County Lines by Bob
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.Ó
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
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
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570