I’ve mentioned this 16 or 17 times, but never forget that Joe and Jane Popcorn will often embrace formulaic, insubstantial or otherwise easy-lay mediocrities that don’t tend to stand the test of time. Not entirely, of course, but frequently enough. And that they often tend to snub, under-appreciate or otherwise shrug their shoulders when exceptional, ahead-of-the-curve films come along. Keep in mind also that the ones who tend to spot and celebrate the really good stuff are critics and cultists and, to a lesser extent, awards-giving orgs like the Academy. It sounds self-justifying but it’s largely true. Joe and Jane see what they want to see, but they’ll never be paragons of seasoned taste and wise judgment, certainly not on any consistent basis.

I brought this up a little more than 13 years ago, and at the time I was reeling over the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and needed to pat myself on the back for despising that film down to the core of my soul. “What does it say about a society that celebrates a film as bad as this?,” I asked. I’ve always maintained that the most popular films of any year always amount to a kind of portrait of where Joe and Jane are at deep down…a reflection of their inner psyche, what they’re longing for, how they’d like to see themselves in some way.

With the exception of Little Caesar, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, They Won’t Forget and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, no one today ever talks about the films directed by Mervyn LeRoy, particularly his hot-streak pics of the ’50s — Quo Vadis, Million Dollar Mermaid, Mr. Roberts, The FBI Story, No Time for Sergeants. (Or his almost as popular films of the early ’60s — The Devil at 4 O’Clock, A Majority of One, Gypsy and Mary, Mary.) LeRoy’s ’50s films were big deals in their day, but who talks about them now with serious affection or respect? I’ve said this 16 times also, but in some respects LeRoy was the Steven Spielberg of his day.

Remember that The Wizard of Oz (produced by LeRoy) wasn’t hugely popular with Joe Schmoe types in 1939, and that a year earlier Bringing Up Baby was also a box-office shortfaller. I’ve never seen Welcome Stranger, a Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald heart-warmer that was 1947’s #1 box-office hit. Who outside of Twilight Time fanatics has ever seen The Egyptian**, one of the big box-office hits of 1954? (20th Century Fox wanted Marlon Brando to star in it and he refused, resulting in a big brouhaha.) Samson and Delilah was 1950’s biggest hit, David and Bathsheba was 1951’s top-grosser, and The Ten Commandments ruled the box-office in 1957 (even though it premiered on 10.5.56), and none of them play very well by today’s aesthetic standards. And Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo, arguably his best film and an undisputed classic in any realm, flopped when it opened in 1958.

** Twilight Time’s Bluray of The Egyptian is currently selling for $249 on Amazon.