If I were to make a list of my top 100 films, you’d see many familiar titles on it (you know the ones). But I’d also include some movies that are off the beaten path or didn’t get the kind of recognition they deserved when first released. For instance, “Fearless,” and “The Last Wave,” both directed by Peter Weir, “Sorcerer,” the movie that nearly ended William Friedkin’s career, and “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” a major film that bombed and has been pretty much forgotten. I would also include a few sentimental favorites, like “My Favorite Year” and “Across 110th Street.” But, perhaps strangely, there would be a couple of titles on my list that have no business being on any top 100 (or even top 1000) list. One of those movies is “Creator,” directed by Ivan Passer and written by Jeremy Leven, based on his novel. It was released in 1985 to bad reviews and poor box office. No one would call this movie “good,” but boy do I love it.
“Creator” is about a university professor/scientist (Peter O’toole) who’s trying to clone his long-diseased wife. He enlists the help of a beautiful young lady (Mariel Hemingway), who’s eggs he needs. His other ally is a young student (Vincent Spano) who is in the process of falling in love (with a young Virginia Madsen). Hijinks, tragedy and life lessons ensue. So why do I love this movie? First, its shameless mix of genres. It’s a comedy, romance, science fiction movie, tear-jerker and disease movie-of-the-week, all rolled into one. Second, it features an amazingly charismatic performance by O’toole. Third, it has a quirky, oddball charm that isn't easy to pull off. And finally, this movie aims high. It has the balls to be about BIG THINGS. The meaning of life, God, love, or as O'toole's character repeatedly says in the movie, “the big picture.” And I’ll take that over a well-crafted, but dull “masterpiece” any day.
So if you’re ever home on a rainy afternoon, check out "Creator." You may find it to be an unholy mess. You may hate it. But maybe it'll charm you. I'll end this post with a warning. “Creator” is only available as a full-screen DVD and the picture quality is horrendous. But maybe that’ll only add to its charm.