I have not been able to put Crossed Swords out of my head since I saw it. I no sooner returned the DVD to Netflix on Monday than I ordered it from Amazon. Recalling various parts of the movie and the music have been consuming most of my waking minutes. It's been a long time since a movie so grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Makes me wonder why. Why this one and not that one? Why A and not B, even when they're in the same genre? What is it that plays so strongly to our individual passions?
This particular movie speaks to me. I wouldn't expect it to speak to anyone else, not even my sister or close friends. We all have different loves, different passions, different buttons to push, and different needs. This movie meets mine, or at least the Oliver Reed portions of the film do. I know some of the reasons, but not all of them.
I know a lot of it is due to Oliver Reed himself. I remember when I saw Gladiator for the first time. I was thoroughly in love with Russell Crowe, but every time he played a scene with Oliver Reed, Crowe faded into the background. Considering how much I loved Russell Crowe, that's saying something. But Reed just has that affect, I don't care if he was 62 in Gladiator, he is still more charismatic and sexier than his younger co-star. It was Proximo's voice, his lines of dialogue, and the way he said them that stuck with me, not Maximus. I can never recall the famous Maximus lines that were plastered in the media for awhile while Gladiator was out, but I can still to this day quote most of Proximo's lines from "you sold me queer giraffes" to "I did not say I knew him, I said he touched me on the shoulder once," to "Why would I want that? He makes me rich," to lines in between. I can't even properly remember my favorite Maximus line from the end about smiling back at death... But start me with "Oh, you should see the coliseum, Spaniard..." and I'm off and running. That's the Oliver Reed touch. In a world of blandness, Reed's zest is never less than memorable. I went into Gladiator loving Russell Crowe and came out loving Oliver Reed.
I would love the Crossed Swords/Prince and the Pauper character of Miles Hendon, as written in this particular version of the story, no matter who played him, simply because he's written as the kind of hero who automatically appeals to me. But I also know Reed takes the character well beyond the ordinary, just in the delivery of his lines, in his physicality, his emotion. In simply being Oliver Reed.
I know this movie's themes (again, in the Oliver Reed portions of the plot) touch on many things I love -- betrayal, loyalty, identity, standing up for what's right, protecting the innocent, truth and honesty and honor and bravery, love.
And I know the rest of what's grabbed me so hard is the music. I don't even want to look at how many times I've played the main and end title cues in iTunes. But it's a lot. The last time I listened to a theme that many times in a row was the main title for Ride the High Country, which is a movie, not remotely coincidentally, that has many of the same themes and the same type of hero as Crossed Swords. It's just set in a different time period with guns and rifles instead of knives and swords. And that film also got in my head and stayed there for days on end.
Even exploring some of my thoughts here, it still fascinates me just why movies like Crossed Swords and Ride the High Country hold such power over me after viewing them.