Augusta’s favorite movies, part one


You may remember that, some time ago, Apollonia’s sister Augusta  challenged me to name my favorite movies.



Well, she produced her own list just yesterday.



Oh, my! I see into Augusta’s soul now. She is a romantic. But also a pragmatist. And also a student of human nature.



Let me give you part of her list (I will save part for another day):



Dodsworth! Well, of course: we agreed on this one immediately. Augusta attached a wonderful 2003 article by Richard Schickel to her list, in which Schickel goes on and on about this movie. And if you have not seen it – oh, please, kids, go see it. It’s seventy-five years old, but it’s completely timeless. There are no heroes or villains here, only weary adults. And it’s sad, and romantic, and has a very happy ending, which perhaps you will understand as such when you are older.



Being There. Augusta’s comment: “Sometimes I love this movie, and sometimes it’s ‘Eh.’ I don’t know why.” Complete agreement here. I remember loving when it first came out – my god, Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas! But when I’ve seen it since: it’s not quite as powerful. And the final scene (I won’t tell you if you haven’t seen it, I’ve learned my lesson) still eludes me. But it’s terrific in its way.



The Cuckoo. Never seen it, and can’t stream it through Netflix. This is Augusta’s description: “A Russian Finnish Lapp film. I loved it.” Apollonia lit up when I mentioned it. “Oh, my god!” she said. “Is that the one where the woman – oh, I can’t describe it -” We looked it up on, and it looks wonderful: the cover art alone, with a completely impassive-looking Lapp woman between two sullen-looking men, looks very promising. Augusta, listen: it’s on my list.



Brief Encounter. Augusta’s brief comment: “I love it.” Well, how can you not love it? Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, falling in love – but never quite falling into bed with each other. 1940s black-and-white at its best. A lovely delicate movie, with Noel Coward dialogue. How can you ask for more?



Babette’s Feast. First of all, I fell hopelessly in love with Stephane Audran back when Brideshead Revisited was on TV, and she played Laurence Olivier’s weary but faithful (and lovely) mistress. “How good it is to sit in the shade and talk of love!” Here, in “Babette,” she’s a French outcast who comes into money and makes the most outrageously perfect meal for a group of puritanical Danish islanders. They eat, and drink, and see God. I wish I’d thought of this movie for my own list. It’s wonderful.



The Women. Oh dear me yes. Augusta’s comment, upon which I cannot improve: “All-female cast, jungle-red claws are out, and a fashion show to boot!” Children, do not waste your time on the badly-made and badly-casted 2008 version. The 1939 version is the real deal, funny and ferocious. The cast goes on and on: Paulette Goddard! Joan Crawford! Norma Shearer! Marjorie Main, for god’s sake! Dialogue by the very witty (and now nearly forgotten) Clare Boothe Luce, polished by Anita Loos. (And if you don’t know any of the names I just dropped: well, you are too young, and need some civilizing, so you definitely need to see this movie!)



There are more movies on Augusta’s list. But her list has made me think of other movies too.



So we will have to move on to Part Trois, don’t you think?



And now Apollonia has signalled that she may have thoughts on this subject too . . .



Anyway: much more soon, kids!





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