The Journey

51 Things about 49 Movies

Crown Bar Belfast May 2015 3

For my last birthday, I scribbled out a piece named 50/50, fifty random thoughts after 50 years of life. I still rather like what I did with that, so when I woke up this morning, on the first day of my 51st year, I thought I would continue the trend with a new list of reflections. These are not necessarily the 49 greatest movies of all time, but they are movies where some aspect of them has stayed with me over time. Enjoy.

The Breakfast Club:  Ally Sheedy and the dandruff snow, drifting flakes of awkward beauty…

Ode to Billy Joe:  The moment when I realized why he did it, coming at my own personal time of dealing with some members of “society” who cruelly and easily push others into contemplating the bridge. Forty years later we still have cretins completely devoid of compassion or understanding for anyone different…

Flashdance:  The moment when Richie comes to say goodbye to Alex, they hug, and his hat falls off. Sweet, tender, fleeting…

Cabaret:  The woozy, swirling dance between Sally, Brian and Max when you suddenly understand that things have gotten more complicated than most of us imagined…

Pulp Fiction:  On the soundtrack, Maria McKee singing “If Love Is a Red Dress Hang Me in Rags”… the whistling, the mournful reflection, the power, the fadeout with footsteps leading to a slamming door…

The Mission:  Ennio Morricone’s sublime soundtrack, especially the brief but glorious “The Climb” that says so much in merely a minute and a half…

Two for the Road:  The entire relationship crystallized into the final two lovingly hateful words of dialogue…

Night of the Living Dead (1968):  The easily-missed meat hook in the closing images…

To Kill a Mockingbird:  Boo behind the door, Scout in front of it, smiling…

Grease: The concession stand promo onscreen behind Danny, with the dancing hotdog jumping into the bun. Gets me every time…

Sordid Lives:  The emotional and visual layering of the scene where Sissy finally lights up as the hearse drives by in the background…

Sordid Lives:  Changing the labels on the Big Boy jeans, something all of us have done in one way or another…

Diva:  “La Wally”, the roller-skating, and the concept that recording a live performance removes half the artistry…

The Hunger: Bela Lugosi’s dead…

Deathtrap:  The unexpected kiss, thrilling me, and outraging the rednecks crowded around my seat in a packed Oklahoma theater…

On Golden Pond:  Jane Fonda first appears on screen, glowing, and every gay man in the 1981 audience gasps at how stunning she looks…

Fargo:  The cigarette dangling from the mouth of the killer in the speeding car…

Blood Simple:  The shafts of light coming through the bullet holes…

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:  The perfection of the dress, and the murkiness surrounding the real reason that Brick drinks…

A Streetcar Named Desire:  The growling heat of an exploding Marlon Brando…

Ordinary People:  The shock of a steely Mary Tyler Moore…

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean:  The use of the mirror to navigate the story…

Tommy:  Ann Margret wallowing in baked beans and chocolate…

Women in Love:  Oliver Reed and Alan Bates, sweating and wrestling in front of that fireplace while spitting out poetic dialogue…

Koyaanisqatsi:  The entire, mesmerizing, visual depiction of “life out of balance”…

Metropolis (1984 Giorgio Moroder Special Edition):  The “Shift Change” sequence, while Cycle V performs “Blood from a Stone” on the soundtrack…

Repulsion:  Catherine Deneuve, going a little mad sometimes…

Sunset Boulevard:  Gloria Swanson, finger piercing the smoky light from the projector, proclaiming the smallness of pictures…

The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade:  Yes, that’s the official title, although it often goes by Marat/Sade by people who don’t have enough time in their lives to say the whole thing. And no, you’ve never seen anything like it…

12 Angry Men:  The knife stabbing the table…

The Little Girl Who Lives down the Lane:  Jodie Foster serves almond cookies…

The Sixth Sense:  The ring rolling across the floor…

Run Lola Run:  The exhilarating intensity of the action and the ticking clock…

Up:  The concise perfection of the “background montage” that opens the movie, a complete and beautiful story more satisfying than many full-length features…

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?   Elizabeth Taylor and the clink of ice cubes…

Midnight Cowboy:  Jon Voight on the bus and Harry Nilsson’s version of “Everybody’s Talkin’” on the soundtrack…

Don’t Look Now:  Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, watery Venice, a little girl, and the fluidity of time…

The Mothman Prophecies:  “What am I holding in my hand?”

