Scene and Heard
Brian Doxtader | Friday, September 29, 2006
There are some films that I like to call “forgotten classics.” Nobody else seems to remember them and if we talk about them today, only our peers seem to know what we’re talking about. I don’t mean movies like “Labyrinth” or “Hook,” because those movies are classics in a weird sort of way – and more importantly, people remember them. I mean the obscure stuff that nobody seems to ever think about except in the most inopportune times, like during tests or mass or interviews. The thing about these movies is that they’re actually pretty good, except that nobody seems to know they exist. With that in mind, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember some of those oldies but goodies from our younger days.
The RocketeerFor years I thought Brendan Fraser was in this movie, mostly because it seems like the weird kind of part he would take. Turns out it’s some guy named Bill Campbell (not to be confused with the truly awesome Bruce Campbell of “Evil Dead” fame) who stars in this period piece about a guy who gets a jetpack and becomes a symbol of patriotic heroism triumphing over the Nazis.
It’s pulpy and serial-esque, but the concept is truly cool and the outfits and design are actually pretty decent. Timothy Dalton, a one-time James Bond, is the villain and Jennifer Connelly is the girlfriend.
Dick TracyBased on the old comic strip, “Dick Tracy” was directed by Warren Beatty, who also stars as the square-jawed detective. The film’s design, which evokes old comic strips, is superb. And the cast is great. Really. Al Pacino plays Big Boy Caprice, the crotchety gangster baddie, Dustin Hoffman is a memorable mumbling rat and Madonna is Breathless Mahoney … actually, Madonna is really only eye candy until the twist ending.
Pacino actually got nominated for an Oscar for this role, which is surprising because he didn’t get nominated for “The Godfather Part III” which came out the same year. It amazingly won a few awards and was nominated for a bunch more. And come on, how could someone not like a movie in which characters have names like Flattop, Little Face, The Brow and 88 Keys?
TronDisney pumped a ton of money into this special effects-driven film about computer geeks who enter an electronic world and it shows – kind of. The effects are way outdated and the storyline and acting is pretty horrific, but all that overlooks how cool this film once was. The scenes in which characters drive around on a 2D plane on weird, futuristic motorcycles are worth the price of admission. The storyline is about some computer who wants to take over the world or something, but it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is the crazy 1980s special effects, which even manage to overshadow Jeff Bridges (who somehow managed to put this film behind him and become a legitimately good actor). The whole thing is kind of goofy, but if taken on its own terms, “Tron” is still as much fun today was it was 20 years ago.
There are other films I could talk about, like “Flight of the Navigator” or the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Freud once said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and, a lot of times, nostalgia is simply that – nostalgia. But in these cases, I always wondered why these films don’t get more attention. They awoke our sense of wonder as we were able to fly through the sky with jetpacks fighting Nazis, join the world of comic books and actually enter a video game. I loved all of these films.
While they may not be “good” movies when stacked up against the likes of “Citizen Kane” and “Casablanca,” they make me remember better days, and I hope some of you remember them too.