Monday, April 2, 2012

The Ox Is Slow, But The Earth Is Patient

And the Monkey is even slower—the question is, how patient are you?

After a long creative break, I'm getting back to work on my Silent Oscars series. Remember that? It's a history of silent movies, one made-up award at a time Up next, either something about Cecil B. DeMille, or Mary Pickford's Stella Maris or maybe a reposting of all the previous winners, or—well, we'll find out, won't we.

By the way, the line "The ox is slow, but the earth is patient" is an ancient Buddhist proverb, made up, I believe, for the 1983 Tom Selleck movie High Road to China. A rip-snorting action-adventure rom-com about a World War I flying ace who ferries a rich, young, beautiful socialite to China to rescue her missing father, High Road to China was supposed to be Selleck's consolation prize for missing out on the starring role in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Instead, critics mostly ripped it because it was clearly inferior to the aforementioned Raiders and it flopped at the box office.

Now we know, of course, that everything is inferior to Raiders of the Lost Ark, the best rip-snorting action-adventure rom-com ever made. High Road to China ain't Raiders, but it is entertaining: Selleck is appealing as always, Bess Armstrong as the socialite is the girl-next-door you wish lived next door, and John Barry's score is gorgeous, one of the best of an Oscar-winning career that included Dances with Wolves, Out of Africa and the James Bond movies.

If you haven't seen it, don't blame yourself—the film's been tangled up in rights-litigation/bankruptcy hell for nearly thirty years and was never even released (in this country anyway) on VHS much less DVD. Until now, that is. Circle April 17 on your calendars for the release of the Blu-Ray edition. (It's available as a DVD as well.)

And what does any of this have to do with silent movies? Um, well, Tom Selleck's character, Patrick O'Malley, owns two airplanes, "Dorothy" and "Lillian," a couple of French Stampes biplanes named for—yes, you guessed it—the Gish sisters, two of the silent era's greatest stars.

Whom I have also written about (here and here and here), and will be writing about again.

So there.

6 comments:

theduckthief said...

I can wait but I'm glad you're going to be getting back to the Silent Oscars.

I've made a list of your recommendations and winners and am trying to watch them so actually I have some catching up to do.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, so I went to my library of Laserdisc's and, as I remembered, there was my copy, cat. # 11309LV. I have enjoyed it for years.

Unknown said...

I actually enjoyed this movie when it was first shown in the fall of 1986, New Year’s Eve bbc1 bout 10pm ish,,,,,,,very entertaining in its own right

Unknown said...

This is sad....I saw the movies as a kid, and I LIKED it! ...Saw this article, and the reason for that, is because I just googled the "The ox is slow, but the earth is patient"-line, since i wanted to print it for my moms funiral, as it was one of her favorite lines

Roger H Werner said...

High Road isn't Raiders but as you've said there is no other film like it in the adventure romcom genre that, not even the other Indiana Jones films. Romancing the Stone comes pretty close. High Road is a decent film, lots of fun, Bess Armstrong is lovely, Selleck as always is appealing, and he has great chemistry with Armstrong. I copied the film on VHS years ago, and I just bought a DVD version. Barry's score is perfect (reminds one of Out of Africa), the aerial cinematography fantastic, and biplane stunt flying terrific. Worth the price of the DVD!

PalmettoB said...

It was a great movie. However, those were not French Stampes biplanes. They were deHavilland Gypsy Moths.