I saw the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger when Encore televised it earlier this month, and I’ll see it again when it’s repeated July 31. I can’t help myself. For me, it’s one of those irresistible spider-web movies: a film that ensnares me every time it’s on TV…
I don’t need to see Goldfinger again. And if I do, I can see it any time I want: I have the DVD in my own home-video library. But like a mythical siren luring me towards the rocks, any network televising Goldfinger will trap me in its inescapable current. Even if I tune in partway, by accident, that’s it. Once I’m there, I can’t leave. I check in, but I can’t check out…
And Goldfinger, with Sean Connery’s suave sneer, Oddjob’s razor-sharp hat brim, and Goldfinger’s almost bored villainy while aiming a laser at 007’s crotch (“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die”), isn’t the only spider-web movie that grabs me each and every time, even though I own my own commercial-free, watch-when-I-want copy.
The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, is another one — fabulous plot and performances, and, thanks to Robert Shaw, another great villain. And another Newman-Redford teaming, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with a perfect script by the great William Goldman, is yet another.
So is another Goldman-scripted movie, The Princess Bride — a movie that can make you laugh just as hard the 20th time as the first. I know this from personal experience.
The Sting, like Goldfinger, was shown on TV this month (on TCM). So were two other films I consider spider-web movies: the comedy Galaxy Quest, shown on Cinemax, and the much darker Deliverance, shown on AMC.
I not only recommended these as Best Bets, I watched them, too. It didn't matter what else was being shown on those nights.
A list of other movies whose charms, for me, are irresistible, would include Jaws (no summer is complete without it), American Graffiti, and any number of Stanley Kubrick movies, starting with Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange.
My son, Mark, is visiting at the moment. After briefly explaining the “spider-web movie” concept, I asked him if he had any of his own, and his answer was as immediate as it was definitive.
“The Big Lebowski. Pulp Fiction,” he said instantly. “Shawshank Redemption. Jurassic Park.”
I stopped listening around then. For all I know, he may still be rattling off names.
But if my own son gets the idea right away, and has his own candidates, I wonder — is this a universal kind of reaction?
And, if so — if you have your own “spider-web movies” that grab you every time they’re on television — what are they?