Posted by TKilbane on March 16, 1999 at 00:04:53:
Every few months or so I get the urge to drop by this old board and see what's up. Look's like all things are well.
What prompts me to write tonight was that I saw Daniel Day-Lewis on television the other day co-hosting a special program on the tradition of Irish boxers. His co-host was the former featherweight champion, Barry McGuigan, who had helped Mr. Day-Lewis prepare for his role in "The Boxer." Anyway I was really impressed by his knowledge of boxing history. He and McGuigan discussed in pretty good detail such Irish boxing heroes as: John L. Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Jimmy McLarnin, Micky Walker, and Billy Conn. Of course, Irish tradition in boxing is so great that some names were not mentioned such as: "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, Gene Tunney, James Braddock, Paddy Ryan, Jake Kilrain, and Johnny Kilbane, featherweight champion of the world from 1911-1923. (I am not a direct descendent of Johnny Kilbane, but all Kilbanes are originally from the same part of Ireland and he was from the same neighborhood as my grandfather, a tough Irish ghetto on the near westside of Cleveland. So all Kilbanes feel a sense of pride in his accomplishments.) I was suprised that Daniel Day-Lewis would host a program like this, which was done for a cable channel we have here in NYC- the classic sports channel; but I could tell by how enthusiastic he related his knowledge of boxing history that this was done out of a sheer love of the sport.
I also wanted to describe the end of a record. I admit freely that I paid NINE times to see LOTM in the theater. Yes, all my friends and family thought it was a little weird. Yet I loved the film so much I could not help it. I talked all my friends and family into seeing it and so whenever they went to see it I came along too. Five of those viewings were in NYC (at NYC prices!). The other four were in $2 theaters in Cleveland. The viewings were spread out from the film's opening day in September 1992 to February 1993. Quite simply I thought it was a record I would never surpass. That was until a couple weeks ago.
I went to see "Saving Private Ryan" for the tenth time. Why? I live in easy walking distances of three major cineplexes (gotta love Manhattan!) and I think it quite simply to be the greatest war movie I have ever seen. And I do not say that lightly since war movies are sort of a passion of mine. How can I watch the same film tens times? Wouldn't the entertainment and emotional effects of the film fade away after a couple of viewings? Like my experience with Last of the Mohicans, after the first couple of viewings I started to go mainly for a few specific scenes whose power to move me never failed. In LOTM scenes such as the elk hunt, the fight at the fort, the massacre, and the tragic deaths of Heywood, Uncus, and Alice (my favorite part) were the things that brought me back to the theater nine times. In Saving Private Ryan it's mainly the last half hour of the film in which a handful of US Army Rangers and paratroopers from the 101st Airborne attempt to hold a strategic bridge against an assault by what appears to be a reinforced company of panzergrendiers from the 2nd SS "Das Reich" Division. It's terrific film making. Private Ryan's refusal to abandon his post or his "brothers." The noise from the engines of the PzKw VI "Tiger" tanks, which had no ball bearings, and warn of their presence long before they are seen. The sight of the ground shaking as men steady themselves to confront a 60 ton steel monster. The death of Private Jackson in the bell tower. The breakdown of Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies deserved a nomination for Best Supporting Actor!) And the horrifying death of Private Mellish, who is knifed through the heart by an SS panzergrenadier, after an exhaustive and brutal hand to hand combat scene which makes Uncus' death look like romantic hogwash. 1st Sergeant Horvath fighting and dying like John Wayne! And I still gasp at the films final death.
I guess I could have stopped going to see SPR after five or six showings; but the idea of beating that weird record of most trips to the theater to see a movie kept me walking the 10 minutes to the Union Square to plunk down my money for one more viewing. The record has fallen. Will this one ever fall? Well, if they ever do make that Custer-Little Bighorn picture, which has been rumored for three years, then SPR might get some competition.
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