Wow! Such a movie! It is a movie about the movies. A historical fiction about movie history. It tells a bittersweet fable of the 1950’s, when the Un-American Activities Committee was conducting its witch-hunts in Hollywood. And it’s about a postwar town that is still suffering from heavy losses among their young men. And about a case of amnesia and mistaken identity. It is hard to explain, so go watch the dang movie!
I borrowed this image of the movie’s movie theater from a blogger, prasenjitchaudhuri.wordpress.com, whose review will probably make more sense than mine does. But that theater marquee is the one icon from the movie that I first fell in love with.
As I said, this is a movie about the movies and a love of the movies. It weaves in through the story of 50’s communist witch hunts a tale about a somewhat spineless young man who bumps his head, loses his memory, and is adopted by a whole town as a missing war hero come back from the dead. It hits every Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart cliche in the books. Just like It’s a Wonderful Life it makes me laugh so hard I have a wheezing fit, followed a couple of scenes later by something that makes me want to cry so hard that I will drown out all the weeping females in the audience with half-stifled basso sobs. Any movie that I walk out of embarrassed that my face is tear-streaked, is a movie that made me feel so profoundly good about life and love and laughter, that I want to see it again and again. There are so many movie-references in the film that I need to watch it two or three times just for that. For gosh sakes, the idol head from Raiders of the Lost Ark makes a cameo appearance in the movie within the movie, Sand Pirates of the Sahara.
So, basically, I watched this movie for the first time on DVD at home in bed, still recovering from scary new heart condition #2, and had a chance to laugh and cry and enjoy this movie without any fear of being laughed at for how I responded to it. And, so what did I do about it? Why naturally, I got on WordPress and exposed my secret shame to you. That makes about as much sense as everybody in that little town grabbing an amnesiac out of the river and making him into their beloved son. What a great movie! Wow!