Although I have largely abandoned western films in favor of Hindi ones, there are some that I still sometimes get a yen to watch. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I saw The Incredibles again (in spite of being surrounded by Patels, go figure). It got me thinking about my favorite movies from my life Before Bollywood. This is my list of those non-Hindi movies—the ones I suddenly have to see, which I’ve owned on VHS and DVD and will own on whatever medium comes after DVD as well. I watch them again and again (sometimes back-to-back), and they never fail to entertain me. And please know that I realize, as one of my nieces would say, that a couple of them are pretty “sketchy” if not downright BAD.
Comfort and Joy (1984) *ing Bill Paterson: The Scottish director (and genius) Bill Forsyth made this dark, funny, warm film about a DJ dumped by his girlfriend at Christmas time, who gets drawn into the middle of an ice-cream vendor war as a distraction from his misery. One of my favorite movies of all time (along with Local Hero and Gregory’s Girl—although I have liked all Forsyth’s movies, and wish he would make some more). Sadly, it’s not available on DVD in the US (only in region 2 format)—reason enough to hang on to your VCR.
The Party (1968) *ing Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet: Peter Sellers is hilarious as Hrundi V Bakshi, an Indian actor mistakenly invited to a swinging Hollywood party. It’s a great satire on American society, with hapless Bakshi as the moral center. Brilliantly combines physical and intellectual comedy. My favorite scene: “birdie num-num.”
The Wedding Singer (1998) *ing Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore with a side-splitting appearance by Steve Buscemi: This film just makes me laugh really really really really hard. Doesn’t hurt that it’s set in the 80’s, which was my time to be young and stupid as well. Steve Buscemi’s wedding speech has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen; with Sandler’s heartbroken song about his no-show bride a close second.
Game of Death (released in 1978) *ing Bruce Lee: The best cheesy martial-arts movie ever made, and also Bruce Lee’s last. It was finished long after his death in 1973 using (obvious) body doubles for Lee. Unbelievable fight scenes, especially between Lee and Robert Wall culminating with Lee’s great line: “You lose, Carl Miller!”; and Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose legs are longer than Bruce Lee’s entire body. Also fantastic late 60’s/early 70’s vintage clothes, hair, makeup, music. Fab! Note: Enter the Dragon is a much better film, but Game of Death is the one I love to watch.
Notorious (1946) *ing Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant: My favorite Hitchcock film, with great chemistry between Bergman and Grant, and a chilling, menacing performance by Claude Rains. The tension, the high stakes, the atmosphere=amazing.
An Affair to Remember (1957) *ing Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr: A cry-fest of monumental proportions, with tragedy piled upon disaster piled upon sacrifice piled upon misunderstanding, all resolving itself happily at the end.
Note: Itself a remake of Love Affair (1939) with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunn (which I haven’t seen but vow to someday), it was remade in 1994 as Love Affair again, with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening—but I don’t need to ever see that version again. (It’s also been made in Hindi form as Mann (1999) *ing Aamir Khan and Manisha Koirala)
Pride and Prejudice (1995) *ing Colin Firth: Okay, this isn’t technically a movie, but a television mini-series, in my opinion it’s essentially the same thing. Colin Firth is seriously sexy as Mr. Darcy and the entire cast fit their roles as perfectly. I think Jane herself would have loved this version.
Sleeping Beauty (1959) Disney animated film: I saw this when I was a little girl, and thought I had never seen anyone as beautiful as the Princess, as handsome as the Prince, and as scary as Maleficent. And I coveted Prince Philip’s white steed (I was in the horse-loving phase that most little girls pass through). It’s stuck with me as my favorite Disney movie ever.
Beastmaster (1982) *ing Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts: Scary bat-like people, Deathguards, Rip Torn as an evil priest, and bare-chested John Amos (woof!)—what could you possibly not like? Plus, a pair of cute ferrets, an eagle, and a tiger to save the day. Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts are also scantily clothed—there is eye candy for everyone. I come across it on TV fairly often and can never tear myself away. And yes, I did think about not admitting to this one.