Monday Movie Missive

While trying to recall movies I might like to add to my collection I came across several “great movie” lists. I had a look, in an effort to job my failing memory. Couldn’t help but notice certain titles are ubiquitous on such lists. No doubt these are the “classics”; the all-important milestones in cinematic history. Closer examination of said titles leads me to ask the question “why?” Of those I’ve seen I have to say many are not really good movies at all, and some are downright cringe-worthy. Let’s be nasty to them.

Citizen Kane: A dull, badly written exercise in Orson Welles’s ample ego. Certain occasional cinematography effects are its only claim to fame. The plot is senseless, without a sympathetic character in sight and no successful explanation of the affair which brings down Kane. The acting is wooden, with only a few good lines and some of it is just stringy filler. The directing is simplistic, like something from someone learning about making movies. A great classic film? More like a piece of celluloid rubbish.

Gone With The Wind: The best way to watch this is with the sound off. It’s visually spectacular, but beyond that an utter failure. No wonder Margaret Mitchell hated it. The potential for a highly-engaging story is lost in bad dialogue and hollow characters. How many directors did it really have? Looks like one for every scene. When it comes to acting only Clark Gable and the supporting cast (especially Hattie McDaniel, Thomas Mitchell, Everett Brown, and Butterfly McQueen) have any talent. Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard are on screen only to demonstrate they have no talent (he is frankly one of the worst actors ever to appear in a big-budget film). What makes this a great movie? Maybe because it manages to achieve 238 minutes of boredom in the middle of a war.

Casablanca: Everybody loves Bogie! And why not? Great actor. Wasted in this piece of garbage, as in so many other mediocre flicks he was under contract to do. What’s so good about it? Well there’s also Claude Rains being wasted alongside Bogie, as well as Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Not even all that talent can save this debacle. The story has great possibilities, which utterly fail to be realized due to poor writing. You really don’t give a damn about Victor Laszlo and want Ilsa to stay with Rick. Why on Earth does he help her get away with that jerk? Half the time you’re rooting for the Nazis here. Nice atmosphere is about all you can say for it.

There are a number of other titles which turn up on a couple of, but not all, lists of ‘great movies’ which arguably (or at least in my opinion) don’t belong there. Also there are some newer titles which I haven’t bothered with, and plenty I’ve not seen. There are even some which are so bad they’re are classically good (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for instance – best example of a really terrible movie you can’t help but like). These three, however, show up over and over with plentiful praise in a manner that suggests the list makes have been told they are “great movies” and so must be included – along with what looks like copy-and-paste descriptions.

I’m certain people like these three, and they have every right to. I personally don’t think they are the magnificent icons of cinema they’re made out to be.

Maybe if I’m feeling nice sometime I’ll do a listing of some of my favourite movies and why I like them and then you can have fun slagging them to your hearts’ content.

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