So. Here we are. Stuck in the house for yet another day with just the same old same old…What to do? What can we do to ease the stress, ease the pain and the burden of another day in the house. Floors and bathrooms are clean. Furniture is dusted and polished. Already baked 12 loaves of bread, 5 ½ pounds of macaroni and gone through every cake mix in the pantry. Even put all the canned goods into alphabetical order! NOW WHAT!?
Hey! How about a movie. Flip through all the channels on the TV and you’ll find out that those 400 channels the cable company told you they give you are really about 10 channels, then the same ones in HD, more in Super HD, a few more in Ultra HD and so on. So that you really have about 25 channels to watch, and nothing is on. So, again, how about a movie?
In the past Hollywood was a beacon of light, producing films to bring us out of the doldrums and lift us up. Put us in a better collective mood. During the Great Depression there was Laurel and Hardy for example. During WWII we had Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and others who actually enlisted and served, while Bette Davis and Myrna Loy went on USO tours. Gable’s wife, Carol Lombard was killed in a plane crash on her way back from one of those tours. So, today there should be something, anything that we could turn to Hollywood for so we can get some relief, some distraction.
You see, I am an old movie buff thanks to my wife. Just mention Bette Davis and she will go off and explain each and every role that woman ever played, and tell you how great she was in it. Any time I have a question about a character, she has the answer. Not that she’s smug or anything, she just knows because she took the time to find out. So, here are just a few movies, older ones, classics all, to look for and watch to pass some time.
GONE WITH THE WIND
I had to list this one first. Not only is it a great movie, but it is a great DATE movie and at almost four hours long, it is a marvelous way to spend an afternoon. With a cast which includes a beautiful Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable (calm down ladies) in a role he was born to play, and (my personal favorite) Olivia De Havilland, this is a pretty realistic depiction of the pre-civil war south with all its glitz and glamour, chivalry and hard-headedness. This movie came out in 1939 which was the golden year for Hollywood and is most likely the best of a bunch of truly time honored classics which include The Wizard of Oz and Stagecoach among others.
YANKEE DOODLE DANDY
Have to admit, my favorite musical of all time. James Cagney stars as showman George M. Cohan. This movie follows Cohan’s life from his premier role as Peck’s Bad Boy to his triumphant return to Broadway in I’d Rather Be Right in which he depicted President Franklin Roosevelt. With a great supporting cast, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Jeanne Cagney and Rosemary De Camp, this is a vehicle to show off Cagney’s versatility and talent. Not many realize it but he was originally a song and dance man long before such great gangster roles in White Heat and Angels with Dirty Faces. A well written story with songs you will know and will be singing for a while after the movie is over.
THE GREAT ESCAPE
Based on the book by Paul Brickhill this story is based on an actual WWII POW escape from a German prison camp. Allied forces devised a scheme using three tunnels dug under the prison camp. As you watch the film you realize the true heroism involved here because ultimately, the rush to freedom, the desire to get back home becomes secondary to the need to disrupt the German forces who now had to hunt down the escapees instead of fighting the front line war. With a cast including James Garner, Richard Attenborough and Steve Mc Queen, this is a film that you can watch over and over and it will never get old. Want action? Watch McQueen handle a motorcycle in about the best chase scene ever produced. A lot of movies were made about WWII, and this is really one of the best.
MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE
Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. Enough said. This 1948 movie shows just about everything that can go wrong when building a house in the country, which is something familiar to a lot of people in this part of North Carolina. Grant and Loy decide to leave their tiny, cramped NYC apartment for the quiet, serene life in Connecticut and buy an old, beat up, run down house which they find has to be knocked down before they can rebuild. What follows is a series of mishaps including the two of them along with Melvyn Douglas getting locked in an upstairs closet because of Grant’s stubbornness. But the best, most memorable scene in the movie is when Myrna Loy as Mrs. Blandings describes to the painters the colors she chose for each room. Her description of each color goes way beyond even the most picky person while what she actually gets….well, see for yourself. I picked this one out of all Cary Grant’s movies. No special reason though. I don’t think he ever made a bad one or gave any less than a great performance.
A movie that no one should get out of high school without seeing. Widely regarded as the best American movie ever made, this 1941 classic was produced and co-written by Orson Welles and traces the life of Charles Foster Kane, an individual who settles for nothing less than total and complete perfection in himself and with whomever he deals. The underlying premise though is simply that famous and important people say famous and important things, especially as their last words. Kane’s last word is “Rosebud.” And this poses a question for every person interviewed after his death. The final scene reveals a surprise. One thing about this movie though. The whole movie looks as though it was shot in the dark as most scenes are just poorly lit. You’ll catch on though, but probably after it is over if you think about it.
So, there you have it. I left out so many other great films that can fill up a day. Just fire up the old VCR or get out the DVD’s, go to your local Redbox or hit up Turner Classics. There’s a world to explore out there in film and it just never ends. Popcorn also adds a nice touch. Maybe a nice glass of chardonnay too.