Things I Hate in Four Movies I Love
This is really dangerous for me to write, since we all know that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I’m a screenwriter, novelist, and filmmaker, and I can find plot holes and character irrationalities even in my own work, thank you very much!
Go onto IMDb and read the Users Comments about some of the greatest movies ever made. None of them is free of razzberries from Internet trolls calling these masterpieces lousy and overrated.
So why am I adding my voice to the unwashed mob?
Because, damn it, it’s fun!
Remember. These are four of my favorite movies, which I’ve watched over and over.
Ilsa Lund is a troublemaker, full of noble excuses for her bad behavior. In Paris she engages in a love affair with Rick Blaine, neglecting to mention that she’s a married woman with a missing husband. She sure as heck owes the guy this much information, even if for reasons of security she doesn’t tell him her husband is a leader in the underground.
Of course Rick is also an asshole. If the missing love of my life shows up in the middle of a war and wants to tell me why she left me on the day we were supposed to escape from the Nazis together, I’m going to let her get the entire story out before I accuse her of being a whore. But that’s just me.
If I were remaking this movie, I’d have Major Strasser’s bullet meant for Rick kill Ilsa, then I’d have Rick, Victor Laszlo, and Captain Renault head off together to kick some Nazi butt.
The Fountainhead, 1949
Howard Roark is a great architect but he has no people skills. An old girlfriend of mine said Roark reminded her of a hairdresser she knew, “No, Missy, I do your hair my way or it’s the highway!” Peter Keating knows eff-all about architecture but he’s great at shmoozing the clients. They’re made for each other. If I’d written this, Peter would have gone to Howard and offered him a partnership — “You design the buildings your way and I’ll sell them my way.” First order of business is getting an appointment with Gail Wynand and offering him free architecture for life if he has Ellsworth Toohey buried in the concrete of his next building. As for Dominique Francon, she should have ended up in some 42nd Street B&D dungeon. She reminds me of half the crazy libertarian women I’ve dated.
The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951
Klaatu is on a mission to earth because his people think we’re loose cannons in the solar system. So what does Klaatu do first thing after he comes down the ramp and sees every sort of weapon pointed at him? He extends his hand with some strange thingamabob in it and pulls a trigger. He should be impressed at the restraint of the earthlings only shooting the damned thing out of his hand.
Then he meets with Secretary Harley and acts all pissy because Harley can only offer him a meeting with the Head of State of the country he landed his damned flying saucer in. Klaatu has this threat he wants to deliver to the entire planet, and he’s all upset that the earthlings are being all uncooperative about letting him deliver it. What, Klaatu has the technology to neutralize electricity all over the earth but he can’t figure out a way to get interviewed on the radio where he could deliver his threat to everyone at once? Please!
Don’t even get me started about the 2008 remake, where Klaatu’s mission is to exterminate the only intelligent species on the planet so his Klingons can add the turf to their own empire. Where are Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum when we need them?
Oh, God!, 1977
I think when screenwriter Larry Gelbart’s God comes to earth to spread his message he’s even more clueless than Klaatu about how communication media on earth works.
In Avery Corman’s original novel God picks a writer for Rolling Stone as his messenger. This is hiring a media professional and has some logic to it. But why screenwriter Gelbart, producers Jerry Weintraub & Victor J. Kemper, and director Carl Reiner thought God would pick supermarket-assistant-manager Jerry Landers to convince the world that God exists is beyond me.
But if you’re God deciding to do it that way, at least give the guy some better proof of your existence than a business card. Instead of God making it rain inside Jerry Landers’ car, how about making it rain in the office of the Los Angeles Times religious editor, where it would do Jerry some good?
Getting past that, and God setting up poor Jerry for a defamation lawsuit, I have a real problem with the judge’s ruling in the case.
God appears in court and for the first time in the movie allows someone other than Jerry Landers to see and hear him — withdrawing, by the way, the claim he made to Jerry that he only worked through one guy at a time. God performs some miracles to prove to the court that he exists, and gives a nice little speech. Then God erases the text of his monologue from the court reporter’s stenotype machine and his voice from the court reporter’s tape recorder, and on the basis of the “missing” evidence the judge rules that God wasn’t present in his courtroom.
Excuse me? Whatever happened to the idea of eyewitness testimony? You have a gallery full of eyewitnesses to be deposed — in addition to the judge in a case being able to take judicial notice of whatever occurs in court and rule accordingly.