My first thought when I was tasked to join the Blind Spot challenge (to watch and write about classic films you hadn’t yet seen on a monthly basis – organized by bloggers James McNally and Ryan McNeil) was “Can I really say anything worthwhile or of interest at this point about these classic films?”. My second thought was “I highly doubt it…”. Granted, it really comes down to how I express my personal opinion about film, so since I’m coming at these classics for the first time decades after they were made, totally out of their context and with my own personal baggage, I should at least be able to get across my own perspective – but I’m not sure I can add a lot to the conversation.
To quell my concerns a bit, I decided to approach things a bit differently and expand my task to watch two Blind Spot films per post and to try to make them at least somewhat related. Perhaps those comparisons might allow for some additional discussion, since I really did want to join the list of bloggers participating. Like most film buffs, I have a rather daunting list of “must see” movies ahead of me including numerous “obvious” titles. Since my typical method for choosing the next title that goes into the DVD player or streams through NetFlix is somewhat random, I don’t have a methodical way of trimming that “must see” list down. I’ll typically lean towards a genre pick or maybe some Noir or perhaps a lesser known impulse choice. So now I’ve got something to – at least occasionally – focus my attention on the films that have been left by the wayside…Most of the Blind Spot posts that will be popping up here over the next few weeks have come from earlier this year (from my own personal blog) where I’ve been publishing them on the last Tuesday of each month.
My first choice was a somewhat obvious one and probably one of the biggest gaps I had remaining. Though I’ve seen a bunch of Chaplin’s work – The Gold Rush, Modern Times, The Circus, The Kid, Monsieur Verdoux, The Great Dictator – I’ve let City Lights slip by me all these years. Yes, I had not seen the film that has long been regarded by many to be one of the all-time greatest motion pictures and was famously submitted by Robert Bresson as both his first and second choices to Sight & Sound’s poll of the greatest films (with The Gold Rush his third and the rest of his list blank). It was simply another one of those cases where I felt I had seen the movie already due to its place in the cultural fabric and the number of times I’ve seen different clips and sections of the film – particularly the end of it. Fortunately, now that I’ve seen it, I no longer have to fake my way through conversations with other film bloggers…