Long ago in a blog entry far. far away, I said I’d talk about the films that made a big impression on me during my winsome, Ditto-bejeaned teenage years. I’m coughing up–finally. I’ll try to keep out the ones that my adolescent heart go pitter-pat, not because it’s too predictable, but it’s just plain embarrassing (Gene Barry? David Wayne? Joseph Cotten??). So here goes:
- Every Gene Kelly Movie Ever Made: So I lied: Gene was my number one heart pitter-patterer in the seventies. And I’m not embarrassed to admit it–how can you resist a man who moves like that in well-fitted chinos? I defy you to watch Singing in the Rain or On The Town and not be dazzled by his ease and grace. Anyone who thinks dancing is a sissy thing to do has never seen Anchors Aweigh. And the part about loving every Gene Kelly movie? I lied about that too: to this day I can’t fathom the appeal of An American in Paris–too much pretension and too much Leslie Caron (though I always get a kick out of Oscar Levant).
- When The Legends Die: This one holds a very special place in my heart. The story of Thomas Black Bull, a young Native American boy living by the Old Ways is brought into western society after his parents die, with poignant results. Released in 1972 a year after I returned to the United States, this was the only thing I saw that addressed the disorientation, the confusion, the emotional toll of living between two cultures. I must have seen it at least five times that year….
- The Way We Where: but not for the reason you’d expect. Sure it’s got Robert Redford, but it has something even more amazing: Barbra’s nails. Never have I witnessed such artful nail placement in the history of film. Don’t believe me? Check out the scene when Barbra first sleeps with Hubbell: the splay of her fingers, heightening the length and color depth of her nails is nothing short of genius.
- Smile: Were you a weird, smart girl before it was hip? Then this is the movie for you! If you ever wondered if popular girls suffered, Smile provides the answer. Set in Santa Rosa during the “Miss Teen California” pageant, we see that life wasn’t all that rosy for Annette O’Toole and Melanie Griffith (in one of her earliest roles). At a time when the highlight of my life was wondering if I won a spot with the Wrestlerettes (no, I didn’t wrestle), watching this grim gem made life a just a little easier…
Next Time: More movies, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bruce Lee and Bigfoot!