Big Question: What well-known movie have you never seen?
As you read this, I am just wrapping a week-long globe-trotting vacation with my family. Toshi and Allen and I are having lunch with Bigfoot somewhere in the Pacific Northwest right now.
While we enjoy that, I'd like to share the last of five special vacation articles, where I've reached out to a wide array of people I know to answer a different question every day. I sent out the fire questions as part of one big e-mail last week, and I asked people to send me as many of the five responses as they felt like. Some people did one, some people did a few, and several people answered all five.
I would love to hear your responses to these questions as well. When I get back to Los Angeles next weekend, I'm excited to dig in and read all the answers you guys leave, and I hope you enjoyed this week's articles in the meantime.
We all have movies we haven't seen for one reason or another. Can you tell me one film that you haven't seen but that you want to see, and why haven't you seen it yet?
JUDD APATOW (writer, "Girls")
"City Of God." Jonah Hill tells me to see it very time I see him. I will get to it. I know it will blow my mind. I fear it's greatness.
Jonah is completely right. "City Of God" is exceptional, and you are correct to fear its greatness.
JASON FLEMYNG (actor, "The Quatermass Experiment")
I think it's called "The Cove." It's the film about the dolphin slaughters, and I just can't face it. The film I wish I HADN'T SEEN was "Amour" and back in the day "The Accused." I couldn't drive the car after seeing them. They both killed me, and I got a parking ticket.
PAUL MALMONT (novelist, "The Astounding, The Amazing and The Unknown")
I’m a huge fan of this director. I’ve seen almost all of his movies. Yet somehow I’ve managed to miss the one movie that put him on the map and I have a feeling I’ll probably never see it. As a film fan, this is embarrassing, but I’ll stand up and admit it: My name is Paul Malmont and I’ve never seen David Lynch’s "Eraserhead".
I like that there are certain films by my favorite filmmakers that I haven't gotten to yet. I would hate to think that the only thing I had to look forward to as a film fan were new movies. I think it's important to save some great films to savor from time to time, and I don't think the goal of any film fan should be to just run down a checklist. There are films that I might not be in the right mood for until years after I buy them, but it's great to have those films on-hand for when the moment finally strikes.
GERRY DUGGAN (writer, "Nova")
That film used to be "Lawrence Of Arabia" for me, but I waited to see it in 70MM at the Arclight. I knew enough not to try and enjoy it on a small screen. I'm glad I waited.
This is great, and I do my best to take people to see "Lawrence" every time in plays 70MM here in Los Angeles. I feel like it's one of the great examples of a film that works best in a theater, and I've never had someone tell me after seeing it that they felt like it was a waste of their three hours.
PAUL SCHEER (actor, "The League")
"Mad Max." I don't know why I've never seen it but I never seem to be in the mood for it. I know it's supposed to be good and people love it. But I've never seen any of the "Mad Max" films and I guess I should but I never do.
Wait… so you haven't seen "The Road Warrior"? I may have to stage an intervention if that's true, Paul.
ALBERT PYUN (director, "Radioactive Dreams")
I haven't seen "AntiChrist" because I am as yet too impressionable.
PAUL DINI (creator, "Tower Prep")
"To Kill A Mockingbird." I somehow have it in my head I have to read the book first, but every time I pick up the book, I think, "Why bother? Sooner or later I'll see the movie."
Wow. I'm surprised by this one, but I shouldn't be. After all, it's one of those films that can easily look like it's just going to be homework, all message, but it's not that at all. I think people are surprised when they do see it to find that it's thrilling and scary and funny in places and brutally sad at times. If you ever want to change that, Paul, I will drive a copy to your house.
DAVID HAYTER (actor, "The Castle Of Cagliostro")
I try to see everything I can, though I need to have a Fellini festival in my house sometime. I have never seen "The Grapes Of Wrath," though it was playing on TV in Austin, as I was getting dressed to go to the film festival, and the writing was amazing. (And funny...? Wow. One word -- "Dustbowl".) I have to admit that I have never been able to get through "Double Indemnity," though I have tried twice. (Which I believe is referred to as "Quadruple Indemnity".)
I have also managed to miss a full one and a half of the TRANSFORMERS movies, but so far, my life does not seemed to have suffered for it.
You may survive the lack of "Transformers" movies in your life, David. I love your reaction to "Grapes," though, and it's something that is often true when we finally see a classic film that we've only heard about. They tend to be far more than whatever their reputation is, and that liveliness, that surprise that we feel when a classic turns out to be rowdy or weird or hard-to-define, is part of what I have always loved about working my way back through the history of film.
SCOTT DERRICKSON (director, "Beware The Night")
"Stagecoach." I love Westerns and have seen most classics in the genre, but not this one. It's certainly a movie I am supposed to see, but that makes watching it a kind of homework. I'll often watch silent films or European films or independent films out of moviegoer discipline… but I can't do that with a Western. I can only watch a Western because I feel like watching a Western, and I've just never really felt like watching "Stagecoach." Maybe it's because the title is really boring.
I am curious how you react if you finally do end up seeing it. There are so many movies that have been built on top of the bones of "Stagecoach" that I feel like you'll recognize it. To some degree, there are movies that we ingest as film fans whether we realize it or not, and by the time we finally do see them, we've already processed much of what makes them great because we've seen it diffused out through hundreds of other films.
DEREK HAAS (novelist, "The Silver Bear")
I haven't seen "Sorcerer," and I'm dying to see it. The Friedkin movie with Roy Scheider. I have no idea why I haven't seen other than I always forget the name of it when I'm thinking about downloading a movie. The name doesn't match the film so it never come to me. I had to look it up just now to answer this question.
