Revisiting the Resolution: Part Two

Another hugely productive week in my movie resolution.  I’ve become a little obsessive about checking movies off my list.  I think because I am enjoying more movies than I expected to, I just keep trucking and ticking them off.  Here’s hoping that a dry spell of duds won’t derail me.  Even if it does, with 20 movies viewed already, I am already where I was supposed to be in May, so I think I will be okay.

Here’s the latest results:

Good Night and Good Luck

This is one of the most inexplicable entries on my list.  I love movies set in this time period, I love movies about television. I really have no idea how I missed this suspenseful, entertaining, technically impeccable film.  Maybe I was in that post-college period of having no money to go to the movies? I don’t know. I’ve even met Fred Friendly’s (the George Clooney character) son Andy and heard from him the amazing things his father accomplished.  So happy to have finally been clued in to how good this movie is.

Scarface

No, not the Al Pacino one. This is the original Scarface, made in 1932, back when bad guys were required to get their comeuppance as part of the Hays Code and these types of violent films had to be presented with a message.  This message was an interesting one, one that seemed eerily timely 80 years later.  The scrolling text at the beginning speaks to the epidemic of violence in the country and implores the government to do something about it.  The titular character is obsessed with machine gun and fire power.  In that respect, I found watching this movie worthwhile.  When it comes to gangster films of the period, I prefer White Heat mostly because I am a Jimmy Cagney fan, but Paul Muni is a compelling lead and this story certainly kept me invested. Gangster movies have never been my thing though, so it isn’t surprising that I don’t really feel like I need to see this one again in my lifetime.

Boyz N The Hood

This one was easily the best movie of the bunch this week.  This coming of age tale may have had some overwrought cinematic moments, but its diverse and authentic portrayal of life in South Central was captivating, heartbreaking, and even had its hilarious moments too.  Unsurprisingly, director John Singleton went to USC = )   I’ve enjoyed the Singleton movies I’ve seen.  I am probably one of the bigger fans of “Four Brothers” out there, both in part for my love of Garrett Hedlund and Marky Mark (sans Funky Bunch) and because I think Singleton gets how to appropriate and effectively use the 1970s era of Blaxpoitation and urban flicks exponentially better than Quentin Tarantino, who often gets lauded for just that.  Need to see more Singleton flicks in my future. Side note: only movie to make me cry so far this project. Oh Ricky.

Gilda

I will give this movie this: Rita Hayworth is gorgeous and has an exceptional screen presence.  Beyond that, I don’t have a lot of positives to associate with this movie. The male lead, Glenn Ford, is fine, but I vastly preferred him in another movie I watched this week, Blackboard Jungle.  The story is a bit convoluted and what is supposed to be a surprise ending isn’t particularly surprising or rewarding. I’m assuming this tepid noir made the list mostly because of the cultural relevance of Hayworth?

A Raisin in the Sun

Most people cite this as a negative, but I kind of enjoy that the movies of the 40s and 50s that were originally plays have very easy to spot theatrical roots.  The movies take place in one or two places, mostly because the play wasn’t equipped to handle so many changes of scenery.  There are long stretches of dialogue, lasting several minutes.  There are monologues. Oh, there are monologues.

A Raisin in the Sun has all of these things and, while it does feel a little claustrophobic and artificially restrictive, it mostly functions as a stage for some of the best performers of the era to dig into meaty roles in a meaty story about the American Dream and what that dream looked like for African Americans during the Civil Rights era.  It goes without saying that Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee are amazing, but I was also quite impressed with Diana Sands as the younger sister who still has the luxury of being idealistic because she hasn’t quite seen what the real world is like yet.

Blackboard Jungle

After A Raisin in the Sun, I had a hankering for more Poitier and TCM heard my plea.  They aired what has his breakout role in the juvenile delinquency movie Blackboard Jungle.  Like Scarface, this one even begins with scrolling text about the epidemic of misbehaving youth.  Don’t let the idea of the consummate gentleman Poitier playing a “thug” lead you to believe this movie is soft.  These kids are horrifying.  One locks a teacher in the library and tries to rape her.  Another group attempts to murder a teacher.  This shit makes Dangerous Minds look like Kindergarten Cop.  This was also the day and age where a teacher could hit, physically threaten, and blackmail students with no reprimand from the school board.  Nonetheless, I am a sucker for a good teacher movie, even one with outlandish violence.  And Glenn Ford really sells the frustration teachers face getting through to kids.  While some of the other elements of this movie feel outdated, that frustration about relating to the kids remains true and sincere to this day.

Mrs. Miniver

I don’t always believe that movies of the 40s can become too dated to enjoy.  I think this is an excuse a lot of people come up with not to watch them, not all that different from “I don’t like black and white movies.”  There are exceptions though, and I think Mrs. Miniver, a movie about an English family persevering during WW2, is one of them.  Yes, I found the movie had the inspirational moments.  Yes, I enjoyed a lot of the performances, especially that of one of personal favorites of the time, Teresa Wright.  But, I felt like not having experienced WW2, there was something missing from my experience.  Like Scarface though, I appreciate seeing this for its historical value and thought there were several worthwhile moments in a movie that did a feel a bit overly long for my tastes.

The Longest Day

In 1998, there were two WW2 films recognized by the Academy Awards, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line.  Both clearly drew inspiration from Daryl F. Zanuck’s epic recreation of D-Day.  The Omaha Beach scenes of Saving Private Ryan are clearly inspired by the same sequence in this film.  The sprawling cast of characters approach to depicting the melee of battle appears to be a page out of Zanuck’s play book.  So much so, that as I watched this movie I said to myself, “Oh, this is what The Thin Red Line would have been like if it weren’t terrible on every level.”  I found The Longest Day long indeed, a little too much so as a matter of fact.  However, there are so many amazing moments sprinkled among the three hour film that I found it worth watching.  John Wayne used his The Duke persona in one of my favorite roles of his I’ve ever seen.  Richard Beymer (and you know I love Richard Beymer), is delightful as the wide-eyed young soldier.  And the paratrooper sequence of the jump gone awry is one of the most breathtaking, horrific, and impactful set pieces I’ve seen this year.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

I always tell myself I need to watch more The Twilight Zone.  For those unfamiliar with the show, these hour-long episodes of science fiction would tap into an interesting conceit that had broader social implications beyond simply sci-fi.  Many folks say Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which feels like a longer than average Twilight Zone episode, was a purposeful allegory about the post-war invasion of Communism in America.  The filmmakers have said otherwise.  It makes sense to draw the comparison.  This is a story of the familiar not being what it seems, tapping into the fear that danger might be lurking in our own home unbeknownst to us.  However, I think this is just an instance of a great sci-fi story rather than an intentional jab at the Reds.  Great sci-fi and great horror take mundane, everyday fears and present them on a larger, fictional scale.  They frequently work allegorically for several things.  You could take the same story and apply it to terrorism in post 9/11 America.  Homeland and the upcoming The Americans on FX play on the same themes.  There are cultural reasons zombies and the themes associated with zombies are so popular today.  The homogenization of global culture, feelings that we are going through our lives just to get by rather than enjoy it, and increased concern over medical epidemics are just a few examples of why zombies are the horror trope of our times.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers  is a sci-fi movie that is clearly of its time, but its premise is one that extends far beyond the Red Scare.

Laura

I thought this movie might be a Rebecca rip-off at first.  The title character is dead, yet exerts a strong force over the characters actually in the film, much like the Hitchcock classic.  However, this movie takes a fascinating turn halfway through and it becomes something much, much different.  This is the kind of film noir I can get behind.  Cinematic high style, arch characters, and a story that keeps me guessing, yet makes nothing but sense.  My lone complaint is that Gene Tierney, who plays Laura in flashback, doesn’t live up to the hype of the characters describing how charismatic Laura was.  Tierney is lovely, just not magnetic, which results in one noticeable false note in an otherwise enjoyable thriller.

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How I Died Hard and Accidentally Became a Writer

Once upon a time, there was a naïve little ginger who wanted to work in Hollywood and make movies.  With dreams of being a “D Girl” in her head, she enrolled in film school, traipsed off to LA, and got an internship with a successful production company called Village Roadshow Pictures. She was right on track for the career she wanted, greenlighting pictures, offering notes on scripts, and helping to make movies that would impact people’s lives as much as they impacted her.

During that initial internship, certain aspects of the gig came very easy to her.  What you may not know about the development business is that you spend the vast majority of your time reading scripts.  Someday, if you work very hard, you don’t have to read every script. Instead you can read what is called coverage, then decide if a screenplay is worth your time. Coverage is a two or three page document containing a synopsis of the script followed by a notes section suggesting improvements or pointing out strong suits of the text.

The reading part came naturally.  Her fellow interns mocked her speed, as she could breeze through a 120-page script in roughly an hour.  A longtime bookworm, this wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was how quickly the writing came.  Between reading and writing, she could turn around coverage in less than two hours.  Moreover, according to the intern coordinator, it wasn’t bad.  Unlike many of her current friends (ahem, ahem I’m…er…she’s looking at you, JDN), he thought she had good taste and he found her coverage easy to read. So, he did something he had never done before.  He offered her a job as one of the company’s freelance script readers.

But there was one task she had to complete first.  As an intern, she had to go through a list of seminal films compiled by her boss and highlight what she had and hadn’t seen.  One of the movies on that list was Die Hard.

She had some sense of Die Hard’s importance in film culture, but being a bit action-averse, she never bothered to watch it.  That was about to change.  Her boss called her into the office and in all seriousness told her she couldn’t have the reader job until she saw this movie.  She thought he was kidding.  He wasn’t.

The man had a point.  When Die Hard came out in 1988, it changed the movie landscape in a way unseen since a decade prior with the success of Jaws and Star Wars.  The movie has spawned over two decades of high concept action films.  If you are wondering what “high concept” means, you probably understand its meaning without even realizing it.  High concept movies are the ones with easy to explain set-ups or stories.  The types of movies that can be pitched in meetings with a single sentence:

“It’s Die Hard, but on a bus!”

“What if we found a way to create dinosaurs today?”

“So we’ve got these snakes…and there is a plane.”

You see what is going on here?  Die Hard is largely credited with spawning this trend, and justifiably so.  Once the girl watched the movie, she realized how much every other action film since drew from it.  This was particularly important given Village Roadshow’s business plan.  The company worked as a co-financier with Warner Brothers, putting up money for flicks like The Matrix, Oceans 11, and Happy Feet.  Their profit sharing arrangement relied heavy on international grosses, so these high concept movies with worldwide appeal were their bread and butter.  It was true.  The girl really had to watch Die Hard in order to effectively understand what they were looking for.

She reported back to her boss that her movie-watching mission was accomplished and her work as a reader began.  Though the name of the position doesn’t convey it, it was her first professional writing gig.  In an attempt to be part of the movie business, she inadvertently launched her career as a writer.

Two or three times a week, she would crank out coverage for the company in between classes at college.  She gradually added more clients, like MTV Films.  By the end of school, she was reading three or four scripts a week and frequently MTV would send her novels to cover over the weekend.  All told, she was cranking out around 15 pages of single spaced text a week, not to mention writing papers and taking largely essay-based tests.

In that time when she did not even realize she was a writer, she learned a lot about what the job took beyond simple mechanics.  She learned the hard way that, for many people, a single typo destroys your credibility.  She learned that missing a deadline by more than five minutes is simply not an option.  She learned to be economical with her words, condensing 120 pages of content down to a page and a half long book report.  And, she got to read work by screenwriters who won Academy Awards and see firsthand exactly how someone can put something to page so effectively, that an amazing movie can be created from it.

For the most part though, the scripts were typically terrible.  For every film that was on the fast track to production and deservedly so, there were five terrible scripts with astonishingly bad premises.  This was during the height of popularity of the “mind fuck” movie, a genre the girl particularly detested and took a certain amount of glee in ripping apart in the comments section.

However, after two years of reading gigs and nine months as a Hollywood assistant, all the dreck began to take its toll on her.  As she saw bad movies get the greenlight while great movies were left unproduced, she realized loving movies wasn’t enough to be a D girl.  You needed a certain ruthlessness she did not possess to succeed.  Once you got beyond the status of reader, where you were expected to say no to most things, you had to become a yes man.  This girl always had a problem saying yes when no seemed like a much better option.

So she quit and moved home.  It didn’t feel like she failed at the time.  She was just so happy to be away from that world, she didn’t really notice she had no money, nothing more than a job at Blockbuster, no prospects, and, most importantly, no skill set.

In time though, she came to realize two things.  One, yes, she did fail when it came to being a successful movie executive.  She gave up and got weeded out like so many others.  That is okay though.  Because the other thing she realized was that she had all the training she needed to be a writer.  The first conclusion came rather easily.  The second one was more stubborn, or perhaps she was.  It took a stint as an instructor for Kaplan, two years in grad school cranking out papers, developing new media content for an industrial ceiling fan company, and a good year or so in the poker world before she realized each of these positions required one major thing from her: the ability to write.

That day when she decided to watch Die Hard and take a job set her on a path she never intended to go down.  From that point, basically everything she was hired to do was contingent upon writing.  She still isn’t sure how she feels about this.  She never has a burning desire to write.  She avoids words like journalist and author, considering it demeaning to those who actually pursue such professions.  Yet, here she is.  There seems to be only one thing people want to pay her to do, so, completely by accident, she is a writer.

Revisiting the Resolution: Part 1

You know how resolutions go.  In January everything is steaming right along, hunky dory.  So, it doesn’t surprise me that my recent movie resolution is off to a speedy start.  My initial resolution had me paced to watch a little over a movie a week.  In the first two weeks of the year, I have already managed to watch ten, even with a longer than usual work trip impeding my progress.

This early stretch is easy, as I am ticking off the ones easily available on streaming services.  I know that, come WSOP time this summer, I am going to inevitably grind to a halt thanks to long work hours and a lack of readily available titles on the list.  But rather than look ahead with a sense of dread and foreboding, I thought I would update my progress and my thoughts on what I have seen so far:

1. The Lady Eve

I am never one to dive into the pool. I am a wader, easing my way in on the shallow end of the water.  So, it should come as no surprise that I started with a flick square in my wheelhouse.  This screwball comedy featuring the endearing Henry Fonda and the sharp-tongued Barbara Stanwyck in a story that, in many ways, is a poker movie.  Stanwyck’s character is a professional card sharp, though she and her father tend to swindle their competitors more than outplay them.  Fonda looks like an easy mark, but, of course, love gets in the way.  Then, the movie turns into a comical version of a revenge story that ends most satisfyingly.  I don’t want to give away the twists and turns of the plot, but trust me that if you enjoy screwball romances, this is one of the best of them.

2. Cool Hand Luke

Funny that I go from one poker-adjacent movie to another.  I didn’t realize the title came from the film’s sole poker scene until I read Hard-Boiled Poker’s piece on the film a couple of year’s back.  I’ve avoided this movie for years because it has a lot of red flags for me.  The era it is made in is far from my favorite in cinema history.  I knew it was an “anti-hero” type of story, which is a genre I’ve never found terribly appealing.  And, terrible as it is to say, so many of my friends who cite movies I really can’t stand as their favorites tend to have this one on their list.

In other words, I went into this one braced for the worst.

Now, I will admit this was better than I thought it would be, but I still wouldn’t put it in my personal pantheon.  The first half had my interest piqued based almost entirely on Newman’s charisma and charm, but the story stalled in the middle for me, as the series of escape attempts drug on for quite a while.  The movie redeemed itself with its stellar ending, but it took a bit too long to get there for my tastes.

One final note–George Kennedy won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Dragline, and deservedly so.  I love discovering character actors of days of yore and this is a guy I am going to seek out in the future.

3. This is Spinal Tap


Have you ever seen a comedy that you admire, but don’t necessarily laugh at?  You find yourself thinking, “Oh, how clever,” but not chuckling? This is how I felt about this seminal mockumentary. I mostly blame my lack of interest in rock music for not emotionally appreciating the incredibly smart efforts of this flick as much as I appreciated them intellectually.  But not gonna lie, tiny Stone Henge and the puppet theater at the amusement park were pretty awesome.

4. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

This movie was one that elicited quite a few responses along the lines of, “How have you not seen that?”  Here is the explanation: My dad passed away when I was nine (1992), leaving a house full of girls. My mother did not allow me to watch any rated R movies until I was 14 or so, though if I had been allowed to watch them sooner, I can’t imagine her or anyone else close to me bringing this movie to my awareness.  We were not an action movie family. I saw Die Hard when I was 20, and only then because I was required to for a job.  Most pure action flicks of the 80s and 90s bearing R ratings have fallen under my radar over the years.

So, I went into this sequel having not seen the original, but having a simple understanding of the plot.  The movie was enjoyable enough.  It went along at a steady clip, the relationship between Schwarzenegger and young John Conner (Edward Furlong) was quite enjoyable, and the effects held up remarkably well.  The same cannot be said of the hairstyles of this movie, which come off as a time capsule of all that was follicly wrong in 1991.

I also have to point out that the use of Linda Hamilton’s voice over narration is some of the worst VO in film history. She begins the film with a LOTR-esque prologue about the machines, then the VO (and Hamilton for that matter) are not really present in the first half of the film.  Then, apropos of nothing, we hear her inner monologue, which continues through the rest of the film.

The problem with this is two-fold. One, you can tell that this is a classic case of the screenplay not clearly conveying the plot or ideas of the film, leaving Cameron with no other choice but to drop in VO to clarify and speed up the plot. Two, unlike the original, this is not Linda Hamilton’s movie.  This is John Connor’s movie. So, if we are going to hear the inner monologue of anybody that is not a robot, it seems unusual to have anyone but the young boy narrate the action.

5. Harold and Maude


When people talk about Citizen Kane, they often say they don’t love the film, but they respect its impact on cinema, namely the innovative cinematography.  This is how I feel about cult classic Harold and Maude.  I appreciate that it opened the door for a lot of movies I really enjoy like Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite, and Heathers to name a few.  Perhaps it is because I have seen so many manic pixie dream girls and death-obsessed adolescents that this movie bored me and felt very tired.  That isn’t the film’s fault. It preceded all these movies, its existence made them possible.  And like I said, I appreciate it for doing that, but that is about all I appreciate about this counterculture classic.

6. Atlantic City

When perusing the list of 400 movies, this one baffled me a bit.  I never really hear people talk about it.  I didn’t really know anything about the story.  After watching it, I understand why people don’t really talk about.  It isn’t particularly memorable. Like Harold and Maude, it is a movie that brings together two people whose paths might not cross otherwise and their lives change as a result.  This is one of those films where I find myself so disinterested in what happens to anybody, that I just can’t get into it.  The director, Louis Malle, is best known as part of the French New Wave, so it isn’t surprising this is a character study.  Unlike some of his other films like Au Revoir Les Enfants though, these are characters I don’t want to get to know at all.

7. The Kid


I thought the 1970s would be the biggest gap on my list, but that isn’t the case.  There are a host of silent films I haven’t gotten around to yet and this Chaplin classic is one of them.  I am thankful to check it off my list.  This simple story was heartwarming, funny, suspenseful, and entertaining.  It really illustrates how Chaplin was so much more than a comedian.  His ability to bring soul and humanity to his films is remarkable. Plus, having a kid as adorable as Jackie Coogan as a sidekick doesn’t hurt when it comes to getting laughs and tugging at the heartstrings.

8. A Night at the Opera

Now I have always enjoyed The Marx Brothers. When I see clips of them, I chuckle and awe at their impeccable comic timing.  However, their movies have slipped through the cracks over the years. I’ve made efforts to correct this prior to this year.   Last year I checked both Duck Soup and A Night in Casablanca off my list.  I enjoyed them both, but this one is my favorite for many of the reasons people tend to knock it as inferior to the troupe’s earlier works.  This story is anchored with a traditional romantic plot, which helps to break up the frenetic pace of the comedic scene pieces.  Throw in some amazing operatic singing from Allan Jones and, to me, you have a more well-rounded picture than the other Marx Brothers works. The downside though is that you don’t have Zeppo.

9. The Great Escape

Part of the problem with Netflix is that it prominently displays the running times of movies when you browse. So, when you see the words “2 hours 53 minutes”, you tend to scroll right by.  My unwillingness to devote three hours to a movie resulted in me missing out on what was my favorite film of the past two weeks.  I am a sucker for ensemble movies and war movies, so this was unsurprisingly a home run.  The three hour running time felt like nothing, as I was engrossed by the likes of James Garner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and a young Richard Attenborough whose oft-used looks of shock and concern never seemed to grow old to me.  It is an entertaining, uplifting romp with a little something for everyone.  It is the kind of movie I wish we made more of these days. 

I will say my love for this does have one caveat: while it is an incredible movie, it is oddly not my favorite of the relatively small POW genre.  Bridge on the River Kwai is in my all-time top ten and I think the artistic and thematic merits of it have The Great Escape beat.  In terms of entertainment value, they are both top notch though.  Come to think of it, the POW genre is an exceptionally strong sub-genre. If you haven’ seen Billy Wilder’s dark comedy Stalag-17 with William Holden, it ranks with these two in terms of quality, and led to the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, though it never gets the same amount of attention.

10. The General

If you have never seen a Buster Keaton picture, you are doing yourself a disservice.  While I admire Chaplin greatly, I find myself more drawn to Keaton’s work, in particular the inventive and delightful Sherlock Jr.  

Unlike Sherlock Jr, The General is not much of a comedy.  While there are some Keaton pratfalls, the movie is, by and large, one giant train chase.  As a result, it does tend to drag, but for those who suggest that silent films are lacking from a technical perspective should watch this late-era silent movie if only to see just how advanced they really were.  This movie has some seriously impressive effects, including a climactic train/bridge scene that rivals Bridge on the River Kwai in terms of realism.  

It is also a humorous reminder about how much insurance has changed the movie-making game.  Keaton spends much of the film pulling off what had to be extraordinarily dangerous train stunts that I am sure no superstar today would be willing to attempt.

I didn’t love this movie, though I am glad to have seen it.  It is worth pointing out though that the version I watched had a very unpleasant score.  As is the case with many silent films that did not have a set score back in the day, contemporary prints add on music to accompany the images. This particular score was anachronistic to the point of distraction.  Riddled with synthesizers, it really affected my viewing experience in a negative way, that I would almost advise putting the TV on mute and putting on a ragtime CD instead.

It has been a diverse couple of weeks for me, with some huge hits and unfortunate misses.  On the whole, I am enjoying this project more than expected so far.  The unexpected treasures are outweighing the duds, and even the duds are helping to broaden my understanding of film history, which was the whole goal of this in the first place.

A Resolution

Yesterday, Vulture published an article about Pop Culture Blind Spots.  A topic also visited by Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR.  Perhaps because it is the new year or perhaps because my interest in pop culture has been rekindled lately, but the concept stuck with me all day.

I am someone who also loves any old reason to compulsively compile a list too, so this concept of acknowledging and addressing elements of pop culture that you are woefully ignorant of seemed like as good a 2013 resolution as any.

I pride myself on the wide array of old movies I have watched.  While most find them boring and stupid, I have always been a believer that, without a good foundation of  knowledge of what films have already accomplished, it is difficult to really appreciate what is new and innovative, who is paying homage to what, and who is just being a copycat.

However, there are things I have just missed over the years.  I love David Lean, but have never convinced myself to sit through the entirety of “Lawrence of Arabia.”  Bond movies aren’t my thing, I’ve only ever seen one unless you count David Niven’s “Casino Royale.”  And, by and large, I find the filmmaking of the 1970s to be the low point in cinema.  By and large, I don’t like Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma, and Kubrick.  And I hate Quentin Tarantino. Hate.

So, I have been a bit averse to things, opting instead for Classical cinema of the 1950s, movie musicals, and watching and rewatching the works of Hitchcock.  I have also, prior to a couple of years ago, been limited by what my local Blockbuster had to offer.  With the expansion of Instant Netflix’ catalog and the growing number of older titles on Amazon Prime, it is rarer to run into a movie I can’t cue up in a matter of minutes.

So, it is time to stop supplementing my cinematic diet with sweets and treats and time to really make sure that I can claim to have seen a good percentage of the cinematic canon.  

Here is the project: I have gone through the list of 400 films nominated for the 2007 American Film Institute list of 100 Years, 100 Movies.  The list first came out in 1998.  Ten years later, they revisited the project and the top 100 changed substantially.

The way voting worked required voters to cull through a list of 400 and, based on votes, a top 100 was selected.  The list of 400 is a comprehensive collection of movies from all eras and genres and, by my estimation, the best compilation of a canon I have seen, much better than Oscar winners and rightfully proving what a sham the IMDB top 200 list is.

