Saturday, September 19, 2009

Those Wascally Wabbits

I watched "Citizen Kane" for the first time recently, on the TCM channel. I don't have a "bucket list" but watching classic films has been on my to-do list for a while. There's probably nothing original to say about this film but I enjoyed not only the story but seeing the various film innovations that I'd associated with later films and directors: overlapping dialogue, nonlinear story-telling, interesting camera angles, dramatic lighting, and unreliable narrators. I found the use of "deep focus" haunting, almost creepy, in the late scene where Kane strolls, tearful and dazed, from his wife's still-bright but destroyed room.

This morning I watched the 1939 "Of Mice and Men" on the same channel while I visited my mother. I'd not seen this film either. Burgess Meredith was a handsome young man as George, Lon Chaney Jr. was an affecting Lennie. I liked Betty Field's feisty, always-barefoot character in "The Shepherd of the Hills" and here she is the lonely, doomed Mae. Even though I'd read the story and knew the ending, I thought how the movie might be setting up the viewer to foresee revenge on Curly.

The problem with this movie is not the movie's fault, nor Chaney's. I couldn't get out of my mind the parodies of this film in various "Looney Toons" that I watched as a kid. "I want some rabbits, George ... I will hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him"--remember that?

There are other ways to ruin a movie for you besides giving away the ending!

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