Movies That Made A difference #4
The making of a movie usually starts with a story which may be someone’s imagination or in the form of a book. Then, it comes the producer who believes that the material can be turned into a popular film and makes a bundle of money. The producer begins by breaking down the story into concrete plots in order to guess estimate the costs of making it into a movie. The process involving assign costs of hiring a director, actors, writers, editor, cinematographer, etc., and of shooting on locations and special effects, etc. With a budget and schedule, the producer embarks on a mission to secure financial resources. With the money in the bank, the arduous journey of movie making begins.
Some money making movie cost tens of thousands of dollars and took a week or two to complete, while some cost several hundred million dollars and took several years to complete but still lost its shirt. Whether great movies make money or not, they all have something for the audience to remember them by for time immemorial. Nobody can remember every dialogue in a movie. However, due to a confluence of factors, an utterance by an actor in a seemingly ordinary scene becomes immortal and starts to be quoted by people in their daily conversations. This particular line in a movie is transformed to represent a social commentary of a unique slice of time in human history.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
It is one of the many memorable roles by a great actor, Paul Newman, who played a free spirit fighting a losing battle against the establishment. This old fashion movie is populated with diverse and interesting characters in a prison setting. The pace is slow to allow for character development and concise story telling. Even though the movie was made almost a half century ago, people are still enjoying to refresh the memory of:
- The egg eating contest scenes,
- Turning the boring road repaired routine into a fun and cheering occasion,
- A boxing brawl that is won by a side who does not know how to fight but refuses to give up,
- A scantily clad woman washes a car while being watched by a prison chain gang in a hot summer afternoon.
And finally, who can forget when the prison warden (played by Strother Martin), while overseeing the punishment of cool hand Luke who has just attempted an escape, utters the line cynically, "What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.".
Dirty Harry (1971)
This is the first of a series of cop and robber movie that enabled Clint Eastwood to successfully transition from the cowboy role that had made him world famous. Instead of roaming the Old West to dispense his own brand of justice, he cruises the streets of the urban city to catch the murderers, crooks, and thieves. Occasionally, as the detective, he will defy his superior and take the law into his own hand. In a sense, Clint’s movie role was still the same and only the setting had changed.
With crime rate on the rise in the city, the audience is happy to watch the street-smart Dirty Harry who is always a step ahead of the bad guys and the audience can imagine that the streets will be a little safer with him around. When facing an intruder or robber at home or in a dark alley, people will fancy having a big pistol in hand and uttering the line “Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?” just like Dirty Harry does in the movie’s memorable scene.
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
It is the first movie that shows the life of a male prostitute in detail with famous actors and a good script. The movie garnered 3 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is the only X rated film ever to win Best Picture. The movie shows a side of the society where rich and boring women can also buy sex from men who find that it is easier to sell their bodies to scratch a living in the big city. It is about a cowboy (played by Jon Voight) from the countryside trying to start a new life in a city where people are indifferent and crude. He can only find a homeless and dying man (played by Dustin Hoffman) as his real friend as both strife to hustle to survive. In a memorable scene, when the Hoffman character is crossing the street, he is almost run over by a coming car. He vents his frustration against a heartless world by uttering “I am walking here! I am walking here!” while pounding both of his hands on the hood of the offending vehicle.
A Few Good Men (1992)
This movie is adapted from a popular Broadway play by a great situation drama director, Rob Reiner. It showcases effectively the central theme that nobody is above the law in a country that is ruled by the law. Men lay down the laws which are also enforced by men. The laws consist of merely words and guidelines that punish those who violate them. But, sometimes, the rich and the powerful can bend the law by hiring expert lawyers to defend them or bribing the law enforcement officials. However, there are always a few good men who are idealistic and incorruptible. This movie demonstrates these qualities in a dramatic final courtroom scene, when under constant questioning to tell the truth by the young prosecutor (played by Tom Cruise), the seasoned marine commander (played by Jack Nicholson) utters the unforgettable line, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”.
It is one of the best movie ever made in the same class as Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur, etc. (kudos for director, Francis Ford Coppola). It traces with painstaking details and authenticity how a young and innocent immigrant from Italy chooses a life of murders and illegal businesses and later becomes one of the biggest mafia families in New York. It shows how a life paved with constant fear, mistrust, territorial skirmishes, and bloody retributions can unravel in an instance. In a land where the law rules, organized crime finds a niche preying on the poor, the weak, and the corruptible. The crime boss even hands out its own kind of law. As he was asked for a favor by one of his relative’s friend to settle a dispute against a business partner, the crime boss (christened as Godfather) reassures the requester by uttering the unforgettable and chilling line, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.".