The 46x60 or So Project, Pt. 4: Getting A Party Started Which Has Already Begun...

I have called it quits. The building of The 46x60 or So Project: Roughly 5000 Films from 1964-Present is over. Well, at least, 99% of it is...

As of today, not counting 2009, which will not be finished until after the awards get announced early next year, from 1964 through 2008, these are the stats:
  • Total Films on List: 4966
  • Total Films Not on DVD: 1372 (27.62%)
  • Total Films on List Seen Since April 2005: 725 (14.59%)
  • Total Films Left to See: 2869 (57.77%) 
  • Average Films Per Year: 110.35 
  • Biggest Year 1964-1969: 1964 - 101 films 
  • Biggest Year 1970-1979: 1973 & 1974 - 108 films each 
  • Biggest Year 1980-1989: 1987 - 127 films 
  • Biggest Year 1990-1999: 1996 - 139 films 
  • Biggest Year 2000-2009: 2006 & 2007 - 144 films each
It seems like an awful lot of movies to watch, and it is. But, it is not so out of bounds as you might think.

Here's one way to think about it: Say you are an average person, and that you rent five movies a week from your local Blockhead-Buster. You watch maybe one a night here and there, maybe skipping a night or three, and cramming a couple of films into one night. The renting of the film and the watching of it are a casual habit, something you do to cool off or something you and the wife or the kids do before bed. You don't really notice the pattern you have created; you just do it, almost by rote, sometimes with a yawn. Likewise, you never really think about how these films accumulate. You don't keep lists, and you are on what you believe is an erratic schedule, but the truth is you are averaging just over 250 films a year. 

And, in four years time, without your realizing it, you have watched over 1000 films.

Everyone has seen far more films than they think they have during their lifetime, in the same way that someone (and nearly everyone does) who insists they watch very little television is most likely lying straight through their McDonald's-fattened, hypocritical ass.

Those statistics of mine listed above, and the accomplishment of this seemingly ceaseless climb, are not so impossible. Since I tend to average over 1.5 films a day throughout the year, balancing out my low periods with massive marathons, it will probably take me a lot less time than you would surmise. After all, going by my rule of counting films I have seen up to four years ago (and this rule is basically so I can count more recent films that I have little interest in seeing this soon again), I am nearly at 15% seen already. As of this evening, since September 30th, I have watched 84 films over the past 52 days, just over the average I stated, and most of these films are on my list. Since I started four months ago, I have watched over 50 of the films in each of the years 1964, 1965 and 1966 already (less than 20 to watch in each year too), and I am well on my way there for 1967 as well. Once you get going, and just watch the films, things really get swingin'...

The worrying part of the list is the massive amount of films not on DVD at all. Where they are available online, such as on Crackle, Amazon Video on Demand (where there is nominal rental fee) or IMDb, I will take pains to watch them there. It just amazes me, since many of these are fairly acclaimed and even award-winning or at least nominated films, that they would be so absent from current view. I know it is all about commerce and what will sell, but in this day and age, where Warner Archives has started up what seems like such a noteworthy achievement in locating audiences for more obscure films (where they only commit the film to disc upon your purchase, allowing them to release many films that would normally languish in the vaults), you would think every studio would pick up on this and realize there is some solid money to be made on any film ever released.

Perhaps that is the wave of the near future, but for now, I have Turner Classic Movies at my rescue for many of them. Just tonight, I am being afforded the opportunity to see two of the films on my Not on DVD list within the project, 1964's One Potato, Two Potato and 1970's The Landlord, on TCM. This is where the importance of creating this list truly comes together for me. For many years now, I have led a fairly organic movie existence, doing what I call "The Bounce." Apart from small obsessions with certain lists of films I needed to see, for the most part, I have just let myself be led my own instincts into watching what crossed my path. It could be an article on a historical event that leads me to a filmic portrayal of the situation that leads me to another movie by the same director or star, and then when I am searching for one title I happen upon another that seems interesting, going through TV listings straight down and recording any film that might be worthwhile... etc., etc. Fairly nomadic. No real direction except in seeking out interesting films. It is "The Bounce" though, that partially got me to the point of building this Tower of Film, a need to focus on something that could potentially teach me more than the way I had been proceeding. And yet, I can still use the form of "The Bounce" to aid me in seeking out the films missing on disc. Which is how I noticed One Potato, Two Potato, which led me next to The Landlord tonight. 

The ultimate point is that I now that focus. I have, in the course of the past four months of intimacy with the list, so memorized its contents that I can see any list of films and tell you with about 80% certainty whether I need to see the film or not. And the list will not end. For as long as I am working on going through it, I am going to add to it. As I said much earlier in this ongoing piece, I might decide to add films from other festivals to it at some point. I might find another book or list with some other interesting films that I will wish to attach to the project. And, of course, as I am progressing, each new year will have to be appended. 2009 will add another 120 films or so to the project alone, and it is not out of sight to believe it could approach 6000 films before I am done.

You see, that is where I am now, deep in the throes of movie ecstasy, seeing every film released throughout my lifetime that I have ignored, not heard of, or just mocked without ever having any real knowledge about it. I will see The Last Detail at last, and I will be able to converse freely and truthfully about it. I am absolutely committed to seeing myself reach the summit of this Tower of Film ultimately.

If I stay alive, that is...



Epic. I've had similar thoughts for awhile, but have never thought of doing anything quite so drastic(preferring to live by 'the bounce' as you call it). You have inspired me, though. I'm not at a list-making point yet, and my criteria is still nebulous, but I'm going back and watching a lot of those acclaimed classics I've somehow avoided. Just watched 12 Angry Men, on to Casablanca. And of course whatever TCM airs. Thank god for that station.
Mark Otis said…
Is this a doctor-prescribed cure for OCD?
Rachel S. said…
I'm sure that'd fit into the book of world records somewhere.

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