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?


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