Hello to all 6 Degrees film fans out there! Who would have thought a few short weeks ago that we would be living and creating a ‘new normal’ each day? And one way that helps us all stay sane and survive is to fall back on the escapism of films-especially the classics that teach us a lot about the times we are living in.
The question is: do we want to just hear “Happy Talk” or are we looking for ways to delve deeper into the human condition? During the depression, most of the films were escapist fair where Fred & Ginger danced and James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart talked tough with their Tommy Guns. But there are a few good pictures that will strike a balance and take a more realistic approach.
One suggestion is On the Beach about the end of civilization as we knew it, when nuclear war destroys most of the cities and leaves devastation. The last oasis is in Australia aboard a submarine where Gregory Peck is trying to make sense of what is left, and falling in love with Ava Gardner at the worst possible time.
Dr Strangelove: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb was Stanley Kubrick’s idea of comedy. It’s a dark vision based on a novel about how humans destroy the world through nuclear war and a series of careless accidents that snowball until there is no turning back. Sounds ominously familiar, doesn’t it?
There are some great films with Humphrey Bogart that help to put some perspective on things when living through a crisis. Bogey always managed to shed light on the darker areas of man’s character and even find humor in his own cynical way. TCM is showing To Have and Have Not this month,
For some lighter fare, there are the great fantasy classics like The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music. Knives Out and Murder on the Orient Express are entertaining, and Murder By Death is another comedy that combines the who-done-it murder mystery genre with comic flourishes and is another way to take your mind away from troubling news stories.
If you want to get serious about the Armchair Film Fest, we can recommend a few from the list of director Francis Ford Coppola: Singin’ in the Rain, The Apartment and Raging Bull.
The Feel Good Film List: Heaven Can Wait, Young Frankenstein, Sabrina, Funny Face, Monty Python and the Holy Grail,
A Bond Film Fest: I must confess, I was disappointed in finding that we must wait until November to see Daniel Craig appear in his last Bond film- No Time to Die.
Everyone seems to have an opinion in regard to their favorite Bond Film. No one seems to appreciate the Timothy Dalton Bond era but I am fond of his first Bond outing: The Living Daylights; Goldfinger and Dr No are classic Bonds, but From Russia with Love is my favorite Sean Connery Bond film. Casino Royale is my favorite Bond with Daniel Craig. There are Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan fans, and several spin-offs that don’t really count in the Cubby Broccoli film universe of Bond. Let me know what your favorite Bond film is and who is (or should be) the ultimate Bond model. And if you’ve read the books by Ian Fleming, you might want to let it sink in that Fleming wrote “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” also! The mind reels…
TCM: This month, our recommended viewing on Turner Classics includes:
- Fantasy and Escapism are part and parcel of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and The Wizard of Oz with a lead-in from the 50th Anniversary program highlights some of the memorable moments and reminds us why this film is a favorite still.
- Metropolis: The issue of our time has been dealing with Income Inequality. In this silent film, director Fritz Lang is able to show us in a silent film the concept of life where the 1% live above ground….and the rest toil night and day in a dark, underground space designed to make the rest of the beautiful Metropolis run smoothly. Needless to say, things happen to tip the balance.
- A Hard Day’s Night: For anyone who has ever loved the Beatles, or if you saw the film, Yesterday and don’t know what all the fuss was about- watch this film. There has never been another rock and roll group like The Beatles.
- Lawrence of Arabia:For anyone who loves good acting and great filmmaking; this is one that makes the top ten list of almost all film critics who are worth their salt. This is an added bonus for the Armchair film fest players: Peter ‘O Toole sits down with Robert Osborne to talk about his experiences filming Lawrence of Arabia. And for all those who wonder why we are enmeshed with problems in the Middle East-this film is a study in the complicated and complex history of the Western world’s relationship with the countries that were divided up into countries that we now know as the Middle East. Lawrence of Arabia is a must-see, and should be on your bucket list to see in a theater before you die!
- Laura: For Film Noir buffs: This is a favorite film noir of mine. It has one of the best plots of all the film noir classics, and to be honest, some of the noirs have little plot or confusing plots at best. Laura stars Clifton Webb and Gene Tierney.
- To Have and Have Not is the lesser known of the Bogey and Bacall film series. This is their first film together, and really one of their best.
- Recommended for the Coronavirus Home bound list: Documentaries that tell the tale of why we need to celebrate Earth Day. One is the story of the Dust bowl, one talks about the sea and the other is about farming. All of these give us a window into why our world is now in a tug of war with big tech as we try to reclaim the parts of the world that have been lost to us. A good way to commemorate Earth Day without leaving the house!
- Finally, a classic American film; The Music Man is the story of how one man is able to con an entire town using his uncanny way with words, his charm, and his ability to promote his agenda. Professor Harold Hill just happens to be pushing a boy’s band in the town of River City, Iowa. But it could be Anytown, USA as we think of a certain politician who has a way with words and, as a consummate marketing wizard, has been able to charm and cajole his way into the White House! Just a thought…. (And before I field lots of nasty letters, remember Bill Clinton could also have been a model for this type of charming character!)
Well, we are still hunkered down in our foxholes. And as one friend put it, this is something that can be embarrassing if you stay at home watching a lot of movies anyway as you can’t really tell what all the fuss is about (other than a run on toilet paper!) The pandemic causes inconvenience in toilet paper inventories, but doesn’t really change a writer’s solitary lifestyle or someone who loves to watch movies.
Here’s hoping everyone will stay safe and well and stick to the guidelines decreed until it’s safe to venture outside again. Till next time, keep calm and see you at the movies!