I’ve been writing this blog for the last eight years now, and in all that time, while I’ve reviewed some really obscure films, I’ve steered clear of reviewing many of the great classics—mostly because of a fear that I won’t have anything new to say. So much has been written (by people infinitely more qualified than I can ever hope to be) about films like Pyaasa, Citizen Kane, etc that there’s really no reason why anybody would want to read my musings.
But. A couple of weeks back, after years of putting it off, I finally finished reading Gone with the Wind. I’d seen the film when I was in my early teens, and remembered little of it besides the basic story. I decided therefore that it was high time I rewatched the film. Since the book was so fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help but compare it to the film. And since the film is so beautiful (literally; every other frame looks like a painting), I ended up with a folder full of screenshots.
I was – at least as far as emotional maturity is concerned – a baby when I first saw High Noon, and I didn’t care for it much then. Not that I wasn’t fond of Westerns; I adored Westerns. In book form, in cinema, in song. For me, the genre was all that was gloriously outdoorsy and never-say-die: cowboys and Comanche, Monument Valley, smoking barrels and rearing horses, the good versus the bad in that final gunfight. High Noon turned all of that on its head, and left me feeling uncomfortable and disappointed.
I didn’t realise till much later that that disappointment was not the disappointment of watching a film that was bad. Rather, it was the disappointment of discovering that what I’d been rejoicing in till then was not the ultimate in a genre. Some growing up had happened.
I have rewatched High Noon since then, and I’ve come to appreciate this film deeply. I still do like hard-core Westerns like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Stagecoach and The Magnificent Seven a lot – but High Noon is in a class all by itself.
The site stats for this blog sometimes show decidedly odd search terms that bring people to http://www.dustedoff.wordpress.com. ‘bollywood hide and seek behind a tree’; ‘sailing boat naked’; ‘iwanttohearmukeshsonginmukeshvoice’; ‘saree of kolkata grandmother’; and – this is one I can agree with, wholeheartedly: ‘cary grant being beautiful’. Yes, Cary Grant was very beautiful indeed (would ridiculously handsome be perhaps a more apt term?)
Years ago, an issue of Reader’s Digest carried a list of ten Hollywood films any self-respecting film collector/lover must possess. At the time, I had seen only one of the films on the list—Gone With the Wind—but since then I’ve seen some more, Singin’ In the Rain and Stagecoach among them. And though I’m a Gene Kelly fan (and not a John Wayne fan!), I must admit that I’d rate this film higher than Singin’ In the Rain. It is a Western, of course, and with all the usual trappings of a Western: the Apaches that attack out of the blue; the hooker with the heart of gold; and the wronged ‘outlaw’ who’s bent on revenge. But Stagecoach has a lot more going for it, and makes good viewing even for someone who’s not really into Westerns.