Watching Them Watching Us
I suppose there are many ways of watching movies as there are of eating, a lot. But most folks seem to do it quickly, without savour. So from time to time it is worth watching an old movie with little merit just to see if you can escape the furrow plowed by others.
The conventional wisdom on this movie is that it is heavily seasoned by the paranoias of the time: commies, gays. And this imposed on a genre which at the time was a sort of slate for writing society’s fears.
But I urge you to escape that, whether it has the assuring warmth of truth or not, and consider this as something more basic and unsettling, a love story.
It starts with a group of buddies drinking to the loss of one of them to marriage. What follows is that the marriage doesn’t work out; he literally seems alien. Other men discover the same and form a club. They are opposed by other “real” men who bear children.
Look at it as a version of “Extase”.
Men without women are lost. There are only three women in this story. The narrator, the newlywed wife who wants children and finds her husband unrelatable; the whore in the bar, and an aging blond who finally after great effort “snags” her own husband (who dies when breathing the oxygen).
It isn’t powerful stuff at all. It doesn’t come to you and ensnare you like “Streetcar.” But if you learn to go to these things and find the fishhooks, you will find it easier to find narrative all around you. Accepting prefabricated meaning is as dangerous for filmwatching as the similar acceptance of our hapless bride was.
Posted in 2005.
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.