Sunday, 22 February 2009


It is fair comment to say that a large part of me is locked into the late fifties and early sixties when I entered the world of traditional jazz of Soho, the non violent protest movement and prison, further education at Oxford and the university world of tutorials, becoming a dinner guest at the Union with Ted Heath at the next table, trying to convert the Labour Party to unilateralism and staying out of Europe, and getting drunk at the top of Nuffield College Tower while others played billiards.

I have previously written of La Dolce Vita and mentioned Hair. Another icon of the period was the Jean Luc Goddard directed Francois Truffautt story of Breathless 1960 with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. I had intended to watch the original film in 2006, but settled for the 1980 remake with Richard Gere in the main role of a film set in California.

I had avoided the remake, as I do in general, and was therefore very surprised by an enjoyable nonsense made serious because of its lack of pretension and a bravura performance from Richard Gere, who brilliantly captured the mixture of adolescent comic reading charm with dangerous sexuality, and which unprepared and unprotected women find so appealing.

This incompetent petty criminal hit the big time when he unintentionally shoots a cop and then looks to the girl he picks up to provide his salvation by escaping over the border to Mexico.

The girl is ambitious with a planned life but a weakness for fast men and fast cars which may have led to pregnancy by another. So what the hell is just a little murder of a policeman by the way? This is most unfair because he is persistent and she is genuinely caught between her better judgement and emotional inclinations, and for once she makes the right decision however hard, while so in fairness does the man who in other circumstances would be regarded as a harmless scoundrel apart from the odd female life wrecked and the impact on any offspring. He is one of those young men who never change even if they survive to old age. However the young can only learn from their own mistakes, so this was and remains a good way to waste a couple of hours.

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