Friday, March 06, 2009

Incident at Bedford Falls Bridge

John: Favorite movie? Casablanca.
Berg: Searching for Bobby Fischer.
Chris: You know mine, It's a Wonderful Life. And the other --
John: Gotta say, once you realize George Bailey dies in the middle, it's a totally different movie.
Chris: ... what?
John: It's a Wonderful Life is really a movie -- and I'm not the first person to say this -- about how a man's dreams are crushed by family expectations and middle class responsibilities. George Bailey's dreams of going to college and off to Europe are destroyed by the allegedly idyllic small town values that in fact trap him. Suffocate him.
Chris: ...
John: So, say Bailey jumped off that bridge and died. Say Clarence was there to guide him to heaven. What would heaven be for such a man? It would be validation. And that's what Clarence the Angel gives him, a tour meant to show him how significant he is. Or how significant, at least, he always secretly believed himself to be.
Chris: Hmm.
John: And then when he repents of his suicide, what does he get? A timeless eternity in his living room surrounded by his loved ones, with everyone he knows in the world coming through the door to tell him how amazing he is. The second half of It's a Wonderful Life makes much more sense if you assume that George Bailey committed suicide, and the rest is Bailey's heaven.
Chris: Is that more or less depressing than the original meaning?
John: I honestly don't know.

In the Comments -- your favorite movie. And no sniping. There's no accounting for what kicks your heart the right way.


Phil Nelson said...

I know it's considered trite at this point, but Citizen Kane.

Keith R.A. DeCandido said...

Rashomon. Even though everyone and her sister has remade it since 1950, it remains one of the greats, and one I can watch over and over.

Scott Edwards said...

I'm going with "Casablanca" so you don't destroy that one for me. Your interpretation of "It's A Wonderful Life" is the second funniest one I've read, after Wendell Jamieson of the NY Post argues that George Bailey financially destroyed Bedford Falls, and would still end up going to prison for theft.

Stagger Lee said...

My friend Jack Gilbert always screens Casablanca on his birthday (which is today, happy birthday Jack) and I find absolutely no fault with his choice. Has even more resonance now that I myself am aged 37 and cannot return to my home country ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H state...the reason is a little vague.

Are my eyes really blue?

rwellor said...

Dr. Strangelove,

Funny and the best thumbnail of US generative myths ever made

Tara said...

It up between The Lion in Winter and The Iron Giant.

(Tho a close 2nd is The Court Jester.)

Anonymous said...

Re: The Lion in Winter. In biology class, one of the mnemonic devices for taxonomic classification is "King Phillip Came Over For Gay Sex". Not only is it handy in biology, but it neatly summarizes the Timothy Dalton subplot.

But the finest movie from Northumbria to the Aquitaine is "The Horror of Party Beach", especially with the MST3K filter. The movie would be entertaining enough in its bumbling way all by itself, but add a human, two robots, and even ancient Rome, and you've got a masterpiece.

Richard Jensen said...

Phil Kaufman's "The Right Stuff". Because it shows how men are able to transcend manufactured media bullshit heroism and display real heroism.
"The Red Shoes" Gorgeous filmmaking combined with a hard edged look about how hard art can be. Also, I would gladly fuck up the space time continum for a chance to woo Moria Shearer.
Any of the Python movies but I'll give the edge to "Life of Brian".
I'll also put a word in for the Stanley Donen version of "The Little Prince" for being the first movie I ever cried at.

Michael Clear said...

Agreeing with rwellor, Dr. Strangelove. I do have to explain the concept of the Missile Gap to younger people. I'd say around a few hundred films tie for the number 2 spot. Maybe Brazil, maybe Robin Hood (Errol Flynn version, naturally), maybe Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (the idea of how a man could be so wracked with guilt that he considers suicide then one day just gets over it still fascinates me).

Devinoch said...

"Duck Soup."

Yeah, I know, comedy, but hey, I consider Duck Soup to be some of the most inspiring comedy ever written. The Marx Brothers on the whole wrote more ingenuousness and inventive dialogue than just about anyone, the commentary on war, politics and just about every other heavy subject thrown together in a way that'll make even the most hardened cynic laugh? Well, somethings you just can't beat...

Jack Brabble said...

"Love Streams"

I love it. It's odd and sad and amazing and beautiful. It's funny and dreaming and alive.

