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March 11, 2012

Film Buff Heresy

Filed under: Movies — Twistie @ 8:30 am

There are a lot of Great Classic Films I adore. Mention Casablanca, and I’m going to sigh joyfully and start quoting. Talk about Citizen Kane, and I shiver at the deathless images that pop straight into my brain. There are other Great Classic Films that do and will always make me happy.

But then there’s Gone With the Wind.

I know there are people who would willingly trample their grandmothers to see this film again, and more power to them. One of the most interesting Cultural Experiences of my life was going with Mr. Twistie (who is a huge fan) to see the 50th anniversary re-release at the Castro theater in San Francisco. I know Hattie McDaniel had all the same lines she ever did, but I didn’t hear one of them through the cheers, and the anticipatory screams for ‘Frankly my dear, etc.’ began about twenty minutes before the line was spoken.

It’s clear that a lot of people are passionate fans of this film. Me? I’m not one of them. I don’t find the story line terribly compelling, I can’t work up much nostalgia for the Antebellum South, and I don’t really care about any of the characters. No, scratch that last one. What happens is I see them and my slapping hand starts itching up a storm.

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but this is a film I decided years ago to give a miss to at every possible opportunity.

The other Great Classic Film I will never sit through again?

That’s right, The Wizard of Oz.

I was pretty meh on this one even as a very small child. And then my parents gave me the book. After that, I was really done with the movie. There’s so much more in the book, and I read what L. Frank Baum said about what he’d hoped to achieve with his book. What he wanted was a real American fairy tale where the child had amazing adventures and it didn’t turn out to be all just a kooky dream.

For me, Oz is so much better when it’s real, when Dorothy goes back again and again and has further adventures that are equally real. I prefer the winged monkeys when they’re controlled by a magical golden cap. I prefer silver slippers. I like the balance of two good witches (North and South – which is where Glinda comes from), and two evil ones (East and West).

In my book, Judy Garland just isn’t compelling enough to make me like Oz as a coma fantasy.

My guess is that everyone has at least one Great Classic Film you couldn’t pay them to sit through again. One of my very best friends practically froths at the mouth at the mention of Citizen Kane, which, as I said before, is a great favorite of mine. My father couldn’t watch The African Queen (another great favorite of mine) because he said the boat couldn’t possibly work the way they had it set up. I believe him, too. He knew his boats. And you can see what I think of two of the most sacred cows of American cinema.

So what’s the Great Classic Film you intend to avoid for the rest of your life?


  1. I am with you. Gone with the wind is a hot mess. Hate it.

    Comment by AnthroK8 — March 11, 2012 @ 11:20 am

  2. Not really AVOID, but ones I haven’t seen and have little to no desire include:

    The entire Star Wars franchise.
    Citizen Kane
    Godfather franchise.

    I could go on.

    Comment by Coop — March 11, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  3. Citizen Kane. Saw it in a film class, and I can appreciate that it is groundbreaking cinema. I just don’t like it, and once was enough.

    It’s a Wonderful Life. I have a deep, inexplicable dislike for Jimmy Stewart, so most movies starring him are a no-go for me.

    The ’83 version of Scarface is something that I will never sit through if I can help it. I saw the ’32 version, and it is amazing. So well done and well-balanced, and just . . . fantastic. Sort of like reading the book, you know? ;)

    Comment by Cassie — March 11, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

  4. Not a movie fan, married to someone who has the tv on every waking moment & constantly watches old movies over & over, especially old westerns. So, for me personally, it needs to be either something like one of the Harry Potter films or animated. For instance, I love “The Lorax”, which could be because I am an eternal child in a 62-year-old body. Most of the time, however, I would much rather read a good book than watch most of what is on either the movie or tv screen. I check the Weather Channel, am always on the lookout for a new Scooby Doo movie, quite often watch ‘Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives’ (I love diners & collect diner t-shirts), & I also like NCIS, but am watching it much less now because they have reached the stage where there is seldom an episode I have not seen before (I keep early hours, so only catch them on USA, not the first-run episodes). You guys can argue over the 90% of movies I would not look out the window to see, which includes W of O, which, old time limitations of tv channels being what they were & my father’s control of the tv absolute, I have seen over 20 times.

    Comment by Patsy Nevins — March 11, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  5. 2001 makes me itch. Intensely dull and, from all I can see, annoying just for the sake of it. Seeing it too young basically ruined sci-fi for me for life.

