I’ve been slacking with my American Film Institute challenge this week – my good friend Cam brought me a copy of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey (1968: AFI 1998#22, 2007#15) for my birthday way back in March, but I haven’t got around to watching it yet. But I did oddly enough catch Michael Douglas promote his new comic film on the ‘One Show’ on BBC1.
I was definitely not interested in hearing what he had to say about his new movie ‘Ant-Man’ (2015, seriously? An Ant like superhero? Is there a Daddy Longlegs Man movie in the works?) starring Paul Rudd, the man who I was convinced got his big break in ‘Clueless’ (1995) from being a top movie executive’s son because I can’t imagine what made a casting director say ‘That plain looking dude with mediocre acting skills is our man! He’ll play the star’s love interest!’ What I really wanted to hear was how his legendary dad Kirk Douglas was keeping. This man is truly one of the last remaining actors of the Golden Age in Hollywood and at 98 he is the oldest active blogger for the Huffington Post. But unfortunately the presenters only briefly mentioned his father and talked about more trivial things like how good his Welsh is – that’s what you get for BBC early evening family viewing.
Having a super-famous dad like Kirk must have helped Michael Douglas get his foot into acting, but I refuse to believe that he is the sole reason for his son’s success – why weren’t the other brothers Oscar winners like Mr Zeta-Jones? Another star whose Dad probably gave her a helping hand into the world of cinema is Angelina Jolie – although she is arguably more successful than her father Jon Voight, she definitely hasn’t starred in an iconic movie (The closest she has got is ‘Girl Interrupted’ (1999) but that’s a bit of a stretch) like ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969: AFI 1998#36 2007#43) – the only X-rated Best Winner Picture at the Academy Awards.
Like ‘Easy Rider’ (1969: AFI 1998#88 2007#84) the movie explores taboos themes of promiscuity, drugs and life in 1960’s America, but unlike ‘Easy Rider’ the film has a solid plot and superb acting from Voight and Dustin Hoffman. The story revolves around Joe Buck a naïve Texan who goes to New York in hopes of becoming a male prostitute, things don’t go to plan and he becomes so desperate that he ends up staying with Ratzo, (Hoffman), a crippled con man who ripped Voight off money when he first arrived in the city. The two form a close bond and try their luck at becoming hustlers together.
The famous ‘I’m walking here’ quote was apparently improvised by Hoffman
The story has similarities to perhaps my favourite novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’ (1951) – the protagonist in both plots are naïve yet good hearted anti-heroes who struggle with their sexuality and face alienation and loneliness in cities that are too big and intimidating for them. Although it’s unlikely we will ever get to see Holden Caulfield on the big screen (thanks to author J. D. Salinger vetoing a big screen adaptation of the book) Joe Buck is the closest we’ll ever get. For the moving, but utterly devastating ending to the film it alone deserves a 4.5 out of 5.
Harry Nilsson’s iconic ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ was played throughout the movie