Monday, January 30, 2012

F The Movies We've Never Seen

Listen: we here at F This Movie! have seen a lot of movies. Like, over 75 of them (at last count). But we can't see them all. These are the ones we've missed. We're not proud of this, but the first step is in admitting there's a problem.

Mike: Gandhi (1982) - It was 1982. I was four years old. I asked my parents if they’d take me to see Gandhi. Now, I’ve always loved movies. Since I was old enough to follow the images on screen, I’ve been watching and enjoying films. My parents were wonderful and exposed me to all kinds of movies as a kid, many I probably shouldn’t have been exposed to, and I am forever grateful that they did. Gandhi, however, seemed to be a little too much for my parents. They were absolutely confused as to why their four-year old son wanted to see Gandhi in the first place, or even knew about it. To be honest, I have no clue how I became aware of its existence. All I know is that I was dying to see it and my parents were not.

They talked it over and decided that I probably didn’t realize what I was asking for. They were convinced that once they got me into the theater with my popcorn and juice, I’d regret it before the popcorn cooled. They broke the news to me and it didn’t go well. I was crushed. Sure, I could go see E.T. with my sisters like a normal kid, but it was the bald head of Ben Kingsley that called to me. I asked again. They refused again. But this time, my parents made amends: they bought me a glass with Gandhi’s face on it. While it clearly wasn’t the same as seeing the movie, I was satisfied.

Almost thirty years later and I still haven’t seen Gandhi. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I refuse to let my parents off the hook. I guess one day I’ll have to show up to their house with the Gandhi DVD, a warm bag of popcorn, and some juice for my Gandhi glass.

Mark Ahn: To expose the FULL EXTENT of my cinematic philistinism, I'm giving you... a top 5 list of movies I want to watch but never have, because the reasons for why I haven't seen any one of these excellent movies (from what I've heard) is pretty much the same for all of them.

But before I do, I have to attempt to defend myself. Some of these movies are at or beyond the upper limit of my movie time range, which seems to be about 1960; there are probably less than ten movies I've seen from before then (all complaints can be emailed to fthismoviepodcast[at] Also. Actually? That's the only reason I can think of.

1) Sunset Boulevard
2) Gone with the Wind
3) Lawrence of Arabia
4) On the Waterfront
5) Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Erika: I claim to “love” movies. I claim to be “interested” in the history of film, and how movies are made, and blah blah snores. So then I have to ask myself, why have I not yet seen Gone With The Wind? It’s a Wonderful Life? Bridge On the River Kwai?

Okay, so I don’t really care if I see the last one. I WOULD see it (and I already own it), and I know it’s a classic and one of AFI’s top 100 movies, but it’s not at the top of my “$%*&#@#!!! I’m so behind!” movie viewing list.

Once I was old enough (re: to get hired at Blockbuster Video [my dream job as a child] and rent many videos, blockbusters or not), I made it a point to see Ordinary People. And Terms of Endearment. And Tootsie. And Irreconcilable Differences. And The Godfather. And The Color Purple. And Purple Rain. And other movies about purple. See, these were the films my parents talked about when I was young – VERY young! Movies for which they hired a babysitter (not really so tough – my grandparents practically lived with us). But I remember. Movie-loving is in the blood. These were important movies at the time for my parents, and once I could, I knew I had to see them, too.

Still, I missed Casablanca. Out of Africa. The movie where Brando says, “I coulda been a contender.”(I know it’s On the Waterfront.) I know lines from these movies like everyone else does. Why haven’t I SEEN them?

Patrick: It's a tricky thing to talk about movies you've never seen, especially when people know that you are a "movie person" (the day I describe myself as a "movie person" is the day I start fixing myself Pop-Tarts in the bathtub). It doesn't matter that you've seen literally thousands of movies. People tend to fixate on the ONE movie they name that you haven't seen (i.e. "I can't believe you've never seen Breaking Away!"). And while I've spent the first few weeks of 2012 trying to fill in some of the obvious gaps in my movie watching, there are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in the very last year that Earth exists. NO MORE PULL-UPS!

