Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some time away at (Skywalker) Ranch

My parents have a house up in the mountains near Hazleton, and I spent the last few days there on a mini-writer's retreat. I took my computer and my research materials and went away for a few days hoping to force inspiration to strike. I also took a stack of DVDs with me, the exciting part being that this all qualifies as "research" for me too. The first day I watched a lot of those movies, including making the brave choice to watch "Psycho" when I was alone in a cabin in the woods. But I suffered no ill side-effects, and even took a shower the next morning without having to lock the door to the bathroom. I was once again in awe of the performance of Anthony Perkins in that movie. It's both subtle and creepy at the same time, and you can understand why Marion Crane doesn't run away from him. As dangerous as he might be, he's still harmless and ernest. Great performances all around.

Then I checked another off my AFI100 list with "Treasure of the Sierra Madre." It's been on my to-watch list for years, and I've even checked it out of libraries before, but this is the first time I actually got to sit down and watch the whole thing. Another great movie with some terrific performances, including a little clip of Walter Huston doing the "happy prospector" dance that is so often copied. But this is the film it's actually from. Not to mention the line "We don't need to show you no stinkin' badges." There is something wonderful about all those old films, films that are made fast and relatively cheaply, and then they stand the test of time as "classics." I hope to someday be a part of a movie like that, although it's so hard to identify those movies before they have the 50-year history to be a part of.

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