back and say that the silent Ben Hur is the one to see. It's quite brilliant.

The Wyler--well, we all know I love Wyler but it's a type of movie I don't relate to well, and the love interest is a drip. But Bob Cumbow has a point, despite my having dissed this movie in the Worst of the Best Picture Oscar poll. It has great visual flair and despite its length I would definitely argue that it moves much, much better than most modern popcorn movies of similar length. In addition to the sea battle and chariot race, watch for Stephen Boyd's last scene, one of the most pitiless of the era. I also like some smaller moments, like Ben-Hur meeting the horses. The horses are even more beautiful than Charlton Heston.

bill r. said...

Krauthammer - Crap. That's what I should have done.

Campaspe and Bob (and Dennis) - I'm glad to see at least some qualified love for Ben-Hur (Dennis, you seem to have placed me in the "don't like Ben-Hur camp by mistake...). It's been so long since I've seen it that I'm not able to mount much of a defense, beyond praising Heston, Boyd, and the chariot race, the latter of which nobody doesn't like. Anyway, I'll have to check it out again.

Maybe another good meme to circulate around would be a list of twelve (or whatever) classic or generally well-regarded films we think we'll probably hate.

Driveindude said...

I'm glad I'm finally not alone in the love-praise for BEN HUR!

MovieMan0283 said...

Dennis,

One quick note: one of the rules of this "meme" (which was quickly lost in the shuffle in several places) was that you credit my blog for starting the ball rolling. Here's the link:

http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2008/08/another-dirty-dozen.html

(You can also follow that link to 2 others that I hoped people would tag: Out 1 & Lazy Eye Theatre, which led me to start this list in the first place).

Anyway, thanks for participating; you have some great selections on here - in particular, Masculin Feminin, White Heat, I vitelloni, and Ben-Hur are/have been among my favorite films of all time.

Glad this exercise led me to your site...keep up the good work.

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