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- 3 years ago
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- From: crenshawa
A Guy's Favorite Movies Part 1
I realize this is primarily a "guy's list." My wife's list would not be totally different (however, her comments would be) but her list would be substantially different. In other words, we have "chick flicks" and "guy flicks" with about 50% that swing both ways. My list is probably more of a guy list, but add your own or change mine. Recently I've watched American President a lot. I'm not sure it's a great movie but it belongs on somebody's list. Here are the first 25. Enjoy or not...
1.Godfather 2. Pacino was never better. The First Godfather is a great story. Godfather 2 is a great film. By bookending the first Godfather, we get 2 great actors, Pacino and DeNiro, telling the story of America in the 20th century. Young, ruthless and honorable, Vito Carlene is every immigrant who has had to fight in the land of opportunity. Older, ruthless, jaded and contemplative, Michael Corleone is every son. Greater opportunities, greater challenges and tougher choices. The scene with Fredo is the greatest scene ever put on film. It still haunts me to this day.
2.Casablanca You should pick up the DVD on this one. Nice print and some real extra goodies that explain what a wonderful accident this classic film is. Certainly the people who made this film had no idea they were making a classic. It was just another studio release that needed to be put together quickly. Bogart was not Bogey yet. Bergman was a slight risk. The wonderful supporting casts were just studio regulars and hanger-ons. "As Time Goes By" was a minor hit. But put them all together and movie history is born. There is not a bad moment in this film; there is not a bad performance. Honor, sacrifice, love and the balance of power in the whole world are just some of the themes that run throughout this movie. So many scenes from this movie resonate in my memory. Rick on the train track, Sam and Rick in the bar late at night, Victor Lazlo leading the singing that drowns out the Germans and of course the classic ending with Bogey, Bergman and Rains. Simply a wonderful film.
3.Citizen Kane I have been in the video business for the past eleven years, so I appreciate all the camera techniques that came from this movie. And yes it did change many things about how movies are made. (On a side note you should check out some of the Camera work Greg Tolland used on John Ford's Long Voyage Home from the year before he worked with Welles on Kane.) But the camera work isn’t what makes this a great movie, that comes from the script. "You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man" is my favorite quote from any film. It just sums up Charles Foster Kane. this is a counter argument to my theory on Casablanca, that classics cannot be planned. Welles planned, knew and schemed to make this the classic it is now recognized to be. It is that unbelievable bombast and grandeur that makes this film a classic.
4.Pulp Fiction The pure audacity of this movie still amazes me. Only a true Movie fan could make a movie this outrageous. From the jangled narrative to the great soundtrack, Tarantino breaks a lot of the movie tenets while still paying homage to film noir and about 20 other film types. In recent times, I have heard many who say Reservoir Dogs is his best film. I like Dogs but all I can say is watch Pulp Fiction again. This is a master filmmaker at the pinnacle of his talent. It is not a surprise to me that Quentin has not come close to matching this work. It also does not surprise me that we have not heard anything from him in awhile. It is hard to settle for good work once you have tasted greatness. Easily the best film of the Nineties and I wonder when I will be so surprised and happy watching a movie again for the first time.
5.The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance I have always been a sucker for a Western and they don’t come any better than this one. A deceptively simple story that tells so much with so little. I recently read a biography of John Ford and it certainly helps explain so much of this classic. Ford was a fascinating man, so complex, so compelling. As Ford was nearing the end of his film career and growing more bitter this movie intended to sum up all the great westerns that he and others made in the preceding 25 years. "This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" Another great quote that tells so much about this movie and just about every other movie ever made.
6.The Third Man As I review this list as well as plan the rest of the 80 films to get to my top 100, I am struck how much scenes from these classic movies stay with me. I can close my eyes and see snippets of these movies that are permanently imbedded in my mind. The Third man has a few of these scenes. Most Notably, The scene where Welles character Harry Lime is introduced and we see the classic Orson Welles smile. It is movies like this one that let you never forget this is a visual medium, so much can be told and so much can be left unsaid. Watch the lighting. Many of the faces are lit with only the bottom half showing. Welles finds the best DPs possible to do his films and it really workls.
