There’s a great scene in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous where everyone in the fictional band Stillwater is on a plane, and they’re all about to die. I often wonder what I would do if I only had a day to live, or a matter of minutes. Who would I call? What would I say? So, anyway, these guys are all sitting there yelling at each other – pointing fingers, confessing to one night stands, love affairs, homosexuality, proclaiming their love for that one person they never said it to. And then — right as they’ve all said their peace, the thunder storm passes, and the plane lands into a beautiful sunset.
The band didn’t make it. Everyone went their separate ways, and as they walk down the gangway of the airport, you can’t help but think about what Buddy Holly was thinking that fateful night, or how it takes life threatening situations like that to throw everything into sudden perspective. Uh, hmm. This just got deep. This is the part where I cut corners and insert some kind of pop culture, snap your fingers and sing along, reference.
The film Almost Famous as a whole resonates a true lost art – the glamour of travel. It’s about music and drugs; it’s about the ’60s. But for the greater length of the movie, the band spends their time touring the U.S. on a bus, the kind of bus that is a total jaded rock-star-mess inside: scattered books, guitar picks on the floor, faded window curtains, and empty bottles of Jim Beam. It makes you want to listen to Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” and drive with your windows down across a North Dakota highway.
This calls to mind a handful of other films that carry the same images, minus Penny Lane, Cream Magazine, furry groupie (band-aid) jackets, and Aaron’s pet snake. People are on the go – disappearing into lonesome taxis, boarding vessels, waiting under the foggy morning at a train station, or running through a wooden paneled airport while the contemporary tunes of Frank Sinatra soothe the air. You picture men in fedoras drinking martinis while they hang up their dusters for the long commute home. You picture intrigue and mystery, murder, escape, and the chance of a new life, somewhere else, miles away.
Other movies to set your sights on, if you feel like getting away: Blow (2001), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), North by Northwest (1959), Airplane! (1980), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Into the Wild (2007), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983).