In pandemic times, out of the ordinary things happen.
Around the home front last week, as a birthday thing, the family indulged me in watching a few favorite movies I watched repeatedly as a kid on TV in the early 1970s.
Apparently my kid days was a long time ago. My movie and music tastes seem stuck in a previous century. But I got to pick a few night movies to watch last week. Most of the oldies are rentable on YouTube, who seems to have bought up a titanic library to tap into nostalgie junkies like me.
First up was the African Queen (1951). I’m a bit lost as to why this was a favorite of mine, especially as it’s pretty much an opposites attracts romance between Humphrey Bogart’s Chaaaaaaaarlie and Katherine Hepburn’s initially prim and proper Rose.
I remembered bring more fascinated by the river adventures and fabricating the torpedos than the romance. It was a bit cheesy to see now, but also funny, quaint. Rose’s determinism pushes out from the screen, as does her pure excitement in riding her first rapids, like more liberating than any other thing she has done.
And Charlie takes every ding to his ego in stride, dumping of his gin, his “knowledge” of the landscape and what was possible challenged. He’s pretty much the human personification of the rickety boat that is the real hero in the story- the African Queen is not pretty, it’s loud, and the engine needs kicking to go, but it does what it needs to do.
The second Alan oldie we watched as Fantastic Voyage (1966). In this sci-fi adventure of a team of doctors, scientists, and government agents put aboard a submarine take on being shrunk small enough by secret government technology to be injected into the blood stream of a key scientist who has a life threatening brain tumor.
There’s the cold war mentality of military commanders and reference to battling equivalent technology from “the other side.” And the roles are rather sexist with men having all the power positions. Hello 1966.
The technology and special effects are definitely dated, all the rows of room sized blinking light computers, the drapery like scenery inside the body, the tracing of the ship my a guy on a ladder moving a replica of the ship on a wall sized map. There is a lot of two way video communication in the labs,but then they shift to a meeting scene where the leaders explain things to the group with an overhead projector.
I know I watched this many times as a kid, for the action, excitement, and wonder of magical technology. Things I missed where the comic touches of General Carter and his manic pouring of coffee. And the over sentimentality of Dr Duval’s waxing on philosophy.
The family quite enjoyed this one for the excitement. It seemed worthy of rendering a GIF.
Other titles waiting in the wings I could remember from my old tv movie watching days:
- The Bridge of the River Kwai (1957). The World War II battle that is as much army as persona. It’s a long flick, family. Madness! Madness!
- Ben Hur (1959). Charleton Heston and the grand sweeping of epic bible stories? Not the New Testament setting, I just liked the rise from the rowing slave to the victory in the chariot race.
- Planet of the Apes (1968) and the whole PoTA series. I was hooked on the sci-fi angle and the idea of a far earth future different– but not so much. Hah, and in looking up the link I never knew that Rod Serling was a co-writer.
- Just about any Clint Eastwood western especially The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) and the Man With Name of High Plains Drifter (1973), as well as the whole Dirty Harry series. For that matter I’d watch almost any of Eastwood’s latter life directed films.
There’s probably more, I sure had a lot of TV screen time as a kid, back in the stone age of no computers.
Thanks Cori and Jessy Lee for being willing to watch some of the Alan Oldies. On a more local front, I have gotten quite hooked on the Corner Gas series sitcom that is full of Canadian and especially Saskatchewan humor. We are still in Season 2. And yes, I’ve even been in the town where Dog River is placed. But that is another post, or not.
Screen time, 2020 style.
Featured Image: Edwards Boy With Movie Camera a Library of Congress public domain image.