Friday, May 20, 2011

Turner Classic Movies

Can you make yourself into the person you want to be? That is, can you actively choose the things you want to influence your creative and critical faculties or do you have no control over what ends up sticking with you? Is there a point at which you've already shaped the bulk of who you are when new stimuli won't signficantly change you? Wow, what a way to start a post about old movies, right?

I say this because I think my love of classic films started around the time I moved to a new house before high school and discovered the cable channel Turner Classic Movies. I began to collect films much in the way someone else might collect brooches or stamps, thus making myself into a classic film lover. But is it that easy? If you collect stamps, you're a stamp collector. But can you consciously decide to be a fan of something without a certain level of pretension...pretending you belong in the same category as film experts when you're still making your way through the movies that everyone regards as the ultimate classics?

Roman Holiday
I only just recently watched Roman Holiday and fell in love with it. I think part of that is due to the two screenwriters. It blends the edge of a serious drama with the lighthearted romance of the best romantic comedies. It's currently sitting on my bookshelf. But does just discovering something make you a fan in the same way that someone who has watched a movie 50 times is a fan?

This film broke my heart in spite of the happy ending. Sure, some parts were a bit rushed, but has the artfulness, the deft hands at work behind the scenes and the skilled players in front of the camera. There is so much art in what they don't say explicitly yet manage to convey nonetheless. This is a movie I would study to learn the craft of acting. Hell, I want to take a screengrab every other second and sketch and paint them all. It's so achingly gorgeous and poignantly dramatic without destroying the illusion and crossing into the improbable. At least for me. I also discovered this movie earlier this year and it's currently sitting on my bookshelf.

This movie was absolutely adorable. One of the best things I've watched on hulu. Yes, I also discovered this one earlier this year. There's something so relatable about Hepburn in this role, something here that's missing in her movies with Spencer Tracy. The specific circumstances aren't important, I connect with that look in her eyes. The look when you aren't merely trying to hold up your end of the conversation but are trying to be so effervescently charming that you'll captivate the object of your affections. That unguarded look, perhaps a little awkward, a restrained longing you can't help revealing when you think that he won't notice. That pained look when he finally approaches but it's not quite right and he doesn't say the things that he ought to in that crucial moment and the opportunity passes by yet again. Not to mention, the movie is absolutely gorgeous and she wears her clothes beautifully, with the enviable carelessness of someone who would act the same regardless of what she was wearing. Oh, and I adore the following quote.

“He’ll be up in a minute. Are you sure you want to get over him?”
“Because it seems so hopeless, is that it?”
“Don’t you know? Then let me tell you something. You’re twice as attractive as Julia ever thought of being. You’ve got twice the looks, twice the mind, and ten times the quality. You could charm a bird off a tree if you would. And why not? If you were in her way she’d ride you down like a rabbit.”

The Shop Around the Corner
Next is my favorite Christmas movie. I think I discovered this one earlier, perhaps four or five years ago. I've certainly watched it enough times since. I practically have the final scene memorized. I don't have much to say about this one since I've spent so much time thinking about it already. By the by, that's one of the reasons I'm resistant to overanalyzing things as an English major. You take the joy out of it if you pick it apart to discover all its secrets. I'm letting this film sit for a while until I start to forget some of the dialogue and it can regain it's magic and win me over again.

I couldn't have this list without Astaire and Rogers. They were probably my first favorite classic film couple and I eagerly awaited when TCM aired another of their films, even if I was too drowsy to truly enjoy them on first viewing at three o' clock in the morning.

I've been searching for another Garbo film to love (Queen Christina is just too outdated and over-the-top) but for me, the ultimate is Ninotchka. She is so charming and relatable in this movie, realistic and dramatic without carrying it too far.

Quality Street
I thought I would cap off the list with an adorable film that I never seem to see on anyone's favorite list. I saw this first many years ago but I didn't see the whole thing until earlier this year. It's so cute. Again, Hepburn is effortlessly charming and relatable whether poignantly dramatic or adorably flustered. It gives her a different means of displaying her comic skill instead of simply playing the eccentric heiress to Cary Grant's straight man.

So, does this collection make me a classic film buff or just a casual viewer? I don't know. They just make me happy. Regardless, if you haven't seen them, you should give these films a chance. I think you'll like them.

No comments:

Post a Comment