During that shocking scene in which Kate Corleone realizes that she is a prisoner in her Mafia family complex, every decent Godfather fan shuddered in sympathy. I, however, leaned over to my long-suffering spouse and proclaimed, Thats a Tudor mansion! And isnt it just the right way to show the familys almost royal power?
Whats more, I insisted on running the tape backwards, to make my architectural point. Note the brooding, menacing quality, I said. The LSS simply nodded, having long since realized the perils and pitfalls of marriage to a movie buff who is also a real estate editor (in addition, of course, to her long hours, low pay and obsession with granite kitchen counters).
And you do know of course, do you not, that Rhett does not carry Scarlett up the steps in her plantation house at Tara? That sexy, sinister winding stairway belongs to the darker, more dangerous atmosphere of their more fashionable Atlanta mansion.
But even there the menacing, towering Victorian style did not really steal the show. Nothat happened in Psycho, where it was the only possible setting for the mayhem that ensued, making it, quite possibly, the great architectural movie of all time. I mean, could you imagine Anthony Perkins rampaging through a bright, sunny split level, dressed like Mom? What a drag.
When it comes to contemporary design, however, the real architectural classic is The Fountainhead, where a modern masterpiece is transformed into a Grecian pile before our horrified eyes. Of course, Gary Cooper blows up the building to stop the cultural vandalism, which was hard for even a real-estate maven like me to accept. I mean, the builders could simply have said that the fluted pillars were optional.
Harking back even further, it was even more annoying watching Troy, based on the immortal Iliad. I had long since decided that Achilles must have had a (literally) master bedroom for himself and his favorite concubine, plus another for the captive cleaning staff, a sleeping porch for guests with an expansive ocean view and perhaps a bathroom area, all surrounding the main living-dining area with central heating, in the form of a wooden fire.
Add to that the sturdy log construction of his strong-built shelter, not to mention the considerable historical interest, and this timeless epic could have doubled as a real estate brochure. Instead, the movie just showed Achilles and Briseis lying around on the ground in their one-room ramshackle shack. My only consolation was that wonderful swimming pool in the middle of Priams throne room.
So if you ever really want to appreciate the contribution that the architectural style is making to your favorite film, you might want to take a real estate writer along. Then again, you might not.