It’s embarrassing to compare our current popular culture with what we used to have. Our movies today seem to be based on the presumption that people stop growing, mentally, once they reach the age of 11 or 12: so every other movie has to be based on a comic book, or some really stupid gimmick like a foul-mouthed, dirty-minded teddy bear. For those who insist that they are adults, we have movies about boring, silly people in which nothing much happens.
Yesterday, at home, we watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), with its ho-hum cast of John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, Ed O’Brien, et al. It’d cost a billion dollars to assemble such a cast today. They save money by using bad actors, animatronic thingamabobs, and cartoons.
In case you have not seen this jewel, this treasure, this marvel of a movie, I won’t spoil it for you by giving away the plot. Suffice it to say that it’s not what you expect! And to carry along the dazzlingly innovative storyline, you have superb performances from every member of the cast. They have to be good performances because the actors are actually playing complex, interesting characters and making you believe in them. I mean, I got so cheesed off at John Carradine, I could hardly contain myself.
Here is a movie that will jangle your emotions, make you think, and stay in your memory for as long as you live–and it didn’t even get an Oscar (except for best costuming: Edith Head, as usual). Somehow I doubt a Kardashian-based civilization can produce anything like this. Bloody comic books…