7.Lawrence Of Arabia One of the most memorable first starring roles in Movie history. O'Toole is mesmerizing with just the right touch of fanaticism, fatalism and frenzy to make Lawrence stay in our thoughts long after the movie is over. Of course this is a stunning visual masterpiece, ( I highly recommend at least renting the DVD 2 disc set that came out a few months ago. A really wonderful remastering and lots of special goodies)but the story on this one makes it rise to the top of the epics list. Many people have criticized the script because it never clarifies Lawrence's motivations. Was he heroic, was he a shameless self-promoter? You the viewer are left to decide. In my opinion of course he was both. Heroism is often muddled by motivations.
8.Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This is Capra's Masterpiece, not Its a Wonderful Life (a great movie that will probably find itself near the bottom of this list somewhere). Somewhat a radical movie for its time, politicians are corrupt-a notion that is totally accepted today. Stewart is wonderful as the aw-shucks Boy Scout Leader Jefferson Smith. Jean Arthur is heavenly as the tough as nails assistant who's heart gets melted by Smith. Claude Rains, making his 3rd appearance in my top eight films, is his usual stellar self as the disillioned Senator. Its also a great movie to explain the term filibustering. I love Capra. He's still a national treasure.
9.Singing in the Rain In a bad mood? May I suggest the perfect cure; a viewing of this wonderful film. There is a joy and innocence to this movie that always make me smile. Gene Kelly was a great athlete. His physical style of dancing works so well in this modern fable. Donald O’Connor always makes me laugh and Cid Charisse has inhabited my fantasies ever since I saw her in this movie.
10.The Magnificent Ambersons. This should have been Welles greatest movie. But it isn’t because there is a long story about editing, Welles ego, his clashes with studios and lost film that is a very good story in its own self. But what we now have is still a wonderful movie. Joseph Cotton, cinema's least respected great actor shines in the wonderful role of Eugene Morgan. It is a simple story of lost love, class distinctions, regrets, jealousy and many more elements that make up the most complex of story ideas; human beings.
11.Millers Crossing- I don’t find many people who consider this near the top of the Cone Brother's best movies never mind near the best of all-time, but to me it is definitely their masterpiece. Its the one where the cheap humor is replaced by a stunning visual style and punctuated by a stellar noir story. Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Albert Finney, John Torture and a whole cast of others are perfect in this dream world of grey people. The scene with Torturro in the woods is so heartbreaking, so difficult to watch and even more difficult to turn away. Sometimes I think the Coen's should watch this movie a few times before they make another movie just to keep their excesses in check.
12.Bringing Up Baby This is the greatest screwball comedy of them all. Supposedly this is based on the true-life romance of Katherine Hepburn and Director John Ford. Could be some truth to this as long time Ford writer Dudley Nichols wrote it. The pipe and glasses Grant favors also are a bit of a clue as they are long time Ford trademarks. No matter the inspiration, if you want to laugh, rent this movie. Cary Grant is superb as the befuddled scientist and Hepburn plays against type as the bumbling socialite. And Baby what a baby is in store for you. My wife and I still laugh all the way through it.
13.To Kill a Mockingbird I have always loved this movie. I think it was one of the first movies I ever remember seeing and I try to watch it every couple of years. Through my many watchings, different questions and messages have become paramount for me. Who didn't want Gregory Peck to be your father? Is there really a better role model for being an adult male than Atticus Finch? Is that really Robert Duvall playing Boo Radley? Why did Harper Lee only write one book? Mockingbird is still one of the best adaptions of a beloved novel. Along with Scout, Dill and Jem, we get to remember the wonderment, fear and adulation of childhood. I am glad that this will always be available to me.
14.Raging Bull They really should make more black and white movies. This classic would look awful in color. I always thought black and white was a misnomer, they should call it shades of gray. It is that grayness, that lends so wonderfully to stories of murkiness, deceit and the baseness of human nature. Scorcese is the best filmmaker of the past 30 years and this is his ultimate masterpiece. A flawlessly filmed movie, a stunning script and superb acting make the story of Jake LaMotte so compelling. Like all great artists Scorcese finds invaluable truth in the fringes of society. I know some people who wont watch this movie because it is about boxing. All I can say, this movie is about boxing like Citizen Kane is about publishing
15.Dr. Strangelove Kubrick was ultimately the most cold and detached of the so-called great filmmakers. His masterpieces are calculating examinations of various human emotions and events. But then you have Strangelove, a comedy with a lot of fire in it. Strangelove is Kubrick's best in my opinion. A perfect movie for the perfect time. The Cold War was in full form and that paranoia and fear was perfect for the satire and biting comedy of this gem. I still laugh at the image of Slim Pickens on that bomb and the wonderment of Peter Sellers and his various roles. But the most amazing thing is the cold tactician Stanley Kubrick made this movie. Truly Amazing.
16.Red River Of the movies in my top 20, this is the one with the biggest flaw. To pt it bluntly the ending of this movie sucks. The first 90% of this movie is the best western ever filmed. I will not divulge the ending because some people may have not seen this classic yet, but if Howard Hawks had only been more faithful to Borden Chase's serialized story it would definitely have been the best western ever made and it might be considered for the top movie of all time. Oh well, what we have is John Wayne at or near the top of his acting career. We have Montgomery Clift at the beginning of his stellar career and we have a great story of man against man against nature. As John Ford supposedly proclaimed after viewing the film for the first time. "Who knew the SOB (Wayne)could act" Act he could and his Tom Dunstan rivals his Ethan Edwards character from The Searchers and in many ways is the better performance.
17.Treasure of The Sierra Madre An existential meditation on the power of greed to corrupt in a populist film, ok that may be overstating the message and method of this film. But in our endless pursuit of material goods and wealth, we find our self very much identifying with the growing madness that is Fred C. Dobbs. As played superbly by Humphrey Bogart, Dobbs transition from heroic to insane is certainly allegorical enough to the madness that overtakes almost all of us as we age and find ourselves on the proverbial treadmill of attaining material needs and yet never truly finding what we are seeking. The source material is a great book with its own little mystery. Who really was B.Traven. John Huston did one of the best adaptations to film in movie history and his father Walter’s performance of Howard, the aged weary moral center of the story, is rightly considered one of the best performances ever put on film. I may have overstated in the first line by calling this existential but it most certainly is meditation. A wonderful meditation that makes you look at your own voracity and needs.
18.Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean is known for making great epics and lord knows he did them very well, but to me Lean is the master of one of my favorite subjects; fanaticism. Whether the obsession is love like in Doctor Zhiavago, self-promotion in Lawrence of Arabia or honor in Bridge on The River Kwai, Lean's main characters are unforgettable for their single-mindedness. The Alec Guinness character Colonel Nicholson is his best. A military man from a young age, honor cannot allow him to do a bad job. Everything and everyone around him tells him not to make a great bridge but if you have to do a job, do it well. It is this internal battle (wonderfully played out by his moral opposite in the William Holden character) that is the meat of this movie and also why the ending is so haunting and compelling
19.Rear Window For me, Rear Window was the first interactive movie. The Mastery of this movie is to tap into the natural voyeuristic inclinations of all movie lovers. In the middle of a hot steamy New York summer, amidst a clammy suffocating apartment, Hitchcock delivers his coldest most calculating and cerebral masterpiece. Hitchcock uses the camera like a scientist uses a telescope to study, prod and ultimately dissect the Stewart and Kelly characters, the stifling oppressive neighborhood, and eventually the viewers of this classic. It is that self-examination that lies in the excellence of this film. Much like the Stewart character, you know it is wrong to spy but you just can’t help yourself.
20.Diner According to the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus “the only constant is change”. According to me, rapidly approaching ancient American reprobate “the key to life is in the transitions” Diner though not often considered one of the greatest of films is all about those transitions. Diner is the one movie I think I could have (no matter how foolish that sounds) and most certainly wished I had written. Levinson is like the anti-Kubrick. His best movies are his personal ones. I have read interviews where he states there is a little bit of himself in all the main characters. And what wonderful characters they are, a group of friends are in their mid twenties and almost all are looking at the key transition that can be found at that time of life. Some are looking at marriage some are looking at careers and most are fighting like hell to stay young and together while life is pulling them screaming and laughing into the next stage of their lives. And we the viewers get pulled and get to laugh right along with them. To the amazement of many of my friends, I didn’t make my wife pass a test on the Boston Red Sox before I agreed to marry her. But I did give it some thought. I was just too chicken and I knew I was lucky when she agreed to marry me.
