Someone fetch a priest

Should you re-watch films that seemed great to you when you were 15? In my experience, this is usually a bad idea. I say 15, but it could be 18, or 21 or even 30 –pieces of art that make a big impression initially can sometimes disappoint on later viewing/reading/listening. But if you don’t check them out again years later, you might be recommending absolute rubbish to people. Some things of course – like ‘The Maltese Falcon’ get better. But others – it’s not just that they disappoint – it’s that they make you wonder who you were, what kind of a shallow fool you must have been. They make you worry that maybe you’re still a fool now. Maybe you’re clapping your hands, this very minute, like a wind-up chimp, at some piece of mediocre nonsense. It’s unsettling.

Anyway I’ve done it twice recently. The first was ‘Wings of Desire’ which I hadn’t seen since it first came out, but didn’t even doubt for a second that I would find it equally great. And it wasn’t that it was terrible. It was still beautiful, and still a great idea. But something about the writing. After about 45 minutes I couldn’t take any more. Maybe it had been a long day. Maybe I was tired. But it was just noise. Noise that wouldn’t stop until I ejected the DVD. But I did feel very bad about this. Later, at Pete’s insistence, I watched the film with the director’s commentary – and this I would definitely recommend: a) because you don’t hear the script (b) because you get to hear Peter Falk discussing his scenes and (c) because you discover the original ‘custard pie fight’ ending – which is well…remarkable.

The second occasion was Jean Cocteau’s ‘La Belle et La Bete’. Again – it wasn’t terrible. Just whereas when I was 15 I thought it was a marvellous work of art, now I saw it more as a source of high comedy. ‘La Bete’ in particular (who is played by Bungle who went on to achieve great fame in Rainbow) and his way of hissing ‘Belle’, or spitting ‘chaque soir’, is very entertaining. I’m too scared to watch ‘Orphee’ now – I don’t think I could bear the disappointment if it turned out to be less great than I remembered it.

The exciting possibility exists that maybe this works in reverse too, and films or books that you originally thought were abysmal would maybe be amazing given a second chance.

4 thoughts on “Someone fetch a priest

  1. Jack Lemmon Pie

    This leads me to ponder the writers’ void that is the custard pie fight. Kubrick utilised one, after running into yet another of his signature brick walls in trying to complete < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Dr Strangelove<>, but it was cut out after the brain-creaming of John F Kennedy.A film I used to watch EVERY DAY when I was about 10 was The Great Race, which also had a big pie fight. Imagine the incomparable < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Natalie Wood<> thoroughly cream pied.Any other pie fights?

  2. Jack Lemmon

    This also leads me to consider the relationship between Peter Falk and the custard pie fight in films.Peter and I worked together on The Great Race. I gained first billing on that movie, even though mine wasn’t the biggest part! Tony Curtis was pissed, I can tell you. Peter played my assistant Max.Perhaps it was Peter’s insistence on having a custard pie fight, I don’t recall. But now I do think of it, there were an inordinate number of custard pie fights in Peter’s movies. (cf. < HREF="" REL="nofollow">It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World<>).I’m wondering if it might have been down to his family business. Se Pete on the right < HREF="" REL="nofollow">here<>.

  3. Incredulous

    Isn’t it about time you put a bit more effort into this blog? Painting leisure centres is all well and good, but there are bored people out here who have run out of holidays to book and need somewhere in cyberspace to lay down their weary souls.

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