I have the VHS tape that came out in the late 80's. I've watched it three times, and watched scenes here and there at different times. Saw it once on the big screen. Want to watch it on the big screen again. Can't wait.

And "It's A Wonderful Life" is also one of my favorite movies.

"Army of Darkness"

jfs said...

I have 5 that I keep returning to. Casablanca and It's a Wonderful Life are both there. Some Like It Hot which is, hands down, one of the best comedies ever written. And, you know, Marylin Munroe.

My final two are The Seven Samurai and The Shawshank Redemption because they're both films about relationships between men, without necessarily being buddy movies.

Jhaer said...

Joe Versus The Volcano. I have tons of favorite movies for all sorts of reasons, but that one is the only movie I could literally watch every single day and never get tired of it.

Simon Underwood said...

Magnolia is my number one. It may be somewhat overblown emotionally, but I fucking love it - stunning filmmaking.

Following that, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Not just a great war treatise and satire, but one of the most romantic movies ever.

After that, L.A. Confidential, rocking the Ellroy universe. You could drown in the atmos of that movie.

Making up the rest of the hits are mostly other Powell/Pressburgers, with I Know Where I'm Going! in pole postion, and The Red Shoes, A Canterbury Tale, A Matter of Life and Death close behind.

And in terms of a movie I can watch over and over because it's so damn note perfect from when I was 11 right to now...The Rocketeer, baby.

m said...

Fight Club

It so perfectly encapsulated where I was at and it did so in such a perfectly weird fashion.

Also its attention to detail and rewatchability. There were layers of things to find, both in theme and in technical aspects. My favorite example of that is when Tyler crashes the car with "Jack" in the passenger seat, but "Jack" crawls out of the driver's seat afterward.

That and The Great Escape.

Amy Sakurai said...

I’ve often considered many of the outstanding movies that have already been listed here in the comments – marvelous, thought-provoking, heart-grabbing works of art, all of them. And I have many of them on DVD (and/or laserdisc). But some time ago I realized that the only movie I can watch over and over, day after day, is The Princess Bride. So that is my favorite movie.

psa said...

i shared a unique experience with a large group of strangers one evening many years ago as we all left a theater trying to conceal our tears, men and women alike. the film, "being there" with peter sellers final and perhaps most perfect performance. another of my faves is the delightfully bizarre australian film "bliss", one of those overlooked gems of filmmaking and oddness.

Becky said...

I can't pick just one. These are all movies I can watch repeatedly without ever getting tired of. It's to the point where I've got whole sections of dialog memorized. And if any of these are on tv when I flip around the channel, I usually end up settling on that at whatever point in the film it is and watching it.

Secondhand Lions- Excellent movie, great for the whole family to watch together. It has Michael Caine & Robert Duvall, plus Christian Kane plays a younger version of Duvall in the flashbacks.

The Pirates of Penzance- I love this movie SO much. The music, the actors, the way it looks visually, love it all. I'm still bummed that they've never brought it out on dvd. I'd buy it in a heart beat. My vhs copy is getting very worn out. :(

Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn- I love Bruce Campbell. This is my absolute favorite movie of his to watch.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Once they start putting up the holiday decorations in the stores (you know, in October), then it's time to break out my dvd and watch it whenever I need a good laugh.

My Neighbor Totoro. It has a catbus. And it's cute.

Max Vaehling said...

I just had a look at my DVD shelf, which is small and only contains those I can't bear renting (because I'd have to give them back). Casablanca was my first DVD. There's Cookie's Fortune, not Altman's best, but my favorite because I love to get lost in that atmosphere. There's Tardi's Mon Oncle and Playtime, both comedy classics if there ever was such a thing, several Hitchcocks (and how come nobody mentioned any Hitchcocks yet? Or did I overlook?), 12 Monkeys of cousre.

But I guess my all-time favorite is The Apartment. It's all the fun and subversion of Some Like it Hot, but with a beautiful tragic element. Can't get enough of that movie.

Joshua James said...

I cannot single out one favorite, I have so many ...

But I must admit that in my geeky heart the film THE BREAKFAST CLUB had a profound influence.

Five kids in detention, they don't go outside, nothing much happens.

But gold, my friends, gold.

Keith R.A. DeCandido said...

