The first: Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet from 1948. But gentle readers, doth must protest – or something – but Shakespeare and I are not friends. The more my high school English teacher crawled over desks (literally), delivering soliloquies and shouting lines like she was on a stage (in her head she was), the more I shrunk lower in my seat trying to disappear. (She tried so hard, so A for effort on the teaching, teach’.) When it comes to Olivier, I’ve got to stay true to my inner Mariah: “I don’t know him.” So let’s just say that Hamlet was long as hell, British as hell, and the only details I can remember are about the killer chili oil stir fry I made for dinner that night, which was hot as hell. Caring is hard sometimes.
Why the hell am I blogging about movies from the 20’s and 40’s? Get filled in here!
And then there was Wings – the very first Best Picture winner in 1927-1928 (they did split-years for a hot second there because I don’t know why; they just didn’t have this shit on lock yet). If you have any affinity for old films or silent ones, you should really see Wings. It’s yet another war story about two wannabe pilots heading into World War 1, but it’s done way differently than we’ve seen on the Quest, here. The movie is silent, putting more focus on the music we hear…which is straight up fantastic thanks to J.S. Zamecnik, a silent film composer who lived from 1872-1953.
See? This movie is so old I have to actually report on when people lived because they were literally born in different centuries!
The movie had to be restored because the original negatives were lost (looost!). The only existing copy was being held in the Paramount Vaults. Because the film needed a full restoration, much of the music you find on modern DVD releases is re-orchestrated. So while I can’t judge the original version’s score, the remastered version looks and sounds fantastic. I love how much importance is placed on music in silent films. But with great weight comes great responsibility, and luckily, the score here delivers.
Wings also has a very well-kept pace, which helps its 2.5 hours fly by. (HA, get it. Because it’s about air pilots. Yeah, OK cool.) Clara Bow and Buddy Rodgers are fantastic–their facial expressions are magical, with both of them playing their parts with such innocence, vulnerability and love. I realized how difficult it must’ve been to become a truly great silent film actor. I also realized I don’t think I actually knew who Buddy Rodgers was until recently. It’s one of those names you always hear of, but never actually look up.
Anyhoo, you really root for these two to come together, but you know they will because old movies need their perfect endings that aren’t rooted in reality, whatsoever. #SPOILERALERT!
This was one movie I wasn’t looking forward to, but I was beyond surprised and thoroughly happy that I got to see it. I ended it with a sigh, grateful to have had a somewhat cultural and historical experience from it. Although I was totally exhausted from war films before this one, Wings felt different. It was different. It was from another world, really.
A Man for All Seasons. Patton. Lawrence of Arabia. The only 3 movies standing in my way of being able to claim I’ve seen every Best Picture winner in the history of the Academy Awards. My new goal: Finish before the 2017 ceremony. I got this.