Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: What Are Your Five Favorite Movies?
Robert Avrech, Seraphic Secret:
1. The Seven Samurai, 1954
Director Akira Kurosawa’s epic, the greatest movie ever made, speaks directly about the moral imperative of a just war.
The Seven Samurai takes place in medieval Japan, a time when bandits—the terrorists of their time—roamed the land looting, raping and killing defenseless farmers.
Seven down-at-the-heels Samurai warriors are hired to defend one poor village. The Samurai do not negotiate with the bandits. They do not try and appease them. Nor do they ponder the root causes of banditry. The Samurai set strategy and kill the bandits. One by one.
Every true warrior understands there is no deterrence and no freedom without the disproportionate use of force.
The climactic battle in the rain, where mud, blood and tears mix, is perhaps, the finest choreographed battle scene ever staged.
Every skilled director in Hollywood studies this masterpiece and tries—without success—to emulate Kurosawa’s cinematic style. We all stand in Akira Kurosawa’s shadow. This is the film that compelled me to become a screenwriter.
If you love movies but have not seen The Seven Samurai, you are without oxygen.
2. City Lights, 1931
Silent movies were dead by 1931, but Charlie Chaplin begged to differ. He released City Lights as a silent film enhanced with synchronized music and a few sound effects. The plot of is elegant and simple; the tramp falls in love with a beautiful blind girl, Virginia Cherrill—Mrs. Cary Grant from 1934-35—and tries to get the money for an operation to restore her sight.
City Lights does not have the memorable comic set pieces of The Gold Rush or Modern Times, but in terms of narrative velocity, City Lights is Chaplin’s most accomplished film. The ending, in this screenwriter’s not-so-humble opinion, is the most coherent and touching in the history of film.
During production, Chaplin fired Virginia Cherrill and planned to reshoot her scenes with Georgia Hale, his co-star in The Gold Rush. But Chaplin decided that reshooting would be too expensive and asked Cherrill to come back. On the clever advice of her good friend, actress Marion Davies, Cherrill refused to return unless Chaplin gave her a raise.
3. Bombshell, 1933
Jean Harlow plays Jean Harlow. That’s what this film is really about. Harlow, all wisecracks and fed-up with Hollywood’s insanity, is Lola Burns, a Hollywood sexpot. Her father and brother are always looking for handouts, and the studio publicity flack cooks up outrageous publicity stunts to add heat to an already overheated reputation as a smoldering blonde bombshell. Harlow, a hugely appealing and gifted comedienne, delivers the best, most energized performance of her tragically short career. In truth, like Lola, Harlow yearned for a normal life, a husband and children, but was thwarted by bad judgment in men and a monstrously overbearing mother who controlled every aspect of her daughter’s life and career.
Director Victor Fleming—he also helmed Red Dust, Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz—with ace screenwriters John Lee Mahin and Jules Furthman cooked up this Hollywood tale as a thinly disguised look at Fleming’s former lover, silent film star Clara Bow. Fleming observed that Bow’s life, on the surface was Hollywood glamorous, but when Bow went home at night, her mansion was filled with dog droppings and her deeply unstable family soaked her for every penny she earned. Fleming was two-timing his wife, but Bow was two-timing Fleming with Gary Cooper.
4. The Lady Eve, 1941
Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck, real name Ruby Catherine Stevens, star in this, one of the greatest screwball comedies ever made.
Fonda, heir to an ale—not beer!—fortune, has been up the Amazon studying snakes for a year. Stanwyck, a con-artist, takes one look at Fonda and says: “I need him like the axe needs the turkey.”
Preston Sturges wrote this script in Reno while awaiting his third divorce. Hmmm.
Stanwyck is, naturally, after Fonda’s fortune. Fonda is bumbling, clueless, and like most men in screwball comedies, helpless in the face of a smart, worldly woman.