21.Godfather The amazing thing about this movie is how little screen time Marlon Brando has as the Godfather. He still resonates in everyone’s conscience because of that stunning opening scene at Connie’s wedding. This movie is an amazing accomplishment considering the money men wanted to fire both Coppola and Pacino many times during the making of the movie. DeNiro originally tried out for the role of Sonny. They tested James Caan for the role of Michael. No one wanted Brando because of his unreliability. Despite all the hardship and toils this is a stunning story about a man and his three sons (Connie does not count she is simply a plot device). You know another amazing thing about this movie; you come away from it thinking the mafia isn’t really a bad thing. No innocents get hurt, honor, trust and family are paramount and you really get to eat very well. Of course if you come away thinking of a career in crime, may I suggest a viewing of my number 44 film, Goodfellas. That should help sway any inclinations.
22.Bull Durham Bull Durham is much like Diner for me. Movies not usually found on best of all time lists. I guess these are selections form my favorite side. Also like Diner, Bull Durham is another funny look at life's transitions. In this one Kevin Costner's Crash Davis is looking at the end of his baseball playing career, Susan Sarandon's Annie is looking at the end of her career as team groupie/hen mother. You see the ending coming like a hanging curve. But what a wonderful arc to that curveball. Costner is very convincing as a ballplayer but Tim Robbins to be charitable really sucked as a ballplayer. My favorite scene from this movie is the one when Robert Wuhl, one of the tam's coaches, comes out to the mound to talk with the Robbins, Costner and a lot of the other teammates. I always wanted to know what they talked about at the mound.
23.Wild Bunch The magic of this movie is how wonderfully it straddles the classic and modern worlds of filmmaking. It is populated by numerous stellar actors from the Classic era, William Holden, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, yet has the modern feel of stunning violence and ambiguous motivations and conclusions. And it is a Western to boot. of course it is the Western that pretty much precipitated the end of the genre-Unforgiven and Silverado are wonderful exceptions. Along with Bonnie and Clyde, this maybe the most influential movie of the past 40 years. On screen violence would never be the same. There is a weariness to the characters and story that so wonderfully foreshadows the ambivalence of filmmaking in the 1970’s and beyond
24.Hustler I love Paul Newman; he always has been one of my favorite actors. And he is wonderful in the flashy role of Fast Eddie Felson, but the real joy of this movie is in the supporting players. George C. Scott as Bert Gordon is cunning and calculating but with just the right touch of transparency. Piper Laurie in her best role as Sarah Packard is haunted, hurt, heroic but ultimately tragic. The real star though is Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, the dapper fat man, who Eddie almost breaks. Gleason who is better known for his variety show and The Honeymooners were never better. He has just the right touch of panache, cool and self-awareness. Despite The Color of Money being a good movie, it just did not seem right for Eddie Felson being old and a beer distributor. Plus it was in color, I think any movie set in a pool hall should be shot in black and white.
25.Last Picture Show It was inevitable that “polite” civilization would overtake the west. The Wild Bunch and a few lesser movies document this very well. The Last Picture Show is a more lyrical contemplative looks at the last vestiges of this encroachment. In this small backwater Texas town, the uneasiness of youth is in direct contrast with a town that is struggling to maintain its past. The movie is very well cast with Jeff Bridges, in one of his first roles, as Duane the center of the struggle. Cybil Sheppard is superb in the role of Jacy, the epitome of a modern teenager. The best casting though was Ben Johnson, best known for his roles in classic westerns, as Sam the Lion. Peter Bogdanovich, a former film critic, was a huge fan of John Ford and his classic westerns. This film serves as an homage and obituary for these westerns and the ideals they portrayed. Bogdanovich was never to make a movie close to this again. I love it because it was filmed and about Archer City, Texas one of my favorite little towns and the home of Larry McMurtry’s World Famous Book Store.
See! I told you it's a "guy's list." Maybe the next 25 will suit you or infuriate you because I didn't include your favorite
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