Friday, June 24, 2005


I could never be a movie critic.

From what I understand of the process, a critic only gets one viewing of a movie and often is working against a deadline. On second thought, I guess I could do that but the result would be mostly crap.

I’m in awe of someone who can view a movie and write about it the same day and get it right.

Some movies I don’t particularly like until I see them again years later such as Rueben, Rueben and Powwow Highway. My attitude towards these films changed because of changes in me. The first is about a philandering poet and the dialogue is brilliant. The second features a very effective story teller.

Many movies I have to view more than once to appreciate.

Which brings me to Popeye.

On first viewing, I agreed with most critics, meaning I didn’t like it. It was nothing like what I or the critics expected.

What did we expect? I don’t know, but it wasn’t that. The music was discordant and sung by nonprofessionals. They had some dopey, ramshackle set. The characters looked like a who’s who from skid row.

The film came on a movie channel which, as is my wont, is on 24/7 in my cave-like lair. Popeye got recycled several times while I was doing other things and paying little attention. The music started staying with me. I actually started humming it. When I finally decided to tape it, its cycle had ended on the movie channels. Luckily, it turned up on Bravo where I taped it, commercials and all.

And now, guess what, I think it’s a masterpiece, a work of genius.

The sets are brilliant, totally innovative. The casting is excellent. Robin Williams is just right as Popeye. What can you say about Shelley Duvall as Olive Oil? Has there been a more perfect casting in the history of cinema? Wimpy is dead on. The horde of character actors completes a mosaic of an offbeat, cartoon community. The baby who plays Sweet Pea has to rank among the all-time, top, movie babies.

The music? I confess, for a trained musician, I am slow to pick up a lot. When I first saw A Hard Day’s Night with its original score in 1964, I didn’t understand the music. That’s what happened with this movie. With repetition, I came to realize how good the music was, how well it fit into the whole concept.

From all this you can understand why I could never be a movie critic.


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