The mighty Laurelhurst Theater has been having a '60s film fest of sorts during the last few weeks, which has given me the rare opportunity to see some of the favorite films of my yoot on the big screen. Those of you who grew up in the Chicago area during the 60s and early 70s may remember as fondly as I the venerable "Family Classics" with Frazier Thomas that aired on Sunday afternoons on WGN -- or, and one must adapt an "old man voice" here: "in my day it was just channel 9." Apparently, Frazier picked out the films himself that he thought would be good viewing for the kiddies, and ran them in heavy rotation. So I had the chance to get to know some great films that were made before I was born, like "War of the Worlds" and "The Time Machine." Fortuitously, the films the Laurelhurst is playing intersects nicely with the Family Classics films, so I couldn't pass up the chance last Saturday to see "Mysterious Island," the film that first made me recognize the importance of a kick ass film score, and yesterday the unassailable awesomeness that is "Jason and the Argonauts," both on the big screen. Actors? Directors? Pffft! Who cares when you have the legendary Ray Harryhausen doing the special effects, and the even MORE legendary Bernard Herrmann doing the music? Blissful, I tells ya!
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how much I liked the movie "300," despite its pedestrian script and flagrant historical inaccuracies. I based this opinion largely on its jaw-dropping visual style. But watching "Jason and the Argonauts," which was made in 1963, made me wonder how well "300" would hold up in 40 years. I mean, answer this question:
Who's the bigger bad ass?
I gotta say, I think it's the guys what ain't got no skin. But it does make one wonder if the ubiquitous, push-button nature of CGI has robbed film of some of its magic. Or maybe I'm just getting older and the final product means more if I know that some old dude in his garage took 4 months to produce a fight with skeletons that only lasted two minutes on screen. I guess it's just the heart involved. You can feel the passion in "Jason and the Argonauts." Passionate CGI, well, perhaps that's just a little bit harder to render.