Posted by Greg Ferrara on May 13, 2016
When you love the movies as much as we do, complications are inevitable. As a youngster, just dipping your toe in the waters of the cinematic ocean, you confidently answer the question, “What’s your favorite movie?” with an actual title. Years later, there are too many to name. Years after that, even your favorites, you admit, have good and bad parts. You may still have an overriding favorite, but along the way you’ve discovered dozens if not hundreds of movies that you have both love and hate for. For instance, yesterday TCM aired Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? I love Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Cecil… okay, I love the whole cast. I hate the sappy screenplay. I love the final speech, however, even though it’s sappy. I hate the scene where Poitier schools his father, as if his father hadn’t seen ten times more than he ever has. I love the silly scene of Tracy and Hepburn at the drive-in soda shop. I hate the laughable portrayal of young people in that very scene. You get the idea. Love and hate. Speaking of which…
I love the scene in The Ruling Class where Peter O’Toole takes the Rorschach test (the inkblot test) and sees himself in every inkblot, since he thinks he’s God and God is in everything. When asked what he would see if it wasn’t God, he says, “An inkblot.” I hate how aimless the movie is by the second half, the way it drags out the stage play’s meandering third act, line for line, even though the first two acts already covered pretty much everything. I love Peter O’Toole and the intermittent musical performances. I hate the transformation to Jack the Ripper. When he thought he was God, it was a lot more fun. The Jack the Ripper section really drags. I like the supporting cast a lot. I hate how dull the film looks. More like a tv movie of the era than a theatrically released one. The sameness of the look and sets makes the film feel longer than it is. I love Peter O’Toole. Did I already say that? Well, it’s worth repeating.
I love the opening of West Side Story, a lot! I love how the camera pans over the city from far above and slowly makes its way down to a basketball court where we meet the Jets. I hate the love story at the center. That could be deadly since it is the center of the movie but I love Rita Moreno and George Chakiris. I hate the drab interior design. That dance is filmed in a gym but that doesn’t mean it has to be the most boringly filmed gym in history. That’s okay though because the “America” number on the rooftop is awesome! Richard Beymer. Ugh. Russ Tamblyn. Yes! “I Just Met a Girl Named Maria.” Zzzz. “Officer Krupke.” There is good!
I love every Marx Brothers movie when Groucho, Harpo, or Chico is onscreen. When they’re not, no.
I love Henry Fonda, William Powell, Jack Lemmon, and James Cagney in Mister Roberts. I hate that the combined talents of John Ford, Mervyn Leroy, and Joshua Logan couldn’t make it feel like anything other than a filmed stage play.
Spellbound: I love, love, love the Salvador Dali dream sequence. I hate the insufferable psycho-babble about the dream sequence. I love Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman, and Leo G. Carroll. I hate the insufferable psycho-babble between Peck, Bergman, and Carroll. I love the mystery at the center of the story. I hate the psycho-babble about the mystery at the center of the story. I think I’m noticing a recurring theme here. Perhaps I ought to see a psychiatrist.
I love everything that James Dean does in Giant. I hate that the movie takes so much time getting to him. I love how beautiful Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson all look, even in the middle of an arid cattle ranch. I hate how, even in 1956, decades into advanced makeup procedures in the movies, the best they could do to make Dean, Taylor, and Hudson look old was powder in their hair and a couple of lines drawn under their eyes. I hate that the reason for that is that, in all honesty, they didn’t really want Dean, Taylor, and Hudson to actually look old. I actually kind of love that they didn’t want them to look old. I love how totally over the top the soap opera of this whole movie is. I hate how over the top the soap opera of this whole movie is. I’m so confused when it comes to Giant.
I love the theme song from Midnight Cowboy, Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me. I also love John Barry’s score. I hate the student art-filmish flashbacks, in black and white no less! I love Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman’s performances and relationship in the movie. I hate the dated hippy-drippy party scene. I love the scene where they visit Ratso Rizzo’s father’s grave and Ratso pays his respects while also calling his father an idiot. I hate the scene with John McGiver and the weird religious shrine in his apartment (but he’s great, as always). I love the scene with Sylvia Miles in the beginning, right after Joe Buck arrives in New York City. And I love the ending. I just wish they’d left out all the pop-psychology of Joe’s screwed up childhood to try and “explain” him. I really hate that about it.
I love and hate quite a lot about the movies, we all do. But that’s a part of the passion of it all. Who wants to be in love with something’s that’s perfect? It’s better to be in love with something that’s messy, complicated, maybe even a little haphazard. There’s a recklessness to artistic creation, a feeling of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. My favorite movies are never ones I find perfect but ones in which the parts I love, I love so much they outweigh entire movies where I really don’t have a problem with any part of them but only like them so-so. All That Jazz is another movie that I love and like so many movies I love, it has parts I don’t really like at all but the parts I do like, I absolutely adore. It also contains a neat summation of this whole piece. As Roy Scheider turns off a variety show hosted by Ben Vereen, he says to his lover, played by Ann Reinking, “I hate show business.” She responds, “Joe, you love show business.” “Oh, that’s right,” he says, “I love show business. I’ll go either way.”
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