Are You Watching That Again?!

Kate & Cary in “Bringing Up Baby”

“I never watch a film twice.”, or words to that effect, is what the hip, young professional said.

This is taken from an answer to a kind of “Twenty Questions” profile that a local tabloid does with a hip, young professional every issue. The tabloid, of course, is targeted to the hip and young. I am neither, but I pick it up each week and peruse it anyway. (I am being a bit unfair, because many of the folks interviewed seem of the good sort.)

It is a fairly innocuous remark, and the tone of voice was not really conveyed. But the comment, there in simple, bare, black & white, irked me. Like a little splinter embedded under the skin of a fingertip, it is in there and it gets kind of sore. So now, after several weeks, I have decided to eradicate it.

Part of the joy of film is revisiting old friends, re-examining the classics and giving something, that maybe, I didn’t quite like/get the first time around a fresh viewing. To be sure, there are films that I’ve seen, that I don’t care to watch again and some that I might run from. There are books that I have read multiple times, and plan on re-reading in future.

Back when we still had basic cable, Turner Classic Movies seemed THE channel for me. Drawn to it like a moth to a flame. At the time they seemed to have Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby programmed repeatedly. It is one of those films that, if I see it on, I will stop and watch, anytime, anyplace, for at least a few minutes. It was during one of these occasions that my wife, Karen, upon entering the living room exclaimed to me, “Are you watching that again!” Yes, I was–again.

And so it goes.

There is a considerable list of films that I will watch repeatedly, but I have to say that Howard Hawks and Billy Wilder, seem my go to directors when I don’t know what to watch. I have watched Only Angels Have Wings, Twentieth Century, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, His Girl Friday, Stalag 17, Sabrina, Witness For The Prosecution, The Apartment and Sunset Blvd. and others, I don’t know how many times. There is one Hawks film that I watch at least once a year:

Dino, Walter Brennan and the Duke in “Rio Bravo.”

Watching Rio Bravo, is like a trip to the well. It refreshes and restores me. It is a western, with no vistas, and only a few scattered moments of violence and action. It is mostly a group of guys and one woman who stand around, or sit around and talk and inner act with one another. There is as much comedy as drama. There is character redemption. There is a sing along. There is community. There is doing your job. The film is over two hours long, but it never seems like it. It is great. There are some who do not get the art of Rio Bravo. To them, it is an average Western–or less. You either get it, or you don’t. And that’s okay. There are certainly other films that other people think highly of, that I just don’t “get” or appreciate in the same way.

And so it goes.

One more thing on this watching movies more than once. If a film isn’t worth the time to watch more than once, it probably isn’t worth watching the first time.

Considering the size of my DVD/Blu-Ray collection, I had better like watching a movie more than once.

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