Falling asleep during a movie that you have paid for is fairly uncommon, falling asleep during a movie in class happens all the time. Luis Buñuel's 1954 Los Abismos de Pasion, based on Emily Brontë's 1847 book, was the movie that unfortunately had me asleep in five minutes. The Heiress, directed by William Wyler in 1949 and based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square, on the other hand, had me leaving class wondering if I could buy a copy of The Heiress.
Not only was Richard Wagner's music from Tristran und Isolde, played so much during Los Abismos de Pasion annoying, but the acting was just as awful. It made this movie painful to watch, as well as listen to. I was sitting in my seat hoping something would happen so the music would stop, until the next dramatic scene when it would start again. Too much music in film can kill the mood. The acting in the film went from a little boy Jorecito (Hareton) (Jaime González) cringing every time Alejandro (Heathcliff) (Jorge Mistral) was in the room to the drunk, ridiculous Ricardo (Hindley) (Luis Aceves Castenada) making unnecessary comments. When the house came on the screen, I wanted to get up and leave.
Looking at the schedule before class the next week, I noticed that we were watching another movie, The Heiress. I immediately went into class dreading watching another movie in black and white. As I sat there watching this movie, I noticed I was laughing out loud at one point. This movie was hilarious. The acting was great, the music was distributed evenly throughout the film, and the actors fit the parts perfectly. Montgomery Clift was gorgeous and played a wonderful Morris Townsend. I could not wait to see him on the screen again and again. His attitude and looks made Morris come to life. As for the music, scored by Aaron Copland, I did not notice an unnecessary amount; I only noticed a well-played flashback at the end of the film to the song "Plaisir d'Amour," Morris sings to Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland) and how the lyrics, about joys of love lasting a short time, while the sorrows of love last for a lifetime, played a major part in the end of the movie. After the film ended I wanted to stand up and cheer for Catherine Sloper--what a great way to end a film!
Both movies-Los Abismos de Pasion and The Heiress--were in black and white, but the one with the best fitting characters, best music selection and most beautiful cast was The Heiress. I hope that next time we watch a movie in class, I will look forward to it and not fall asleep.