[cb_profit_poster Acting]Clinton, S.C., Monday, November 25, 2013, 1:31 p.m.
I’m slogging through a biography of T.E. Lawrence by Michael Asher. I bought it several years ago because “Lawrence of Arabia” is my favorite movie.
The bio is entitled Lawrence: The Uncrowned King of Arabia. It’s going to take me a while to get through it, but I’m impressed by it. Lawrence was a fascinating, complex man, and I think David Lean’s film is the best ever made.
I love movies, particularly old ones. If you don’t like “Lawrence of Arabia,” watch it on a big screen, preferably in a theater. It’s an incredible cinematic accomplishment.
I used to have a Top 10 of favorite movies, but they add up over the years and get shuffled about. I really need to put more thought into this, but since I’ve got to get this blog done so that attend to more of the day’s duties, here goes:
(1.) Lawrence of Arabia. I doubt I’ve ever seen any actor in any movie as impressive as Peter O’Toole in this one.
(2.) Giant. My father loved it. Elizabeth Taylor was never more beautiful. The fight scene in the diner is one of my favorites.
(3.) Patton. Most movie dialogue that I can quote is from comedies. George C. Scott is overpowering. “I can assure you, Padre, because of my intimate relationship with the Almighty, that if you write a good prayer, we’ll have good weather!”
(4.) Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. The worst observation on our times that I can possibly make is that when this great Frank Capra film was remade, it starred Adam Sandler in the role made famous by Gary Cooper.
(5.) Little Big Man. Dustin Hoffman has never been better. This is sort of a Coen Brothers film that predated the Coen Brothers.
(6.) Pulp Fiction. Maybe the all-time ensemble cast.
(7.) Blazing Saddles. It’s hard to judge an outlandish comedy by the same standards of a Lean epic, but Mel Brooks deserves a place.
(8.) Crazy Heart. The movie wasn’t made until about 20 years after I read Thomas Cobb’s novel. When it was over, I wept a little because Bad Blake reminded me of my old man, who never picked up a guitar in his life.
(9.) The Grapes of Wrath. How we’ve lost as a society the sympathy for the downtrodden expressed in Steinbeck’s great novel. The cream of Henry Fonda’s impressive crop.
(10.) True Grit. The original, by a nose. The remake is really the better movie, but I love the first better because Glen Campbell is so bad, and it amuses me. The only flaw is what I liked best. Maybe my favorite movie line is John Wayne’s: “By God, she reminds me of me.”
By the way, yes, I love “Citizen Kane,” not to mention “Casablanca,” “Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Red River,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Goodfellas,” “Tender Mercies,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Stripes,” “Animal House,” “North by Northwest,” “Hoosiers,” “Pleasantville,” “Seabiscuit,” “American Beauty,” and dozens of others.
We all have our little preferences. “Fever Pitch” was just a harmless baseball movie, but the story, revolving around the 2004 Boston Red Sox, is so resonant that I could watch it once a week.
Some movies I thought were great but have little desire to watch them more than once. “Million Dollar Baby” and “Platoon” are examples.
My favorite actor may be Robert Duvall. My favorite actress was probably Katharine Hepburn. That’s a tough call, though, as I’m torn between Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Fonda, Robert DeNiro and Jeff Bridges on the male side. My preference for Hepburn is clearer among women.
Occasionally, I even watch a silent movie because it’s fascinating to watch how skillful filmmakers had to be telling a story without dialogue. Mostly I like the comedies.
I think I tilt toward old movies because I admire the craftsmanship of Lean, Capra, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and others. Nowadays it’s possible for a bad movie to be successful because its special effects are so incredible. I marvel at the way Ford’s films were shot.
My favorite sports film is “Bang the Drum Slowly.” My favorite racing movie is “The Last American Hero.” My favorite animated (okay, semi-animated) is “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” I don’t care for horror much.
Sometimes I fantasize about having one of my novels turned into a movie, but I’ve little writing in writing screenplays. I’m still trying to master novels.