I'm going to give my answers as a round of MOVIE SHAME (#movieshame), mostly because it's a game I made up for us to play on Facebook and Twitter and I want it to be a thing that catches on.

I have never seen Gone with the Wind. I have seen Gone in 60 Seconds. In a theater. I have never seen Mister Smith Goes to Washington. I have seen Mr. Brooks. In a theater. I have never seen Lawrence of Arabia. I have seen Larry Crowne. In a theater. I have never seen It Happened One Night. I have seen One Night at McCool's. In a theater. I have never seen Five Easy Pieces. I have seen Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach. In a theater. I have never seen All About Eve. I have seen All About Steve (not in a theater, though). I have never seen Ben-Hur. I have seen Ben-Affleck in Phantoms and Forces of Nature and Reindeer Games and Paycheck and Jersey Girl and Gigli ALL IN A THEATER.

Come to think of it, I could go for that Pop-Tart right about now.

JB: Thanks to decades of avid movie going and my day gig teaching high school Film Studies in chilly northern Minnesota, I have now seen almost every classic film ever made. But a few forgotten gems have eluded me, and my must-see list includes mostly older, often lost, more esoteric films. Here are some intriguing little celluloid nuggets that -- as much as I am shamed to admit this -- I have never seen. The information I have been able to dig up on these films is nowhere near complete, but here goes.

Six Bullets in You (1932, Edgar Ullmer) This early Humphrey Bogart film features a supporting performance that has often been compared unfavorably to both Cary Grant in Manhattan Hi-Jinx (1930, Roy Del Ruth) and Gary Cooper in Sherriff Jim (1929, William Beaudine). Seen mostly in clip form in various documentaries about the early talkie era, it features the now-iconic “Baltimore pushcart” sequence. Reportedly, Six Bullets in You features no real gunplay, which led to disappointed audiences and the lowest reported gross of the 1930’s for a major studio film.
 Shadow of the Murderess (1941, William Cameron Menzies) Featuring Fay Spain, George Macready, Ann Dvorak, Henry Wilcoxin, Marjorie Main, Charlie Ruggles, Porter Hall, Beulah Bondi, H.B. Warner, Guy Kibbee, Eugene Paulette, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains, Andy Devine, George Bancroft, Tim Holt, Tom Tyler, George Reeves, Ann Rutherford, Walter Pidgeon, Reginald Owen, Teresa Wright and a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo by Howard Hawks as Gus, the wise-guy bellhop. Critics at the time complained about its myriad confounding subplots and terrible costumes. Leonard Maltin has often compared the film unfavorably to Seven Lies (1930, Jules White) and Five Card Death (1925, Sam Taylor).

The Prince and the Stones (1952) The last and, by all accounts, finest of the Alexander Korda super productions, the film features a famous musical number (rumored to have cost upwards of a million dollars) wherein the title character Prince Armendesian (Sabu) flies with canaries and dies. 

The Big Wank (1971, Jerry Lewis) Even more obscure than Lewis’s earlier The Day the Man Fell (1966), it was only released theatrically in South America. The Big Wank is often compared unfavorably to My Paisley President (1967, Blake Edwards) with its now-iconic supporting performance by Peter Sellers. According to some sources, The Big Wank features a sequence in which writer-director-producer-star Jerry Lewis chews on light bulbs and shamelessly flirts with a pretty meter maid (Suzanne Pleshette). Filmed partially in Chicago.

These films are hopelessly obscure; they are not even listed on IMDB, so do not bother looking them up. Still, my eyeballs are watering just thinking about seeing them! Seriously, F-Heads, if any of you know of how I can obtain a legal copy of any of these films, I will be forever in your debt.


  1. Wow, you guys are human after all. :-) Most of you are either married and/or a parent (Patrick & Erika, Doug, Mike, etc.) so you're excused. You'll have time after the kids grow up to watch plenty of the good stuff JB has already seen. It's the single guys with disposable time and income (Mark Ahn, Alex?) that have no excuse to not have caught-up with the wild world of cinema. Pretty much everybody has holes in their TV/movie viewing habits though, and it's what we choose to not watch that everybody else does that says most about who we are as individuals.

