The Wizard of Oz is coming to IMAX this September. Here are nine other (less obvious) choices that deserve the same opportunity.
Get out your Billie Burke shrine, because The Wizard of Oz is coming to IMAX theaters this September. You know what that means: flying, horrifying monkeys now 10-15x larger than you remember! Bert Lahr’s flowing mane practically spilling into your lap! Margaret Hamilton’s nose jolts down at you like a giant green stalactite. I’m psyched. And better yet, I hope The Wizard of Oz is a success in IMAX screenings so that several other deserving classics get their chance on the biggest screens of all. Here are my eight suggestions for fine IMAX fare.
1. Rear Window
Rear Window is set entirely within a New York apartment complex in the hottest days of summer, but what a vivid, bustling, and sometimes depressing spectacle of a residence it is! Realized in IMAX, the apartments visible from L.B. Jeffries’ (James Stewart) binoculars could become an even more interactive experience. At the time, the set was the largest Paramount had ever built, and therefore, it’s the Hitchcock movie most suitable for a grandiose re-release. Other treats that would look fiiiiine blown up on IMAX: Grace Kelly’s famous close-up kiss, Raymond Burr’s chilling glance, Thelma Ritter’s second-to-none smirk.
And speaking of small set movies: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is blatant in its stage-to-screen transition, offering us dizzying close-ups of the movie’s four main characters time and again in the same New England house. But those are four close-ups worth expanding; Richard Burton’s quivering rancor, Elizabeth Taylor’s bellowing rage, George Segal’s naive naughtiness, and Sandy Dennis’ flighty feverishness would take on a more heartstopping tone in IMAX. Think of the climactic “dance” scene!
3. The Poseidon Adventure
Disaster movies were built for IMAX, and since I know I’m not going to get much support for The Swarm (Lee Grant, Olivia de Havilland, Richard Chamberlain, Slim Pickens, and Henry Fonda, anyone?), I’ll settle for The Poseidon Adventure, where Shelley Winters alerts us that she has greater screen presence than a gigantic boat, and Roddy McDowall looks mighty fine in his ’40s. It’s easy to forget, but a remade version called Poseidon was released for IMAX in 2006. If it’s not your favorite Richard Dreyfuss/Jacinda Barrett caper, you’re crazy.
Frankly, there aren’t many movies that truly showcase the cinematic flash of L.A. American Gigolo and Chinatown come to mind, but why settle for those when you can also see Warren Beatty’s Bert Convy-esque hair and otherworldly tight jeans on a gargantuan projection? Julie Christie and Lee Grant fighting for authority over that auburn bob haircut is my version of WWE Smackdown.
5. Back to the Future
Maybe Back to the Future isn’t as technically impressive as Aliens, but its comic ingenuity makes it the most rewatchable sci-fi movie of the ’80s. ET is glorious, of course, but let’s count up the visual stimuli worth 300x magnification: Marty’s skateboard-aided trip to school, the zany DeLorean experimentation by the Twin Pines mall, Biff’s forehead, George McFly’s glasses, the clock tower climax, and the look on Lea Thompson’s face when she admits that she’s keeping Marty’s jeans in her hope chest.
6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Speaking of kooky Christopher Lloyd roles: Is there any as lastingly insane as Dr. Doom? He’s like the unhinged flipside of Professor Plum. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is practically required IMAX viewing, now more than ever thanks to its 25th anniversary. It’d be the most explosive cartoon-to-human interaction since the last Manga convention you attended — plus, it’d be a reminder of retired pro Bob Hoskins’ immense gifts.
7. Dangerous Liaisons
Here’s a 25th anniversary I’ve been meaning to celebrate: That priceless-effing-movie where John Malkovich and Glenn Close grin at each in creepy powder makeup like Victorian versions of MC from Cabaret while young Keanu Reeves and Uma Thurman cower. This is an astonishing movie, and for my money it’s the only script that has lived up to Glenn Close’s starring talents. I’d love to see the glorious costumes, the starring duo’s wicked (yet subtle) facial expressions examined up close, and young Keanu’s preeeeecious face. This is my version of an excellent adventure.
Has it occurred to you that lots of young people know Paris Is Burning well? I was recently acquainted with this fact. The sudden prevalence of buzzwords like “kiki,” “realness,” and “shade” means Jennie Livingston’s unforgettable drag ball documentary needs IMAX deification. In fact, I suggest the powers that be call it “Paris Is Burning: Overgrown Orangutan Edition.”
Your turn. What classic do you want to see in IMAX?