Monday, May 20, 2013

My Week of Movie Watching

The Stratton Story – James Stewart stars in this 1949 biopic of former White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton. Stratton was a promising young hurler in the mid-thirties whose career was derailed when a hunting accident cost him one of his legs. This one is generally good, as the baseball is well presented, and Stewart makes a passable ballplayer. The film takes a few liberties with the story, however – Strattons comeback game never happened as it is presented in the film. A few points of trivia – Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey has a significant role playing himself, as does former Chisox manager Jimmy Dykes. Gene Mauch has a bit part as one of the ballplayers. Stewart wanted to do the film as a show of support for wounded veterans returning from the war. Not great, but recommended.
Harold & Maude – My opinion has evolved a bit on this film. There’s much that I still enjoy, like the sheer ridiculousness of Harold’s suicide attempts, and the performance of Vivian Pickles as his stiff-upper-lip mother. I love how Maude’s experience in a concentration camp is introduced. It’s so quiet and tasteful that it always brings a lump to my throat. The soundtrack by Cat Stevens would still rank in my top three all-time, especially the brilliant montage set to “Trouble” at the films conclusion. I find, however, that Ruth Gordon’s Maude came across more as a screenwriters construct than any kind of believable person, and that took me out of the film a bit. I know this film is deliberately unrealistic, but I found myself thinking about how there was no consequence to her bizarre behavior. I still love the film, but I recommend it a bit less enthusiastically that I once would have.

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