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THE SEARCH


AndyM108
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Did anyone watch that extraordinary Montgomery Clift movie ( The Search ) this morning and find it as moving as I did? I hesitate to make any comparisons to Germany: Year Zero or any of the other great neo-realist films of the postwar period, but I don't think I've ever seen a Hollywood movie set in Europe in the immediate aftermath of World War II that's ever rung so absolutely true a note. And while I have a congenital hatred for code-required Hollywood "happy endings", only a complete misanthrope couldn't have been brought to tears of joy by the final moments of this one.

 

I noted that the Czech boy who played the leading role won a special juvenile award---and did he ever deserve it! Aline MacMahon---has there ever been a movie she didn't add a special dimension to? And it's not surprising that Montgomery Clift was as good as ever, but what a debut!

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One of the best movies ever. First time I saw it was on TCM also a few years back and couldn't believe how I'd never heard of it. Monty Clift was a brilliant actor. My only complaint about the movie is I would like to have seen a shot of "Steve's" face after "Jim" found his mom. <3

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My only complaint about the movie is I would like to have seen a shot of "Steve's" face after "Jim" found his mom. <3

 

I agree that the one thing that would have improved the movie would have been to stretch out the ending for another half minute or so in order to savor the moment, but when you see the looks on the faces of Jim and his "mommy" it almost doesn't seem to matter than much. I watched it a second time after I began this thread, this time with my wife, and not only was she also blown away by the experience, to me it was ever better as an encore presentation. It's discoveries like this that make me go over the program guide like a gold prospector at least two or three times an issue, just to make sure I don't miss anything.

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I couldn't live without my program guide. The minute I receive it, I start reading through the articles and look at the listings. I also star movies to record and to alert my family about what is coming on. I actually don't know what I would do if I didn't have TCM to watch. My life would be so dull. And a movie like The Search is a prime example of what is out there that is pretty much unknown to the general public. I don't think anyone could start watching that movie and decide to turn it off - you just have to find out what is going to happen to that little boy. My 9 yr old grandson would enjoy this. I wish there were more movies and TV shows out there with this type of story. It is a great human interest story and you also learn some history. It simply entertains you without preaching, cursing or violence. It shows the heartache of the war without condemning anyone. And the ending just makes you so happy. Why can't they make movies like this anymore?

 

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bagladymimi, what I find interesting about what you just wrote is that I tend to be skeptical or even cynical about movies with what seem to be "forced" happy endings. When it comes to movies that are centered around historical events, the first thing I look for is historical realism, not inspiration. It's not that I'm "against" happy endings, but way too often they seem to have nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It's like a cat's face grafted onto a dog's body.

 

And yet even though we're apparently looking for different things in a movie, we both found The Search to be a film for the ages. I looked at the location scenery, and it rang true to life in postwar Europe. I watched Aline MacMahon's beautifully understated performance and recognized the sort of people who'd undoubtedly lost loved ones in the war and were dedicating their lives to make sure it never happened again. She was the antithesis of the stereotype of the "faceless bureaucrat".

 

And then there was Jarmila Novotná and Ivan Jandl, the mother and her boy. I suppose that it's theoretically possible for Hollywood to have uncovered two actors who could have played those two roles as well as those two did, but the odds against it would have been about a million to one. Every word Ms. Novotná spoke was a testimony to the true meaning of war. Every facial gesture that Ivan made was equally eloquent, even before he began to speak. My father was a Norwegian-American who lost a brother in the resistance. A different roll of the dice, and my father could have remained in Europe while his brother came over here. I could have been that boy.

 

I know I'm rambling, but to me it's precisely movies like this that define the essence and the promise of Turner Classic Movies. AFAIC it's every bit as deserving of "The Essentials" designation as any of the AFI's Top 100, perhaps even more so. Maybe one of the programmers will one day recognize this and schedule it in prime time in order to bring it to a wider audience than it received in mid-morning.

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My admiration for THE SEARCH, a deeply affecting film that draws so heavily -- and wonderfully -- on the then-new Italian Neo-realist school, has made me feel for years that it's a shame that its director, Fred Zinnemann, was not the man to have eventually directed SCHINDLER'S LIST. As good as Spielberg's film is, it still lacks the spareness and angularity found in this and other of Zinnemann's best films.

 

For several years after Thomas Kennealy's book of Schindler's List was published, Billy Wilder -- like Zinnemann an Austrian Jew -- wanted to acquire it to make a film, but could find neither backers nor insurance to cover a director then well into his eighties. Zinnemann would have faced the same obstacles, of course (ten months younger than Wilder), but it's not hard to imagine that the film of it he might've produced as a masterpiece. Sadly, we'll never know.

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