Given that the holidays are around the corner, I thought I’d do a series of short reviews of some of my personal favorites.
Let’s get started then! 🙂
First, Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
It wouldn’t be the holidays without at least one viewing of this John Hughes comedy. If you’ve never seen this one, gather round and
listen up read this.
A wound-up ad exec who’s desperately in need of R&R and is trying to make it home for Thanksgiving (played to beleaguered perfection by Steve Martin) ends up in a nightmare procession of missed connections, redirected flights, delayed departures, and so on. Circumstances beyond his control bring him together with a super-friendly and super-talkative traveling salesman (John Candy, pitch perfect in the role). The two essentially play a version of The Odd Couple hits the road.
Despite the various catastrophes that befall the men (some of them due to their own incompetence), it isn’t a spoiler to say that they make it home. An interesting revelation about the traveling salesman at the end underscores the theme that holidays are supposed to be about kindness.
I love that the movie makes this point in a poignant, but not saccharine, way. Your eyes may well a bit, but you’ll be smiling.
And, A Period of Adjustment (1962)
This movie is kind of an overlooked gem. It’s interesting to note that this marked George Roy Hill’s directorial debut for feature films. It’s also interesting to consider that the movie is a comedy-drama (holiday dramedy?) based on a play by Tennessee Williams. I find the latter bit fascinating, because when I think of Tennessee Williams, comedy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
The story does wander into Williams’ area of interest to a certain extent. Namely, it concerns relationships and families. In this case, the focus is primarily on marriage. Newlyweds Isobel (Jane Fonda, when she played cute, blonde parts) and George (Jim Hutton, in a solid performance) are having problems communicating. Something about George’s failure to perform certain … um … physical acts. Yeah, this sounds a bit more like Tennessee Williams.
The quarreling couple seek counseling from George’s Korean War buddy, Ralph (played by the awesome Tony Franciosa), who recently separated from his wife. Apparently, Ralph married her only for money and has a distinct dislike for his parents-in-law. Okay, this is definitely a Tennessee Williams story. 🙂
The story takes place around Christmas time. It’s a festive look at marital difficulties and how differences can be worked out, despite family dysfunction and other complications.
More to come! 🙂