You Haven’t Seen WHAT? And Other Humiliations

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It’s week 2 for my little blog and with classes having just started and a head cold ravaging my senses I was all out of blogspiration (if this is not already a word it should be). Besides, the first weeks of baby bloghood are so unsatisfying: why am I doing this? is anyone reading this? should I take a nap? But today I received an e-mail from a colleague in my department (hello Randall!) who said this regarding my inaugural post, “The Watercooler” :

Interesting comment during your water-cooler post. I’ve also noticed how little we talk about lit and film. I wonder if some of the lack of wc talk is due to a fear of showing ignorance, revealing that you have not seen a particular movie or read a particular book. I certainly don’t want Marianne [our department’s Shakespeare expert] to know that I haven’t read most of Shakespeare’s plays and can’t remember much about those I have read.

I say we come up with a log in which every one lists their most embarrassing literary or cinematic oversights.

Upon reading this I thought “Eureka! I have something to post about this week!” So in the spirit of Randall’s e-mail I have assembled a list of the films I am most embarrassed to have not seen:

1. Rambo: First Blood (1982, Ted Kotcheff)
As a child of the 1980s, this is unacceptable.

rambo

2. Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean)
My friend, Ali, is devoting a substantial portion of her dissertation to the films of David Lean. When I admitted that I hadn’t seen Lawrence, she replied “It’s long.” That pretty much sums up why I’ve avoided it.

lawrenceofarabia

3. L’avventura (1960, Michelangelo Antonioni)
I have brought this film home from the library at least twice. And then I’ve opted to watch something like America’s Next Top Model instead. Oh the shame.

bfi-00m-obx

4. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, William Wyler)
I have read numerous critical essays about this film and even sat though several conference presentations that address this classic WWII flick. Does that count?

77172-004-9DF641D2

5. The Grapes of Wrath (1940, John Ford)
I haven’t read the book either. Nail me to the cross.

the-grapes-of-wrath

6. Shane (1953, George Stevens)
I am embarrassed about this one primarily because I always show a clip from it when I teach the Western to my Intro to Film students. Shhhh, don’t tell them.

celeb_movie_alan_ladd_shane

7. Pather Panchali (1955, Satyajit Ray)
My knowledge of Indian cinema is woefully thin.

pather

8. Rashômon (1950, Akira Kurosawa)
I know, I know, bad me.

rashomon2

9. Way Down East (1920, DW Griffith)
As with #6, I always show a clip (the one on the ice floe) of Way Down East when teaching melodrama. I should watch this tomorrow.

Way Down East

10. Thelma and Louise (1991, Ridley Scott)
I’m an American chick who was in my teens when this film was released. What the hell is wrong with me?

Thelma and Louise

That was oddly liberating.

Care to share your own list of embarrassing cinematic oversights? Yes, you may use an alias…

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27 thoughts on “You Haven’t Seen WHAT? And Other Humiliations

    mariannem said:
    August 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I used to own Thelma and Louise. On VHS. And I watched it every semester during exam period.

    princesscowboy responded:
    August 27, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I may have to borrow it from you then!
    p.s. that didn’t look like a confession to me.

    Annie Petersen said:
    August 27, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Fantastic idea. My friends and I always laugh about our ‘dirty little secrets.’ Janet Staiger loves to brag about her favorite secret: even as a feminist film scholar, she hasn’t seen ‘Imitation of Life.’

    Personally, I’ve so woefully under-viewed in international cinema, I’m not even going to start. But the most egregious sins are against Godard and Truffaut. Also Bergman. Sigh.

    But in Hollywood, I haven’t seen any Lethal Weapon or Die Hard Films. I HAVEN’T SEEN ANNIE HALL. There! I said it! Or Birth of a Nation. And I teach Film History. The shame, the shame!

    Ali said:
    August 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    This is a great idea, but I wonder if somewhere along the line it will cost me a job ;). Nevertheless, I present four egregious omissions (which I vow to correct):

    Sunrise
    Sunset Boulevard
    Berlin Alexanderplatz
    An American in Paris

    mike said:
    August 27, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I have seen all of yours except Rambo, which I don’t intend to see anytime soon. I really like every single one of the others! LOVE Best Years. So beautiful. I showed it in a class once, though, and the students thought the acting was cheesy, which disappointed me so much.

