The World Ends Today − What's The Last Movie You Watch?
This end-of-the-Mayan-Calendar crap is starting to get on our nerves over here at Movieline virtual headquarters, but it did give us an idea for a fun question to put to you, our esteemed readers: If the world was really about to end, what's the one movie you would choose to see before things went all Michael Bay?
Yeah, I know what you're thinking: If the world was ending, I would not be watching no movie, unh-unh. You'd be getting busy or frantically calling your shrink (who'd be frantically calling his shrink) or looting the nearest Best Buy so you could briefly experience the pleasures of the iPhone 5 without having to actually pay for one.
But imagine that panic does not ensue and you have the time and desire to see one last movie before everything fades to black. What would it be? I see it as an emotional choice rather than a critical one: What is the one film that will leave you in the proper frame of mind to say goodbye to it all?
I'll get the party started. I'd have to go with the 1957 noir classic Sweet Smell of Success, starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. To help give you an idea of why this movie means so much to me, let me tell you a very old joke: An Englishman, a Frenchman and a New Yorker are captured by cannibals. The captives are told they're going to be killed and eaten and their skins are going to be used to build a canoe.
The cannibals are an empathetic and well-equipped group, however, and they allow each of their victims to choose how they'd like to die. The Englishman asks for a gun and shoots himself. The Frenchman chooses a sword. When it's the New Yorker's turn, he asks for a fork. The cannibals think this is odd, but they give him one — at which point he begins stabbing himself all over his body.
"So much for your fucking canoe," the New Yorker says before he dies.
That's Sweet Smell of Success distilled into a sentence. It's a dark, ugly (in terms of its subject matter) movie that never fails to exhilarate me because it oozes with old-school chutzpah. Curtis plays a sleazy publicist named Sidney Falco who will do just about anything to get into the gossip column of the corrupt and powerful J.J. Hunsecker (Lancaster) and the two characters' toxic relationship unfolds like a thrilling prize fight in which the punches consist of lethal lines of dialog written by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman.
I could go on about director Alexander Mackendrick's stark black-and-white depiction of late 1950s New York and Elmer Bernstein's score which are as ballsy as the screenplay and the performances, but this post is supposed to be about you, not me. My point is, if the end is near, I'm going to watch a movie that puts a little swagger in my step before I get devoured by a fiery serpent or whatever is supposed to happen when the Mayan calendar ends.
So now it's your turn. What movie would you pick? Leave your choice in the comments section, preferably with the reason(s) for your choice.
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