Enjoyed a private showing of “Dunkirk” last night–private in that I was the only person there for the 7 o’clock showing at Pueblo Tinseltown. The movie has been out for over a month and that probably accounts for my lucky solo viewing. I have an idea, too, that “Dunkirk” likely enjoys better box-office up north in Colorado Springs, which has a large military population, along with enough ex-Brits to support a couple of stores specializing in British food and candy.
Very first movie I can remember seeing in a theater was also a war flick–“Sahara”, with Humphrey Bogart. One of my uncles took me to see it at the Gaumont Theater in downtown Coventry (England). This would have been 1947, or ’48, even though the film was released in 1943. Not sure if it was a re-release, or if “Sahara” had been held back from British audiences until the war ended. For one thing, “Sahara” was (and is) a little anti-British slant. The only Englishman along for the ride on “Lulubelle” the tank is an effete, tea-drinking worry-wart. The Americans, the Canadian and the Australian are stalwart chaps to a man–hell, even the Frenchman is a tough guy bent on revenge. Of course, if the English were miffed, Italian audiences must’ve been royally pissed at J. Carrol Naish (an actor as Irish as Paddy’s pig in real life) and his portrayal of an Italian soldier as an organ grinder’s monkey groveling in the sand, saying things like “Please-a don’t-a leave-a me behind”. Hollywood could get by with a lot of crap in those days.
War movies (I try not to use the word “film” much) have changed remarkably over the years, from a lot of jingo-istic propaganda to anti-war themes that flirt with treason. Some movies from the Fifties still delight (“The Caine Mutiny”) or can still make me cringe (“Paths of Glory”, Kirk Douglas at his all-time best). A couple of modern “serious films” offer interesting contrasts: in “Saving Private Ryan” American GIs are freshly landed in action, still learning, still somewhat clean and bright, hopeful and cracking wise; fast-forward a few years to “Fury” and its grimy tank crew hardened beyond belief and at least as homicidal as the enemy they face.
Just a note to thank my middle daughter, Elaine, for getting me out of the starting gate and onto the first furlong. She navigated the minefield of setting up this site, something I had thrown up my hands over a dozen times, stopping just short of firing the computer into the dog yard.