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My 3rd Annual 24 Hour Movie Marathon
I finally watched On the Waterfront, Mulholland Drive, and more.
Every year, at the end of the summer, I attempt a personal 24-hour movie marathon.
The idea is simple: Watch movies for 24 hours. The rules are simple: Minimize time spent doing other things and focus on the movies.
This is my third year in a row running this gauntlet and it's the first time that I truly stumbled...
Movie #1: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
When a litter of dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella De Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement.
Started at 7:30am on Saturday, August 6.
I start every marathon with a Disney movie to ease into the day with some light. Something I can easily sip coffee to. Something that will put me in a good mood.
And One Hundred and One Dalmatians is all of those things! It's charming, it's playful, it's cute - it's all of the things you would expect all of those puppies to be. Cruella is a great villain, the London fog setting gives some great vibes for an 8:00 am movie, and it's a breezy 79 minutes.
A perfect movie if they cut the 20 minutes of filler.
Movie #2: Duck Soup (1933)
Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.
Started at 9:21am on Saturday, August 6.
I headed straight into movie #2, the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup. I'm always able to do the first three or four with stopping in between.
And, a surprise to no one, it’s pretty funny! The Marx Brothers are great at what they do: zany antics, the slappiest of stick, and making your head spin. And another short movie at 68 minutes, I can't complain, so I won't.
Movie #3: On the Waterfront (1954)
Terry Malloy dreams about being a prize fighter, while tending his pigeons and running errands at the docks for Johnny Friendly, the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Terry witnesses a murder by two of Johnny’s thugs, and later meets the dead man’s sister and feels responsible for his death. She introduces him to Father Barry, who tries to force him to provide information for the courts that will smash the dock racketeers.
Straight into the third movie and the first drama of the program. And boy is this one heavy.
With this viewing, my first, I ran into an issue I've encountered with many classic and important films during my marathons: This is simply not the way to watch it.
When you watch something this weighty, this conversation-sparking, you should live with it. You should have to think about it. Go on a walk. Take a shower. Go to Waffle House.
Instead, I just went, "Okay, cool! That was good! Onto the next one!"
And this movie obviously deserves more than that. Brando's legendary performance deserves more than that.
Year 1's movie was Citizen Kane. Last year's was The Deer Hunter. And this year it was On the Waterfront.
Movie #4: Man with the Gun (1955)
A stranger comes to town looking for his estranged wife. He finds her running the local girls. He also finds a town and sheriff afraid of their own shadow, scared of a landowner they never see who rules through his rowdy sidekicks. The stranger is a town tamer by trade, and he accepts a $500 commission to sort things out.
I make sure to watch a Robert Mitchum movie every year after my Year 1 discovery of 1955's The Night of the Hunter - my favorite movie of any marathon so far.
And all I really have to say is: Robert Mitchum made a lot of great movies.
So...with the law of averages…
I think I'm just learning that I'm not really crazy about his westerns.
Another short one, at least.
Movie #5: The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Three days into his Miami honeymoon, Lenny meets tall, blonde Kelly. This confirms him in his opinion that he has made a serious mistake and he decides he wants Kelly instead.
Movie #5 and I haven't taken a single break yet. As soon as one movie ends, I've switched straight over to the next streamer or immediately replaced the disc. That was my strategy this year - just don't stop. Don't slow down. Because when you do that, you get tired during that downtime.
As you'll see, that was my downfall.
I started to feel the length of the day during this one.
This and On the Waterfront both fall under the “this is probably so much better if you don’t watch it under these circumstances” category.
Movie #6: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The first remake of the paranoid infiltration classic moves the setting for the invasion, from a small town to the city of San Francisco and starts as Matthew Bennell notices that several of his friends are complaining that their close relatives are in some way different. When questioned later they themselves seem changed, as they deny everything or make lame excuses. As the invaders increase in number they become more open and Bennell, who has by now witnessed an attempted “replacement”, realises that he and his friends must escape or suffer the same fate.
Movie #6 and still no breaks. Oof.
Every year that I do this marathon, there is a movie that just doesn’t phase me at all while I’m watching it. And then a few days and weeks and months go by and I realize how great it is.
It’s just the nature of the beast, I guess.
This is that movie.
Movie #7: Mulholland Drive (2001)
Blonde Betty Elms has only just arrived in Hollywood to become a movie star when she meets an enigmatic brunette with amnesia. Meanwhile, as the two set off to solve the second woman’s identity, filmmaker Adam Kesher runs into ominous trouble while casting his latest project.
I took my first break before this one, a 30-minute-ish dinner that saw my motivation plummet.
When I returned for the Criterion 4K disc of Mulholland Drive, I felt like I was in a daze. Not only is David Lynch's film dreamy and confusing and weird and magical and haunting, but I had been watching movies for 12 hours straight with only one small break.
I was losing my mind right along with everyone in the movie.
Movie #8: Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022)
A fanboy of a supervillain supergroup known as the Vicious 6, Gru hatches a plan to become evil enough to join them, with the backup of his followers, the Minions.
At this point, I was getting pretty tired. I needed to shake things up, so I convinced Taylor to drive me to the movies so I could get out and about while still completing my mission. The theater is about 30 minutes away, so I was able to close my eyes for a bit on the way.
We grabbed our Minions Snack Pack (two ICEEs, two candys, and a popcorn to share) and sat down for the most fun movie of the marathon. Believe it or not, it's actually very funny and cute. And the only Mulholland Drive chaser.
Then I headed home with eight hours to go.
Movie #9: The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
In the irreverent spirit of fun that made “The Lego Movie” a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble—Lego Batman—stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.
And on the drive home, I just knew that I wasn't going to make it through to the end. The first year that I did the marathon, I went in and out of sleep for the last few movies, but still made an honest attempt. Last year, I fueled myself with an insane amount of cold brew coffee - so much so that I was awake way beyond the last movie.
This year I didn't want that to happen, so I changed my technique to just not take breaks. Hustle through. Never give yourself a chance to get tired. Well, that didn't work. When I did inevitably have to take breaks in the evening to eat or stretch or get out of the house, I crashed so much harder.
So, disaster strikes. After The Lego Batman Movie (which is really fun! - I choose a Batman movie every year), I threw in the towel. It just wasn’t gonna happen this year. My first complete failure.
Oh well, still had fun! I'll try again next year!
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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