Quite possibly the best American movie ever

Yes, that’s an outrageous claim, but after about 30 years, I still feel the same.

After last night’s feast, we adjourned to the African Gun Room (upstairs behind the library, has nothing African but it does have a few guns, more when we’re expecting children here and lock a lot of stuff away, christened as such by Ben one evening in a fit of whimsy, and when we all quit looking blank, the name stuck). The AGR is where all of the TVs and assorted paraphenalia live, normally in a very quiet state. But when the generator is running, we can choose from DVDs and VHS tapes and loll around, sometimes with popcorn or snacks.

A couple of years ago, I started inquiring about “Zorba the Greek.” I only own a few movies, and I really wanted this one. It is still, about 30 years after its release, one of the best ever movies, at least that I have seen. For a long time it was only available in VHS, probably because it was filmed in black and white and the movie companies decided no one would buy it.

But periodically I went to Amazon and asked if I could get it, and was always told, “No, we’re thinking about it, should we let you know when you can?” And of course I always said yes. Then, one time, when inquiring, I was given a release date. I bought it about a year ago, have never watched it.

So last night we loaded it in the big screen TV. I think I was the only person watching who remembered it in any detail, which was very cool. I got to listen to the reactions of others. Anthony Quinn (Academy Award for best actor that year), Alan Bates (made his reputation on this film), and Irene Pappas (nothing needs to be said here)–whew!

This is a very dark movie. It should depress you for days. But the end is so redemptive (one of those words that lit people love) that it’s impossible to be down. When Alan Bates starts to laugh, the world is right again. It just goes to show that there is hope for poets, even.


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