Turning 35

Today is my birthday. I turn 35. This means that I can no longer claim that I’m “in my early 30’s”. I am halfway to 70 years old. I’m just a few short years away from (GASP!) FORTY YEARS OLD! Life is very different for me now than it was when I turned 25 and was presented with a urinal cake (a birthday cake shaped like a urinal cake) and 4,000 people sang happy birthday to me. Working in minor league baseball had perks, insofar as getting a urinal cake is a perk. 35… is not the same thing. But age 35 doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here’s a fun little exercise. What were my cinematic heroes doing when they were 35 years old?

Let’s start with the yin and yang of my movie appreciation- the maestro of melancholy, Ingmar Bergman, and the sultan of slapstick, Buster Keaton.

Festive Bergman!

Ingmar Bergman turned 35 in 1953. He had shown flashes of brilliance but had yet to break out. That year, he made both Summer with Monika and one of his most underrated works, Sawdust and Tinsel.

Buster Keaton turned 35 in 1930. He was a few short years into his regrettable affiliation with MGM, and made his first “talkie”- Free and Easy– in 1930. MGM clearly had no idea how to put his comic genius to work and Keaton was in the throes of a bout with alcoholism (which he would later defeat).

How about a couple of directorial wunderkinds?
Louis Malle celebrated his 35th birthday in 1967. He had already enjoyed a great deal of success dating back to his 20’s. In his 35th year, he directed the little-known Thief of Paris.

Edgar Wright reached 35 just two years ago in 2009. At the time, he already had a load of TV and film credits to his name. His 35th year was no doubt spent filming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which would release in 2010.

What about some of my favorite American directors?
John Huston’s 35th birthday arrived in 1941. That year, he was busy enjoying the success of his first film. You may have heard of it. It’s called The Maltese Falcon.

Martin Scorsese reached the age of 35 in 1977, when he released New York, New York and edited The Last Waltz (which was released one year later).

Joel and Ethan Coen are a bit tricky because there are two of them. Joel Coen reached 35 in 1989, when he was most likely working on 1990’s Miller’s Crossing. Ethan Coen got there three years later, directly in between 1991’s Barton Fink and 1994’s The Hudsucker Proxy.

Billy Wilder’s 35th birthday was in 1941. He was still a writer at that point, one year away from his first Wilder-only directorial credit.

What about some more foreign directors?
Luis Buñuel wrote the screenplay for Don Quentin the Bitter in 1935, his 35th year, and had already achieved great success with both L’Age D’Or  and Un Chien Andalou. Given his irreverence for all social institutions, I sort of assume that Buñuel didn’t celebrate birthdays.

François Truffaut was in the middle of his heyday in 1967 when he turned 35. Although he had no releases in 1967, he had already attained international acclaim for his work and still had a great deal more acclaim to come.

It appears that being halfway to 70 isn’t so bad after all. Probably.


Filed under Movies

20 responses to “Turning 35

  1. Happy birthday youngin! As someone who’s halfway to *gasp!* 75.5, I can honestly say your best is yet to come!

    …and just look at all these awesome folk with their birthday hats on for you?!?!


  2. When Michael Bay turned 35, he was in the middle of a 3 year hiatus between Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. Those movies are terrible. This should make you feel better about your accomplishments.

  3. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    Happy Birthday, LaRue! You can look at it in baseball career terms–35 year olds are either retired or on the quick decline in their career or you can look at it in terms of Harrison Ford–35 when he starred in Star Wars as Han Solo. 99.999% of his success came after his 35th birthday.

  4. Jim

    Jimi Hendrix, Curt Cobain, John Belushi, James Dean and even Heath Ledger didn’t make it to 35, so consider it an accomplishment!

    Happy birthday – have a Schlafly’s!

  5. Kelly

    Happy birthday, old man. Hope it’s a good one.

  6. 35’s not that surprising. Actually, I turn 25 in April of next year, and I’m looking forward to it. I wonder what the point is where you stop looking forward to your birthdays and start groaning when they approach?

    Nevertheless, turning 35 doesn’t scare me even though it’s ten years away and it shouldn’t scare you. It’s only a year older than 34. That’s not that much. Sure, it’s halfway to seventy, but 34 was halfway to 68 and there’s not much difference.

    Don’t worry about it, mate. I’m sure you’ll have a great birthday, and the best is always yet to come. 🙂

  7. Happy Birthday John!

  8. Stu

    Happy day! I’m hitting a five myself: I turn 25 in less than three weeks. Isn’t it great to know that you’ll now round up? In all seriousness, however, 35 still makes you a young man.

    Don’t go feeling old until you’re 36.

  9. Happy 35th B-day John!

  10. Happy Birthday John you whipper snapper you!! I am 38 this year so don’t feel too bad being an old git!!

    Isn’t it about time you started acting your age and not your shoe size? HAHAH I am such a parent!

  11. Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone! I spent it fighting an illness (a.k.a. a hangover)… lending credence to Scott’s notion that I’m not acting my age. Or at worst, I’ve been acting the same age since I was 21.

  12. Happy birthday! Don’t sweat 35. In fact, enjoy it. I’m 42, and as a writer and fan of movies, I put it in perspective this way:
    – Orson Welles was my age when he made Touch of Evil.
    – Raymond Chandler didn’t become a writer until he was 50.

    New review at FilmFather: Rango
    Follow me on Twitter

  13. Vladdy

    King Arthur also died at 33. In some versions. (Of course, not the Richard Gere version, where he was 50+ when the story began!) Anyway, Happy Birthday (a couple of days ago)!

  14. Happy Birthday John. Nice round-up. Its hard to believe both Bergman and Keaton were that young in those parts of their careers. Bergman has almost looked at least 40 in all older pics.

  15. Oh my goodness, sorry to miss your birthday John (I think I wish you via Twitter, or at least I hope I did). Wonderful b’day writeup, man, many happy returns and btw, I’m older than you so NO, you are NOT old! 😀

  16. goregirl

    Happy Birthday John! Sorry I missed it…I would have baked you a cake! Too bad you weren’t in jail, I’ve always wanted to bake someone a cake with a hammer or other tool inside. You’re not in jail right? 35…shut up!.

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