Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Forgotten Movies, June 7, 2011-BIRDY

Let us travel back to the days (1984) when Matthew Modine and Nicholas Cage were hot prospects, neither seeming nearly as crazy/creepy as they do today.

Alan Parker made a movie from one of my favorite books by a favorite author, BIRDY by William Wharton.

Two friends, Birdy (Modine) and Al (Cage), become friends at school and serve together in Vietnam. Birdy has a fixation with birds and his Vietnam experiences push him over the edge. Not as bad for a bird as a man.

When he returns from the war, he is sent to a mental hospital and his friend, Al tries to reach him before it is too late. Much of the film is a flashback to their boyhoods.

The music was by Peter Gabriel. He was hot stuff then too.

I have never seen the movie since its original release and wonder if it would work for me at all today. I even wonder if the book would seem quite as magical. William Wharton is a forgotten writer too.

What movie are you afraid to revisit for fear it would prove your taste less than perfect or permanent?

For more forgotten films, check with Todd Mason.


Deb said...

It certainly is a chastening experience to revisit a favorite from back in the day and find yourself wondering, "What did I see in this?" A few years back I finally saw THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN once more (the first and only time I'd seen it was in 1970). As a teenager, the movie had seemed incredible; viewing it three decades later, it just seemed loud and obvious. After about an hour, my husband turned to me and said, "THIS is the movie you've raved about for years?"

David Cranmer said...

I never heard of this film, Patti. Excellent choice.

I guess I would pick THE BEGUILED starring Clint Eastwood. I saw it in the early 80's and was immediately taken with the offbeat aspects of the storytelling. I'm wondering if it still holds up.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's always a cruel moment, Deb, and I have heard that more than once.
I saw BEGUILED a few years back and didn't mind it.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about Modine and (especially) Cage. The movie I loved when I first saw it (OK, I was 13 or so) was ONE, TWO, THREE (1961), Jimmy Cagney's last movie until he came back in RAGTIME.

For those who haven't seen it he plays a Coca Cola executive in West Berlin during the Cold War trying to keep his boss's Paris Hilton-like daughter (played by Pamela Tiffin, who was hot) from going off the rails, which fails when she announces her impending marriage to an East German Communist (played by Horst Buchholz).

It was directed by Billy Wilder and included a lot of sly references to previous Cagney films. We watched it some years ago and, though dated, still enjoyed it.

Jeff M.

George said...

I was totally freaked out when I saw WAR OF THE WORLDS when I was five years old. I'm sure my fear of Martians in my closet was caused by that movie! But seeing it again would be an exercise in disappointment.

Gerard Saylor said...

I watched REPO MAN again and it did not stand up to my memory.

I was thinking of BIRDY a few days ago.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am almost wondering if when the actor fades in our esteem, so does the film. Certainly true of that generation of actors: Cruise, Estevez, Sheen, etc.

Jerry House said...

ONE, TWO, THREE should hold up very well. I really enjoyed it when it first came out.

THE BEGUILED is my most favorite (among many most favorite) Eastwood film.

Never saw BIRDY. Have to catch it sometime.

(Also never saw BYE BYE, BIRDIE and only a little bit of THE BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ. My film viewing is surprisingly lacking. I did watch THE BIRDS, though.)

Yvette said...

I love this meme. Todd Mason asked me to join in. He very kindly linked to two of my film posts: DIVA and THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS. Loved them both.

But I'd like to include another, so I'll go over to Todd's blog.

Anonymous said...

Good point about how we feel about actors and if it affects how we feel about their films. In some cases it definitely does, as I can barely look at Cruise or Travolta these days.

I think I'd have to try MAD MAX to see for sure.

I (sadly) have to agree with Gerard: I absoluately loved REPO MAN when it first came out but these days, not so much. I still love Harry Dean Stanton, however.

Jeff M.

Charles Gramlich said...

have heard of it but never seen it.

Anonymous said...

Patti - Oh, I'd forgotten what Nicholas Cage was like as a young man. I admit I haven't seen this particular film, but I agree that there are some films that it's hard to go back to, so to speak.

Gerard said...

A good test for me would be to re-watch another N. Cage movie, VALLEY GIRL.

I saw that several times during Junior High and always liked it.

Todd Mason said...

VALLEY GIRL holds up pretty well, actually. But Deborah Foreman is a lot more of the film's charm than Cage is. EASY A, the recent film, harkens back to it, in several ways, if a bit more patly.

I've known of BIRDY, but have yet to see it.