Scott Edwards: That (brilliant) article on It's a Wonderful Life (a movie I despise with a fiery passion, BTW, though reading both Rogers and Jamieson makes me reconsider) is in the New York Times, not the Post. It may seem an irrelevant distinction, but the Times is "the paper of record," and the Post is a venal tool of the Rupert Murdoch empire. *grin*

DJ said...

A man for all Seasons.

Paul Scofiels was Sir Thomas More

Michael Clear said...

I think Man For All Seasons is a wonderful film. Unfortunately, I had read a book about Thomas More just before seeing it and it affected my appreciation for the film. The movie guy was close to being a saint. The real guy was a total religious nut douchebag.

DJ said...

And it begins.

I broke my cardinal rule… never ever post anything on the World Wide Web… Why? Because Sir Thomas More was a douche bag… Thanks for setting me straight.

Vicki said...

My favorite is one that no one else seems to have seen: "Fearless" with Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez. I never thought much of Perez, but she was brilliant in this movie.

Zed said...

It's hard to pick one favourite... but going over my movie collection I would say that Invasion of the Body Snatchers is up there. I love them all for one reason or another, but the 70's one with Donald Sutherland is probably the best of the lot. Also, the only one that ends the "right" way.

Denita said...

The Ten Commandments. I can watch that movie repeatedly.

Michael Clear said...

I broke my cardinal rule… never ever post anything on the World Wide Web… Why? Because Sir Thomas More was a douche bag… Thanks for setting me straight.

Sorry, didn't mean to start an argument. It's a great movie, but More was a vicious nutjob who burned people alive.

DJ said...

And Thomas Jefferson had slaves…so, all he stood for is mute…lets not do this.

I just liked the movie. Sorry for that.

No need for the link. I have a degree in history and know what he did. But, lets not do this.

Mike Cane said...

Bah! Who can have just one?

Movies You Must See And I Guarantee You Haven’t!

Denita said...

Man For All Seasons was a good movie. But it's a bit silly to argue about Sir Thomas More. Yes, he may have been a religious zealot but you must consider the period of history he lived in. King Henry the 8th was just as bad, if not worse.

Rogers said...

Scott, thanks, that's actually the article I'd had sent to me, so I linked in the main post. Good heads up.

Rob said...

Lonely Are the Brave, though it's a masochistic sort of love. That movie hurts me in a very deep place.

Jules said...

We're talking about favorite movies, not movies that have a deep and profound meaning or that make us look smart and sophisticated. My heart gets kicked by Tombstone every time I watch it.

Let's say it's a tie... between Tombstone and Tremors. There is something about graboids that just makes me happy. :D

Bill Reed said...

I don't have one favorite; I have two dozen. But the "greatest hits" are probably Army of Darkness, Batman '89, the Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters I and II, Groundhog Day, Serenity, Shaun of the Dead... Look, I can be here all day.

kinesys said...

Top 3

3) Fight Club.
I'm totally with "M". The first time you see Fight Club it is a tense mindbending film. The second time you see it, it's fucking HILARIOUS. And i think it just keeps getting funnier. But then, I'm bent that way.

2) Big Trouble in Little China
Can't explain my love for this movie but i can quote whole swaths of this movie in the same way most geeks can quote Holy Grail. All my friends needs to do to get me ramped up, is look at me and say, "China is Here mister Burton."
Damn nearly a transcendent film and completely unashamed to be what it is.

1) The Blues Brothers
An epic heroic saga with most, if not all of the proper Campbellian elements. A movie so utterly perfect that it causes me sheer physical pain to watch it on TV. Especially on WGN, where they show it like once a month. Ten minutes of movie, but 11 minutes of commercials. Takes like 4 hours. BAH!

I love the Blue Brothers so much. It introduced me to musicians and music that i probably never would have found on my own and brought me into a wider world.

Not a fan of the sequel though.

Emily Blake said...

Yimou Zhang's Hero. I like fights. That movie has a lot of fights.

Kathryn said...

The Thin Man
I live in fear of it being remade.

For days where I'm fighting depression: Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter

berg said...

Fischer, boss. Fischer!

Hadyn said...

Star Wars.

Yes that's right, Star Wars. I can watch the movie a million times and enjoy it every time.

Jack Burton said...

Thanks for the love Kinesys. I also, obviously, have much love for Big Trouble. But my all time favorite movie is, "The Thing" by John Carpenter of course. My Dad had me watch it when I was 8, oh my god, did that freak me out. I am getting so.....disappointed, that they are going to remake all of the JC oeuvre now. Those still hold up now as mirrors of society ala' "They Live".

