Like fine literature among intellectuals, great movies so dominate populate culture that we have no choice but to be familiar with them. Much as I’ve never read a certain American literary classic but can tell you most of its plot and recite many of its famous lines, there are films I know so very well despite never haven seen them. So far in this series, I’ve fabricated memories of a horror classic and an epic fable of the American south; the next entry is a bit more contemporary.
Why I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Seen This Movie: If you were a cynical undergraduate between the years 1967 and 1987, enjoyed films, and had ambivalent feelings about the adult world into which you were about to enter, there simply was no way you could not watch this film. It was a perfect expression for the anxiety of a generation. And the soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel was absolutely awesome.
The One Time I Came Close To Finally Seeing The Movie: One night in graduate school, my roommate rented this film and invited a buddy of ours over to watch. I was in the graduate student office, and a bunch of fellow students talked me into going out drinking with them. I had just done poorly on a paper, and decided to get bombed. The next day my roommate said I could watch it if I wanted, but I was too disgusted to allow myself even a pleasure so small as watching a movie. So I returned it.
Why I Probably Won’t Ever See It Now: A sentiment that once appealed to me so strongly no longer has any attraction. In “My Back Pages,” Bob Dylan said it with far more eloquence: I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.
The One Image I’ll Never Forget, Even Though I Haven’t Seen It: Dustin Hoffman being seduced by Anne Bancroft. I mean, it’s on the friggin’ poster, after all.
The One Line I’ll Always Remember, Even Though I’ve Never Heard It: “Elaine! ELAINE!”
I Haven’t Seen This Film, But I Have Seen: The Freshman, a quirky 1990 dark comedy starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick. Like “The Graduate,” it follows the journey of an intelligent young man struggling to understand the world around him, but doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously. Brando plays a character who claims to have been the inspiration for Brando’s performance in “The Godfather,” Bert Parks dances and sings about a Komodo dragon, and Broderick’s attempt to ruin the film with his typically awful acting go unnoticed through all the bizarre plot twists.