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80 Years Ago

Archives 10-04-2000

North County Lines by Bob

An Award Winning Column

For comments or questions contact Bob at bobncl@hotmail.com




When the 20th century began in 1901, telling stories with film was in its infancy. Since then, movies have progressed from flickering images inside a box to silent movies on a screen to talkies to extravaganzas filmed on location to computer enhanced imagery laced with special effects which aren't always that special.

With the 21st century getting nearer each day, I need to provide a list of the 10 best movies of this century before the next one arrives and disrupts the space-time continuum thing.

You won't find a movie starring Jane Fonda or Julie Andrews on the list. The Sound of Music was a bad play made into a worse movie. When the sappy piece of fluff won an Oscar for best picture, I suspected the Academy Awards were fixed. When Jane Fonda won an Oscar for her wooden performance in Klute, my suspicion was confirmed.

"The award for best actress goes to Jane Fonda for having the same last name as her father. We thought about giving it to someone who could act, but that made too much sense.

All the movies on my list have one thing in common: Each tells a good story well.

1. Midnight Cowboy - Starring Dustin Hoffman as crippled street hustler Ratzo Rizzo and Jon Voight as Joe Buck, a pseudo cowboy who arrives in New York City like a lamb among wolves.

The sleazy deviancy Joe encounters on his quest for the easy buck provides a perfect contrast for a purely spiritual story of forgiveness and friendship that's as old as written history. A Judaic or an Egyptian storyteller from 5,000 years ago would have no problem recognizing and appreciating the central theme of the story.

The use of opposing elements to create dynamic characters and the flawless continuity make Midnight Cowboy a must-see for film students and writers. Avoid TV version edited by idiot geeks.

2. Being There - Starring Peter Sellers as a nitwit who makes it to top of political scene through a series of misinterpretations. When the movie ends, one question remains: Will a bumbling fool be elected President of the United States? Considering the two major contenders in the upcoming presidential election, the will has been answered. All that remains now is which one.

3. North by Northwest - Hitchcock thriller starring Cary Grant as a businessman who unknowingly becomes entangled in a web of intrigue that escalates as he's chased across the country in one memorable scene after another. Watch out for that crop duster, Cary, and be careful on Mount Rushmore or you'll slide off Jefferson's nose.

4. Harvey - Starring a 6' 3" invisible rabbit in title role and Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd. Proves good writers can create laugh-out-loud comedy without bad language. The world would be a happier place if more characters like Elwood and Harvey were in it.

5. The African Queen - Starring Katharine Hepburn as a spinster evangelist and Hum-phrey Bogart as the gin swilling captain of the African Queen. Sparks fly between the two opposing personalities as they flee the Nazis down the backwaters of Africa. Do they fall in love even though she tosses out his gin? Watch it and see.

6. Captains Courageous - Starring Spencer Tracy as a fisherman and Freddie Bar-tholomew as his rich-kid helper in a movie with a theme similar to Midnight Cowboy. Many actors consider Spencer Tracy the best actor of all time. You'll understand why after watching this story of struggle and sacrifice.

7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Cowboy Tom Donovan, John Wayne, steps in after outlaw Liberty Valance, Lee Marvin, almost beats tenderfoot lawyer Ransom Stod-dard, Jimmy Stewart, to death with a bull whip. Despite the competition of three major stars, Andy Devine as the cowardly sheriff steals every scene he's in. Who shot Liberty Valance? "Think back, pilgrim." You won't know for sure until the last five minutes of the movie.

8. The President's Analyst - After quitting job as title character, gong playing James Coburn goes on the lam when a presidential advisor orders him killed because he knows too much. Following several narrow escapes, he joins a hippie rock and roll band and goes on a different kind of trip. The laughter in the theater was so loud the first time I saw this movie, I snuffed my smoking material, moved down from the balcony to the front row, and watched it again to hear what was going on.

9. Easy Rider - Starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as bikers who hit the road in search of freedom after making a lot of bread smuggling in Mexican snow. When Jack Nicholson enters the story as bumpkin lawyer George Hanson, he steals every scene until he exits the picture. The discussion between George and Hopper's character Billy about the Venusians among us is some of the best movie dialogue ever written. The soundtrack by the Byrds, the Band, Jimi Hendrix, and Steppenwolf, "Runnin' down the highway, searchin' for adventure in whatever comes our way," drives home the theme of rebellion against a corrupt establishment. Would be higher on my list if ending wasn't a bummer.

10. Hair - Film version of Broadway musical that broke all the rules. My favorite scene is hippie Treat Williams dancing on a table at a formal dinner while singing, "I got my arms. I got my legs. I got my head. I got my skin. I got my blood. I got my guts. I got my liver. I got life, sister. I got crazy ways, brother." Look for Tennessee actor Michael Jeter as a potential draftee with painted toenails.




Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486

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