Bob McCabe's Life In Movies - 1966 - Seconds
THE INTRO BIT (Skip if you’ve been here before): We here at TheLastWordOnEath have asked noted film critic & film historian Bob McCabe to take part in our latest feature. The notion is to have someone write about the film that means the most to them for every year they’ve been alive. Not the films they saw in that year necessarily, but the ones that have come to have meaning for them in the years that followed – but were made in that year. After all, even we thought it was asking too much to get Bob to recall his cinematic experiences from 1965, the year he was born. Odds are, he wasn’t focusing on all things cinematic yet at that point.
We chose Bob because not only is he a New York Times Top 10 Best-Selling Author (Harry Potter Page To Screen), an award winning screenwriter (Out On A Limb), a noted and long-standing film critic (from Empire to the BBC via Melody Maker, Vox, Q, The Times, The Face, The Daily Mirror and anyone who would have him) and celebrated author (The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons, Dark Knights and Holy Fools, Dreams & Nightmares, Ronnie Barker The Authorised Biography, Pinewood The Story Of An Iconic Studio, etc. – that’s the contractual obligation out of the way!) he’s also been a contributor to this site since its early days.
As a rule we have asked our writers to remain anonymous – one of the reasons this site was originally launched was because we were fed up with so-called “critics” writing about themselves rather than the films they were discussing. (Please see our “About Us” section on the tool bar above.) But in this case we’re outing Bob – and he seems OK about it.
“I thank LastWord for the challenge of doing this. It presents what seems to me to be a unique way to look back on your life and evaluate it from the movies that were made during the years you have lived through. Obviously, some of it will be retrospective – don’t really recall what I was watching the year I was born. And I told LastWord it will often be more anecdotal than analytical. I intend to write about the movies that meant something to me in all of these years I’ve been around. They won’t necessarily be the best of that year, they won’t always be Oscar winners (although some might – or some should’ve been.) But they will be the ones that do something to me. And I don’t think this goes against the ethos of this fine site, because even though this is personal, I firmly believe there is universality in the specific experience. These are my choices – but you all have yours. After all, everyone has their own Life In Movies. Yes, even you…sitting at the back there…afraid to raise your hand…”
1966 - Seconds
My mum used to let me and my older brother stay up late night and watch scary movies. Nowadays social services would probably step in – but for me and him it was an education. And a true joy. Especially when BBC2 started doing those late Friday/Staurday night double bills of a black and white Universal followed by a colour Hammer. Just about every UK film critic I know worth their salt was raised on this stuff.
No idea when I first saw this though, around 6 or 7 maybe, but it haunted me – that last moment as they cart Rock Hudson off for what we would now term “conversion therapy” is still with me to this day and probably forever. Watched it again about two years ago and, despite John Frankenheimer’s bizarre attempt at beach party psychedelia somewhere in the middle, it holds up remarkably well. And Hudson is terrific in it, in a role with far more weight to it than the man was often allowed. My mum – a lovely old fashioned Irish lady, long since gone – loved Rock Hudson. Had no idea he was gay. I think she even refused to accept it when it all came out at the time of his death. Then again, she also loved Larry Grayson and said it was “just an act.” And Liberace was secretly butch and loved his mum. And she didn’t go for that nonsense about Jeremy Thorpe either. Simpler times.
Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley recently remade this/ripped it off in Self/less – but you know what? It was shit!
(Almost went for The Fortune Cookie for this year, one of Billy Wilder’s least appreciated, simply because the first time I saw Walter Matthau’s denial speech at the end when I was a kid, it made me laugh more than I ever had up to that point. But I didn’t.)
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