Alex Epstein said...

ALL THAT JAZZ. I have no idea how you create a movie like that.


laym said...

Vicki, "Fearless" is a very, very powerful movie. As in, I'm not sure I could sit through it again, knowing what an emotional ringer it was the first time around.

Many years ago, I would have said that "The Fisher King" was my emotional favorite movie. Redemption, caring for your fellow man. All that bullshit. (Heh.) But I haven't watched it in a long time, and I'm not sure how I would react to it if I did now.

Dave said...

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Or Aliens.

Who could choose?

Zack said...

Brazil, and for the exact reason mentioned in this post. Brazil made me approach nearly every movie after it by looking for the point in the movie when our protagonist has died/had a psychotic break, and none of this is happening save for in his fevered and broken dreams. That can really give any movie the extra leg up it needs to be enjoyable, if it's struggling on its own terms.

Gerald So said...

Raiders of the Lost Ark.

"It's not the years, honey. It's the mileage."

Anonymous Bosch said...

Strangely enough, that's similar to my reading of 'Meet Me In St. Louis'. The women in the family are terrified of moving to New York City, where there might be a whole lot more to see, feel and experience than in St Louis. There would definitely be far more opportunity for them than a marriage to the The Boy Next Door, who they hardly know.

Instead, they choose Stagnation. We're supposed to see this as a happy ending?

Jon Gallagher said...


So you are saying George has to spend time seeing what life would be without him (let's call this Purgatory) going through physical and mental agony at the separation from happiness (the presence of Love, embodied by family and friends) until he accepts that he was part of a plan, and he reconciles himself with that. Then he is allowed into the presence of unconditional Love.

Dude, you are such a Catholic school boy.

Melissa said...

Shawshank Redemption, The Color Purple, and The Quiet Man. I don't even want to think how many times I've watched them.

caseyko74 said...

The original The Thomas Crown Affair.

Such a great movie. And it only really works on film. Uses the images and editing to tell a large part of the story. Also, love the fact Thomas Crown does his crime simply because he wants to. No sob story, no giving it back. He wants to do it, so he does.

Christopher Bird said...

Big Trouble In Little China. Because it's a fantasy action epic with a sense of humour and a sense of wonder and the good sense not to over-explain things to the audience when it doesn't have to and it never stops being entertaining, not ever and because it has the Six Demon Bag.

ann said...

OT Leverage Question: John, I just saw the news that the "Leverage" production is relocating to Portland for Season Two. Was the story for the Season One ender influenced by this move? thx.

Kira said...

In no particular order:

- His Girl Friday
- Double Indemnity
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Die Hard

I do love sharp dialogue and things that (literally or figuratively) go boom.

Matt said...

For the sake of argument, we'll go with Clerks. "I'm a big fan of the philosophy of a ruling class. But, that's because I rule."

Clyde said...

There is no way to pick one - I'd have to start listing categories (drama, comedy,sci-fi, documentary, etc.) and then would still have to pick more than one. I'm unsure if the rule should be the ones that you can watch over and over or the ones that touched you so much that it's hard to watch them again and again.....

That said:
When Harry Met Sally, The Godfathers (I and II, III was dreck), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Whale Rider,
High Plains Drifter, Pale Rider, Dinner Rush, Empire Strikes Back, Serenity and so on....

catvincent said...

Best film ever for me - Altered States. Many more that I love, they all have that element of transformation - The Fountain, Dark City.... And the wonder that is F For Fake.

As for "It's a Wonderful Life"... to quote the Batman, I never saw it - I couldn't get past the title.

Anonymous said...


Christine said...

I have three (and a runner-up), because when Waid asks this question at dinner it's always "which THREE movies, and what do your choices say about you and your worldview:"

Annie Hall
The Last Unicorn
Trouble in Paradise

Runner-up: Glengarry Glen Ross

S said...

Ikiru. Ikiru all the way

Jason said...

The Goonies. Number two: Tron

Tweenerjay said...

Ghostbusters, baby. All the things I love in a movie, in just the right proportions.

Matthew E said...

I'm not sure just how it happened, but my favourite movie is that thing you do!. And if it is, then it is.

JK said...

Aliens. First R-rated movie I ever saw.

