Thursday, March 13, 2008

another acid flashback

Yeah, I'm kidding, I never dropped acid. But I do find it easy to time-warp back to 1968 as if there'd been no in-between times. The past week, I was reading Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris, a new book about the dramatic changes in American filmmaking in the 1960s. It makes its points by focusing on the five 1967 Best Picture Oscar nominees from each of their conceptions several years earlier to Oscar night in April 1968. Two of the nominees, Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, were cutting-edge masterpieces, nothing like Hollywood had seen before. Two, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Doctor Dolittle, were more standard, old-Hollywood stuff. One, the eventual winner In the Heat of the Night, was somewhere in the middle. This book, Pictures at a Revolution, was great, one of those books that I honestly didn't want to see end, a book made only for time-warp freaks and history-of-film buffs. Because it pitted old-Hollywood against new-Hollywood, it was one of the most interesting Oscar races ever, certainly the one that I've ever had the most interest in, and I remember it well -- being so disappointed, in my case, when The Graduate didn't win. Looking back, ah - April 1968 - it seems like a fine time, a "more innocent" time, as they say - hence my time-warp tendencies. Then I realize that the Oscar ceremony that year was just a day after Martin Luther King's funeral and only a couple weeks before I was drafted into the Army for two years, facing an immediate four months of intense jungle training and Vietnam potentially looming over me. Maybe not such an innocent at all. Maybe there are no innocent times.

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