    I haven’t seen Gone With the Wind. That’s the one that embarrasses me most.

    Randall said:
    August 27, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    This little box could not begin to contain my embarrassing oversights. Still, two directors stand out: Godard and Bergman. Aside from their most famous movies–Breathless and Seventh Seal–I’ve avoided them. Maybe I’ve avoided them because of what I saw in these other movies. Not respecting a classic is as deserving of damnation as not seeing it–um, right?

    Kelli Marshall said:
    August 27, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Wow. Reading the above confessions, I don’t feel so bad admitting that I’ve never seen all of 8 1/2 or SOME LIKE IT HOT (I know, I know, the horror!).

    Over the summer I actually took time to count the movies I HAD seen on AFI’s Top 100 List and watch a few I hadn’t: http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/100Movies.pdf?docID=301. I think I’ve screened 75 now–not shabby, but could definitely be better, especially for a film instructor. =(

    princesscowboy responded:
    August 27, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Annie, I haven’t seen any Die Hards or Lethal Weapons either and I am actually proud of that.

    Ali, Sunrise is absolutely wonderful. You can even watch that one with your husband.

    Kelli, I have not seen 8 1/2 either but it’s on the old mental to do list.

    Randall, you really didn’t like Breathless? It’s one of my faves.

    Mike, you have only increased my shame.

    Michelle said:
    August 27, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    You would love Thelma and Louise!

    Devan said:
    August 28, 2009 at 7:21 am

    I second Birth of a Nation. But my worst, given my interest in film violence, is probably Bonnie and Clyde. On the horror side, I take a beating for not having seen The Cell or House of 1000 Corpses.

    This does feel like a burden strangely lifted.

    Jason Mittell said:
    August 28, 2009 at 7:49 am

    In the great David Lodge book, Changing Places, the English department plays a version of this game called Humiliation – you get points for how many people in the room have read the book you admit to have not read. (The ultimate winner has never read Hamlet!)

    It’s harder to play as a TV scholar – does having seen an episode or two count? An “important” show that I don’t think I ever saw more than 10 minutes at a time of is thirtysomething, but now that it’s on DVD, I’ll probably give it another shot.

    Anna said:
    August 28, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I’m crying a little on the inside over Rambo: First Blood and Best Years. But a list of 10 films really can’t contain my shame. Here goes, anyway:

    Sunset Boulevard
    City Lights
    Lawrence of Arabia
    2001
    The Usual Suspects
    The Bridge on the River Kwai
    The Great Escape
    Ran
    Seven Samurai
    Gandhi

    And the sad thing is, I’m just getting started.

    missmelisser said:
    August 28, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Oh, I have a million of these. Raging Bull, Sunrise, 8 1/2, my New Hollywood is kind of dreadfully spotty (esp. considering I wrote one of my comps on New Hollywood) – I haven’t seen Easy Rider, which is ridiculous.

    I have to say, those of you who haven’t seen Sunset Boulevard, I just saw it for the first time recently, and it’s one of those rare films that really lives up to the hype. It’s really, really weird and wonderful.

    Will said:
    August 28, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I love how you “outed” Randall to Marianne in your post … 🙂

    I used to do this with literature as a grad student way back in the day, and I almost always won because I’d never read *Hamlet* …

    I wouldn’t know where to start with my movie loserness …

    Randall said:
    August 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    No Shane? Shame on you.

    I bet you’d still catch the homage I made to it in my non-zombie film Charlie Go Round. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMrXFLfB_dk and skip ahead to the 2:07 mark.

    Joe said:
    August 28, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Hrm. I’ve never thought of this. I’ve often lamented the books I’ve never read (Moby Dick, Grapes of Wrath…) and championed the reasons I’ve not read others (anything Hemingway), but I’ve never thought about movies, especially since the Netflix Queue (“It’s in my queue!” is such a good way around that, isn’t it?)