Andrew Cunningham said...

It's always tempting to go for something older, since time can really have unpredictable effects on movies.
But I honestly have to go with Hot Fuzz here. It just nails every single thing I ever wanted out of movie.

Brad said...

I can't pick a single favorite, but there are certainly movies I can watch over and over without them palling. Perhaps more importantly, these are the ones that no matter where in the movie it is when I come in, I will totally watch the rest.

Topsy Turvy is just amazing. I don't know why it isn't more universally loved.

Gosford Park somehow never, ever gets old for me. Every time I find another little section to obsess over.

Wings of Honnemaise was what made me understand why people like anime. The visual invention all over that movie is amazing.

Dog Soldiers may well be the best werewolf picture ever made--certainly the best since The Howling. If that means nothing to you, all I can say is that you and I do not feel the same way about werewolves, or movies about them.

The Princess Bride is just plain perfect. There's a bit in the novel where Inigo kills four guards and it says "The fourth one was dead before the first one had had sufficient time to hit the ground" and if you look close in the movie they shoot it so that quite literally, the fourth guard dies before the first one hits the ground.

The Lion In Winter may be the single best-written movie ever. Others excel it in various respects, but in terms of raw writing brilliance? Nothing comes to mind. Also, it is an exaggeration to say that Eleanor of Aquitaine is the role Hepburn was born to play, but it's not much of one.

kkisser said...

ThePrincess Bride. All of life's lessons ca be learned from a pirate, a giant, and one badass Spaniard.

Even if Westly is a dick.

Devon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Devon said...

I'm going with The Lord of the Rings.

Made me want to be in film school. I've seen it a billion times, but the emotion of the picture always reaches me. (i.e. Theoden's death) The size and scope are epic and I become truly enveloped, something I feel if a movie has done it right.

As for a close second Defending Your Life. Albert Brooks + Meryl Streep = amazing.

Greg H said...

"Nobody Waved Good-bye"

A National Film Board of Canada film I saw many years ago when I was 16. Hit me like a sledgehammer.

Haven't seen it since, nor ever met anyone who has seen it.

Go ahead and set me straight.

Arakasi said...

I'm going to have to go with the Lord of the Rings trilogy here, because those were the movies that made me start paying attention to how movies are made. It is what got me thinking of moviemaking as a craft, and to watch for how the various elements come together to make the whole

Amy Sakurai said...

"Nobody Waved Good-bye"... A National Film Board of Canada film I saw many years ago when I was 16. Hit me like a sledgehammer... Haven't seen it since, nor ever met anyone who has seen it.

Because the National Film Board of Canada is making their library freely available online, you can watch Nobody Waved Good-bye again, if you so wish.

marc bernardin said...

Aliens. The perfect action movie. The plot corners on rails, it resonates on an emotional level, and Bill Paxton.

Plus, giant fucking guns.

Julia said...

I don't know if it's my favorite movie, but at the end of Stand and Deliver, when Jaime Escalante is walking out of that bedraggled old school in those awful clothes with that cheap brief case and the dumpiness and the bald spot and just basically the boiled-down essence of Not a Movie Hero, and the number of kids from his program who passed the AP exam in all the following years flash on the screen, I cry like a baby. Every time.

Rook said...

Personally, I think a better question, which is more revealing, is which bad movie do you love to watch. And you know what I mean. A movie that is generally believed to be teh suck, yet you find yourself watching it when you come across it channel surfing.

John Seavey said...

So many great movies already mentioned; I could agree with 'Star Wars', 'The Princess Bride', 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', 'Serenity', 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Hot Fuzz', 'Ghostbusters', 'Big Trouble In Little China'...

But I'd like to mention at least one that hasn't been said, just to help contribute, so I'll say:

'Ruthless People'. This is the comedy equivalent of a Swiss watch. Every scene, every line, every great gag and brilliant moment isn't just hilarious on its own, it propels the plot forward to its ultimate conclusion. And that conclusion is brain-shatteringly awesome. "This may well be the dumbest human being on the face of the planet. Maybe we should just shoot him."

I'll also toss in a couple of runners-up: 'Sneakers', which has that same momentum building from scene to scene, plus some fantastic dialogue and killer performances by Redford, Poitier, Ackroyd, Phoenix, Kingsley (turns out he can still quote big chunks of his dialogue from 'Sneakers', he loved it so much. Just a tip for those of you who want to get on the man's good side...)