I have seen 284 of the 400.  I have seen 89 of the top 100.  At first glance, these feel like pretty solid numbers, but once I got thinking about percentages, that is almost 1/3 of the list of 400 that I haven’t gotten around to yet.  

I can’t claim I have seen a lot of movies and know a lot about film, but am unfamiliar with one of every three movies on this list.  Some titles I am downright embarrassed to have missed, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Saturday Night Fever.  I should have seen these.  And this time to see them is now.  Here are the 116 flicks from this list I need to check off my list:

1. Ace in the Hole

2. All Quiet on the Western Front

3. All That Jazz

4. Atlantic City (1980)**

5. The Awful Truth

6. Badlands

7. The Band Dick

8. Beau Geste

9. Ben-Hur (1926)

10. The Big Parade

11. Blackboard Jungle

12. Blue Velvet

13. Boyz N the Hood*

14. Brazil

15. Broken Blossoms

16. Bull Durham

17. Cabin in the Sky**

18. Camille

19. Cat Ballou

20. Cat People

21. The Cheat

22. City Lights

23. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

24. Coming Home

25. Cool Hand Luke**

26. The Day the Earth Stood Still

27. The Defiant Ones

28. Dirty Harry

29. Do the Right Thing

30. Dodsworth

31. Five Easy Pieces

32. Force of Evil

33. The Four Horsement of the Apocalypse

34. Frankenstein

35. The Freshman (1925)

36. Fury

37. The General**

38. Gilda**

39. Glory

40. Goldfinger

41. Good Night, and Good Luck**

42. Goodbye, Mr. Chips

43. The Great Dictator

44. The Great Escape

45. Gun Crazy

46. Halloween

47. Harold and Maude*

48. The Hustler

49. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang

50. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

51. Jezebel

52. The Kid (1921)**

53. The King of Comedy

54. The Lady Eve*

55. Last Tango in Paris**

56. Laura

57. Lawrence of Arabia

58. The Life of Emile Zola

59. The Little Foxes

60. The Longest Day*

61. Lost Horizon

62. The Magnificent Ambersons

63. The Man Who Would Be King

64. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

65. Modern Times

66. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town**

67. Mrs. Miniver

68. Mutiny On the Bounty (1935)

69. My Darling Clementine

70. Nashville

71. A Night at the Opera**

72. The Night of the Living Dead (1968)

73. On Golden Pond

74. Out of Africa

75. Out of the Past

76. The Outlaw Josey Wales

77. The Ox-Bow Incident

78. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)*

79. The Poor Little Rich Girl

80. Porgy and Bess

81. The Pride of the Yankees

82. Queen Christina

83. The Quiet Man

84. A Raisin in the Sun**

85. Red River

86. Requiem for a Dream

87. Return of the Seacaucus 7

88. Road to Morocco

89. Safety Last

90. Saturday Night Fever

91. Scarface (1932)*

92. The Scarlet Empress

93. Sex, Lies, and Videotape

94. She Done Him Wrong*

95. Sleeper

96. Sons of the Desert

97. Sophie’s Choice

98. Sounder

99. Stormy Weather**

100. Stranger Than Paradise

101. The Sweet Smell of Success

102. Swing Time

103. Terminator 2: Judgment Day*

104. The Thin Man

105. The Thing from Another World

106. This is Spinal Tap*

107. Touch of Evil

108. Trouble in Paradise

109. Twelve O’Clock High* 

110. 2001: A Space Odyssey

111. The Wild Bunch

112. Winchester ‘73

113. The Wind

114. Woman of the Year

115. A Woman Under the Influence

116. Young Mr. Lincoln

What are the asterisks for, you may ask? One asterisk indicates it is on Netflix, two indicate it is available on Amazon Prime.  All told, there are right around 25 of these titles available on streaming services.  There are also a number of them coming to the classic series at South Point this year.

By year’s end, I am going to get this list down to 50, dammit.  That is 66 movies to watch this year, amounting to a little over one a week.  I can handle that, I think. And it is here, on the interweb, so it is basically an ironclad contract, right?

You guys tell me: where should I start (free streaming ones aside?) What is the most egregious title on this list that I need to take care of immediately?