In the greatest seduction of the movies, Stanwyck cleverly maneuvers Fonda into her stateroom onboard an ocean liner. She gets him down on his knees, slyly has him change her “slippers.” Fonda, who has not seen a woman in a year, is positively melting. This might be the sexiest scene in the history of the movies, yet there is no nudity, not even a single kiss. It is romantic yet painful, and yes, deeply moving as the movie plays out the primal Biblical story of the fall of man as romantic comedy. Airy and witty, the dialogue sparkles as Stanwyck—the greatest actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age—often in a single breath, speaks a double-edged language of love, creating a haze of confusion and desire in Fonda’s Charles ‘Hopsi’ Pike.
This is a seduction in words and subtle body language. Stanwyck’s voice is low and cozy, her tone grows increasingly intimate as the scene progresses. Notice how Stanwyck’s Brooklyn accent brushes up against Fonda’s midwestern drawl. It’s a lovely contrast.
Original sin as comedy is an audacious concept and writer-director Preston Sturges, a true genius—until he burned out on pride and booze—pulls it off with a firm but invisible hand.
The fall of man is played out as Fonda falls for Stanwyck, falls into her trap, and then literally as Fonda takes numerous pratfalls—Sturges had a weakness for slapstick—throughout the film.
The plot takes delightful and unexpected turns as Stanwyk’s ruthless Jean Harrington—in a reversal of theme—falls hard for Fonda. But her love turns to ice-cold hatred when Fonda, a man who is unable to deal in anything but moral absolutes, scorns the contrite Jean, after being made aware of her deception.
Not only did they have faces in old Hollywood, but their voices were astonishing.
Indeed, the secret weapon in a great screen actor’s arsenal is a distinctive voice.Think of Bette Davis spitting out her dialogue with such violence that we thrill at her delivery. Marilyn Monroe makes her initial impression with an exaggerated, hip-swaying, mincing walk. But it was her voice—the breathless, whispery delivery—that made audiences love her. Consider Cary Grant, Claude Rains, Greer Garson, Myrna Loy, James Mason, William Powell, Clark Gable, Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Colman, and John Wayne to name just a few, skillfully used bewitching and memorable voices to inform their performances with subtle complexity.
5. Gun Crazy, 1949
Produced as a B movie, Gun Crazy has emerged as one of the most important films of the noir genre. It’s unusual in that it does not take place in a cold, impersonal urban environment. Rather, Gun Crazy finds its darkness in small American towns and its dirt roads. Second tier stars, John Dahl and Peggy Cummins, intelligent and gifted actors, turn in the best performances of their careers, as sharp shooters who fall in love and then turn to crime.
Dahl plays Bart, a confused kid who gets mixed up with Laurie, a carnival Annie Oakley. Cummins wants money so she can buy nice stuff. And she’ll do anything to get what she wants.They both have a passion for guns, but this passion plays itself out in a deadly, obsessive relationship that can only end in tragedy.
Director Joseph H. Lewis pulls out all the stops in a bank robbery sequence that is one of the most thrilling and suspenseful ever filmed. So impressive is this sequence that Billy Wilder asked Lewis how he did it. Truth is, Lewis didn’t have enough money to shoot the sequence in the traditional shot-counter-shot method and so he improvised a one-take scene with the camera fixed in the car’s back seat. The post-modern guy-girl crime-spree story is the blood drenched Bonnie and Clyde (1967). But Gun Crazy, deeply restrained by today’s standards, is thematically a far more ambitious and profound film.
In no particular order:
– Goodfellas. So damn good I have to watch it each and every time all the way through. The story and acting are first rate, especially Joe Pesci, who was put on the map because of the film.
– Aliens. I’m a huge science fiction fan, and as such this has to be on the list. This James Cameron-created sequel to the 1979 Alien is a completely different film from the original. While the first film was scare-your-ass-off horror, Aliens is an all-out slam-bang action fest.