    I was born in '73 and have seen all the "old" movies mentioned above ("Gone with the Wind," "Sunset Boulevard," "On the Waterfront," "Bridge...River Kwai," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Ghandi," etc.) except the one's JB wants to see (talk about obscure Warner Archive mining prospects).

    I've never seen any of the "Back to the Future" movies. Never seen "The Goonies" or "Gremlins 2." Never seen "It's A Wonderful Life," "To Kill A Mockingbird," "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," etc. (not really a Capra fan). Never seen the original "Scarface," "Treasure of Sierra Madre," "Public Enemy" or "Birth of a Nation." Never seen a single "Harry Potter" movie (even though I own the first five on HD-DVD) or read any of the books. Haven't seen a "Saw," "Twilight," "Underworld," "Resident Evil" or "Hostel" movie. Haven't seen the new "Transformers" movies (even though I own the first one from 2007 on HD-DVD), "300" (ditto) or "Watchmen" (ditto on Blu-ray). Never seen "Tron," "Con Air," "Phantom of Paradise" or any of the 80's fantasy movies ("Labirynth," "Princess Bride," "Legend," "Willow," etc.) except the "Conan" movies and "Beast Master." Never saw the "American Pie" movies. Never seen a "Star Trek" movie or TV series ("Star Trek II" during this Saturday's marathon will be the first). And so on and so forth.

    What does any of this say about me as a person? I'd have to list the movies that I have seen to make some kind of sense what I filled the 'holes' of my viewing habit with... but that's for another column (and a much bigger response space than what this website allows).

  2. I watched "That Obscure Object of Desire" last night, for everybody keeping galactic movie karma score at home.

    Also, trippy.

  3. Nice! Score one for Mark Ahn. I have never seen That Obscure Object of Desire. I have seen The Object of My Affection. In a theater.

  4. ^^^ I love that movie. The first time I saw it I didn't even noticed that the lead actress... well, if you've seen it you know what happens, but my first time I didn't notice it. It took until my 2nd viewing to 'get it,' which then blew my fragile little mind (besides the other stuff in "TOOOD" that blows up! :-P).

    More movies that I haven't seen (but I should have already): "The Seven Samurai," almost all the Marx Bros. comedies ("Duck Soup," "Night at the Opera," etc.), "Brazil," "Stagecoach," "The Searchers," "Schindler's List," etc. Except for the Marx Bros. one's all of the above titles I own on either shrink-wrapped DVD, BD or HD-DVD. I'm good at recognzing the good shit and buying it, but watching it is where I run into a wall. My main obstacle is that, as much as I love movies, TV is my #1 passion. It's easier and more comfortable for me to watch the umpteenth repeat of a "Law & Order" episode (of all three series: mothership, "SVU" or "CI") than to tackle a new-to-me movie which will require my complete and total attention for at least 120 min. With all the sports (primarily soccer and boxing), news (I'm a political junkie; gotta have my Rachel Maddow 9PM fix every night), comedy (Jimmy Kimmel, Conan, Jimmy Fallon, etc.) and great shows ("Shameless," "Dexter," "Nurse Jackie," "Game of Thrones," etc.) it's hard to find an uninterrupted window in which to park the ol' butt in front of the HDTV to watch a movie.

    I'm trying though, I really am. And your lists and ability to confess to being imperfect by not watching the movies you haven't seen is helping me realize the treasure trove of riches already at my disposal. It's just a matter of when to pull the trigger(s). :-)

  5. I have never -- and WILL never -- see PRIMAL FEAR.

  6. I have never seen Primal Fear; I do know that it has been compared unfavorably to Shadow of the Murderess.

  7. Mike, do you have picture of that Gandhi glass from your childhood? It sounds potentially terrifying, though not as much as that Watto collectible cup Taco Bell sold to promote "The Phantom Menace" (Note: you stick the straw in the back of his head.)

    1. Emeric, I wish I still had that glass! I suspect it's hiding somewhere in my parents house, but I'm not positive.