Friday, February 12, 2010

A Challenge

Well, not one, but two of my blogger pals (both of my Stephens) have tagged me on this, so I suppose I should respond. But first - a note about yesterday.

On New Year's Eve, Uncle P slipped in the inch of snow we got here in Southeastern PA (well before the two major storms this week) and did a number on my back. Not long after, I had the infamous Kitchen Disaster of 2010, which only served to exacerbate the problem. Add two more major snowstorms and no time to really heal, and I now have a chronic back issue. Currently, my GP is treating me with meds (a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory and a pain killer). Yesterday (and the day before) were snow days at my day job, so while I had time off, I still had to dig out. By 6:00 PM Eastern time, I was in absolute agony and couldn't imagine sitting for an hour or more to post, so I didn't. I took today off and am feeling a little better, but still not nearly 100%. Add that to discovery that SyFy choose a screenplay entitled Sharktopus (I swear to God) over mine, and I was in no mood to blog last night.

Be that as it may, from Stephen Rader at Are You There Blog? It's Me, Stephen and Stephen in Oregon of Post Apocalyptic Bohemian comes this "challenge":

Name three classic movie moments that have, in some shape or form, made you buy things, do things or think things that perhaps you shouldn't have.

Hmmm... As influential as film has been on my life, I honestly cannot think of anything that any movie has done any of these three things to me. I can however, name at least three films that have influenced me in other ways.

Of course, the movie that made me love movies is a childhood (and adult) favorite, the original 1933 version of King Kong. Watching it every time I could catch it on TV (usually on UHF - a concept totally alien to most modern TV audiences), King Kong taught me that anything was possible in the movies: Giant gorillas could defeat dinosaurs in battle; true love saves the day; exploitation is bad and even animals have feelings. Merian C. Cooper's masterpiece stands the test of time and even 77 years later, it holds up as both a thrilling adventure and an allegorical love story:

It wasn't until I was a bit older, that I discovered the power of Silent Films. And while there are many great ones (Potemkin; Modern Times; The Birth of a Nation), none had as great an influence on me as Fritz Lang's masterpiece, Metropolis. Lang's 1927 Sci-Fi landmark used then state-of-the-art special effects to tell the story of exploited workers under the thumb of an elitist regime of wealthy industrialists using plebeians to carry out their dirty work. Metropolis may well be the first movie that made me understand the plight of the "Common Man," while instilling in me a fascination for in-camera special effects. In the 1980's, composer Georgio Moroder combined known footage with a few "lost" stills to create a more comprehensive version of the film with a modern soundtrack. More recently, additional footage was found in South America, and a "new" version is set for release later this year. Metropolis remains one of the most effective visions of a dystopian nightmare ever committed to celluloid:

Finally, a movie I didn't actually see all of until I was in my 20's, Singin' in the Rain may well be the best movie musical ever made. Starring a very young Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Conner and the amazingly athletic dancer Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain is the movie that made me fall in lve with movies all over again. Not only does it tell the story of technology changing the industry (something we are seeing now with the overrated Avatar), its also a very human story about actors and what they have to go through to make it in the most competitive industry in the world. Seeing it all the way through for the first time was an almost revelatory experience.

I could probably go on and on about the movies that have influenced my take on the world (such a list would probably take forever), but these are the first three I could come up with that had a major influence on not only how I view film, but the world, itself. And of course, it doesn't include my favorite movie of all time, the Howard Hawkes masterpiece Bringing Up Baby, an underrated (at the time) comic gem that should make every screenwriter take notice:

So, while I can't imagine any movie that made me do, buy or think something I shouldn't have; I can certainly imagine hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of movies of that influenced my love of the medium.

More, anon.

PS - This list does not include any of Peter Bogdanovich's comedies from the 70's, which I will expound upon, anon.



Stephen said...

Thanks for doing the challange...
I am so sorry that you are suffering & I am sending you all my warmth, white light & best wishes.

I was acquaintances with Fay Wray in the early 1970s. Remind me to tell you about it... or maybe I will do a future post.

& fuck SyFy!

Stephen R. said...

I need to talk to my mother, because after reading this, I'm SURE that we are long, lost twins!!! The more I learn about you, the more I love!!!

SINGING IN THE RAIN!!! BRINGING UP BABY!!! Two of the funniest movies ever.

"I gave an exclusive interview to every newspaper in town." - - Classic!!!

antonbrand said...

You using my drill sergeant picture without permission. Please take it down or give me credit: Anton Brand

Thank you

Prospero said...

Anton, since the photo is stamped "Stock Photos," that means its in Public Domain. I have published your comment, however.