About four months ago, I started a new weekly column at Film.com called What’s the Big Deal?, in which we examine a movie widely considered to be “great” or a “classic” and lay out what, exactly, the big deal about it is. Here’s the introduction I gave at the time, which explains the column’s premise in greater detail.
Since I’m in the mood for suggestions (don’t forget to help out with Eric’s Bad Movies!) I’d like to get your ideas for future editions of WTBD. It might help to draw from personal experience: What’s a “classic” movie you’ve watched that made you think, “Eh, that was OK, but what’s the big deal?” It could even be a film you actively hated. The point is that it’s supposed to be great but its greatness is not self-evident, at least not to you.
I think certain titles are bound to show up a lot. “2001: A Space Odyssey” — a movie that everyone either loves or doesn’t get at all — was built for this. “Citizen Kane” often gets the top spot on “best movies ever made” lists, leading many first-time viewers to check it out and come away wondering what they were supposed to have seen in it that they didn’t. Those are the kinds of movies I’m looking for.
There’s going to be a lot of subjectivity, of course. When I first introduced the column, someone suggested “Casablanca,” and I thought, “What’s the big deal about ‘Casablanca’?? It’s romantic and funny and entertaining! How could anyone watch it and not see that??” But then a friend of mine told me he finds “Citizen Kane” just as self-evidently fantastic, and that’s a movie that I think needs some explainin’.
That’s why I need your suggestions. There might be some, like “Casablanca,” that wouldn’t have occurred to me to include, but that it turns out a lot of people have trouble with.
Post your suggestions in the comments, or send me an e-mail or a tweet. At this point, you might need to specify whether you’re talking about Eric’s Bad Movies or What’s the Big Deal? (I doubt any movie would be suitable for both. EBM is films that are generally regarded as terrible, while WTBD? is movies generally regarded as great. In both cases, whether I personally like the movie is irrelevant.)
Here’s what I’ve covered so far:
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
City Lights (1931)
Days of Heaven (1978)
Easy Rider (1969)
8 1/2 (1963)
Jules and Jim (1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
On the Waterfront (1954)
The Searchers (1956)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Touch of Evil (1958)