'Ransom', one of those rare smart thrillers that actually has two very clever characters working against each other; at every stage, Gary Sinise comes up with something new to put pressure on Mel Gibson, and at every turn, Gibson finds a way to up the ante and put the pressure back on Sinise. I saw the trailer for this and thought they could never sustain that tension for a whole movie, but I was wrong. Riveting.

And of course, I must take the chance to spread the gospel of 'Slither', the best horror movie of the decade and I'm not exaggerating even a little, do not bring your '28 Days Later' and your 'Wolf Creek' and if you even think about suggesting 'Cabin Fever' I will eat your soul. 'Slither' is beyond great.

Ingrid said...

Lady of Burlesque with Barbara Stanwyck. Although Big Trouble in Little China is big bags of awesome, yes indeed.

permazorch said...

An Angel at My Table. That's my canned response, and I'm sticking to it. Plus, outside of (only maybe/possibly) Dr. Strangelove or Casablanca, it kicks the ass of every other entry, here. Okay, I love Big Trouble in Little China, too.

Alex said...

"Glad he ate her".

That film has no right to be as solid as it is. They basically wrote it on the fly, scene by scene. Also, I'm a sucker for the hero's journey and transcendent endings.

Anonymous said...

I started to add my vote for Double Indemnity as well, but there's this whole constellation of noir (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Out of the Past, Asphalt Jungle, Mildred Pierce)

Laura - because any movie where Vincent Price gets called a pretty boy gets my vote.

Labyrinth - do I even need to say why?

The A&E Jane Eyre (still not perfect, everyone wants to make Jane into this limp little saint instead of an iconoclast with a wicked sense of humor and spine of steel. Still, Dalton nailed Rochester.)

Blow Dry

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

Heroic Trio

Hartwell said...

John Carpenter's The Thing.

Please, try to name a part of that movie that isn't crafted masterfully. There are better movies, perhaps, but none in a genre with a concept I love so dearly. That movie could easily have been awful, or worse, mediocre, but it's truly amazing.

Now look at Carpenter's recent body of work and weep.

Ardaniel Collier said...

Run Lola Run, Real Genius, and Terminator 2.

I note the presence of Aliens as someone else's first R-rated movie, as T2 was mine, and have to wonder just how many people cut their "I'm TOTALLY not supposed to be seeing this movie, my Mom will KILL ME" teeth on Cameron.

Chris S. said...

I don't know if I have a number 1, but I do have a top 3. All of them are comedies. It's not that I don't like dramas, but there's something so rare about a good, quality comedy, that I don't think can really be beat.

Ghostbusters - Three university professors get just about the craziest idea for a business ever, and the film treats it like the most normal thing in the world. I've seen it about a billion times, and it's still funny.

The Big Lebowski - Absolutely surreal, and far more layered and intelligent than it seems at first glance.

Blues Brothers - Great performances, great music, great script--and Jake and Elwood are still just so damn cool.

Mef said...

The Hustler.

I think it lost Best Oscar that year to Westside Story.

Oh well, still my fav.

Mark Farrell

M. Lucey said...

His Girl Friday, Cool Hand Luke, Ninotchka, Stalag 17, The Apartment. And I have a special place in my heart for both Blazing Saddles and The Muppets Take Manhattan that can't entirely be explained.

kkisser said...

Oh, I'd forgotten about Blazing Saddles! How could I? That movie is pure genius. I'll even watch it on TV, when they bleep it all to hell.

Greg H said...

Because the National Film Board of Canada is making their library freely available online, you can watch Nobody Waved Good-bye again, if you so wish.

Thanks for the tip, Amy, but I'm a bit hesitant to do so. As so many of these comments attest, it's not just the movie, but how and when you see it. In the culture-starved Lethbridge, Alberta of 1981, I decided I had to attend the film night at the local art gallery. Caught the bus into town, watched the film in silence with less than a dozen other of Lethbridge's self-proclaimed intelligentsia, and took the bus home by myself after dark. Felt very grown-up, and very sympathetic with the protagonist's self-righteous alienation.

I fear sitting at my desk watching on a postcard size screen as my woeful connection struggles, is only going to diminish the film and remind me what a painful little wanker I was.

But I will be right there watching some of those great animated shorts!

SH Cone said...

