Sam Bauman: Final look at movies for seniors



OK, so we know what the Academy thinks thanks to ABC. Now, for the last time, let’s look back at some older movies of interest to seniors. It’s been fun looking up all these oldies and finding more of them that I had forgotten about.

Some actors came up again and again, such as Walter Houston who sang “September Song” in “Knickerbocker Holiday,” and then acted for his son John (see below). One movie I regret not discussing is “Gone With the Wind,” surely a classic with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard and Olivia deHavilland.

First, by wide acclaim (one reader) there’s “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” directed by John Houston and starring his father Walter Houston as an experienced gold miner along with Tim Holt and Humphrey Bogart, who’s down and out in Tampico, Mexico.

The three team up after pooling their money and go off from Durango searching for gold. The film is basically one long irony about gold and what it does to its finders.

Released in 1948 it was at first a flop but critical acclaim made it a success. (An aside: I interviewed John Houston in Italy where he was shooting “The Bible.” Great fun, great poker player and great interview.)

Another less successful movie that I enjoyed greatly was the 1990 movie “The Sheltering Sky,” based on the novel by Paul Bowles and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich as a couple traveling to North Africa in an attempt to save their marriage after World War II. They are not tourists, they maintain, but rather travelers. They are joined by Campbell Scott on their kind of safari. Bowles narrates the film and appears briefly.

The scenes are painful and Malkovich blunders about, finally dying at a French Foreign Legion fort. Winger is stranded but is finally taken in by an Arab group, where she becomes the mistress of its leader, Eric Vu-An.

She finally escapes and is found by a woman from the U.S. consulate in Tangiers. She meets some Americans with a car and is more or less saved but she wanders off into the North African market.

Not a popular success but chillingly done with an excellent cast. Malkovich went on to success and Winger continued making movies. She was a fine actress as she showed in this difficult role, but she did appear in the popular film “Terms of Agreement.” She went on to do benefits for Isreali-Arab peace.

As a final oldie that probably was never seen by seniors, consider the 1927 silent film “Wings,” starring the top star of the time, Clara Bow. Also on board was Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper, which launched Cooper’s Hollywood career.

The film was shot on location on a budget of $2 million at Kelly Field in San Antonio. Pilots and planes of the U.S. Army Air Cops and hundreds of extras and some 300 pilots were involved in the filming.

Acclaimed for its technical prowess and realism for future aviation films were measured, mainly because of its realistic air-combat sequences. It went on to win the first Academy Award for Best Picture at the inaugural Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award ceremony in 1929, the only silent film to do so.

Consider that the budget for the film was just $2 million, it remains a classic long after such at the $175 million “Jupiter Ascending” winds up in film graveyards.

Senior ski news

Skiers of age waiting for the Boulder base at Heavenly to open need to look for another friendly ski run as Heavenly has announced that it will not open Boulder unless a mighty snow dump comes along. That’s unfortunate and probably the first time Boulder has not opened for an entire season.

Yep, snow has been scanty this season (I’ve only been up a couple of times 2014-15). Sad news as I remember fondly teaching skiing there for several years and lasting through three owners of the resort. Meanwhile, Heavenly has revealed plans to greatly enlarge operations, particularly around the Gondola lift. Lots more summer activity, something more and more winter resorts are doing.

Most ski/boarder resorts are kicking along pretty well, despite limited natural snow. Diamond Peak is doing well with its fine kids’ school and Mt. Rose has opened advanced Chutes runs.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.


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