Once upon a time, people would go to a movie house that played ONE movie, two if it was a double-feature. Today, it’s all multiplex: six, eight, fifteen different films in one place. Sometimes you can see the same feature on TWO screens: a big screen, and a bigger screen.
I have nothing against multiplexes. However, watching movies should be an experience rather than an activity. The film series at the restored Plaza Theater was an extraordinary and rare event. I don’t know about others, but for myself, it made me love movies even more.
I saw seven films: Casablanca, The Omega Man, Planet of the Apes (1968 version), From Here to Eternity, Jason & the Argonauts, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and The Road Warrior: Mad Max 2. All were in the main theater (Kidd Hall) except for Mad Max 2, which was in the smaller side theater (the Philanthropy). They were an extraordinary two weeks.
I recommend all these movies, but for my favorites…
Well, I thought From Here to Eternity was the weakest. This Best Picture winner was superior over a film similar in theme & setting: Pearl Harbor, but I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it now as when I first saw it. To me, it hasn’t aged well, but for first-timers it’s a treat. The Road Warrior wasn’t as violent as I thought it would be; the word sparse is best used to describe it. Still, it told its story well, with good action, strong acting, and limited dialogue. If I’m involved in the story and characters, it’s on its way to being good.
I enjoyed The Omega Man slightly more than I Am Legend (the third version of this story, The Last Man on Earth being the first), but the original Planet of the Apes trumps the barbaric remake. I took my brother to see it, since he’d seen the remake first and hadn’t seen the original. Gabe’s conclusion: the first is better. The ending of the ‘68 version is still shocking, while the 2001 version had audiences groaning or laughing.
Casablanca will always have a special place in my heart. It Is One Of THE Great Films, for those who give it a chance. However, for sheer enjoyment, my favorite is still 20,000 Leagues. Even now, the special effects outshine most anything done via computers. It’s exciting, full of adventure, good for all ages but most of all, it’s just fun.
If there’s a repeat next year, here are some of my recommendations: Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, The General, Nosferatu, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Evil Dead, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Seven Samurai, The Way We Were, Predator, Saturday Night Fever, Rear Window, Strangers on A Train, Duck Soup, Aliens, Rebecca, The Phantom of the Opera (1925, 1943, 2004 versions), The Adventures of Robin Hood, Lawrence of Arabia, Mommie Dearest, Double Indemnity, and finally, Citizen Kane. If you have suggestions, let me know.