Walter Matthau's best, and a couple of other things.

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  • I was never too impressed with Walter Matthau as a comedic actor (with an exception or two), but I consider the following three as his "Dramatic Trilogy"; they are my favorite Matthau movies. Oddly, I have none of them on DVD or VHS... yet.
  • Charley Varrick (1973)
  • I find the whole Charley Varrick movie engrossing, and there are some very good roles in it. This was my introduction in a big way to Joe Don Baker (I think I saw this before Walking Tall), and I think he was just about perfect for the part of Molly. Sheree North has always been a favorite of mine and I don't think she was ever given enough credit for her acting. Andrew Robinson... well... his best part was in Dirty Harry and this is arguably his second best part, but really... he managed to overact terribly just carrying a mattress up a stairway in Hellraiser and I can hardly watch him any more without thinking of that awful piece of schlock. This is an excellent movie for rewatching.
  • Laughing Policeman, The (1973)
  • Yet another older cop/younger cop movie, but the beginning is rivetting. I'm no Bruce Dern fan (seems to me he always plays a ticked-off, self-righteous, semi-pompous character) but I didn't mind him in this, even though he was a bit annoying in places. I think his most sympathetic role was as Freeman Lowell in Silent Running (1972)... where he still played a self-righteous character. Again, I find Matthau excellent in this role, even if the movie does lag in places.
  • Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three, The (1974)
  • OK, so the demands of the "terrorists" are rather laughable by today's standards, but I like the premise and the whole pace of the movie. Of possible interest to any Tarantino fans who have never seen this one, the names of some of the characters are "Mr. Gray", "Mr. Blue", "Mr. Green" and "Mr. Brown".
  • Matthau rules, dude.
  • A couple of other things I really should have on DVD:
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  • After taking into account that this is not a history lesson (i.e. I don't really care if such-and-such a unit wasn't on that particular beach at that particular time of day and their insigia isn't correct), and that it was directed by Spielberg (expect some heavy-handed patriotism, shameless tear-jerking scenes and some highly improbable situations and internal logic flaws), this is a good movie. Some have said that after the initial half-hour battle scene on the beach, it drops off into a plain old war drama. So? If it does, at least it drops off into a pretty dang good plain old war drama. I've seen it (only) 3 times and fully expected to get the DVD for Christmas last year. Or my birthday this year. Or Thanksgiving. Or Kwanzaa. Or Pesach. I don't care; for pity's sake... I'll have to buy the dang thing myself. Why is it that certain people just can't take hints? *sigh*
  • A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
  • On the other hand... This war movie is a complete fantasy. I remember seeing it once or twice on television quite some years ago (probably more than 30), and just loved it. I keep checking online for the DVD and every time I do, the release date gets farther and farther away. The last one I saw was December, 2025. I'll be 70 years old in 2025. If I haven't met David Niven personally by then, I'll probably be too decrepit to enjoy it. Besides, when the DVD does come out... I might have to go to EBay to get an antique DVD player!
  • For those who haven't seen it, it's sentimental, philosophical, humorous, corny, and actually quite well acted. If anyone decides to try to remake this one, there is no way they could do it justice. I love the scenes when Peter Carter (Niven) gets his "headaches" and has to face a somewhat "higher" tribunal.
  • Maybe more later, as I think of them.

How 'bout Hopscotch?