The machinery of the Public Domain has shuddered back to life and as with last year, new works are transferring ownership to the people. Perhaps most notably, the copyright on the final Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories finally expired, so it will be entertaining to see what shaky legal argument the Doyle Estate will come up with to try to continue to get money out of Holmes now. Also joining the Public Domain is The Jazz Singer, which has an enduring technical legacy and, I hear, little else to recommend it.
But the member of the PD class of 2023 that I’ve heard the most praise for is Wings. While I don’t recall hearing of it before now, it has not only a good reputation in story but also very impressive aerial cinematography for its time. I’m strongly reminded of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, so much as I remember anything about it. While that movie was set in the first world war but made in the 1960s, it will be interesting to see how the 1920s retold WWI.
Welcome to the next evolution in repurposing old articles: revisiting posts about revisiting movies. I do appreciate a good meta concept. And also this one.
Any collection of highlights from the Movies of My Yesterdays series has to include the very first edition: Lady and the Tramp.
I’m not sure, but I think The Seven Percent Solution might be the longest post I’ve written on this blog, and it looks like I put a lot into crafting it as the final Sherlock Holmes movie review. I hope it doesn’t seem overdone, but I mostly feel good about it still.
Almost as much surplus of retrospective is found with Galaxy Quest. Also almost as much writing quality. I enjoy very much when I can find a topic to Say Something About in relation to a movie, and in this case, I was recognizing the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.
Finally, I can’t necessarily speak to the writing quality of the reviews, but I hope I got across how much I love The Iron Giant and Meet The Robinsons and possibly only love them more with each rewatch.
Nobody talks at all about this movie. I see the title floating around, but usually only as a title available in a catalog, not even anything people are referencing. It only just barely exists.
The summary I saw of this movie just described a rich eccentric paying a family to let him spend Christmas with them, but then I looked up the trailer, and I was expecting a lonely older man as the rich guy, but it’s going to be very strange to see Ben Affleck playing a goofy inept manchild. I may have missed the early heartthrob stage of his career, but I always thought he was doing more grounded romantic leads.
As well this looks incredibly like a Christmas remake of Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. I thought the guy was going to just be lonely, but apparently it specifically says he’s looking to recapture his childhood, spelled out in the contract they draw up. So it’s not just a family hijacked by someone who turned on the money firehose, it’s a family hired to make a middle-aged man feel like a kid again.
This is one more legend that’s a bit of a black box. I know there’s a monster besieging a research station in the Arctic or Antarctic, and that’s about it. I think almost the entire movie goes without showing the monster? It might be an alien but it’s left ambiguous? The poster is as much of a masterpiece as the movie, they say, and it is a fantastic poster.
I dimly recall a TV special about practical and visual effects in horror movies in general that may have touched on this movie, but I’m not sure. The images I’m remembering could be almost any horror movie, but they could fit a frozen research station for all I know.
I had intended to do another movie on the basis of a current meme, but I didn’t really feel up to that and then the week got away from me, so instead I’m going to share my thoughts on rewatching one of my favorite Christmas movies.
I vaguely remember when this was new, even if I don’t directly remember it coming out. We got around to it eventually on video, probably the next year. Movies are available at home the next month now somehow, but they still had a very long embargo then, and of course they wouldn’t release a Christmas movie in the summer, so I’m sure I saw it the next year. I do recall reading the novelization a few years later, though while I remember it being the first time I noticed scenes in a novelization not from the book, I don’t really remember more than that. I especially like to watch this toward the beginning of the season since it begins with the end of the Thanksgiving Parade. I wouldn’t say it’s ever been a foundational tradition of the season, but it’s almost always been there, and it carries innocent nostalgia in my mind, so it’s time to see if it holds up to a modern cynic.
