PopWatch Confessional: Which classic (or 'classic') film have you never seen?
The Terminator was released 30 years ago this weekend—but our Hillary Busis hadn’t seen it until this past week. (Of course, she’s not alone; everyone has at least one shameful gap in their pop cultural knowledge. So we opened up the question to our staffers: What’s a classic (or “classic”) film that you’ve missed? Read through our choices—and feel free to chime in with your own.
Kyle Ryan, EW.com editor: It won Best Picture in 1962 and is No. 7 on the AFI’s “100 best films” list, but not only have I never seen Lawrence of Arabia, I can barely tell you what it’s about. Peter O’Toole’s in it, there’s a lot of sand and loose clothing… uh, I think it’s a glimpse into Middle Eastern colonialism in the 20th century? That’s a hoity-toity B.S. description that sounds knowledgeable—if only I could work in “hegemony”—but more or less says, “I haven’t seen this movie.” And I have virtually no desire to. Something about the sweeping epics of yesteryear turns me off, even though I vowed to watch Lawrence of Arabia after O’Toole died last year. I have, however, seen Mr. Mom roughly 1,000 times.
Dalene Rovenstine, TV recaps editor: You know when people say something is “Sophie’s Choice“? I hear it all the time, and I’m pretty sure I’ve even used the phrase myself—but I don’t know what it actually means. (A choice that’s… hard?) Because, embarrassingly, I have neither read the book nor seen the film—a film for which Meryl Streep won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Actress, a film that received four additional Academy Awards and two more Golden Globes. But if it helps my case, Sophie’s Choice has been in my Netflix queue for years.
Kathryn Luttner, EW Community deputy director: It happens every beach vacation: Someone inevitably mentions his/her fear of sharks, the conversation turns to Jaws, and when the group notices my silence, they ask, “What? You’ve never seen Jaws?! What’s wrong with you?!” Depending on who you ask, a number of things—but I blame my Texas upbringing. My childhood was more Stand by Me and Sandlot; I was always outside riding my bike, playing softball, or imagining what ghost haunted the abandoned house down the block, and I didn’t have time to watch movies from my parents’ generation. I realize that’s no excuse now that I’m an adult, and I have recently seen Coming to America and Trading Places—so someday soon I’ll learn why they need a bigger boat.
Jeff Labrecque, senior writer: I never saw Thunderball. Or maybe I did. I’m not sure. At this point, Bond has been so sliced and diced, shuffled into 007 montages, ripped apart, and rebuilt in its own image that it’s difficult to differentiate between the movies—even the originals with Sean Connery. So… Thunderball was the one with the jetpack? The one in the Bahamas with nukes, diamonds, and Domino? Nope, I’ve never watched it from start to finish, and I feel like a double-0 fraud about it since I know I’ve fibbed that I have seen it, based on bits and pieces I’ve caught on TV over the years. Whether Thunderball is a “classic” or not, I can’t really argue, obviously. But when it came out at the height of Bond mania in 1965, it became the biggest Bond movie ever, adjusted for inflation. At some point, I’ll have to sit down and watch so I can never say never again.
Nina Terrero, correspondent: The interwebs nearly exploded when Paul Feig announced his plans to remake Ghostbusters with an all-female cast. But I can’t chime in about the critical impact of girl ghost hunters because I’ve never seen the original 1984 film. I’ve kept this gap in my pop culture knowledge a secret, since people seem oddly passionate about a dated movie featuring a trio of nerdy exterminators, but I do have my reasons: the movie came out before I was born, and if we’re really being honest, watching men in corny suits battle fictional bad guys has never held much interest for me. (Marvel franchise films notwithstanding.) For the record, I am determined to watch Ghostbusters before Feig’s reboot is released—but it might have to be an inflight entertainment option for me to finally get around to it.
Joshua Rivera, EW.com writer: I’ve got quite a few of these, but I think the one it’s most surprising that I haven’t seen—even to me—is definitely Blade Runner. The 1982 Ridley Scott classic seems like pretty much everything I love about science fiction wrapped up in a feature film, and its futurist aesthetic has influenced countless other films and video games—it’s nigh impossible to find any pop culture future that isn’t inspired by Blade Runner. It’s pretty much my favorite film I’ve never seen—probably because there are just so many versions of it out at this point that I don’t know which to watch.
Esther Zuckerman, staff writer: The Halloween season always reminds me that I have a huge pop culture blind spot when it comes to horror movies. I’m an admitted scaredy cat, and while I have no doubt that I’ve matured from the days when I would run out of movie theaters if they happened to play a trailer for a scary movie, I still have to psych myself up to watch any movies in the genre. The movie that I’m probably most ashamed to have never seen is Psycho, because a) Hitchcock, b) it’s such an important cultural reference point, and c) I’ll probably like or at least appreciate it. I even made plans to watch it around the time Bates Motel premiered, then chickened out. Maybe I’ll watch it this weekend. Or not.
