Monthly Archives: November 2011

(0003X) Airport

March 8, 1970 | 7 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? A big, ungainly, self-important melodrama about an airport.

What did I get? Exactly that. If you want a sense of Airport, all you need to do is call to mind the 1980 ZAZ classic Airplane! and subtract every one of the laughs and puns and self-consciously absurd touches. Seriously, Airplane! is a lot like Airport, it’s remarkable how close the movies are visually and tonally, although played straight in one and played preposterous in the other. It’s impossible to watch Airport today without thinking of Airplane! There’s a moment about halfway through when Jean Seberg says to Burt Lancaster, “Mel, they’ve been pressuring me about that transfer to San Francisco….” — the absence of mockery from the filmmakers seems thoroughly incongruous. Continue reading

(0002X) M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H

(This review was written when I was using a different, erroneous list of #1s. It now resides in the “Other Movies” category for your enjoyment. –MCS)

February 1, 1970 | 5 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? Yes

What did I expect? I’ve seen this movie many times, so I knew what to expect. What interested me on this viewing was whether the “juvenile,” “bullying,” even “cruel” aspects of the main characters’ behavior would bother me more than it had on prior viewings.

What did I get? I continue to find M*A*S*H uncommonly, sheerly, inexplicably wonderful. There’s something about the messy, overlapping, offhand style and the senseless-yet-sensible goings-on that resonates with me very powerfully. As I watched the movie this time, several times I became a bit misty and emotional in a way that has nothing to do with the content of the movie. There’s something difficult to define about the form and the purpose of M*A*S*H that — for me — is close to the Platonic ideal of what a movie should be and how a movie should work, and I find it profoundly… moving. It’s jammed with meaning, it’s genuinely funny, it takes itself seriously but is really about not taking yourself too seriously…. I don’t know. It works wonders on me. Continue reading

(0001X) They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

(This review was written when I was using a different, erroneous list of #1s. It now resides in the “Other Movies” category for your enjoyment. –MCS)

January 4, 1970 | 4 weeks at #1

Seen by Martin before? No

What did I expect? A grueling workout of a movie that makes a blisteringly downbeat point about American society.

What did I get? They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is a very impressive piece of work indeed, attention-getting and disturbing. It’s intense and expertly crafted, but it’s ultimately undermined by the shallowness and obviousness of its central point — that American capitalism inevitably leads to extraordinarily crappy relationships between human beings. According to Pauline Kael, the filmmakers made the plot considerably more cynical than the source novel, by Horace McCoy (in the book, the organizers of the dance marathon behave in a relatively honorable way). I think the limitations of the movie become clearer if one asks, What would a “realistic” and untendentious version of this movie look like? I think it’s inescapable that such a hypothetical movie would be richer and more engrossing. Perhaps our age is more immune to message-y movies — I don’t know. Continue reading