All three movies are incredible works of art, so this was a close race. It wasn’t until the last year that I had even watched these movies. I knew when I was done each one that I should have tried them out long before. So before talking about Hitchcock’s magnum opus (though many would argue that North by Northwest is the true owner of this title), let’s take a look at the runners up:
If any of you have watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, you may have had a reaction similar to mine. When the credits rolled I thought, “What in blue blazes was that?” I had no idea what was going on. Everything from the monolith to the apes going ape-poop on the bones to the giant embryo, I was lost. But I knew better than to write it off. I watched No Country for Old Men and had the same thought when Tommy Lee Jones uttered the final line. And as I’ve said many times before about movies, the ones that stay in my mind for a long time probably have much deeper meanings than I’d originally thought. But I won’t go any further on this one. Time to move on…
The Good the Bad and the Ugly is the ultimate “spaghetti western.” Btw, if you’ve ever wondered why they’re called this, it’s not because people sit back and eat spaghetti while watching them. It refers to the fact that they’re Italian-made. Sergio Leone, an Italian, made this classic with a cast that, for the majority, did not speak any English. I was drawn in by not only the story, but the characters, the dusty, western theme (the clothes, the music, the backdrops–only Once Upon a Time in the West can compare (another Sergio Leone movie. Oh, and my favourite thing about this movie is that in the scene where you see a skeleton, it’s real! That’s right. And whose ideas was it to have a real human skeleton in the movie? Well, it was hers–the person who once carried those bones around in life. A spanish actress had made a request before her death that she act in film even after she’s dead. She got her wish.
I know what you’re thinking… Why isn’t THAT movie called Psycho? But Good/Bad/Ugly is truly a great. It not only almost took the prize, it deserves it. It sits at the impressive position of 5 in the top 250. Pretty amazing when you think of the gazillion movies that have been made in the last century.
Psycho the movie is truly an unforgettable experience. Hitchcock believed in experiences. You can tell when watching any one of his flicks. I’ve always thought that great movies are ones that make you feel something. Hitchcock was a master at this. He once described his job as providing people with “beneficial shocks.”
Two elements of this movie stand out in my mind. The first is that it not only scared the pants off of movie watchers in 1960, it STILL makes people jump. Sure, our movies having gotten more shocking, bloodier, scarier, but this story and its assisting visual/audio effects is done so well that it doesn’t matter how numb you are to shock entertainment. Now that’s not to say that it’s overly gratuitous in its depiction of violence and horror. In fact, it is very tame. Hitchcock’s timing and choice of camera angles, music, sound, etc. is simply perfect. He doesn’t need anything else to try and raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
Second, Psycho gets the job done with nothing but what Hitchcock calls “pure cinema.” I won’t allow any spoilers to sneak out here, but there isn’t a single character that you get attached to and follow. There’s isn’t a single superstar actor (up until the movie was released, that is–it made a star out of Anthony Perkins) that keeps the audience is watching. It’s just the story told through the medium of cinema. Awesome.
Congratulations Psycho, it’s your week.
And the winning quote of the week:
For quotes The Good the Bad and the Ugly takes the cake. So much so, that I’m going to offer two of them this week. The first was suggested by Tim Cook:
“When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”
The second, I think you will agree, cannot go without mentioning: “God is not on our side because he hates idiots also.”
And the Oscar goes to:
Actress: Lila Crane. She makes acting look easy and her scary shower scene is iconic.
Actor: Clint Eastwood. We don’t get to hear him say, “Do you feel lucky punk?” or “Go ahead, make my day,” but his character is just as smooth and devilishly confident as these lines. Though I always wondered how a guy out in the desert had such an endless supply of smokes and matches.
So if this week doesn’t make you wanna eat popcorn and get scared on purpose, I don’t know what will. I dedicate this week’s movie pick to all the psychos I know, and there are many. May your psychotic ways never harm but always entertain.