Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kong and Bogie

by Pa Rock
Movie Aficionado

The Japanese mystery channel, AXN, which normally keeps me company in the evenings, has begun running the British coroner-sleuth series, Silent Witness, at the time when I usually kick back in front of the television and allow myself to be entertained while eating supper.  But my sensitive system just can't abide the gruesome spectacle of full-color autopsies while I try to savor a meal prepared in the kitchens of Marie Callendar.

So, until AXN runs through its supply of Silent Witness reruns and comes up with something more appropriate for the dinner hour, I have begun channel-surfing with a vengeance.  During the past week I have been treated to some older American movies of the first order including the Michael Keaton classic, Beetlejuice, one of the cleverest and funniest movies ever made.

"Hey Mister Tallyman, tally me bananas!"

I also had the opportunity to experience a couple of movies this week that were much older than Beetlejuice.

The first of the really old classic movies that I saw was the original King Kong which was filmed in 1933 and starred Faye Wray as the damsel who was hauled up the Empire State Building by the big monkey.  The movie was hokey in some respects, such as with the island natives and their ceremonies.   But it wasn't bad, considering that it was made in 1933.  I've not seen the 1976 version of King Kong, but I did see the most recent one (2005) and noticed that it managed to stay remarkably true to the original.

The other black-and-white gem that I viewed was the 1946 version of The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  The movie was based on a novel by Raymond Chandler (one of his Philip Marlowe masterworks) and was adapted for the screen by William Faulkner.  Unbelievably, with the script being the cumulative effort of two of the literary giants of the twentieth century, it was the writing that proved to be this movie's greatest flaw.  Yes, the dialogue, especially between Bogie and Bacall, was clever and snappy, but the movie's action was at times tedious and often confusing.  It would probably take two or three viewings to have a clear sense of who-killed-whom and why.  But hey, people went to the theaters to see Bogie and Bacall - just like they did to see Tracy and Hepburn - or Elvis and anyone - the story itself was incidental!

Nevertheless, I'll take a classic movie over autopsies any day!

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