Dorey Walker is a very guarded and practical single mother and teaches her young daughter Susan the same, including that there is no Santa Claus to put any childish faith in, something their neighbor friend, lawyer Brian Bedford, finds concerning. Dorey’s employer, old fashioned department store Cole’s, prepares to go into an incredibly important holiday shopping season, as if they don’t make enough to pay off the debts they incurred evading a hostile takeover from Victor Landburgh’s soulless megacorp Shopper’s Express, they’ll default and Landburgh could buy up the company for cheap. This year, Cole’s will have a new Santa at their flagship 34th Street store thanks to an emergency hire of a charming old man named Kriss who was very particular about the portrayal of the character for the Thanksgiving Parade. Dorey, Susan, and Brian soon discover that this man, isn’t just a very good Santa, he believes he is the legendary Kriss Kringle. Brian and Kriss make it their mission to make believers out of Dorey and Susan, but while the family wrestle with their personal faith, Kriss’s unexpected habit of giving parents advice on what other stores have items Cole’s doesn’t have or charges too much for is paying off in brand loyalty and inspires Cole’s to introduce a dedicated “find it for you” concierge service, pulling in an unprecedentedly fantastic sales season and foiling Landbergh’s plans, unless he can scheme a way to get Kriss out of the way. Also Dorey suggests that doubting Susan can test Kriss with the kind of Christmas wish she’d never ask her mother for, and Susan tells him her most impossible private wish: a father, a brother, and a big house upstate.
I’m coming back to this movie with a lot more context. I’ve since seen the original movie, and I had thought this carried through the old real life rivalry between Macy and Gimbel. Of course, few remember Gimbel’s anymore, or anything of that rivalry. It’s actually a pretty clever translation into an outmoded business from a friendlier time fighting for its life against the modern mercenary corporate raiders. While the pacing and tone is much more approachable here, I do have to say I prefer the resolution of the earlier version, in which the judge decides to uphold the decision already made by the US Mail to accept Kriss’s identity, rather than taking the extra leaps of “if the government can trust in God on faith to the point they print it on their money, this court can accept on faith that Santa Claus exists”, and further “Santa Claus exists and therefore this court trusts that Mr. Kringle is who he says he is.” But then, better legal experts have torn these movies apart on the court proceedings.
I had always taken the narrative intent to be that Kriss is indeed Santa Claus, so I was surprised a year or two ago to see someone arguing that the point is that we don’t know and it shouldn’t matter. That might be more the case for the earlier version, but this treatment gives us every reason to believe Kriss short of seeing him do a scrap of supernatural magic. My current take is that, while anyone can embody the spirit of Santa Claus, Kriss has so dedicated himself to it that he might as well be the man in the flesh, but the most important thing is the spirit he inspires in others, and which the public reciprocates in the support that is unfortunately nerfed down to not much more than a montage of signs in this telling, moving to the audience but not to the plot.
The warm feelings of this movie persist. It’s the inspiring story of a man who gives himself to the world, and most of the world, on learning he’s in trouble, responding in kind. It’s a lesson in open minds and open hearts, and the joy and wonder that can result from being the one person to insist on caring for and loving everyone in spite of the hostility of the societal machine running as usual.
The summary on this that I saw first was pretty scant. Ringo Starr is a loser caveman, he wants to get the girl. I dug deeper and there wasn’t much more short of a blow by blow synopsis. There’s something about an adventure and exile, but it seems to just be “let’s put Ringo Starr in a silly costume and have some fun with how stupid cave people were.”
I’ve heard this movie referenced a fair bit, and surprisingly a lot of references to the title of the sequel, “The Legend of Curly’s Gold”, even though it doesn’t seem to have the kind of memetic power that “Electric Boogaloo” does.
But the extent of what filtered through was “Billy Crystal and a friend or two are city folk completely out of their depth in a western.” Daniel Stern is a headliner and how many people now can name what he’s done outside of Home Alone if they even recognize the name at all?
I was imagining something like Wagons East!, but on a cursory overview it looks like this is a modern-day movie; contemporary characters on a modern cattle drive, the closest you can get to dropping folks off the street into the Old West without invoking any time travel. So there’s likely going to be a little less city mouse/country mouse and a little more new school/old school.
I don’t often talk about them anymore, but the original release poster shown here looks incredible. I understand that art like this is expensive and that’s a big part of why they don’t do it like that anymore, this is so much better than the slapped-together photo collage they promote it with now, and it already exists. Why not use it?
A nonsensical title on a movie about time travel? This should be just the kind of campy midcentury sci-fi story I’ve really been itching for. They’re getting harder to come by, at least ones that are new to me.
I don’t know much more about the plot than that some scientists get lost in time, and really, does one actually need more?