During a notorious moment in “Rosemary’s Baby,” Rosemary cries out in alarm, “This is no dream! This is really happening!” And that’s the brilliance of Roman Polanski’s 1968 thriller. He takes what is, admittedly, a pretty ridiculous story about a coven of elderly Satan worshippers on New York’s Upper West Side and makes you think that it’s really happening. His method? He plants the film firmly in the real world, full of struggling actors and annoying neighbors and respected obstetricians.
The idea of the world coming to an end — especially an end caused by human arrogance, stupidity and insecurity — is so ridiculous that you can’t really get the full impact in a drama. No, to really feel the tragedy and loss of the apocalypse, what you need is a comedy.
“The Great Escape” is a great example of the sort of movie you just don’t see anymore: The lighthearted World War II movie. Set in a prisoner of war camp in Germany, the film avoids the sort of gut-wrenching violence or heart-rending drama of movies like “Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List” or even Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
Modern movies starring the likes of Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds have given the very concept of romantic comedy a bad name, but in the right hands, romance plus comedy can be more than amusing or heartwarming. It can be a masterpiece — which brings us to 1960’s “The Apartment.”
It’s difficult, at times, to decipher the tone of Midnight Cowboy. Is it a quirky comedy about a naive wanna be hustler? Yes, sometimes. Is it a dark drama about a man struggling to handle past trauma? Well, depending on what you make of the flashbacks, it may be that too.
Stanley Kubrick’s futuristic film, which takes place 14 years in the past, is the subject of today’s podcast: 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick made this highly influential film in 1968, a year before he faked the moon landing. (This is something people actually believe.) The plot covers the entire advancement of mankind in what feels like real time. Note, when something has “odyssey” in the title it’s not going to be short.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho stands the test of time as the quintessential psychological thriller for any generation. Considered by many as one of the greatest films of all time, Psycho is set in motion when Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) embezzles $40,000 ($322,483.78 in today’s dollars) so she can start a new life with her boyfriend (John Gavin). Crane is driving through the night to meet her beau, but an onslaught of rain forces her to pull over and spend the night at the Bates Motel. It’s there where she encounters Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the sometimes kind and sometimes creepy SPOILER ALERT villain in the film.
The tea party is the most destructive piece of brainwashing in American political history. The tea party is a malicious plot to subvert the American political process. The tea party is out to kill the president of the United States. The preceding sentences aren’t some Leftist rant against the Tea Party, the modern-day conservative political group. It’s just three facts about the tea party in 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate. In the John Frankenheimer (not to be confused with Frankenheimer’s monster) Cold War era thriller, American soldiers are brainwashed by Chinese operatives who program them to think they’re actually at a ladies’ tea party.