– The Shawshank Redemption. Although lead Tim Robbins is a radical lefty nut (and not a very good actor, in my view), it’s Morgan Freeman’s acting brilliance that carries this superb Stephen King tale of a man wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, and his desire for freedom.
– Star Wars (Episode IV). The original. The best.
– Scarface (1983 version). Al Pacino’s tour de force as the Cuban immigrant-turned drug kingpin. Just remember: “De only ting een dees world dat geeves orders ees balls.”
JoshuaPundit: A tough job, to be sure. My pal Robert Avrech picked two films definitely on my list. Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest film makers of all time, bar none and the Seven Samurai is a movie for the ages. I remember the first time I ever saw it on the big screen, as a rerun at the old Toho La Brea in Los Angeles. I could pick any of Kurosawa’s other masterpieces, Ran, One Wonderful Sunday, Yojimbo, Stray Dog, just to name a few. But I’d have to give pride of place to Rashomon, one of the strangest and most beautiful movies ever made.
The plot’s been borrowed many times..at a trial, the story of a rape and murder is retold from the point of view of the perpetrator, the victims, an uninvolved witness and even the ghost of one of the victims…all of whose stories differ. What really happened, and does it matter? If you want the answer, see the film.
Likewise, Charlie Chaplin has to be one of the handful of geniuses in film. Not only was he an incredible actor, but he frequently wrote his own scripts, directed the films, and usually wrote the musical score. A hint of how good his films were is that they still delight audiences world wide, in some cases a century after they were made. My daughter used to love to watch the films with ‘the funny littel man’ in them. City Lights is one of my favorite films. The comic bits are superb Chaplin…and the look in the Flower Girl’s eye’s when she realizes who the Tramp is…if that doesn’t move you, you simply have no heart.
As an alternative Chaplin, I’ll go with Modern Times.
Made during the Great Depression, it features Chaplin at his best, the Little Guy trying to survive with dignity in a world that seems bent on taking it away. The romance with the orphaned Gamine, played by Paulette Goddard is bittersweet as they take on the modern world…and the Tramp’s message to her when she starts to give in to defeat is a message to all of us to persevere in tough times.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is something I didn’t expect to be very good at all.
I never expected anyone to be able to do a decent job of putting Tolkien’s masterpiece on film without cutting out the subplots and details that give it its flavor. Peter Jackson did it, and he did it without the pace getting bogged down in the least or turning it into a meaningless cartoon. Needless to say, it has a message superbly suited for our times.
The Year Of Living Dangerously has always been a huge favorite of mine.
Starring Mel Gibson as an Australian reporter and Sigourney Weaver as a British intelligence officer who fall in love in the exotic setting of Sukarno’s Indonesia right before the purge of the PKI communists, it’s a story of passion, loss of values and love and their recovery..all of it captured wonderfully by Peter Wier on film and with the late Maurice Jarre’s incredible score behind it.
Duck Soup… how could I leave out the Marx Brothers?
David Gerstman of Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion:
1) Groundhog Day – Don’t have a reason but I’m sure that Jonah Goldberg has explained it.
2) The Wrath of Khan – I’m a Trekkie. There I’ve said it. If you want to have a sense about what the original series was about, no episode or movie did a better job of highlighting the gamesmanship that made the show so much fun.
3) The Incredibles – Overall I’ve preferred the Pixar animated movies to the Dreamworks ones and the Incredibles was the best Pixar. Loved it that superheroes had to get registered because some guy sued when he was injured being rescued.
4) Ghostbusters – Dumb fun. Oh, did I mention that the bad guy was from the EPA. And I loved this dialogue:
Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.
5) The Little Mermaid – First date with my wife.
If I had a few runners up I’d say Darkman – it’s been awhile but I still think it’s the best live-action superhero movie I’ve seen; Dead Again – spooky Terminator – about as thrilling an action movie as I’ve seen.
Bookworm Room: These aren’t in any particular order.