Teresa Jue, EW.com intern: This is pretty embarrassing to admit, but I have never seen Star Wars. I know, I know—throw the tomatoes at me, nerds. Of course I know bits of the story from various late-night Wikipedia binges (Luke-Leia pseudo-incest, Darth Vader is, duh, their dad, and Yoda has a speech impediment), but other than that, I’ve been failing in the space opera realm. Also, for some reason, Star Wars was never shown in the superfluous amount of film classes I took, although I probably saw The Godfather about 12 times. Film schools just love their fruit symbolism.
Jonathon Dornbush, EW.com intern: The Godfather is one of my favorite films, and not just because of my Italian heritage and my childhood home’s proximity to the real-life tollbooth where Sonny Corleone meets his doom. But I’ve still never gotten around to watching The Godfather Part II. One of the rare sequels to be as critically lauded, if not more so, than its predecessor, Part II should be a top priority on my “to watch” list. Maybe it’s the long running time, maybe it’s gangster genreexhaustion, or maybe it’s even that I’ll feel obligated to watch the more maligned The Godfather Part III—but I haven’t pushed myself to watch the prequel/sequel hybrid, and have no plans to any time soon. My inner Cinema Studies student is ashamed of this blind spot—and a few of my professors can now share in that public shame.
Lanford Beard, staff editor: Every film department has its biases, I guess. While Teresa and Jonathon have watched The Godfather on loop, the most I know about Mario Puzo’s sweeping Corleone family chronicle is what I learned from You’ve Got Mail. Despite the fact that The Godfather seems to be on television every weekend, I always either find it after it’s already 30-90 minutes in or am not emotionally ready to make the commitment (it is a saga, y’all). That said, I am totally on board with “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
Darren Franich, senior writer: I’ve spent most of my life as the guy who has seen more movies than you, but that really just means that I’ve spent most of my life as the guy to whom, sooner or later, you yell this shocked question/accusation: “YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE GOONIES?” I have not. I will never. I watched most of the great ’80s adventures when I was a kid, but somehow I missed Young Sean Astin’s debut as Goonie O’Riley, who takes his pals on a journey that’s like Stand By Me meets The Descent. I assume that’s wildly inaccurate, but I kind of love having such a massive blind spot on my resume. Like, whenever I’m in a room where people talk about The Goonies, I feel like I’m in some kind of parallel universe, where everyone but me knows what the hell a Sloth is.
Ashley Fetters, EW.com news editor: I’ve never made it all the way through It’s a Wonderful Life without falling asleep. I grew up in a pretty religious home, so there are a number of now-classics I was shielded from as a kid (I didn’t experience Titanic, for instance, until I was 23), but my mom and dad adore It’s a Wonderful Life—and have taken it upon themselves to expose me to it, in all its weepy, morally upstanding glory, every Christmas. Maybe it’s the rhythmic patter of the old-timey Hollywood dialogue that makes me drowsy; I don’t know. But without fail, every time that famous bell rings, an Ashley Fetters passes out on her parents’ couch.
Mandi Bierly, senior writer: When Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was released 20 years ago, I didn’t want to see Uma Thurman get a needle to the heart. It was that simple. Somehow, even though I’ve grown to appreciate pulpy, adrenalized drama—I cover Sons of Anarchy, okay—I still haven’t watched it. In fact, I didn’t see a Tarantino film until Django Unchained, which I only went to because I was interviewing supervising sound editor Wylie Stateman for an Oscars piece. P.S. I loved it.
Neil Janowitz, EW.com assistant managing editor: There’s a long and compelling list of reasons why I should have watched On the Waterfront by now: Peak Marlon Brando. An all-time great director, Elia Kazan. Those eight Academy Awards. Apparent thematic depth and societal relevance that’s uncommon in similarly high-profile modern movies. A line, “I could have been a contender,” that I’ve quoted far too many times for someone who hasn’t seen the source. But really, it’s the movie’s loose association with boxing, a sport I love despite its waning popularity and deep organizational issues, that first attracted my attention and may well be what eventually motivates me to fire it up. I don’t even think there’s actual boxing depicted in the movie. (Don’t tell me. I need to stop being a bum, which is what I am, and find out for myself.)
Hillary Busis, staff editor: Neil lent me his copy of Citizen Kane after I admitted I had never seen it. That was, oh, three months ago. But hey, I did watch Terminator!