The one that I always come back to is GHOSTBUSTERS. There's just something timeless going on there, and Reitman, Aykroyd, Ramis and Murray are just on top of their games.

Thaddeus said...

It is hard to beat the two classics...
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World!
("What could possibly go wrong with an old fashioned?")
The Philadelphia Story

that said, in the modern era...
Parenthood, The Princess Bride and The Blues Brothers make me laugh like nothing else can.

Alex D said...

Um, back when I could just pick one, it was It Happened One Night.

I will never forget reading, in college, a film theory article that called It's A Wonderful Life takes exemplary masculine behavior to the point of masochism.* I was like, ohhh, thank God, other people dislike this movie too, and now I understand what's so wrong with it.

* See also, e.g., the oeuvre of Mel Gibson.

Mooney said...

The Hunt For Red October, for nerdy reasons.

Not "technology-nerdy" or "military nerdy" or "battle-scene nerdy", but rather "story-telling nerdy".

Scott Edwards said...

Keith R.A. DeCandido: ... nuts. The sad thing is, I didn't remember who wrote it and I certainly didn't remember where it was printed. All I remembered was a couple of key phrases from it that allowed me to Google it with ease. I've got no excuse for why "Post" ended up where "Times" should have gone.

But for two other films:
"Blade Runner" which still enthralls me to this day.
"Hatari". My all time favorite John Wayne film. I loved watching this one with my dad (along with "The Quiet Man" which was his favorite). It always manages to bring out my inner kid.

Glenn Hauman said...

Finally, someone mentions "Cool Hand Luke".

I'm amazed no one's mentioned "The Sting". Or "The Godfather Part II". Or "The Great Escape". Or "The Magnificent Seven". Or "Groundhog Day". Or even "Die Hard". All of them, if I'm flipping channels and I come across any of them, the next few hours of my life are spoken for.

Anonymous said...

Casablanca, Magnolia. But if I am having a blue day, nothing helps like putting "The Blues Brothers" in the dvd player. Just the exuberance of movie and the wonderful music -- Aretha, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles -- Belushi and Akroyd at their absolute peak lifts me up every time.
And of course, of the many great lines from the movie the one I personally use the most when the Ms. asks why I have been out a little late -- "It's not my fault, I had a flat tire, I didn't have enough money for cab fare....there was an earthquake, a terrible flood..."

m said...

Great Escape way back at #15

Michael Mock said...

Screamers. B-grade science fiction, old-school special effects... but it holds up. And it still manages to be vastly creepier than most of the "pure" horror films I've seen.

Otto Man said...


The planet spun off its axis when Dances With Cliches stole the Oscar from that film.

Rachel said...

Couldn't put them in order, but my you-can-pry-them-from-my-cold-dead-hands top three are:

Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Picnic at Hanging Rock


Each one loved in a slightly different way, and each one watched over and over and over again.

amyth said...

Top five:

The Sweet Hereafter
King of the Hill (The Soderbergh movie, not the cartoon)
Coal Miner's Daughter
The Manchurian Candidate

Bates said...

Can't name a favorite, and I don't know that I'd only want to pick a single one. A few that always rise to the top:

His Girl Friday -- Great cast, great chemistry, great script.

Die Hard -- Wits (McClane) versus smarts (Gruber); plus great cast, script, set pieces. Talk about riding the fun train...

LA Story -- Smart, goofy, whimsical, heartfelt.

Raiders of the Lost Ark -- Dude, this sucker's a Japanese bullet train of fun.

harx1 said...

Add another vote for Searching for Bobby Fisher. Such a good movie. Though, in terms of picking an absolute favorite, I have a tough time choosing between Searching for Bobby Fisher, Nobody's Fool and the greatest (only) movie ever directed by Charles Laughton, Night of the Hunter.

Thomas said...

True Romance (Director's Cut)
Red River
Bad Santa

Then there are at least 30 tied for fifth. A few that haven't been mentioned by others are A Love Song for Bobby Long, The Ice Harvest, Arsenic and Old Lace, Outlaw Josey Wales, Fort Apache, Rio Bravo, Planet Terror, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Theliel said...

Star Wars original trilogy - back in the day i had a vhs tape with all three on it. when i'd be sick or have a day off from school i'd throw that in, and have it on in the background.
I still do it today with dvds. accidental masterpiece or not, it's still 100% win.

star trek 2, 3, 4 and 6. again, day kilelrs. but totally worth it.