1. Groundhog Day. I’ve always loved what I call “getting it right” movies. These are movies in which the lead character is bumbling along through life and, by working and trying and thinking, finally gets it right. He stops being a bumbler and starts being someone who is in control of his destiny. He finds his moral core and masters the ability to get what he wants, whether it’s the job or the girl or whatever else. Groundhog Day is the best example of this genre ever.
2. Singing In The Rain.
Do I really have to explain this one? Doesn’t everyone love Singing In The Rain? It’s got it all: Witty script, wonderful singing and dancing, and just a bright cheerfulness that makes me quite extraordinarily happy every time I see it.
I saw Casablanca for the first time when I was in my late 20s. Although I hadn’t yet figured out that I was a conservative at heart, I knew already then that I pretty much disagreed with movie critics. If they raved about something, I was usually unimpressed. I was therefore cynical about my chances of enjoying this much raved about movie. Oh, how wrong I was. As with Singing In The Rain, this was yet another movie in which everything came together perfectly. The movie captures so beautifully the oppressive feel of a town that is occupied, even if it isn’t yet at war. I enjoy Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, but I adore Claude Rains and Peter Lorre (“Why do you hate me, Rick?”). Their lines are wonderful and they same them wonderfully. And of course, both Bogart and Rains eventually “get it right.”
4. All the black-and-white Fred and Ginger movies. Yes, I’m cheating here, but in my mind, these movies are one glorious whole. The plots are ridiculous, the character actors are interchangeable, and Fred & Ginger are consistently wonderful. They banter, they sing, and they dance like angels — and I just smile and smile.
5. I don’t have a fifth favorite movie. I love old musicals but am loathe to elevate any one of them (other than the ones named above) to “favorite” status. For example, Broadway Melody of 1940 is a dreadful movie when it comes to plot. It’s mind-numbingly dull. Worse, half the dance numbers are dreadful. It’s the remaining half of the dance numbers, though, that has me TiVoing this movie every time it comes around. Watching Fred Astaire and George Murphy sing “Don’t monkey with Broadway,” or seeing Fred doing the vaguely stalker-ish “I’ve got my eyes on you,” or watching any number in which Fred and Eleanor Powell tap away together is sheer pleasure. I loved the Harry Potter saga, and the Lord of the Rings saga, and Gone With The Wind (even though the racism is embarrassing to watch now), but they’re not favorites. I love romantic comedies from the teens, 20s, 30s and 40s, not because they’re particularly good (most are rather bad), but because I like the sense of traveling back in time. It always amazes me when I watch people going about their lives in something that was filmed 70, 80, or 90 years ago.
The Razor: Movies are like music. One man’s classic is another man’s most hated piece of garbage. As a member of Generation X my preferences are influenced by the time in which I’ve grown up – so 4 out of 5 of my picks were made during my lifetime. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the classics that came before me. I am a big fan of Humphrey Bogart, especially the Maltese Falcon and Casablanca and recognize why they appear at the top of critics lists. I also am a fan of Gene Kelly musicals such as Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris. But some movies linger in your memory more than others and influence your life. All five of the movies I’ve picked often appear as references in my writing and my speech. Perhaps not as much as the books I’ve read have influenced me, but I’ve absorbed these works of art in various ways nevertheless. Here are my favorites in no particular order (except for the last two which I cannot decide on).
Another ground-breaking and sacred cow goring movie along the lines of Blazing Saddles, this Zucker Brothers classic moves from one sight gag and one liner to another for an exhausting 90 minutes. “What’s your vector, Victor?” “Ever seen a grown man naked?” “Joey, you ever been in a Turkish prison?” “Guess I picked a bad time to stop sniffing glue.” The jive-talking old lady who translates for the stewardesses. People standing in line to beat up the Hare Krishna in the airport (that was when Hare Krishnas actually proselytized in airports). “Surely you can’t be serious. I am. And don’t call me Shirley.” The movie is like being machine-gunned by comedians with one-liners, zingers and gags until you die laughing.
