On Monday, Aug. 22, I turn 59. Which means that, if there's anything I want to accomplish while I'm still in my 50s -- I have only 52 weeks left to cross it off my to-do list. And there's the rub: Even though I have spent a goodly portion of my life writing about films, interviewing film actors and filmmakers, and teaching college-level film studies courses, and hope to continue doing so until I'm even deeper into my dotage, there are many noteworthy movies -- some classic, some not -- that I have not seen. Yet.
So I'm launching -- with, I admit, no small amount of trepidation -- a project that I've dubbed Take 59. During the next 52 weeks -- from Aug. 22, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012 -- I'm going to view, once a week, a 20th century movie that I've never seen before, that I feel I should see before I turn 60. But wait, there's more: I'm also going to post an appraisal of each movie, and each posting will come with the Take 59 label.
I’m likely going to embarrass myself, and get a fair amount of heckling, when I fess up and name the names of classics that I've missed up until now. Because, mind you, I'm not talking about movies I saw decades ago at on-campus screenings, or watched on late-night TV, or viewed at the Gentilly-Orleans art house in New Orleans way back in the day, but can't recall very clearly, if at all. Much to my chagrin, I've never -- ever -- seen Intolerance. Or Out of the Past. Or Heaven's Gate. (OK, maybe that's not really a classic, but still....) Or The Lady from Shanghai. Or Masculin, Féminin. Or Say Anything.
In the course of my Take 59 project, I plan to catch up with all of those films. But I also want to include some non-classics in the mix -- movies I've always heard about and meant to see, but for various reasons always managed to miss. (Until now.) Especially some '60s and '70s films. Like, I've never seen Roger Corman's The Trip. Or Richard Lester's How I Won the War (which many folks actually consider to be a classic -- and many others don't). Or Christian Nyby's Operation C.I.A. (with Burt Reynolds fighting the Viet Cong -- in 1965). Or Robert Mulligan's The Pursuit of Happiness (which, as far as I can tell, has nothing whatsoever to do with the similarly titled drama starring Will Smith).
And here's the beauty part: I already have DVDs (or, in a few cases, Blu-Rays) of these and many other movies I've never seen before. Hell, they're all still shrink-wrapped, stacked on a closet shelf dedicated to films I've always intended to see... someday.
There will be 52 somedays as Take 59 unwinds. I cordially invite you to join me for all of them.