We all have those movies in our collection. Movies that for one reason or another we’ve gravitated towards. Either we stumbled upon them at a video rental store (Oh, so tempted to use the term “Back in my day”) or got introduced to them by a friend. For whatever reason they’ve stuck around and we own them in whatever format they’re available. Today I wanted to take a look at my film collection and talk about some of these random films and why they’ve stood the test of time with me.
-The Great Race-
It still baffles me how few people I’ve run into that have seen this film. Written and directed by Blake Edwards (Most known as the director of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and co-creating the Pink Panther series) this 60’s comedy is hilarious. Two competing daredevils The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) and his rival Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon) go head to head in the most extreme automobile race ever. From New York to Paris we follow these two and the antics they get into at every stop. Included in the cast is Natalie Wood as Maggie, a suffragette and first female reporter covering the race at all costs, Keenan Wynn as Leslie’s right hand man Hezekiah, and the brilliant Peter Falk as Fate’s minion Maximilian. This is slapstick at it’s finest. On the other side this film dives into the fight for women’s rights and how something so prevalent in 1908 was still an important issue in the 1960’s. Getting to see Maggie prove that she is just as strong willed as the slightly chauvinistic Leslie is fabulous. And the fact that Wood turned in a great performance in spite of reluctance to take the role and personal issues is a testament to her talent.
A complete 180 from The Great Race, this film is a late 90’s sci-fi story that delves into the age old debate of genetics vs. environment. In the “not too distant” future people can now have their sperm and eggs screened making sure their child will be “Valid” in a world where a child born the old fashioned way “Invalid” are a thing of the past. Normal Vincent (Ethan Hawke) dreams of becoming an astronaut in spite if being born an Invalid. Knowing his hard work and intelligence won’t be enough he assumes the identity of Jerome (Jude Law) a valid who ended up in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, as close as Vincent has come to achieving his goal a murder at Gattaca has pegged the old him as the prime suspect. What makes this film amazing in my opinion is not only the story of how humanity’s imperfections can be what make us our best, but also the stylization of the future. Instead of a high-tech or dystopian future we get one that is a callback to 50’s/60’s. Electric cars that look vintage, jazz clubs where people still smoke, and how people dress make it feel unique to other sci-fi films.
Yes, I genuinely love this film despite how reviled it was when it first got released. One critic went so far as to say the film, “had all the charm of a date rapist” to which star Norm Macdonald retorted, “that’s a lot better than saying you have the charm of a regular rapist! A date rapist still has to get a date!” For me this is one of those films I grew up quoting non-stop. Starring Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange as longtime friends who decide to start a business to exact revenge for people as a way to pay for Lange’s father to get a heart transplant. At least you can’t strike this film for being unoriginal. Also in the cast is Chris Farley (in one of final roles), Jack Warden, Don Rickles, Chevy Chase, and Christopher McDonald all of them get some great moments to shine. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like over the top comedies where Adam Sandler plays a hallucination of the Devil this will be right up your alley. I was also going to say if you’re a fan of Norm Macdonald give it a watch. But odds are if you are a fan than you’ve already seen it.
These are just three films I wanted to talk about, but since I ran so long discussing them I’m going to stop here. Odds are you will see another article (or many more) on this topic, but for now what are your thoughts? What do you think of these films? What are some films that you love that often get overlooked?
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