Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Where the Boys Are [FIlm 1960]

Where the Boys Are [1960] takes four Midwestern college coeds [Paula Prentiss, Delores Hart, Yvette Mimieux, and Connie Francis] through their ”Spring Break” in Ft. Lauderdale with the boys [George Hamilton, Jim Hutton, Frank Gorshin]. Only poor Melanie [Mimieux] is unsuccessful. The film begins with a characteristic 1960s pushing of the sexual limits [massively tame by 2005 standards] by Delores Hart, takes the group down to Florida for the events of break, and sets them packing in love or disarray. A true classic of the 60s.

The geography begins with a short introduction of Midwestern college settings with deep snow and some with cold. It quickly shifts to the beach and motels. The beach is largely hidden by the crowds of college students lounging there. It does look warm and everyone is having such a good time. Sand plays a major role in that Delores Hart and George Hamilton spark up a relationship by putting question marks in the sand to ask about each other. The larger setting is cultural with the college students clearly letting loose and having fun. The police [admirably lead by the great Chill Wills] are loath to arrest anyone. By 1971 I think that kind of thinking had died.

While the film stands as a classic relic of an earlier time; it is a precursor of its decade. The 1960s are just beginning and change was in the air. The film posits change as a group of 1950s kids looking around for something to rally around, but that would become the mainstream in a couple of years. In the end Delores Hart found and alternative route to the same happiness and peace, of a different worldly nature, when she left Hollywood after this film and became a nun. Interviewed on television recently, she seemed happy. I wonder if she was not happier than most of her crowd?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Station Agent [Film]

The Station Agent [2003] is a quirky, neat package of a film. A guy working in a toy train store finds the owner dead. He loses his job, but inherits an abandoned train depot in New Jersey along the Susquehanna rail line. Having a place like this is a rail fan’s dream, and he moves in. Suffering from dwarfism, he is constantly ridiculed through the picture, and the depot offers him a place to get away to and be alone. He finds that people pull him into their lives, so his being alone is never realized. A mobile food vendor has his van parked by the station, about which one wonders about his locational-choice skills. A woman mentally harassed by the death of her child almost runs him down on the road with her SUV a few times before she enters his life on a regular basis.

The location for the film is Newfoundland, New Jersey according to Raymond Weschler [http://www.eslnotes.com/movies/pdf/the-station-agent.pdf]. The film did not clearly establish this spot to me. That would place one in the very middle of the most northern part of New Jersey near the New York border. The river in the film would be the Prossaic; and while the railroad line is the New York, Susquehanna, and Western.

The geography is one of rural emptiness. We see some woods, some obvious industrial decay, and rural roads and people. The inhabitants are not sophisticated urbanites, but rural “hicks.” They seem a bit backwards. The landscape is unexpectedly rural. For many this is not what they think of as New Jersey. It is not a place of super highways, but rural roads of a simple blacktop nature. There nearest store is a mile and half away, and looks like what one would expect on a small, remote Minnesota lake way up beyond Bemidji.

In all an interesting film showing that being alone is hard in today’s crammed world. The location information is vague; but clear in its unexpected charms.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Love Story

This 1970 classic divides between cold looking Boston and New York. The story begins at Harvard during the hockey season. The famous outdoors insert scene is of making snow angels and throwing the football in a snow-covered stadium. The jackets are thick and the hats are warming. In New York they fair no better. There is a harshness to it all. The movie ends at a skating rink as Oliver ponders Jenny's death.

Direcotr Arthur Hiller points out in one of the DVD extras that the two snow scenes were shot later. They needed extra footage, so they went back to Boston in the middle of a massive snow storm. Snow angels and snow football were all they could get. Time was money and they were under budget pressure to make a film at a cheap price because the studio lacked faith in it. And out of weather necessity comes two of the memorible scenes in the picture.