You're in luck, Derek. Friedkin finally got the rights to the film back and he's working right now to restore it and get it ready for a major theatrical re-release followed by what I hope will be a spectacular Blu-ray. It's amazing, and the idea that you'll get to see it in theaters for the first time should have you very excited.
KEITH CALDER (producer, "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane")
I still haven't seen the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." I wasn't allowed to watch R-rated films as a kid, and I'm only now catching up to the 70s and 80s horror classics. I keep avoiding "Texas Chainsaw" because I want to see it with an audience of people who also haven't seen the film. I just haven't figured out the right way to set that up yet.
Oooooh. I want to be there when you see it because I want to talk to you immediately afterwards. I think "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is not just a great horror film, but a great film. When I look at that movie, I am baffled about how Hooper never quite put it together like that again, but he certainly wouldn't be the only filmmaker who has one great moment that shines brighter than the rest of their work.
GEOFF LATULIPPE (writer/director, "Untitled Paramount comedy")
I've only ever seen about 15 minutes of "Reservoir Dogs." I don't know why I've never rectified that. Otherwise, I can't think of anything "classic" that I want to see that I never have.
I actually just alerted the WGAw and all the studios to this fact, Geoff, and we'll be needing you to go ahead and pack up and move out of LA now, please.
BETH SCHACTER (writer/director, "Normal Adolescent Behavior")
I can't see "United 93." I mean, I know I have to and I love Paul Greengrass but I can't sit through it. I saw it from the ground, I'm not sure I can see it from the sky.
On the other side is "Marley & Me." I've seen it, but only in pieces. I can't sit down and forget that its a movie. No way. I mean... no way.
I don't have any problem with people who know that they can't see a movie because of something in the film. "United 93" caused me to have an intense visceral reaction when I saw it, and I think I was one of the calmest people in the theater. And with "Marley & Me," if you love dogs at all, that film is damn close to being a war crime.
JENSEN KARP (owner, Gallery1988, JASH, Tyson/Givens Marketing)
"Midnight Cowboy." It was my dad's favorite movie, and you just grow up assuming you'll hate anything your parents love. I just kept pushing it further and further as I grew up and now with him passed, I just never want to close that chapter I guess? Just to have something to get to from his checklist is nice, but I'm sure I'll see it one day.
Man, I would love to talk to your dad to ask him why "Midnight Cowboy" is his favorite movie. That's a pretty unusual choice, and while I can imagine it would hit someone hard at the time it was released, for it to stay his favorite film over the last 40 years, it must have been something very particular that he responded to.
SCOTT FRANK (screenwriter, "Get Shorty")
It's a long and embarrassing list, but one that sticks out is "Fight Club." Never saw it. I have no idea why not. I keep telling myself that I want to see it the right way, on the big screen. But how? When?
I will let you know if I see any revival screening of it happening in LA at any point, Scott, as long as I can come with you so we can talk afterwards. In fact, that's the one thing I feel about most of this list. I hope you all get to see all of these films, and I'd really like to be there when you do.
TRAVIS STEVENS (producer, "The Aggression Scale")
"Repulsion." I have no idea. Maybe it's the title?
Ooooh. Another tough one. There is nothing easy about "Repulsion," and I get the feeling that no matter when you see it in your life as a film fan, it packs a brutal punch.
DAVID PRIOR (DVD producer, "Panic Room")
"The Sound of Music." I didn't see it young, I was generally never a big fan of musicals (with a few notable and well-loved exceptions), and it easily slipped by the wayside as years went on. I must own three different editions of it on DVD. All in the shrink wrap. I will get to it one day....
This is another one of those films that I feel like you'll recognize from start to finish when you do finally sit down to watch that. "Sound Of Music" got totally and completely absorbed by pop culture, and I'm willing to bet you've seen hundreds of references to it over the years in films you have seen.
DOUG TENNAPEL (writer/artist, "Tommysaurus Rex")
I haven’t seen "Paranormal Activity 2," simply because I don’t enjoy being terrified. The first movie did such a number on me that I didn’t want to subject myself to the superior horror work that I experienced on the first movie. That’s right. It does it’s job so well that I want to see it but can’t.
I know many people who can't watch horror films because they have responses that go way beyond "I liked it" or "I didn't like it." I love to be terrified, but that was something I learned over time. The first few times I saw horror films, I almost couldn't process what I was watching. Learning how and why those movies hit me that hard is part of what made me who I am now, and I love anything that makes me feel that way again. If you don't, I certainly can't fault you for that.
LUCKY MCKEE (director, "The Woods")
I just checked the big one off of my list a couple months ago. "Lawrence Of Arabia." I was waiting to get the opportunity to see it in a theater, but I ended up giving out and watching it on my set up at home. It's a fairly good film if you've never seen it. Heh.
GREG LONGSTREET (publicist)
A ton!!! I do love movies, but I’m not that guy who just sees it all. I admire those who can just absorb all that cinema. For me, it’s all about what draws me in – if my interest is piqued then I’m. I’ve never seen "The Maltese Falcon," but I’m sure there will come a time where I’ll say “why not” and sit down to finally watch it. That’s if "Die Hard" isn’t on… BUT IT’S ALWAYS ON!!!!
It's been a great week, and everyone who participated, both in the articles and in the comments sections, I thank you deeply. I do not often get a chance to disconnect from my job or from the day-to-day cycle, and so these articles represent that rare moment I can step away, and I couldn't have done it without the help of all of you.
What I hope this does, more than anything, is spur you to share your own secret shame, those titles you've never quite worked your way around to seeing. I have a huge list of titles that qualify for this, including several films by Kurosawa and Berman's "Fanny & Alexander," and I love that I have so many good films and great experiences to look forward to in the years ahead. I still feel like out of the literally millions of you who read our site every month, we only ever hear from a small percentage of you, and I would love to change that.