If there’s a funnier movie that’s been made, I can’t think of one, and if there is such a movie then it was probably written and directed by Brooks as well (The Producers? Young Frankenstein? High Anxiety?) Watching this movie today 40 years after it’s release proves that not only is this movie a timeless classic, it shows just how rigid and restricted the era we now live in. There is no way Blazing Saddles would be made today with all the black and gay jokes intact.
Seven Samurai – Arguably one of the best movies of the 20th Century, a movie that was so good its bastardized American version the Magnificent Seven also became a classic. Set in 16th century Japan, elders of a small village hire a masterless samurai to help defend their village from attacking bandits. The samurai, played by Toshiro Mifune, rounds up six other samurai who then teach the villagers to defend themselves. Directed by Akira Kurasawa, Seven Samurai marked the emergence of a post-war Japan into the post war international arts scene. One particular scene stands out: starving villagers picking grains of rice out of the dirt after a bandit raid. The desperation portrayed by Kurosawa’s unique directorial skills haunts me thirty years after I first saw this amazing film.
Blade Runner – On the surface it’s a simple story: a cop trying to stop a killer. But transport it into dystopian future of flying cars, non-stop rain and smoke, and it becomes much more. Philip K. Dick is our Jules Verne. In his stories he explores basic questions such as What does it mean to be human? How can the individual and society co-exist? And finally, what is real? Blade Runner explores all three questions before a backdrop designed by futurist artist Syd Mead and directed by Ridley Scott. I have a poster of Blade Runner (in Japanese) in my home office, and every time I look at it I see the dehumanized future in this movie classic. I’m still waiting for a movie based on Philip K. Dick’s best work not appearing on film, “Ubik.”
Apocalypse Now – What can I say about this film that hasn’t been said countless times by others? Based on the classic work by Joseph Conrad but set in the jungles of the Vietnam War instead of the colonial jungles of Africa, the film follows the decent of a warrior as he journeys over the edge of madness. Some scenes have become embedded in our culture. Can anyone hear the Ride of the Valkyries and not imagine low-flying Huey choppers? Or the paraphrased words of Lt. Colonel Kilgore, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like victory.” The entire scene stands as a cinematic classic. Speaking of scenes there’s not a bad one in the movie, and no other film flows the way it does. Starting from the ceiling fan that gradually syncs with chopper blades to the attack on Kurtz’s compound, we come to know and experience the madness that is War, and while some viewers may see it as an anti-war film (and that was Coppola’s intention), the issues raised by the film are much more complex. What is the role of the warrior in war – to follow orders or to follow a higher code? Are we all savages hiding behind a thin veneer of civilization?
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Too many to list LOL.
An ancient viking superstition believed when brave Norsemen fell in battle (often raiding parties) warrior hotties with mammoth, uh, shields would appear on winged horses and tote off the fallen to heathen heaven – Valhalla.
Despite oathbreaking, defacing images of gods and wickedness in general – all would be forgiven by success in combat – especially if the offender died a heroic saga inspiring death.
An exceptional flick that totally captures the moment of the July 20 bomb plot to assassinate the evil leaders of the 3rd Reich
An all star cast – Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Eddie Izard, Tom Wilkinson and Terrence Stamp make this movie rock.
“Long live our sacred Germany!”
The mantle of a near-mystic German past, a warrior, yet decent Germany, a noble Germany, a poetic Germany, a Germany of myth and longing was a very real thing to aristocratc, intellectuals, and generally decent ppl who hadn’t hopped on the NSDAP train
Colonel Graf Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg was a true blue blood aristocrat from a noble honorable ancient Teutonic House. A panzer officer that had fought in Poland, France, Russia and with the famous ‘Afrika Korps’.
Suffering debilitating wounds from combat – losing an eye, a hand and three fingers, Claus and his co conspirators – facing the truth of the regime they so valiantly served – tried in their own way to rectify their sins – singular and collective.