    Also, you can add me to the “meh” column for Citizen Kane. Technically brilliant, but lifeless. And I can’t forgive what it did to poor Marion Davies.

    Comment by Muscato — March 11, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  6. Citizen Kane.


    It’s a Wonderful Life. This one is different from the others. With the others, I can respect what the makers were going for. They just didn’t age well and/or became so part of the cultural wallpaper that I just can’t watch them (especially Casablanca). They personally left me cold.

    IAWL is completely repugnant to me. I just felt like yelling at the screen, because everyone would clearly have been much better off if your man hadn’t been trapped in the small town. There is nothing worse about feeling trapped and unfulfilled in a place you don’t want to be.

    Speaking of, this is a great book (and I swear it’s relevent to the topic at hand):

    Comment by Liz — March 11, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  7. Citizen Kane, EXCEPT for the speech the guy gives about seeing the girl in the white dress, and thinking about her for the rest of his life. That bit is wonderful.

    Comment by Margo A — March 11, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  8. I’m with you on Gone with the Wind – sat through it once, and at the end I kept thinking “is that all there is? Really?”

    The Maltese Falcon. I don’t know why, but it’s always one of the films of choice at friends’ classic movie parties, and I always find myself in the kitchen poking over the last of the cherry tomatoes and ranch dip rather than sit through it again. In a nutshell: boring.

    The movie “M*A*S*H*”. I’d loved the TV series, I’ve actually read the book so I knew the movie was nothing like the TV show, but good lord, what a hot mess it was. The book was far, far better (and it had its issues). I’m not sure it’s considered classic enough, but in the circles in which I was raised, it was praised highly. And I don’t understand why.

    Comment by TropicalChrome — March 11, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  9. There are a lot of classic films I’ve never seen (a lot of them being mentioned above actually, Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Citizen Kane…) I HAVE seen the Wizard of Oz and it was meh. But 2001 – yes! Someone else who hates that. That whole movie was just one bit WTF moment for me. (Admittedly I’m not really a big movie person.)

    Comment by Rebekka — March 11, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  10. 1. Gone with the wind. Saw it as a young girl, wanted to slap the spoilt little bitch silly. Saw it again just a year or so, would not slap spoilt child but rather send her to a catholic nunnery and do the world a favour.
    2. Sjunde Inseglet (The Seventh Seal). Yes, yes I know. Ingemar Bergman was a master of his art and Max von Sydow is actually one of my all time favourite actors but this movie is dead boring.
    3. 2001 – A space Odyssey. A strange choice considering that I am at heart a sci-fi girl. Still, I have to date tried watching this movie 3 times and it never fails to put me to sleep. Literally. I start watching it and then wake up and it’s over.

    Comment by Ravna — March 11, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

  11. The Lion in Winter. My mom could (and does) sit and watch this at any opportunity; I’d prefer to watch paint dry. That said, we just watched The Third Man last night and it gets a spot on my hit list.

    I like watching random oldies on TCM because I like to ponder the social norms they portray. I wonder how much is realistic, and how much is exaggerated, like most of today’s mainstream movies. Plus I like the outfits :)

    Comment by Rachel — March 11, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  12. I don’t care for too many current movies, and I don’t like TV much, either. I do like old movies, usually. My taste runs to Cary Grant and Lucille Ball (I love her stuff from thirties and forties). And Humphrey Bogart. So my taste isn’t artistic or elevated in any way! A lot of artsy movies would just be wasted on me because I probably wouldn’t like them. As far as the movies you guys mentioned, I’ve never cared for It’s a Wonderful Life. Most people rave about how good it is, but I’ve never been able to sit through it to the end. Gone With the Wind is okay, I guess. I remember reading the book the summer I turned 13, and being shocked by Scarlet. It was my first experience with an anti-heroine. (As I remember, I adored Melanie.)
    A good friend of mine loves Miracle on 34th St., and I can’t stand it. And The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara? It makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

    Comment by Leigh Ann — March 11, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  13. 2001.. I just.. no. I don’t know why I missed it when during my adolescence my parents obtained a library copy and watched it with my brothers, but I remember wandering in and out and going, “This is stupid.”

    Also no real desire to ever see any Planet of the Apes movies, or any of the Alien franchise again. My husband LOVES Alien (or any of Ridley Scott’s work, really… try Legend if you want to see young Tom Cruise in hot pants and glitter makeup defeat Tim Curry the sexy devil) and I just really am not into that type of scary stuff.

