Thursday, January 22, 2009
"Future Classics" That Turn Out To Be Classics
Just to do a less negative follow-up to my previous post: Because I can't predict what movies will become classics -- though it's easy enough to predict that certain kinds of movies will not (mostly inspirational historical movies or anything that has a family sitting around a dining-room table and shouting at each other a lot) -- I rarely have the experience of thinking that I've just seen a classic, and finding out that I agree with that evaluation a decade later.
Sometimes I'll think I've seen a masterpiece, and then decide, on revisiting it, that I was wrong. When I saw The Player in theatres, I thought I'd seen one of the best satires ever; now I don't think it holds up very well.
There is one movie that I thought of at the time, and still think of now, as a classic: Groundhog Day. I remember thinking the first time I saw it that this was going to be one of the all-time comedy classics. (I'm not claiming special powers of perception here, of course: it was widely considered a future classic from the moment it opened.) One other movie that I considered a classic then and there, and still consider one of the greatest light comedies, is Clueless -- but you could argue over whether that movie really has been canonized the way Groundhog Day has been.
The point is, and this is why watching old movies is no substitute for keeping up with current ones (I say this as someone who doesn't do enough to keep up with current movies, but should), is that sometimes you catch a movie that you think is great, and ten years later you see it again and find out you were right. That's a real thrill, finding out that something is as good as or better than you remembered it. And finding out that a movie is not as good as it seemed at the time -- well, that's interesting too.
What are some movies that you had pegged as "classics" when they were new, and that either did or didn't live up to that judgment over the years?