Then and Now:
The greatest films stand the test of time, speaking to us in different ways at various life stages. Is there a movie that was a part of your life when you were younger that you see differently now? Like fine wine, has it improved with age or did it die in the bottle? Has maturity brought you new insights you missed in your youth? We want to know all about it!
Join us for "Then and Now," a bloghop hosted by The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock. Tell us about a movie you loved when you were younger but have come to see differently over time - for better or for worse. Please visit the Squid's blog for the participant list.
Worse Than I Thought
|Film poster Plan 9 from Outer Space (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
By this time I had read many accounts of how this film was "the worst film ever made". How could this film that had impacted me so greatly be held in such contempt? I had to find out for myself. I rented the video and made the sad discovery. The film was really really bad.
Fortunately some good came of this low point in film history. It inspired the great Tim Burton film Ed Wood. If you have not seen this film yet by all means you should--it is excellent. I don't advise Plan 9 From Outer Space unless you are really out for some punishment.
A Film That Has Held Up Well
When I was growing up in the 1950's and early 60's, the threat of nuclear annihilation continually hung over us. I had a perverse fascination with this concept so I naturally enjoyed seeing the films that came out about this subject. There were quite a few of them. My favorite and the one that stuck with me the most was Stanley Kramer's 1959 film On the Beach.
I first saw this film at the drive-in theater with my parents when I was about nine years old. It was scary in a really-could-happen sort of way that monster movies never delivered. When it eventually was available on video I was able to see this film again and it didn't disappoint. I've now seen it a few times since and have the DVD in my collection. The other night I carefully watched the film again. To me this is such a great film.
On the Beach is a post-apocalyptic film which depicts the last survivors of a global nuclear conflagration hanging on in Australia. Everyone knows the end will soon reach them in the form of the creeping radiation in the atmosphere. The remaining population hangs on as they endure shortages of gasoline and food. After an American nuclear submarine arrives on the scene, a decision is made to send the crew to search for other areas that are theorized to be still habitable and to investigate mysterious signals that are being broadcast from somewhere on the Southern California coast.
These days I'm not sure this film would hold the interest of many kids like it did me so many years ago. For that matter I don't think a lot of adults would tolerate it. For one thing the film is in appropriately somber black and white. The pacing is slow with a lot of dialog. There are minimal special effects. No gore even though we know there must be plenty of bodies somewhere in the California cities the sub crew checks out. There's no bad language--nothing lost by that. And no sex even though the intimations are made that sex is on some of their minds. It's a film that would probably get a PG rating due to the mature theme.
It's too bad that more films of this quality aren't still made. The message of the film impacted me as a kid and the film held my interest. Now when I see it, I'm still impacted and enthralled by this film. On the Beach is in my estimation a truly great film.
Have you seen the original 1959 version of On the Beach? What do you think of the slow paced black and white films of the 1940's and 50's? What films can you think of that are worse than Plan 9 from Outer Space?
Join me this coming Sunday June 15 for another Battle of the Bands. No classical music this week. Just two good versions of one great song.