My Most Valued Movies, Series 2
Movie recommendations by Yours Truly and other Reckonin writers have attracted some popularity. There are more to come. The interest has prompted me to add a second dozen to what I wrote earlier
1. A Year of the Quiet Sun (Polish, 1984). A masterpiece. A heartbreakingly poignant story of the suffering and sacrifice of Polish people in the wake of World War II.
2. The Last Lieutenant (Norwegian, 1993). I am a sucker for films that portray outnumbered people fighting bravely against cruel invaders, invaders usually being Yankees or Nazis. A Norwegian old soldier determines not to let the German invasion go unopposed, even knowing that resistance is hopeless.
3. I’ll Be Seeing You (U.S., 1944). A woman on a brief Christmas relief from prison and a soldier about to be shipped overseas have a meeting of souls. With two of the best stars of their time: Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten (both of whom were Southern-born). A similar theme of brief and touching WW II meeting is also well done in The Clock (1945) with Judy Garland and Robert Walker.
4. Ride with the Devil (U.S., 1999). A vivid and truthful rendering of Southerners caught in Missouri/Kansas conflict of the War Between the States. The Chinese director Ang Lee does not suffer from Yankee self-righteousness and gives us something that is astonishingly true for a work produced in our times. Northerners Tobey Maguire, Jewell, and Jeffrey Wright and Brit Jonathan Rhys-Myers apparently have no objection to portraying Confederates.
5. The Virginian (U.S., 2000 version). Owen Wister’s iconic 1902 novel about a cowboy Southern knight in frontier Wyoming has been made into a movie numerous times, beginning in the silent era. Most of these films are third-rate routine Hollywood Westerns with no resemblance to the book except a plot summary. Not so, this newer version, which has beautiful Wyoming scenery and poetic attention to the characters.
6. The Bostonians (U.S., 1984). Henry James, who published his novel The Bostonians in 1886, is regarded on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the greatest fiction writers in English of all times, although for us plain folk he is something of an acquired taste, like opera. In The Bostonians a young ex-Confederate from Mississippi comes to New York in hopes of making a living. He pays a visit of duty to a lady cousin in Boston where he meets “the girl of his dreams.” There follows a contest between Boston reformers who want to use the young lady, who has a mesmerizing stage presence, as an orator for feminism, and the Southerner, who wants her for his wife. This time, the Southerner wins. Though of a defeated people, he is alive and vital, a great contrast to artificial and sick Boston society.
7. The Star (Russian, 2002). A moving story of a small Russian recon unit behind German lines in World War II.
8. Soldier of Orange (Dutch, 1977). The French and the Norwegians had forests and mountains to base their resistance to Nazi occupation. Not so the Dutch, who had to resort to other means. Rutger Hauer before he went to Hollywood.
9. The Admiral: Roaring Currents (Korean, 2014). Vivid and human account of outnumbered Koreans defeating an attacking Japanese armada in 1597.
10. Saigon--Year of the Cat (British, 1983). The last crashing down weeks of the American Vietnam crusade vividly portrayed. Obiter dicta: The most celebrated Vietnam movies---Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket tell more about the psyches of movie makers caught up in the 60s revolution than they do about Vietnam itself. The Deer Hunter is somewhat better, portraying something resembling actual Americans. For honest portrayal of the war see The Siege of Firebase Gloria and We Were Soldiers.
11. Madron (U.S., 1970). Richard Boone, a hardened gunslinger, sacrifices himself to save a nun (Leslie Caron) from the Apaches. The “critics” don’t seem to like this one, which is a recommendation. It is hard to find.
12. Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility (British, both in 1995). There are many very good films of Jane Austen’s work. These are the best, in my opinion.
Leave a Reply.
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews