my two cents toward an ongoing greatest movie list…
I was invited by Tim Keaty to be a panelist on this TOP 100 movies project going on at the Surfing Aliens site/podcast. Due to technical difficulties on my side, I haven’t yet been able to “virtually” take part as intended so I proposed something that would fit better into my schedule and hopefully be just as interesting, and that’s this blog post. This is also crossposted over here at the surfing aliens site, where you can (and should!) listen to the podcast
Here’s how it works. Pasted in below is the current list which has been formed by votes (which you can and should do here) and also each panelist appearing gets to add and cut. My task is to look over the list, remove 1, and add on 3 picks of my own (with some extra behind the scenes alternates), and I was allowed to add movies back that have already been removed (but I didn’t). Cool idea, right? I love making lists, which I do with a sport fan’s zeal, assigning imaginary weight and statistics to different people and aspects to help justify my picks. Since we all have quibbles with those AFI and fill-in-the-blank organization lists of greatest films of all time, don’t lie, how much fun would it be to go in there and tell them how this movie or that one has no business being on there or higher than so-&-so. And then hope the next person doesn’t toss YOUR pick. So I love this idea and was impressed Tim asked me to add my opinions. In fact I might steal this concept for a future classic movie ranking project.
Anyway, here’s the list as of the first week of JAN, plus some notes of mine, before we proceed on to my changes:
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Fight Club (1999) – totally agree, this might surprise some who just know me as classic movie girl, but I was obsessed with this movie, bought the book, bought every edition of the DVD over the years and if there was a play count of my movies this would be in the top 5 for sure. It’s a modern pulp (beat to a pulp) masterpiece which also is a morality tale with some steep philosophy and brutal satire, and I still have a political pulp novel inside me somewhere because of this movie. Someday I’ll finish it.
Pulp Fiction (2004) ~Removed and Returned
Jurassic Park (1993)
Forrest Gump (1994) ~Removed and Returned
Psycho (1960) – overrated, more on that one later
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) yes yes yes. Another one of my favorites. Pure magic, classic serial thrills, somewhat cheesy FX but you tell me if you ever forget some of the scenes. Like
Jaws (1975) – should be higher than Jurassic Park
Superman (1978) — you can’t overstate the importance of this one in establishing the superhero genre. Instead of *pow* and *kabong* campy heroes, you had a totally serious approach, and it all came out so grandiose: the music, the stars, the fights, the flights, disasters, and most importantly the total commitment of the actors to the story. And we’ll see about Cavill, but I grew up addicted to Superman & Action comics and Christopher Reeve and this movie should be at least top 5 on this list, as it begat (and is still better than) so many of the other movies on this list.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Star Wars (1977)
Back to the Future (1985)
Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Young Frankenstein (1974) – that’s Franken-steeen!! 2 Brooks movies on this list, very interesting
The Karate Kid (1984)
Stand by Me (1986)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Goodfellas (1990) – yes.
Monty Python & the Holy Grail (1975)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Die Hard (1988) ~Removed and Returned
The Godfather (1972) ~Removed and Returned –whoever removed this needs to find a horse’s head in their bed.
The Matrix (1999)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Halloween (1978) ~Removed and Returned
Moon (2009) ~Removed and Returned
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Moulin Rouge (2001)
Leon the Professional (1994)
The Wizard of Oz (1939) — there are Judy Garland movies I like better, like Meet Me In St. Louis. But that’s a classic junkie’s quibble, actually more of a recommendation to others to explore further, and this should be on here for sure.
Sullivan’s Travels (1942) –excellent, should be higher. Let’s have a Citizen Kane slow clap for whoever put this on here, so so great and I would have added it were it not on already. Which reminds me, there is no Citizen Kane on your list. hmm. I’m not adding it in though. Let someone else be predictable.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
SLC Punk (1988)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Princess Bride (1987)
Vertigo (1958) – see above re Psycho.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The Crow (1994)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Some Like It Hot (1959) –
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Stagecoach (1939) — glad to see this on
Modern Times (1936)
The Game (1997) – good pick, read someone call it a reverse It’s a Wonderful Life
You can also vote on what movies that you think should not have been removed and at the end of the project we will add the top 4 rated movies back!
Movies that have been Removed from the list. The top 4 will be added back on at the end of the project.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Crimson Tide (1995)
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – there are way better ones than this version
Seven Samurai (1954) – of all these rejects I would put this one back, because of its influence
The Avengers (2012)
Take Shelter (2011)
Star Wars: Episode III (2005)
The Thing (1982) – pretty close to putting this one back
Iron man (2008)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2012)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Now on to my tinkering:
My first pick was easy because I have a visceral reaction to and dislike of MOULIN ROUGE’s busy, artificial, excessive decadence with little substance, but someone just beat me to removing that one so I went with a tougher choice: FULL METAL JACKET. I might shock people again by saying I’m not much of a Kubrick fan, but still it’s tough to pick on this one because I like Ermey (his Sarge is fantastic), D’Onofrio, Modine and Baldwin, I can appreciate the quality of the movie and the realism of the boot camp and some of the situations. It’s not poorly made, and I’m not put off by brutality, anti-war messages or dark humor. I really don’t like the overall moral and impression of the movie, the misrepresentation that it supports, i.e. that the military are mindless compassionless killing machines, browbeaten and broken down into inhumane beings inured to violence, all in the name of a blind obedience to an insane cause. I also find the larger messages, of the U.S. as barreling into conflicts without much thought or consideration for impact, or that discipline and patriotism, instead of being honorable things, are more conditioned responses and even misguided, all of which are to me simplistic ideas.
My 3 picks:
I’m going to preface my picks by saying I’m not just plugging in my all-time faves, but trying to tailor picks to what I think you need on your list to make it more well-rounded. So, for example, I almost removed Tombstone to replace it with The Man who Shot Liberty Valance, or The Man from Laramie or The naked Spur, but Tombstone I enjoy and it certainly doesn’t offend me like Moulin does. So it stays and I can live with you having Stagecoach on there so I shall refrain from adding in The Searchers or Fort Apache or Rio Bravo. I’ll leave that genre as is and just tell people that if they like Tombstone they should also see My Darling Clementine. Similarly you are very action heavy, so I won’t add Adventures of Robin Hood, which is the greatest actioner ever, starring the coolest action hero ever, Errol Flynn.
Immediately contradicting my own rules there, which I’m allowed to do since they are my rules, I am going to load onto your list something you already have two of, with my first and easiest add, REAR WINDOW. You can’t really have too much Hitchcock but in my opinion, Rear Window is better than Psycho and Vertigo, and by far my favorite one from Sir Alfred. I love everything about it, it was the gateway to my love of classic movies, it’s both pure artistry and technical skill, it’s limited and a bit contrived as a set yet is perfection, thrilling, has killer chemistry and superb acting. Some movies you respect but don’t quite love, this one I loved and marveled at before I knew anything about technique and then I really respected it.
Your war department is underrepresented now that I took out Full Metal Jacket, and yet I have a hard time picking just one to replace it. I have so many favorites of the genre are Battleground, Bridge on the River Kwai, Sergeant York, The Great Escape, The Dawn Patrol, Apocalypse Now, Eagle and the Hawk, The Longest Day, A Walk in the Sun. But I am not going with any of those, since you have more than enough explosions and battles from various genres on your list. I’m going to add a post-war movie, one of the best, most important, lasting and gripping dramas ever filmed, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. It stands up to anything made today, or ever; it’s not dated but gains meaning and impact over the years, through small moments that resonate, like Dana Andrews feeling so alone in the warplane graveyard, or Fredric March returning home to an overjoyed and almost disbelieving family, and it’s all done with gorgeous but never showy cinematography and perfect acting by everyone. It’s a realistic picture of what were then pretty daring subjects like alcoholism and PTSD; the movie draws a line stylistically, coming along with the shift in movie tastes from glitter and optimistic escapism to more serious approaches and stories, as were to become popular in noirs.
Last slot is tough, I almost picked the Marx Brothers’ DUCK SOUP, not only my favorite comedy but also to represent the pre-code era on your list. But you do have plenty of zany comedy and also the essential Some Like it Hot. I also just narrowly decide against adding in THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, because you have so many “male” pictures, not that there’s anything wrong with that. What you really need is a straight up (not rom-com) romance, an epic love story for the ages, the most uplifting tearjerker you will ever see, and maybe have never heard of: RANDOM HARVEST, a movie you’ll even like if you hate romance. Love triumphs over amnesia and war and a younger rival, without being cute or cheesy or sappy or just a chick flick. This is an adult love story that’s pure, powerful, believable, yet still as grand and magical as the golden era in which it was made, performed by great and appealing actors Greer Garson and Ronald Colman, who masterfully conveyed charm and devotion, heartbreak and decency, sacrifice and nobility, and both vaguely and vividly remembered emotions. It’s rightly called essential and definitive by TCM, it was expensive and a huge box office hit, based on a bestseller (the author loved the film so much he ended up narrating it). Frankly, I would bump Casablanca off the list and replace it with Random Harvest, which in my estimation also beats Zhivago, Now Voyager, Anna Karenina, Love Story, The Way We Were, The Notebook etc, etc. And if you think it doesn’t belong here then you probably just haven’t seen it yet.
Thanks Tim for this fun opportunity! Now what do the rest of you think?