The Colonel’s stroke of genius was to subvert the emergency plan for defending Berlin against insurrection, Valkyrie, into a plan for a coup d’état after 3rd Reich’s leadership had been incapacitated – arrested or killed – just as good even better, nicht wahr? As der fuhrer became more paranoid, it seemed that Stauffenberg was the only one who had both the access and the resolve to kill him.
He was fully aware that the chances of success were slim, but he felt that he needed to demonstrate to the world that there was a better Germany – what he thought of as sacred Germany – and perhaps that he was the agent of history.
Even though ebberdobby knows how the failed attempt ended – viewers still hang on their seat every moment because it seems the coup is going to be pulled off.
Cats of the coup were ruthlessly hunted down, tormented and slain. The ground ran red with German blood. The regime was determined to fight to the last and like Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” heralded the final lo down ho down like Wagner’s viking final, apocalyptic battle – “Gotterdammerung.”
Think the world is fully crunk with idiots? Just check out what it looks like in 500 years. A totally average in every way guy and girl are suspendly animated to awaken in the far future to find a dysfunctional society full of extremely stupid people.
Advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism have run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly unthinking society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights.
It’s also funny as H, with hilarious scenes piled on one after another and a great cast like Luke Wilson, Myra Rudolph and Dax Shepard.
A cult classic, Idiocracy is a must see.
The ultimate “What If” flick, Fatherland opens with a frightening prolouge – the failure of the D-Day invasion forces the United States to withdraw from the war in Europe and General Dwight Eisenhower to retire in disgrace.
The US fights Japan and wins. In Europe, Churchill is exiled to Canada and dies in 1953; Edward VIlI returns to the throne. Germany, has corralled all European countries into a single Euro Union named “Germania,” and Deutschland’s client state of Great Britain’s hottest import is the Liverpudlian rock group The Beatles.
Although Wehrmacht has pushed the Soviets east of the Urals, the conflict prett much guerrilla warfare, with what is left of the Soviets supported by the United States. Terrorism is rampant in the New Germany because of incessant resistence from occuppied nations and imported laborers.
By 1964, the United States and the Greater German Reich are involved in a Cold War. Hitler’s 75th birthday is planned to knock out a detente with a Berlin summit with America’s President Joseph P Kennedy.
German society, while very high tech with a high standard of living is still a police state ran by NSDAP couture in all things art, science and life.
The Holocaust is a closely guarded state secret. A body is found floating in a lake near Berlin at Swannsea. SS Major Xavier March starts investigating the body and the witness who saw it being dumped. The dead person is revealed to be Josef Buehler, a retired Nazi Party official who managed the resettlement of Jews and ‘racially inferiors’.
As March investigates he learns the horrible truth of the industrial genocide the regime and with the help of a visiting American journalist lady, tries slip the documents to the president to as Kennedy arrives at the Great Dome Speer built.
Starring Rutger Hauer, Miranda Richardson and Michael Kitchen – Fatherland expertly compasses exactly ‘what if’ indeed.
Marvel’s The Avengers
Action packed with a collective of unevenly super gifted cats that have to form a team to literally save Earth from a cruel yet, hot Norse god and really freaky army of downright nasty lookings minions.
This flick ties in most of Marvel’s Hero stuff (all the Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and of course Captain America in a perfect, seamless fashion. True art
Loyalty, regret, and repentence along with indepth character humour and inner and outer conflicts while remaining true Heroes to humanity in every sense. has raised the bar by Marvel while remaining true Heroes to humanity in every sense.
Everything is top notch. Great Satan’s Hollywood at her finest!
Zero Dark Thirty
Only Great Satan – alone of all nation/states tormented by al Qaeda – uniquely powerful – the only one of her kind – had the brainpower, firepower, staying power and will power do whatever it takes, whatever it costs to track down Supper Villan ObL, kill him and chuck his sorry carcass in the briney deep.