All That Jazz:  Jessica Lange as the Angel of Death. What more could you want?

Sixteen Candles:  Samantha and Jake kiss while sitting on a dining table, with The Thompson Twins singing “If You Were Here” on the soundtrack…

Lilies:  The hypnotic, surreal pace of the storyline…

Streets of Fire:  The sequence with Diane Lane lip-synching the hell out of “Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young”…

Being John Malkovich:  Cameron Diaz, fearless in that frizzy hair…

My Beautiful Laundrette:  Saeed Jaffrey and Shirley Anne Field waltzing in one room while Gordon Warnecke and Daniel Day-Lewis make out in another…

Maurice:  James Wilby gets a surprise late-night visit from Rupert Graves, swarthy and dripping wet…

The Usual Suspects:  The coffee cup shatters…

Say Anything…   Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” playing on the hoisted boombox…

The Graduate:  The dawning realization at the back of the bus… what do you do once you get what you thought you wanted?..

Singin’ in the Rain:  Gene Kelly, splashing away, effortlessly…

Brokeback Mountain:  The shirt inside the shirt…

Cabaret:  Liza Minnelli, belting out the title number. Because even when life doesn’t go the way you planned, there’s no reason why you should stop singing…

 

29 replies »

  1. Congratulations on your Birthday. Wonderful that so many things have stayed in your mind – mine is usually a complete vacuum from straight after breakfast – I would be hard pressed to list even 5 things from films that have stayed with me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Christi! Mike Nichols, the director of that movie, was a genius. He was able to get fantastic performances out of his actors. (Case in point, also on this list: Elizabeth Taylor in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. She burned up the screen in that movie and deserved the Oscar that she won.) But speaking of directors, and heading into trivia territory, guess who directed “Ode to Billy Joe”? Max Baer, Jr. Otherwise known as Jethro on “The Beverly Hillbillies”…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Birthday! Such detail! I remember watching Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf when I had just discovered the writer Virginia Woolf at school and was studying To The Lighthouse. I had never witnessed so much power on the screen or in life. I do remember the last scene of The Graduate and the one in Midnight Cowboy where Dustin Hoffman’s character has died. Two such diametrically opposed characters, he was a god back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I think that’s a perfect way to describe Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, “so much power on the screen”. I was just in awe the first time I watched it and, at least for me, it was Elizabeth Taylor’s finest hour (followed by her bitter radiance in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”). And yes, Dustin was a god at the time. But to be fair, there were many great actors at that time, when movies were about performances and not about the special effects like many movies are today. Luckily, we can still usually rely on independent cinema to give us great acting like the major movie companies used to give us…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Jo! I really enjoyed doing this and I may have to do a sequel. (I love a good movie!) And it’s okay if you haven’t seen them all, because if you HAD, we would have to become best friends forever, it’s some kind of rule, and we are both far too busy to deal with that… 😉

    Like

  4. Brilliant! I love this idea & would like to steal it.

    Also, Cameron Diaz was absolutely fearless in that crazy hair in “Being John Malkovich”. I hadn’t thought of it that way until you mentioned it, and it’s actually made my whole day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please, use the idea to your heart’s content. I would love to see where you go with it. As for Cameron, I love that moment when an actor is finally given a part that isn’t “type-cast” and they absolutely shine, proving they are much more than just a pretty face…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve got excellent birthday ideas. Truly. They are so great that I might steal them. Not 50 yet though… 🙂 I have a mere book list, movie list and song list in my About me, without any comment. These one liners are so cool, just what life is. A collection of moments, one’s own, borrowed, heard, read. Wishing you plenty more of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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