Biggest drop in memory was the episode of THRILLER, "The Weird Tailor"...still effective, except for the attempt at special effects that pulls me out of it now...as several suggest, seeing blurry old syndication copies in the '70s might have helped in this regard.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

There are so many movies I saw in my early, impressionable teen years that I thought were so good, yet when I have seen them years later, they didn't have the same impact. Way too many to mention, but if I had to name one, it would ld be "Bless the Beasts and Children", which starred Billy Mumy (Will Robinson of Lost in Space)and was based on the novel of the same name by Glendon Swartout.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have never seen VALLEY GIRL. My kids did though.
Harry Dean Stanton will hold up--it's his partner that won't.
MAD MAX-that would be a good test.

Anita Page said...

We just watched Stand By Me the other night and it was even better than I'd remembered. Very sad, though, to see the young River Phoenix.

I'd be reluctant to watch any of the Beatles' films. They meant so much to me at the time that I'd hate to find they didn't hold up.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The movies of my youth, ones about people my age that is, were lousy to begin with. So the ones I remember fondly were for adult audiences. I doubt too many people think back fondly on the Annette and Frankie movies. Although A SUMMER PLACE....but Troy couldn't act.

Gerard said...

Anita, HELP was a favorite of mine and I'd bet that it will hold-up. At least from my perspective of having first watched it in the '80s.

Anonymous said...

Anita, we saw a part of STAND BY ME recently and I couldn't help but think "what a waste" when looking at River Phoenix. Jerry O'Connell certainly looks a lot better as an adult than he did as a kid.

VALLEY GIRL wasn't bad but I agree with Todd that Deborah Foreman (whatever happened to...?) held most of the movie's charm.

The ones I remember from that era, Patti, are PARRISH abnd SUSAN SLADE, both with Troy Donahue and Connie Stevens. No, he couldn't act but he sure was purty.


I never watched a single Frankie & Annette movie - I found them an embarrassing, pathetic attempt to show what "our" generation (or a few years older, perhaps) was really like.

Jeff M.

Rick said...

I've had a couple of "Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!" moments with two 1960s films with non-conformist protagonists that I loved as a teenager and watched again and again back then:

1) MORGAN (originally released in the UK as MORGAN: A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT)


I watched them both within the last five years, and simply wanted to to slap the lead characters silly.
The other characters who kept telling them to "grow up" ? They couldn't have been more right....

James Reasoner said...

I loved those beach movies with Frankie and Annette when they were new and still love them. But mostly for the music and the character actors and former big stars doing cameos (and Candy Johnson!). They're extremely silly, but I find them good-hearted, which excuses a lot where I'm concerned.

The last time I watched AMERICAN GRAFFITI I thought it didn't hold up quite as well as I remembered it. Still good, though. I encounter this problem more with TV shows that I loved when they were on the air but don't seem nearly as good when I watch them now on DVD. BOSOM BUDDIES and WKRP IN CINCINNATI come to mind. Although WKRP still has plenty of iconic moments. "As God is my witness . . . "

pattinase (abbott) said...

James you are so right about those TV shows. Very few seem to hold up-the humor has changed dramatically. I still like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and THE DICK VAN DYKE show though.

Kieran Shea said...


J F Norris said...

BIRDY is one of my all time favorite books. The movie captures some of its magic. I think the book is far better though. I also had a powerful reaction to Wharton's A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. That, too, was filmed but came nowhere near affecting me as much as the book. Wharton is a pseudonym. The writer is really an artist - a painter, I think - and I have never found out his (her?) true identity.

I've already had one of these revisiting experiences and I was so upset that the second viewing left me wondering: what was I thinking?
The movie is THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS. George C Scott thinks he's Sherlock Holmes. Joanne Woodward is his psychiatrist trying to help him snap out of it. Her name is Dr. Watson, of course. It's an odd movie with a mix of moods: wistful, absurd, poignant and outright farce. I was entranced by it on first viewing. Talked about it all the time. Many years later I watched it again with a friend who wanted to understand why it was so special. Our reaction together was: "Huh. That was weird." But neither of us was moved by it at all. I wonder where I was (emotionally, that is) when I first saw it.

James Reasoner said...

I loved THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS, but I haven't seen it in at least 30 years. Sounds like it might be wise to leave it at that.

Todd Mason said...

Jeff, if you haven't sought out the data, Foreman, after a career of being in films which were better than anyone had any right to expect (usually in large part due to her participation), retired from acting and has been doing various sorts of arts and crafts professionally, including furniture restoration. She keeps a website, and infrequently takes an acting gig.

Gerard Saylor said...

I'm sure Foreman was the focus of millions of adolescent male's yearnings.