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  • Carrie Specht

Classic Films on the Very Small Screen


Guest writer, Amanda Glenn rationalizes the options when purchasing films to be watched on the latest devices. A wise consideration when deciding to see films in a theater, or just

when you can on what you can.

My eldest daughter, Meg, is an Apple lover, as in computer, laptop, iPhone, and of course iPad. A staunch PC fan myself; she is always working to convert me. Which explains why I now have an iPad. Her cast off when she became the proud owner of the newest version. I must say, like the microwave oven, I wouldn’t want to use it for everything but it certainly has its good points. Along with the iPad itself she kindly sent a gift card for the iTunes and App store. And I have gone shopping. I bought apps for Sudoku – yes, I am a devotee. And I bought a book or two. But then I thought I’d like to buy a classic movie (or two or three).

While the small screen had already proved easy to use for reading I was concerned about watching a movie on that rather small screen – roughly a third of the size of my laptop screen. Still, I reasoned, I have watched movies on my laptop and enjoyed. Indeed, I have observed people watching movies on their iPhones. Can you imagine Braveheart on an iPhone? It would look like a swarm of ants in tiny kilts. To me it seemed wise to avoid landscape epics, westerns, films with battles, and musicals with large casts. My eyes are just not good enough to manage Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or A Chorus Line on a mini-screen.

What then would work? I went to the iTune store and punched in Movies. I searched. So many great films, decisions, decisions, decisions. I previewed Space Cowboys. Don’t you just love Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones? And it works. I preview some more. The Frank Capra classic It Happened One Night, that works too. There were some that were too dark or filled with scenes of ant-sized people that were put off for another time and a bigger screen. I did not preview them but it could be that the later Harry Potter films would be the wrong scale and too dark for comfortable mini-screen viewing as well. I have observed a young couple in the airport, heads bent together over an iPhone from which emanated identifiable Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince verbiage. However, it may have been an excuse for him to have her cuddled so close. I love Harry Potter but the Half-Blood Prince never struck me as being that jolly, and the young man was certainly grinning.

So, what did I buy? Well, first off Tugboat Annie (imdb link), a Marie Dressler move I have never seen. Now I will have it to enjoy when the power is off or I am traveling. It seems just the thing to cheer one whiling away an airport delay. And I bought two more – the iPad has a very long lasting battery. I got Calamity Jane (imdb link). Yes, I know I have it already and have watched it numerous times. I find the slightly inaccurate (oh okay, grossly inaccurate) story of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok as portrayed by Doris Day and Howard Keel a calm, sweet pleasure to watch. Lastly, I purchased The King’s Speech. I have not seen it. I am probably the only one on the planet who hasn’t and I wanted to rectify the situation. It may not be old enough to be deemed a classic, but I think it will make it and I don’t want to wait any longer to see it.

There is a bar scene in Calamity Jane, and certainly a crowd scene in The King’s Speech, but for the most part the three movies are focused on two or three main characters. I think that makes them a good choice for mini-screen watching. But then maybe your eyes are sharper than mine or you like to watch ants ride horses and talk like John Wayne in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (imdb link). Whoops. I may have just given Hollywood its next re-make. You can blame me when ants go charging across the big screen next summer. Until then I’ll enjoy the treasures that play so nicely on the little screens.

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