I am unashamed of my pathetic store of musical knowledge. I actually listen to—and like–the radio. And not the satellite kind. Frankly, if I can’t sing or dance to a song, I’m not interested. Riffs, jamming, orchestras, Bonnaroo—not for me. A Pat Benatar singalong? Sign me up.
It’s also rare for me to confess any embarrassment about novels I haven’t read, probably because I’m enough of a bookworm that gaps in my education are just opportunities for more fun, not sources of embarrassment.
But movies? I feel squeamish when I’ve missed the greats, and tend to dodge discovery. I’m not sure why.
Today, therefore, I’m going to be brave and confess to four very big omissions from my film education. I may turn red as I write, but you won’t have to see it. Here we go….
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Umm, I do. I managed to watch a season of The Wire in a weekend, all episodes of the new Arrested Development in a day. The BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries I practically have memorized, and it’s almost 100 minutes longer than this apparent masterpiece. I even own the film in VHS format (still in cellophane). That’s how long I’ve been peddling this rationalization to myself.
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
I saw The Godfather at a movie party many years ago. It was in my early days at a new job, and I remember being embarrassed that I was the only one there watching it for the first time. I left before the second movie, shy about my older peers’ superior knowledge and my general lack of proficiency at small talk of any kind. (It really sucks sometimes to be twenty-three.) I kept feeling afterward like I’d somehow missed the window for seeing this movie, much as I still do about reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (who wants to read about youthful angst and self-importance past their early twenties?)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
I love Humphrey Bogart. I’m intrigued by gold mining, have read numerous novels about the Gold Rush. Films and novels about breakdowns due to avarice fascinate me. I have put this film into my VCR multiple times, and then not played it. Why? I guess it’s mood. I never seem to think to myself, “Yes, today, let’s watch a movie about people turning into monsters for money.”
Duck Soup (1933)
I taught a humor class last semester. I have read Irving Brecher’s account of writing for the Marx brothers in And Here’s the Kicker. I’ve seen—and liked—clips of these siblings in action. I have spotted this movie on Netflix streaming. Yet I have never hit play. My only explanation is that I’m saving it; it’s a big source of relief I’m anxious about spending prematurely. I am reserving the film for a particularly grim day, the day I screw up at work, wreck my car, and make my husband, friends, and family cry. Then, then I’ll need some Marx brothers. Why just waste the film on a day it’s raining?
Perhaps now that I’ve made my confession, I’ll finally view three of these films, but I think I will save the Marx brothers. A present like that shouldn’t be squandered, right?