Wednesday, July 27, 2005

We don't need no badges

Classics shouldn't be revered simply because they've been revered. You know what I mean?

I think Gone with the Wind is an insufferable bore. The Godfather is pretty from a technical standpoint, but is it really the The Wizard of Oz is maudlin. Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge over the River Kwai are two hours too long. The defense department should consider showing D.W. Griffith's filmography to detainees as an alternative (and more lethal) form of torture. I don't care if Intolerance or Birth of a Nation were watersheds in movie history; they may have pointed the way to better cinema, but that does not make them good cinema themselves.

That said, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is surprisingly stale. I saw it for the first time on the National Mall on Monday. Maybe it was the unforgiving humidity, or the bugs, or the distance from the screen. Or maybe it was the plodding, repetitive story. Or the lack of any sort of action or excitement. It's a Western, goddamnit. Let's run around a little bit.

Instead, Bogart, Walter Huston, and Tim Holt bum around the mountains of Mexico looking for gold. They get greedy, they got accosted by the natives, they go a little mad (it is kind of interesting to see Bogart bonkers). But it seems like John Huston never figured out what kind of movie he was making -- was it a shoot-'em-up adventure pic? A moral fable? The first Western noir? It's all of those, and each motive seems to be jockeying for position, thereby elbowing out any sort of pleasure or entertainment.

And why do people like Alfonso Bedoya's line: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges"? The otherwise sedate, sleepy crowd burst into applause when he said it.

It's one of the most famous movie lines ever, and I just...don't...understand.


Maria Wrz. said...

Today when I was getting my hair cut the hair cutter person asked, "Seen any movies lately?" The last movie I went to was MDB in January. I didn't want to look like a non-movie watching freak, so I lied and said yes. When she continued the conversation by asking what I'd seen, I rattled off stuff from your blog. I thought I sounded brilliant, but then she gave me bangs, (who gives bangs to a 22 year old?) so she must have realized I was lying and punished me via bad hair. Then she asked if I had any babies. (That's exactly how she said it- "Do you have any babies?") At that point I'd already lied so much I figured why stop. By the end of things, I was telling her about my adopted children from Russia and she was giving me a mullet. Still, thanks for posting your movie stuff so I could steal it.

Also, what does "maudlin" mean again?

bagels, boobs, and beer said...

I've decided to make Westerns my new thing, so recommend some good ones.

Also, I love the word "maudlin," but I don't like things that are maudlin.

J.J. said...

Best Westerns: Stagecoach. High Noon is overrated, I think, but worth a look. The Wild Bunch. The Searchers. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Butch Cassidy for variety. Finish up with Unforgiven, the catharsis of all things Western. (And Back to the Future III, of course!)

Middento said...

The older movie you need to see NOW, particularly since you're back in DC and squatting in some apartment somewhere: George Stevens' The More The Merrier from 1943. Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn. HILARIOUS. We saw a PBS doc on Stevens and saw a clip, then borrowed the movie from AU. I haven't cracked up that much in ages. And so sexy. (And I asked my dad last night if the Ww2 housing shortage was real and he told me stories about it!) If you do not love it, I will never speak to you again. So there you go.

J.J. said...

Consider it Netflix'd.