By Carlen Hultgren
Wandering into your local coffee shop, from a nearby table you overhear “… and then, that journalist recklessly inserted himself into the story just to further his own interests.” You turn and ask, “So who’s in trouble now?” The response is “Kirk Douglas, of course.” They’re discussing director Billy Wilder’s prescient 1951 film, Ace in the Hole.
Behind you in line are a couple of millennials talking about an underground radical and a law professor clashing over the meaning of justice. Maybe a couple of law school students carrying on a recent class discussion? No, it is just a couple of people talking about the comedy-drama The Talk of the Town, from 1942, with Cary Grant and Ronald Coleman having that same discussion on screen.
While sipping your coffee and trying to get into your book, you hear a couple talking about their son, you assume, who has been deployed overseas and came back, different. We have all heard stories of young men and women joining the military only to discover the realities of war are not at all like the recruitment posters. As it turns out, they are discussing the plot to King Vidor’s The Big Parade, 1925, probably the first overtly anti-war film with John Gilbert. THE heartthrob of his era went to war and came home, different.
Ace in the Hole, The Talk of the Town, and The Big Parade are just three of the classics that the film seminar Life is Too Short to Watch Lousy Movies has screened so far this year, in its eleventh season.
It turns out classic movies can be surprisingly timely
A single man cares for, and tries to adopt, an abandoned orphan and is thwarted at every effort (The Kid, 1921), a ruthless and dishonest industry icon using, false employees to collect their paychecks and false advertising to market his product, to huge personal financial gains (The Match King , 1932), the Russian spy who managed to infiltrate a major military complex causing the downfall of an innocent man (The Mysterious Lady, 1928), and even the animal rights activist that frees captured wild horses (The Misfits, 1961). All of these, classic movies with very contemporary themes and ones you could spend one Saturday night a month with.
The Life is Too Short group meets in a private home theater in Ormewood Park, averaging a dozen or so film enthusiasts at each screening. There is no charge for the movies or the programs, which usually include coming attractions, a cartoon, clips from other films or documentaries, as well as a trivia game, snacks and good conversation.
Because the evening is more than just a “movie night,” new people are encouraged to review the group’s website, www.ClassicFilmAppreciation.webs.com. There they can sign up for the mailing list as a space-available, Drop-In participant on the Contact Us page. After attending a couple of screenings, signing up as a Regular gets a guaranteed seat and additional benefits. The moderator, Steve Whiteman, can answer questions at ClassicFilmAppreciation@gmail.com.
As one of the Regulars has said, “There is no better way to spend a Saturday evening in Atlanta!”