By John H. Foote
Every film critic has them, those beliefs that are just not popular within critics circles. The question is, do these critics have the courage to discuss what might be very unpopular opinions? I do.
1. THE MARX BROTHERS BORE ME — I have never understood the appeal of the Marx Brothers and do not care for their brand of comedy. To me they are the Three Stooges with verbal gifts, big deal. Have tried watching their films at various times through my life, don’t like them, doubt I ever will. They bore the hell out of me.
2. HITCHCOCK IS OVERRATED — Greatest film director of all time? Please. I find most of his films cold, distancing and remote. Very few are involving. Psycho (1960)? Masterpiece and altered the course of horror films, Rear Window (1954) had spectacular performances, and Lifeboat (1944) was sublime. The rest, meh.
3. LAURENCE OLIVIER WAS AN OVERRATED ASS — I have written extensively about this, I stand by it. Could not hold a candle to Brando, Jane Fonda or Paul Newman or the Method Actors who came in the seventies.
4. THE ACADEMY OFTEN GETS IT RIGHT — For all the griping about the Academy Awards, and I gripe plenty, they often get it right. On the Waterfront (1954), Ben-Hur (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Midnight Cowboy (1969), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and so many other deserve their awards.
5. I LOATHE THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) – I feel the cavities starting the second I see Julie Andrews, who is hugely gifted, swinging her arms in the Alps. Too sweet for words. I spend the film cringing. Not even the Nazis are all that bad!
6. THE DEER HUNTER (1978) IS AN OVERRATED MESS — Predicated on lies, Michael Cimino bamboozled the Academy and most critics groups into believing he was a Vietnam vet showing us the horrors he saw over there. The only trouble was he was certainly not a Vietnam vet and his film was a racist nightmare.
7. THE LORD OF THE RINGS IS THE GREATEST TRILOGY IN FILM HISTORY — Go for it, debate me. Try and prove me wrong. Peter Jackson’s film trilogy is a masterwork of modern film. One of the most astounding achievements on film.
8. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951) DESERVED TO SWEEP THE OSCARS — Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan), Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), Best Supporting Actress (Kim Hunter) and Best Supporting Actor (Karl Malden) all should have won Academy Awards. Instead the Academy went sentimental and awarded Humphrey bogart their Best Actor award for The African Queen, George Stevens won Best Director for A Place in the Sun and An American in Paris somehow won Best Picture.
9. CITIZEN KANE (1941) IS NOT THE GREATEST FILM EVER MADE — The American Film Institute routinely names this the finest film ever made, but come on, be realistic. Citizen Kane is magnificent and certainly among the most innovative films ever made, but the greatest? Nope, it was long ago surpassed by The Godfather Part II (1974), The Godfather (1972), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Schindler’s List (1993), On the Waterfront (1954), GoodFellas (1990) and There Will Be Blood (2007). Sorry Orson.
10. MERYL STREEP IS NOW THE GREATEST ACTOR IN FILM HISTORY — She has been for quite some time. I adore Brando, Duvall and Nicholson but look at her body of work and try to argue that anyone, male or female, can surpass her? Sophie’s Choice (1982) remains the greatest performance ever put on film, and she did that when she was starting out! She has been great since, but never surpassed that work in amassing her 21Academy Award nominations and three wins.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.