Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Your Girl is Lovely, Hubbell"

Robert Redford is in the air. He hasn't dissolved into something atmospheric (stop being so literal!) but his name keeps turning up. Last week his two early sexually fluid performances opposite Natalie Wood (This Property is Condemned and Inside Daisy Clover) were playing here in New York and next month in Brooklyn BAM Cinema hosts a retrospective. It culminates on September 13th with four films and the Sundance Kid himself in person. For whatever reason they've narrowed down the final four to Redford as romantic figure, often paired with true giants among actresses.

On the last day they're screening...
  • Out of Africa (1985) The Best Picture winning bio in which Redford can't be tamed by Meryl Streep's author/heroine but gladly offers up shampoo and stud services.
  • The Natural (1984) this prestige pic is a mythic baseball drama. Redford and cast are bathed in Caleb Deschanel lensed sunshine and the lovely ladies include then rising stars Barbara Hershey, Glenn Close (Oscar nominated here... though I'm still not sure why) and Kim Basinger.
  • The Electric Horseman (1979) Redford and Jane Fonda fall in love at the rodeo. And compete in a Best Feathered Hair competition.
  • The Way We Were (1973) in which Barba Streisand falls hard for Redford but McCarthy era Hollywood tears them apart
Here's the difficult part: You can only choose one. They screen simultaneously, somewhat staggered due to running times, and then the man himself appears to talk about his career to the moviegoing crowd. I'm tempted to go Horseman (the only one I haven't seen) but The Way We Were is easily my favorite among those films. It's so underrated and much more expansive than its veneration as Classic Chick Flick suggests. If you ask me, Barbra Streisand deserved the Oscar in 73. Her chemistry with Redford is every bit as remarkable as you've heard. No wonder Carrie Bradshaw obsessed so.
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17 comments:

Encore Entertainment said...

Oh Nathaniel will you never give Glenn Close a break.

OS. Although a have some love for the definitely flawed A Touch of Class I wondered how Glenda Jackson won for it. If they have just given Barbra they could have held out and given Glenda her second award for Hedda.

billybil said...

Babs was fantastic in THE WAY WE WERE! And that ending - one of the best, tear jerker endings in modern cinema. Hell, it harkens back and transcends so many of those B&W heart breakers! I just loves me some Bob and Babs!!!

Derek said...

Barbra's in my top 5 of all-time in the Best Actress category for that performance. Extraordinary work!

Jose said...

I think I only enjoy Redford when he works with Sydney Pollack, all of his other films bore me to death.
Except for the ones with George Roy Hill of course, but I'm guessing that's more about the Newman factor.
And yeah Babs was fabulous in that movie.
Can you believe most of my girlfriends had no idea what Carrie was talking about with the "TWWW" reference?

NATHANIEL R said...

Encore... i am totally down with some of Glenn's nominations and she'd have an Oscar if i ran the world.

but i don't get the nomination for The Natural. it's so blank.

Billybil -- yes. today if they test screened it they'd probably change the ending. when did people stop loving melancholy endings? sigh

Janice said...

that's the screening selection? Wasn't Electric Horseman a huge flop at the time? Not that flops can't yield some "unappreciated in their time" gems (see: Citizen Kane) but I've never heard anything that would imply that EH is such a gem.

In this lineup, my choice would be TWWW, hands down and no questions asked. When I think about great screen couples of the last, oh, 40 years or so (aka my lifetime) I think Babs and Redford in this film, Nic and Ewan in Moulin Rouge, Bridges and Pfieffer in Baker Boys and then after that, I'm grasping for straws or at a loss for words. I was a little young at the time but the TWWW had such resonance for me, and still does - I guess it's one of my formative cinematic experiences (even if I only saw it on TV, but did so repeatedly back in the '70's and '80's.) One of the things I love about it is it is an "anti-romance" about the pain of love and loss, which is very refreshing and still surprisingly rare.

Janice said...

that's the screening selection? Wasn't Electric Horseman a huge flop at the time? Not that flops can't yield some "unappreciated in their time" gems (see: Citizen Kane) but I've never heard anything that would imply that EH is such a gem.

In this lineup, my choice would be TWWW, hands down and no questions asked. When I think about great screen couples of the last, oh, 40 years or so (aka my lifetime) I think Babs and Redford in this film, Nic and Ewan in Moulin Rouge, Bridges and Pfieffer in Baker Boys and then after that, I'm grasping for straws or at a loss for words. I was a little young at the time but the TWWW had such resonance for me, and still does - I guess it's one of my formative cinematic experiences (even if I only saw it on TV, but did so repeatedly back in the '70's and '80's.) One of the things I love about it is it is an "anti-romance" about the pain of love and loss, which is very refreshing and still surprisingly rare.

adelutza said...

I second as well The Way We Were. Great performance by Barbra Streisand . Wish I could see it on the big screen.

EvanO said...

I never knew that Babs was nodded for "The Way We Were"! Wow. That's the one I'd pick. I'll have to watch that one soon. Naturally, I haven't seen any of those four films listed, expect for parts of "Out of Africa." Oh wells.

john said...

I have to agree, The Way We Were is a really underrated film...has anyone noticed that there is a montage where they move to the West coast, we seem on a boat, decorating and frolicking around...which definitely inspired David Fincher in Benjamin Button, where there's a similar montage with the Beatles' 'Twist and Shout'.

AKA said...

Jack & Rose @ Janice? That has to be up there somewhere regardless of what you think of the film it came from.

Top 10 All-Time Screen Romances? Sounds like a list I want to try and cook up. :)

The Know Nothing Know It All said...

Nathaniel, would you call Glenda Jackson the Hilary Swank of the early 1970s?

Glenn Dunks said...

Indeed, The Way We Were was brilliant. Of course, it's a "chick flick" and stars Barbra Streisand so it's place in film history is sidelined.

She is so so soooo very good in it though!

Wayne B. said...

If you haven't seen it on the big screen then, IMHO, you should go see The Way We Were. There's something about seeing movies you love inside the theatre that just makes you feel invigorated when you leave.

Janice said...

// AKA said...
Jack & Rose @ Janice? That has to be up there somewhere regardless of what you think of the film it came from. //

I'm sorry, are you addressing me? Who the heck are Jack and Rose?

Now that Top Ten Screen Romances list would be a great idea - I'm sure it's been done, but no reason it can't be revisited.

JS said...

I saw The Way We Were for the first time a week ago and I hated it! The Katie character is insufferable and Hubbell is a douche...he just leaves his child behind. And it's not believe bale that he would fall for this awful woman. Ugh, that's all, I can't believe how overhyped this was.

adam k. said...

I thought you LOVED Out of Africa?