The Death Montage. We all know what they are: that year-end collection of clips of that year's movie industry people who have died--I'm sorry, too harsh a word--"passed away"--during the previous year. It's an entirely different thing than someone's own, heartfelt rememberances of a deceased movie person. But I've come to the point where I can't stand them and won't watch those Death Montages. Time was I loved torturing myself to a depressed stupor remembering all over again the cherished movie people who will no longer be with us. Plus, they often forget a beloved favorite of mine, so I'm angry and depressed afterwards. That's why I have Patrick McGoohan as the picture of this entry; he died back in January but didn't make AOL's annual death list. I probably should be happy for that; as McGoohan is more worthy of his battle cry "I am not a number, I am a Free Man!" for being exempt from that roll call.
The Academy Awards show started this practice and it was fine. Then around the mid-1990s it became a macabre popularity contest, with the loudest applause for the "biggest" legend who joined the Choir Invisible. As they said about a Hollywood mogul, whose funeral brought out thousands of mourners: "Give the people what they want and they'll come out in droves." It got to the point where people I knew looked forward to that part of the Oscar broadcast.
Perhaps I'm too cynical. And yes, I am. But behind every cynical man is a sentimental sap who's deeply affected by such things. Turner Classic Movies, in its ongoing move to "youthify" classic movies for my generation--the dreaded "Gen X"--it only serves to remind me how slick and pre-conceived (to quote Michael Caine in Hannah and Her Sisters) it all is. It comes off as a mawkish, "Death as Nostalgia" production to me.
Ah, well. The year's almost done and I couldn't be happier. As much as I love the past, I'm not particularly enamored with my past. However, when it comes to the past of movie icons, I'm quite enamored with that. And to see their lives reduced to a three-and-a-half minute montage just casts a--pall--over me.