Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The "Philadelphia" rationale

Years ago, I went on a blind date with this girl and the conversation eventually turned to movies. I mentioned how much of a movie buff I was and how one of my favorite films was "All About Eve". She then asked me how much I liked "The Philadelphia Story", and I had to tell her that I had never seen it. Her jaw dropped to the floor.

For all the pretense I make about my love of film, there are indeed some classic films I haven't gotten around to seeing for one reason or another. The way I like to look at it, though, is that it leaves so many classics for me to discover. I can grow old and still enjoy the new experience of a classic comedy or drama.

Still, I'm resolving for the new year to see some more of the really classic films that have so far eluded me. Culling some titles from the AFI top 100 films (of which I've seen 75) and the IMDb's top 250 films (of which I've seen 187), here are some of the titles I'm going to try to watch this year, with perhaps some reviews to follow:

"The Birth of a Nation", "Sunrise", "The Passion of Joan of Arc", "The Gold Rush", "City Lights", "Modern Times": I'm really behind in my silent films, as this list proves. What little experience I've had has shown me that the medium can do wonderful things with both drama ("Intolerance") and comedy ("The General"). All the more appropriate, then, that I wound up with three of each on my list.

"The Philadelphia Story", "Bringing up Baby", "Some Like it Hot", "The Apartment", "The Graduate", "Manhattan": A wide range of comedies here, spanning from Cary Grant's screwball pictures to Woody Allen's neurotic romances. I've been intrigued with "The Apartment" for a long time since I heard it was Cameron Crowe's favorite film (and inspired portions of "Almost Famous"). My one reservation with both "Some Like it Hot" and "The Graduate" is that I've seen so many clips from each over the years, I feel there is little I haven't yet seen.

"An American in Paris" and "The Sound of Music": I'm also behind in my musicals, and these are at the top. "Oklahoma" is also high on this list as I've been fond of the soundtrack for quite some time yet haven't gotten around to seeing the actual film.

"North by Northwest" and "Rebecca": No explanation here. These just happen to be the last two Hitchcock films I haven't seen, pretty much.

"The Grapes of Wrath", "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "The Best Years of Our Lives", "Double Indemnity", "Doctor Zhivago", "A Streetcar Named Desire": For my last category, I've just lumped all the other classics together. There's a wide range between the artistic black and white photography of "Indemnity" and the colorful epic landscapes in "Zhivago". I actually have a library copy of "Sierra Madre" on top of my TV right now, so maybe that first review won't be much longer.

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