Four films from the DC Mall “Screen on the Green” do echo my own past


The Smithsonian and Park Service has sponsored a “Screen on the Green” series in Washington. The Monday evening series started July 21.

I believe I’ve seen all of these four in the distant past, but they deserve some comment.

The Karate Kid” (1984, Columbia, dir, John Avidsen) presents Rakph Macchio as a teen who moves to California from New Jersey and is bullied by the beach set, and is taught some karate moves, and life lessons, by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita).  I think that I saw this in the old Northtown Mall in Dallas in an old dollar house run by AMC.

Lover Come Back” (1961, Universal, dir. Delbert Mann) pits Rock Hudson and Doris Day against one another as advertising executives in rival agencies, where subtrefuge forces them into the inevitable relationship.  This is said to be the archtype situation comedy, where women need lies and men need taming,  Rock Hudson, for all his posturing in the 50s with his artificially buffed chest, wound up dying of AIDSs in the 80s and bringing people out of the closet.  I believe I saw this film at a “group activity” when I was a patient a NIH in the fall of 1962, in an auditorium in the hospital (account on Jan 14, 2014 here).  I didn’t like its silliness and the way it made “men” look.  I seem to remember an embarrassing shower or nude scene.   In any event, conservative writer George Gilder (“Men and Marriage”) would approve of this movie.

Key Largo” (1948. dir. John Huston, Warner Brothers), has Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) visits a Florida hotel owned by the widow (Lauren Becall) of a buddy who had died in WWII.  As a hurricane approaches, the hotel is taken over by mobsters, a plot that previews more modern home invasion movies.  But the film explores other issues, including wartime or battle cowardice and treatment of native Americans (Seminoles), as well as Frank’s tendency to remain unable to act when necessary.

A Soldier’s Story” (1984, Norman Jewison, Columbia) has an African-American officer i(Howard E. Rollins Jr.) investigate the  homicide of an unpopular mixed-race drill sergeant (Adolph Ceasar).  I believe that I saw that film in Dallas that year.   This is a very different film from “Soldier’s Girl” (2003), see Fab. 28, 2014).

(Published Monday Aug. 4, 2014, at 11 PM EDT).


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