Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Wilt Chamberlain (circa '62) of Filmmaking

OK, confession time*:

*First, let's hope the confession doesn't end up like the one at the beginning of this.

1) I'm not old enough to remember seeing basketball great Wilt Chamberlain play.

2) I'm not old enough to remember Wilt Chamberlain live (much)*.

*Aside: Although we're referencing Chamberlain, we won't talk much about this little detail.

3) Repeat 1 and 2, only in 1 replace "basketball great" with "filmmaking legend" and "Wilt Chamberlain" with this guy:

Yeah, so it's not exactly an original position for some film nerd to admire Orson Welles. But my point is this:

Welles' pre-1960s work wasn't just good for its era. Films such as Touch of Evil (the re-done 1998 version ... wow) and Citizen Kane are still good now. Like legitimate good, not "influential" good.

Which brings us to our Wilt Chamberlain/1962 analogy. Sure, during the 1961-62 season, the 7-foot-1 Chamberlain played alongside Hall of Famers like Oscar Robertson (Billy Wilder), Bill Russell (Alfred Hitchcock), Jerry West (Frank Capra) and Elgin Baylor (Elia Kazan). But come on. In '61-'62, Chamberlain averaged a league-record 50.4 points per game (Citizen Kane) and added 25.7 rebounds per (Touch of Evil). He was simply better than everybody else, even if he didn't win the MVP Award (Best Director Oscar) that year (during his career).

That all makes sense, right?

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