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"It's woefully Overrated" says Richard Schickel


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"It's woefully overrated" said the great film critic Richard Schickel recently in regards to one of my favorite films and, IMHO, one of the greatest films of the 1940s. Which one?

 

THE MALTESE FALCON directed by John Huston.

 

It surprised me. But it also got me to thinking. What recognizably great classics do I think are overreated? Not films that I don't believe are classics or that I don't like. But films that are recognized as classics but that I think are overrated. We sort of had this discussion about THE BANDWAGON -- generally acknowledged as "one of the greatest of all musicals" as Peter Travers or as Robert Osborne said "along with SINGIN IN THE RAIN the two greatest of all musicals" -- in which some thought it was overrated. Name a film(s) that you are think are overrated. I'll start.

 

BONNIE AND CLYDE -- I just don't get it. I watched it (or tried to) again the other night for the first time in years and I just couldn't figure out why it has the reputation it does.

 

42nd STREET -- a musical? Where all the musical numbers are crammed into the last 10 minutes? Huh? Without the music it might have been a good movie. But a classic musical? Overrated IMHO.

 

THE GRAPES OF WRATH -- who needs sleeping pills? A total bore to me. Overly earnest, too long, dull, preachy, completely unrealistic. Because of it I will never have insomnia.

 

 

 

 

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Disagree about all the films you've both listed except one - *Gone with the frigging Wind* !

 

I also feel at least two of David Lean's later efforts are way over-rated: *Lawrence of Arabia* and *Dr. friggin Zhivago*.

 

Over-rated, over-produced, over-blown, over-long. There's a place in Dante's nine circles of Hell for these two.

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>"It's woefully Overrated" says Richard Schickel

 

Who is Richard Schickel?? I never heard of the guy. Is he a member of this message board? Your cousin? Running for President? A pro basketball player?

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*THE GRAPES OF WRATH -- who needs sleeping pills? A total bore to me. Overly earnest, too long, dull, preachy, completely unrealistic. Because of it I will never have insomnia.*

 

*-----*You had to be there (the dust bowl, the great depression) in order to say that, and I'm guessing you weren't.

 

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42nd Street set a style in musicals, that of Busby Berkeley, while combining a look at the Depression as it was happening. In that sense it was a first. Look at some of the musicals just prior, such as Broadway Melody, and the staging seems stodgy. 42nd Street was remarkable, and got better with pictures like Footlight Parade.

 

Bonnie and Clyde, too, was a trendsetter. Violence was extreme, and it had two attractive actors just on the cusp of stardom, and it appealed to the young crowd who, like the outlaws (at least as they were depicted in the movie), were rebelling against society.

 

Grapes of Wrath - A brilliant film at any time. People, who through no fault of their own, have to give up their home and cross America to California to find work, and meet brutal conditions along the way. Who could fall asleep in this?

 

Yes, there are films that have been overrated over the years, but these three are not. I mean, you shouldn't go into a film like 42nd Street and expect to see full color extravaganzas. It was of its time.

 

Films I consider overrated: Citizen Kane, 2001, Lawrence of Arabia. Oddly enough, I just realize that the connection between all three is they are big, but take a long time to get anywhere.

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Well, Schickel's challenging the established take on one of the classics and, as long as he can make a solid case for his statement, that's fine with me.

 

I enjoy Maltese Falcon primarily because of the perfect casting and the interplay of the four main players in the film. Greenstreet has a great time with some enjoyable dialogue (I'm a man who like to talk to a man who likes to talk, etc) and is fun to watch.

 

Having said that Falcon is a rather talky film, with no action to speak of (some may like it for that very reason). It lacks the film noir visuals of Murder My Sweet and Big Sleep, as well as the sexual excitement of the latter film. Hawks brings exciting bits of sudden violence to Big Sleep that are missing in the Huston film (constrained by fidelity to the Dashiell Hammett novel). Some may think that Falcon's throwaway attitude towards action is what makes the film rather unique for such an established classic. But I can easily envision others being a little put off by that same fact.

 

And while Falcon's story line makes more sense than Big Sleep's (of course) I don't really think that people watching the film a second or third time due so because of the story. They so so because they like Bogart and the cast (understandably so).

 

To toss in another couple of overrated titles, I would offer the following:

 

High Noon: great cast of character supporting players with little to do. The final gunfight, as protracted as it is, lacks the impact of, for example, the gunfight in which Alan Ladd blew Jack Palance away in Shane. The one great scene in this film is that 60 second succession of two second edits as Cooper writes his will just before the train arrives (with Tiomkin's music accompanying to terrific effect). Nothing else in this western, in my opinion, compares to that one minute. I say this in spite of the fact that I am a Cooper fan.

 

Yankee Doodle Dandy: way too much WW2 flag waving for my palate and Cagney, a great actor, is primarily remebered as a dancer in this film. Histrionically he's largely wasted here, Academy Award winner or not. You want to see Cagney when he's truly great as an actor? Get out your White Heat DVD.

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These are just personal opinions. Many opinions vary because we are talking about movie art. It's like talking about music art or painting art. Opinions vary.

 

I've never cared much for the personal opinions of professional reviewers. What I want to know is "What's the movie about? Who is in it? What year was it made?" Basically, the same stuff that is in a one-line TV guide synopsis.

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Citizen Kane has a heavier burden on it's shoulders to impress than virtually any other film. That's because critics love to call it "the greatest film ever made." Well, what film can possibly live up to that title?

 

 

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> *That's because critics love to call it "the greatest film ever made." Well, what film can possibly live up to that title?*

 

*"Gone with the Wind".*

 

 

 

Interesting that someone who chooses to call himself Fred C. Dobbs would think that way about a film that is all about Scarlett O'Hara.

 

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>Interesting that someone who chooses to call himself Fred C. Dobbs would think that way about a film that is all about Scarlett O'Hara.

 

Remember when Howard asked Dobbs and Curtin what they were going to do when they got back to civilization, and the two men just stared off into space as if they were both daydreaming?

 

Well, both of them were thinking about Scarlett O'Hara.

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*Remember when Howard asked Dobbs and Curtin what they were going to do when they got back to civilization, and the two men just stared off into space as if they were both daydreaming?*

 

*Well, both of them were thinking about Scarlett O'Hara.*

 

Yeah, and if either one of them had come near her Scarlett would have pulled out that gun she shot the Union soldier with. Dobbs and Curtin would have had better luck with their burros.

 

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>Yeah, and if either one of them had come near her Scarlett would have pulled out that gun she shot the Union soldier with.

 

Doh.

 

Dobbs and Curtin were also daydreaming about themselves being rich from their gold, as millionaires, AND Scarlett. They weren't dreaming about Scarlett at Tara with themselves as bums camping in a tent in the Mexican desert.

 

Don't you know how to daydream??

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Oct 18, 2011 6:36 PM

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>the vote for Citizen Kane. Definitely overrated. I don't think I even watched this film all the way through.

 

Citizen Kane is mostly a guy's movie. There are only three women in the film with speaking parts, and a few dames in the background as maids and dancers.

 

Cast of mostly guys:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033467/fullcredits#cast

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*Dobbs and Curtin were also daydreaming about themselves being rich from their gold, millionaires, and Scarlett. They weren't dreaming about Scarlett with themselves as bums camping in the desert.*

 

And I'm sure that Scarlett would consider them under those circumstances, as well. As a matter of fact, I'm sure that there weren't many rich men that she wouldn't have considered. With Scarlett's capacity to see husbands make sudden departures, though, Dobbsy and Curtin better watch out.

They should join Howard and pick up with one of those Indian ladies. They'll live longer.

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