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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Great Movies

Over the last two nights my wife and I rewatched The Godfather.  What an amazing film that is.   It's one of the few movies Nancy and I own.  What struck me most this time was Copala's use of color.  Somewhere an art teacher or museum docent told me that colors are more saturated in semidarkness.  While I knew that bright lights can wash a color out, the claim still seemed unlikely to me.  Watching The Godfather, though, I know it's true.  The darkness only makes the reds and violets deeper and more sumptuous.  And it is one dark film.  I swear, it's the only film I've ever seen where someone opens a door and the room gets darker.
This set me to thinking about the best films I've ever seen.  This is hard, because there are a lot of very good movies out there, and even some that are stand-out great.  But what are the movies at the very head of the list?  The ones that shook you by your shoulders until your teeth rattled?  Casablanca is a great movie, as is Citizen Kane, but neither of them thrill or chill me.  Nancy's list includes Erin Brockovich and Amelie. Here's mine, in no particular order; some if I saw again I might not be so impressed with (this happened with War of the Worlds which I saw first as a child and later as an adult) but at the time, seeing these I thought, "Wow, now THAT was a movie."  Parenthetically, I might say the first movie to strike me this way was The Ghost and Mr Chicken, but that was only because it was the first movie I saw in a theater.
The Wizard of Oz - an early favorite that turns out to have legs. I not only love the sometimes jaw-dropping cinematography, but the writing and the performances.
The Color Purple
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Star Wars - I'm sure if I saw it again, I'd roll my eyes, but at the time, I'd simply never seen anything like it before.  It was such a movie.
The Godfather I and II
Is that it?  Is that all I can think of?  Strangely, some of my favorite directors don't make the list.  Rear Window is a superlative movie, but it just doesn't measure up to The Color Purple.  Who couldn't love Fargo, but it's no Star WarsCrimes and Misdemeanors.  A great, great film.  But not Godfather great.
So them's my picks, what's yours?


  1. Shane, There Will Be Blood (not even close to the book, Oil)

  2. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is probably my all-time favorite movie. My "quirky" favorite is "Silent Running"...spectacular FX for the time, with soundtrack by Peter Schickele of P.D.Q. Bach fame.
    I also like the original "Halloween". Seems rather lame when you see it now, but originated a lot of those "missing knife" scenes that are modern horror staples.
    And I also love both "Them" and "The Blob". (The REAL one, with Steve McQueen.)
    "The Sting" is another great movie, but so much depends on that final twist that you can only truly appreciate it the very first time you see it.