    Comment by KESW — March 11, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  14. Im with you on the Wizard of Oz, not a fan. Im also not a fan of most of the classic Disney movies: Dumbo (HATE HATE HATE that movie), Snow White, Bambie…

    No interest in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, which apparently is tantamount to saying I like to kill puppies to some people…

    Im kind of eh on Gone with the Wind. Its too long and the epic amount of stupidity makes me want to hit people (mostly Scarlett).

    Comment by Jeni — March 11, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  15. I am that jerk who hates feel-good Christmas movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, that one with the kid and the BB gun and the lamp made out of a leg, I think there’s a Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation movie, and isn’t Miracle on 34th Street also a Christmas movie? I know of all of these movies, having seen bits and pieces over the years, but you would have to tie me to the recliner to get me to watch one the whole way through. The only Christmas movies I can watch are Elf and Bad Santa.

    Comment by Jezebella — March 12, 2012 @ 1:03 am

  16. Oh, how it warms my cold heart to see so much disdain for It’s A Wonderful Life, a movie that can go far, far away and never return.

    I realize my passport can probably be revoked because of this, but I really, really do not care for anything in the John Wayne oeuvre. I just don’t think he was a good actor. The Searchers was THE WORST.

    Comment by SoRefined — March 12, 2012 @ 1:14 am

  17. I’m about to be shot down in flames here but anything of Mel Brooks.SO not funny.

    Comment by bushpiglet — March 12, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  18. It’s a Wonderful Life. I could never understand why it’s on every year at Christmas time. It’s one of the most BORING movies I’ve ever seen.

    Comment by Julie — March 12, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  19. My mother once told me she fell asleep during “2001” while pregnant with me (I’m a couple of years older than the movie, so I’m pretty sure she meant my brother). I saw the movie in the best of circumstances: classic theater, huge screen, wonderful sound system, etc. I totally fell asleep. What a boring movie!

    The only thing I like about “Gone With the Wind” is that it gave us the classic Carol Burnett sketch, which must be several of the funniest minutes ever committed to film.

    I’ve never seen the “Godfather” movies, but worse than that: I have no desire to.

    Comment by Lee — March 12, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  20. Bushpiglet, bless your heart. I feel sorry for you that you have never had the joy of laughing until you can’t breathe at Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles. Those are my two favorite comedies, EVER, despite how low-brow and campy they are. Perhaps because of it? In any event, I hope you have the joy of that kind of laughter from other comedies. Mel Brooks, for me, is golden.

    Comment by Jezebella — March 12, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  21. I have NEVER liked the Wizard of Oz & never will.

    Comment by Leah — March 12, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  22. Jezebella,I normally love the lowbrow stuff, Hotshots and Airplane are hilarious. I’m not a snob at all but for some reason Mel Brooks movies have never done it for me. Ah well each to his own.

    Comment by bushpiglet — March 13, 2012 @ 5:02 am

  23. Bushpiglet, I’m with you actually on those Mel Brooks films. I can enjoy Young Frankenstein on Halloween (tradition in my husband’s family), and Robin Hood very very occasionally… but not much else. I find a lot of the humor embarrassing, especially as I usually end up watching Mel Brooks films with and at the request of my father-in-law, an otherwise dignified Presbyterian pyschologist who laughs uproariously at all the nasty jokes. It’s disconcerting.

    Comment by KESW — March 14, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  24. I’ve always felt a strange guilt for not liking GONE WITH THE WIND. The thought of sitting through that horrible movie again gives me nightmares.

    Thank you! I thought I was the only one.

    Comment by Tovah — March 15, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

  25. “Once Upon a Time in the West”. Longest what felt like at least nine hours of my life. I mean, I get the artistic value and whatnot but really, NOTHING happens in that film.

    Oh, and “Love Story”. Just. No.

    I do love “Gone With the Wind”, though :)

    Comment by Steffi — March 18, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  26. I have seen gone with the wind once. I love the dresses but the film is so BORING and full of *BEEP*. Never again thank you sigh etc.
    Once I was very sick nd bored and then saw the book Gone with the wind lying in the table ans started reading. I have watched several episodes of bold and the beautiful while being ill so figured this can’t be worse. And actually, I couldn’t put the book down! I do skipped the “Oh rhett!” “Oh scarlett” “Oh I want that other!” parts, but read it otherwise. It’s really good. I recommend.

    Comment by Hanna — March 26, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

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