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Cinemalphabet: G is for ‘Great’ Movies

January 19, 2012

Trying something a little different by expanding the scope of the Cinemalphabet series. Not only will there be posts about specific films, but the series will also highlight various aspects of cinema that fascinate me. For example: what’s up with films with ‘great’ in the title? Of the many film idiosyncrasies I have, an aversion to films with ‘great’ in the title is one I’ve least been interested in examining. Despite inclusion of the adjective rarely being a direct testimony of a film’s cinematic worthiness, I still can’t help but frame it in that manner. Consequently, I find myself underwhelmed by the films. I can’t recall the last time I used the word ‘great’ in a non ironic manner. Like the dozens of times I noticed a ding in my car door courtesy of a runaway shopping car. What do I utter: “Oh that’s just great.”

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)

Normally the combination of George Roy Hill and Robert Redford provides me with a satisfactory cinematic experience… But honestly, I found the film a bit punishing, a tad dull and not especially well cast.

The Great White Hype (1996)

This soggy boxing comedy probably looked pretty good on paper: Samuel L. Jackson, Damon Wayans, Peter Berg and Jeff Goldblum, with direction by Reginald Hudlin. Sadly, it doesn’t ever come together as either boxing film or a comedy.

The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

After the success of the first Muppet film, Jim Henson went back to the well a second time in a film that I really liked as a kid, but as an adult it feels like a low point in Muppet history. Certainly, they bounced back in subsequent films, namely Muppets Take Manhattan.

Great Expectations (1998)

Swept up in the “modernization” mania of the late 90s and early 00s, this forgettable ‘great’ film is really only notable (to me) for two things: Deniro’s awesomely bad performance and the slamming track “Life in Mono” by Mono.

The Great Escape (1963)

Because of the unremarkableness of other ‘great’ films I was scared off from this classic McQueen film. When I finally watched The Great Escape I was pretty blown away by the pacing, dialogue and the performances by McQueen and James Garner. The material is utterly dated, but nevertheless the charms of this iconic film (which seems to serve for many ensemble films) is the chemistry between the characters and the bold visual choices of director John Sturges.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2012 12:36 pm

    I like this approach! I hope you get around to “B is for Bridge” so you can cover another iconic WWII ensemble film “Bridge On the River Kwai”. I remember always liking it, but honestly don’t know if anything besides the whistlable theme will hold up.

  2. February 28, 2012 7:47 pm

    Love this post. Sounds like a conversation I’d have with my friends.

  3. March 7, 2012 11:42 am

    whew! was afraid there was going to be some serious snark directed towards Great Escape. Come on! It doesn’t get any greater than McQueen jumping the fence on the motorcycle now does it?

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