1. A Man For All Seasons.
Listed at the Vatican as one of the best religious movies ever made, this deeply moving portrait of St. Thomas More packs a powerful emotional punch. At least it does for me. Paul Scofield brought his stage version of Sir Thomas to the screen in a performance that is close to perfection and won him the Oscar for Best Actor.
2. The Exorcist
It should never be a surprise to anyone when there is a religious element in a horror film – the antidote to supernatural evil would have to be God – but amazingly enough, most horror flicks gets this wrong. William Peter Blatty, alumni of Georgetown University and George Washington University got it perfectly right in one of the most bone-chilling tales of horror every told.
3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
If you’re a fan of the books – you have to be a fan of these movies – period. Peter Jackson, (a huge fan himself) did an awesome job bringing Tolkien’s work to the screen.
4.The Wizard of Oz.
If for no other reason than Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Raindow”- ’nuff said. Brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. A very special and amazing movie given the technology available in 1939.
I keep telling my younger kids who haven’t seen this one yet, they have to watch it on Netflix. Many amazing performances in that one AND one crazy-huge, ferocious mechanical shark.
Most of Hitchcock’s films, most notably North by Northwest and Notorious
The Hunger Games movies.
The Harry Potter movies.
The Glittering Eye: There are common threads running through my favorite movies. I’m a sentimental person so the movies I like tend to be sentimental, too. I’m also attracted to movies that revolve around the theme of redemption and I prefer movies without a lot of overt sex and violence so that rules out many of the movies made over the last couple of decades. With that preamble here are my favorite movies:
1. The 39 Steps (1935)
Robert Donat flees the police across the highlands of Scotland, handcuffed to Madeleine Carroll in this picture, one of Hitchcock’s best. Much imitated, including by Hitchcock himself.
2. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
RAF pilot David Niven, suspended between life and death, goes on trial before a celestial court to determine his fate. Fantasy/allegory directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
3. The Quiet Man (1952)
After killing a man in the ring, prizefighter John Wayne returns to the Irish village in which he was born. He finds more than he bargained for there including not only peace of mind but love. John Ford’s love song to Ireland.
4. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
One of the last great MGM movie musicals. After this movie musicals were mostly Elvis pictures, beach pictures, and movie versions of Broadway musicals. The best singers on the lot, the best dancers they could find, a Gene De Paul and Johnny Mercer score, and Michael Kidd’s naturalistic choreography.
5. Strictly Ballroom (1992)
In this early Baz Lurhmann movie (his first), competitive ballroom dance Paul Mercurio rebels against the constraints of his sport. In searching for his own way he finds fulfillment and love. A combination of ballroom dancing, drama, comedy, and the surreal anarchy of a Marx Brothers picture.Honorable mentions: Duck Soup (1933), just about any picture directed by Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, or Michael Powell, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), The Uninvited 1944, A Portrait of Jennie (1948), and about half of the pictures made in 1939.
The Independent Sentinel: I like the older movies the best.
My favorite, bar none, is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
It was just so funny. Sundance didn’t want to jump off the cliff into the water when they were being chased. Butch asks him why and he says he can’t swim. Butch says, “What are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.”
Gunga Din was my next all-time favorite. “By the living God that made you. You’re a better man than I am Gunga Din!”The movie actually lost money because of production costs. Every so often, I watch it again. I don’t really get tired of the actors, the script, the cinematography. Eduardo Ciannelli was great as the mad Guru. In real life, he was a doctor, then an opera singer. Every time I watch the movie, I read biographies of the actors, director, writer…
The first Godfather movie was great. It seemed so brutal but not compared to the movies now.
Jaws actually kept me out of the water for a while. The scene with Brody, he’s throwing chum into the water when the shark jumps up to grab it. Brody backs into the cabin and says, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
There are many other great movies, but these were favorites.
Well, there you have it.
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