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anne_mikolay_120While channel surfing the other night in hopes of finding something worth watching on television other than boring reruns or silly reality and contest shows, I discovered “Gone With The Wind” airing on cable. There was Scarlet whining about Melanie and Ashley Wilkes; there were my sons whining that I was watching something “dumb.” They begged me to turn the station to something, “anything but that,” and snickered at my insistence that “they don't make them like they used to.”

I suppose young men can't be faulted for not being enthralled by the ultimate “chick flick,” but I was serious. They really don't make movies like they used to...and it's because they can't.  Hollywood just doesn't have enough actors who possess the illusive “it factor,” that hard-to-define “something extra” that makes a performance, or a movie, memorable.

Just imagine if Hollywood attempted to remake “Gone With The Wind!” Who would be the stars? Mentally canvas today's Hollywood roster, and see if you can come up with viable candidates. Keanu Reeves as Rhett? Uh...no. Tom Cruise? Don't make me laugh! Rhett Butler doesn't jump on sofas! Megan Fox as Scarlett? Not unless there are tattoo parlors in the old South. Jennifer Anisten as Melanie? Wanda Sykes as Mamie? Neither fit the profile.

Or how about recasting James Cagney in “Yankee Doodle Dandy?” Absolutely could not be done! Who in today's Hollywood can act, sing, and dance, as Cagney did, without looking like a total fool? Nathan Lane? Matthew Broderick? Both are talented; neither possess Cagney's unparalleled charisma.

Today, who could rival Sidney Poitier's performance in “Lilies of the Field?” Denzel Washington, in his younger days, definitely – if he could sing. Will Smith? Absolutely. I imagine that neither gentlemen would be keen to step into Poitier's shoes, primarily because nobody can step into Poitier's shoes, and the message of “Lilies of the Field” would be wasted on a society that enjoys the questionable humor in something stupid like “Bruno.”

I suppose believing “they don't make them like they used to” brands me as undeniably middle-aged, but what goes around, comes around! Sooner or later, my sons will tell their own kids that nobody except Harrison Ford could ever be Hans Solo; nobody but Schwarzenegger could be the Terminator; Daniel Radcliff is the only Harry Potter.

“Oldies but goodies” are in the eye of the beholder.