    Should I be ashamed I’ll never watch another Spielberg movie as long as I live? NEVER!!? (I don’t think so.) Should I wonder if people judge me that I have no plans to see Rambo or any of its percursors or sequels? Should I apologize that I enjoyed the first two Die Hard Films or that I enjoyed Pecker more than Female Trouble? Sigh. I also think Dr. Seuss was much more adept in poetry than Poe. So there.

    princesscowboy responded:
    August 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    This is beginning to feel like an AA meeting.

    Joe, you raise a good point: the vast majority of people who have admitted their “shame” here either teach and/or study film. People who do neither probably have a lot less shame about what they have or haven’t seen. I, for example, am not ashamed that I’ve never read Moby Dick. I don’t think I ever will.

      Joe said:
      August 28, 2009 at 8:12 pm

      Oh, I was totally kidding! Sorry about that. [must remember to consider tone]. I was trying to expose my defensive side for not seeing the films….meh. Never mind. I’m just gonna dig myself deeper here…

    Liz said:
    August 28, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Not only have i never seen all but one of the movies on your list AK, I have never heard of most of them, though I am a lowly lawyer and not a film scholar. Thelma and Louise was just okay for me dawg.

    MrDanteFontana said:
    August 28, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    1. Pink Floyd The Wall (1982) – I hear it makes sense if you decide not to watch it at all. Still, I feel like it’s required viewing.
    2. Love Story (1970) – Maybe the film isn’t so well known anymore. Hard to say. But it was just about the biggest money making romantic drivel of all time. So, it’s kind of a milestone.
    3. Salaam Bombay! (1988) – Only Nair I’ve seen is MISSISSIPPI MASALA. This one is supposed to be her best.
    4. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) – I’ve never seen anything by Jacques Rivette. But his films are scarce nowadays.
    5. Mystery Train (1989) – I have seen most of Jarmusch’s films. But somehow, I let this one get away.
    6. Friday the 13th (1980) – I have never seen any Friday the 13th film. The reason being, they have a reputation for being utterly crappy. I enjoy most horror films and will watch this one. So far, my favorite “slasher” picture from this group of ’80s horrors is APRIL FOOL’S DAY.
    7. Citizen Kane (1941) – I’m just kidding! Calm the fuck down! April Fools! Ha, ha!
    7. You’re a Big Boy Now (1966) – Francis Coppola’s legit debut is supposed to be great. And I love Elizabeth Hartman. Ridiculous that she committed suicide. She was a wonderful actress.
    8. Thief (1981) – James Caan. Michael Mann. What’s stopping me.
    9. Grease (1978) – I’ve tried to watch it. God knows I’ve tried. It’s just unwatchable. I love SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, but I could barely make it through ten minutes of this film.
    10. Kes (1970) – I have never seen any Ken Loach film. I am deeply ashamed.

    Randall said:
    August 31, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I can’t believe I forgot to mention Jim Jarmusch. His name comes up in intellectual conversations more often than any other director. And when it comes up, I float over to a new discussion circle or disappear into my own beer cup.

    Joe said:
    September 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I woke up at an ungodly hour this morning and saw the tail end of Sonny Boy, a film sort of in the vein of Freaks. I really wish I could’ve seen the rest of it! When I tried looking it up on IMDB, nothing showed up. Does anyone know about this film? It stars David Carradine as a hairy woman who apparently gives birth to an evil child….circa 1955?

    Anyway…it made me think of your trash cinema theme this year….and how I wish I were still a student so I could be part of that.

    princesscowboy responded:
    September 13, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Joe, that movie sounds amazing. And you are welcome to visit the class whenever you like–our screenings are every Tuesday at 7pm in Bate 2021.

    Joseph Ciolino said:
    March 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    So, what, the point of this blog is to inform us just how freakin’ stupid you are?

    IF so, you’ve certainly succeeded!!!

    Yeah, and “Lawrence of Arabia,” is just a really long movie.

      princesscowboy responded:
      March 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm

      Yes Joseph. that is EXACTLY the point of this blog! Congrats for figuring it out!

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