3 New-To-Me Classics This Week

Mirage (1965)

I can barely imagine how scary amnesia must be, can you? I just can’t wrap my head around what it would feel like to not remember a thing, not even my name. That’s exactly what happens to David Stilwell (Gregory Peck), corporate accountant in Mirage. The dark, gritty, big-city scenes in Mirage make the prospect of amnesia even scarier. Add some mob-style death threats to the mix and…whew! Just writing that gives me a tinge of anxiety.

After a traumatic event in his office one day, David winds up with amnesia and spends the rest of the movie figuring out who he is, why this thing happened and why certain humans are threatening his very existence. He has no idea. And getting to the answers is quite a ride.

In a panic, David looks everywhere for someone that will help him. Instead of help though, he’s met with a lot of disbelief and distrust that frustrates and frightens him even more. Us viewers too! Eventually he finds a new-to-the-game private detective, Ted Casselle (Walter Matthau)♥ that’s willing to listen to his insane story. Ted’s a big help….until HE gets killed.

Oh, it’s a mess, alright. Mirage is intense. It’s full of terrific performances from actors like Diane Baker, George Kennedy and Kevin McCarthy. It’s well worth the time. I recommend watching it in a dark room for full-affect. Thank goodness our friend Walter, as Ted, is there to ease us through at least part of the story.

Local Hero (1983)

This is, hands down, the most satisfying, calming, peaceful…beautiful….movie I’ve seen all year. Of course I wanted to like Mirage the most this week because of Walter’s presence there, but Local Hero is, by far, my favorite movie….this year! I love this movie and I can’t believe I’d never seen it before. Big mistake on my part to have waited this long.

Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster) is an eccentric oil company executive that thinks he has to build a new refinery for his company. The truth is he really doesn’t care about that. We learn early that he’s more interested in the sky and stars. It’s while he’s planning his daily star gazing that he half-heartedly sends one of his company minions, simply known as Mac  (Peter Riegert), to a tiny fishing village on the ocean in Scotland with the purpose of purchasing it. Then, once Mac gets the residents to agree to the terms of the sale, he’ll destroy it and build the new refinery at the location, like Happer wants. Let’s just say it doesn’t work out this way. Once Mac gets to the village he meets Urquhart (Denis Lawson), the innkeeper at the hotel he’s staying at, (who’s also the town accountant and what we might think of as the mayor of the village), he starts to see how much he appreciates the way of life in the village. Residents are content, but don’t have a lot of money and all but one of them easily agrees to and looks forward to making money from this deal. Mac, however, has fallen under the spell of the place and struggles with the entire thing. It’s when Happer comes to the village to meet Ben, the last obstacle to the sale, that a resolution is presented. This is a David v. Goliath tale, small town v. big city, humanity v. corporate….name it what you want…I call it a beautiful movie.


Naked City (1948)

Of these three movies, this one is probably my least favorite. I did like it though and I’m glad I finally watched it…it’s been on my watch list for years. Naked City kept me interested and even intrigued in some places, but I often found myself wanting to know more about these detectives. That clearly wasn’t the point of Naked City, though. It was meant to tell the specific story of a murder case in New York City, and it did it very, very well. If you like crime documentaries, chances are  you’ll like this. Directed by Jules Dassin in 1948 for Universal, Naked City is a gritty, documentary-style, film that meticulously follows a New York City murder case. We watch as Lt. Dan Muldoon’s (Barry Fitzgerald) manages the case with his team of detectives, and I have to say, it was Fitzgerald’s performance that held me to the story. He almost, ALMOST reminds me of Columbo, in that he pretends he doesn’t quite comprehend what’s going on. But like Columbo, he does. He absolutely does. This character makes the movie for me.

One thought on “3 New-To-Me Classics This Week

  1. I agree with you re: Naked City. I wanted to love it, but I liked it well enough, and it was thanks to Barry Fitzgerald who really is the perfect choice here.

    Local Hero! We re-watched this film on a rainy night last summer, which made it extra perfect somehow.

    Thanks for the introduction to Mirage. This one has somehow escaped my notice.

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