Blues Brothers was the first R rated film I saw, and it sticks with me as 100% awesum.

I see love up there for blazzing saddles, but where's the Young Frakenstien love? Thehy're both excellent movies, but frankenstien is alot more finesse than blazzing saddles raw powah. Again vhs space balls, blazzing saddles and young frakenstien.

newer movies are block and kiss kiss, bang bang.

and I also get more love for dog soldiers and add ginger snaps.

Brad said...

Ginger Snaps fuck yeah. Lycanthropy as metaphor for female adolescence... why did nobody do this before? Okay, Teen Wolf touched on some of the issues, but it just plain works better with a girl.

Also, that movie is an amazing example of doing a lot with a little. You're making a horror movie, but you can only afford to shoot in suburbia, so you damn well find the horror in suburbia. Fortunately, that's not difficult when you think about it.

John Seavey said...

Oh, I don't think 'Star Wars' was an accidental masterpiece at all. I don't think anyone has ever worked as hard as George Lucas at distilling the inchoate mess of concepts, myths, desires and theories about science fiction into an arrow-sharp work of sheer brilliance.

He obsessed over tiny details, he fought, he sweated, he labored, he wrote and rewrote and rewrote until the final script bore almost no resemblance to his first draft. He worked so hard at every stage of the project that it damn near destroyed his love of directing.

Whatever you might think of his later work, there is nothing accidental about how absolutely amazing 'Star Wars' is. It's not just a work of art, it is a work of craft, and that craft is George Lucas' craft.

(Not that I think you disagree, Theliel. But reading 'The Making of Star Wars' gave me so much more appreciation for Lucas' skills as a screenwriter and director than I ever had. I think those skills got rusty with long disuse, and I think being able to throw as much time and money as he wanted at a project turned out to be more of a hindrance than a help, same as not having studio execs questioning his decision. But he knew exactly what he was doing when he made that film.)

TimB said...

The Fifth Element. All the fun of Die Hard plus aliens, spaceships, Mila Jovovich and great music.

Edie said...

Completely cheesy choice, but I love Mary Poppins. When we were kids, my brother and I would make up our own stories about how Burt & Mary were friends, what happened to the kids later in life, other jobs Burt would have, who was actually related to Uncle Albert. It definitely sparked my imagination.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Strangelove or the Big Lebowski.

vampirefan said...

Well, I can't narrow it down to just one either.

~ The Matrix
~ Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
~ Leon: The Professional
~ Dogma
~ Toy Story
~ Rocky Horror Picture Show

There are, of course, serious movies that I like too - but these are just a few of the favorites I can watch over and over again.

Perry said...

Ok, I had a clear choice until i glanced through the list and they had to have a claw fight in my head...Im still going to say The Specials, partly because I didn't see it on my glance through the list, but there is no way to overestimate the effect Big Trouble In Little China had on my highschool years, and Ghostbusters never gets old...Iron Giant way up there too...

Sonja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sonja said...

Don McKellar's 'Last Night' would be on top of my list. It's exactly my kind of sick humour paired with beautiful moments and shot in my favourite city.
Hard Core Logo. I used to work in the music industry and met enough Joe Dicks, Billy Tallents and Bucky Haights to be able to laugh my ass off and still believe the tragic stuff that goes along with this kind of life. Underrated performances in that one too.
Strictly Ballroom - I think the fact that there's dancing kept a lot of people away from a wonderfully sarcastic movie.
Monty Python's Life of Brian - I might have known that one by heart once.
Freispiel-an Austrian movie that's as sad as it is funny.
And I have to second a lot of the movies that have been mentioned like The Breakfast Club, Tombstone, Rio Bravo (my sister, our dad and I watched it so often that my mom banned it - until us evil spawn gave our dad the DVD for father's day ;-)), Philadelphia Story, The Princess Bride....

Cunningham said...


paranoyd said...

The original Planet of the Apes.
The Proposition.
Night of the Living Dead.

All are subversive in their own way, and approach their subjects from very skewed perspectives. Also, they all have downbeat endings.

Hmm, maybe I should talk to someone about that.

Glenn Hauman said...

Oh, lord, we missed the Ocean's 11 remake. A film so smooth it took till the 4th viewing to ask how the flyers got into the vault.

Alan said...

My favorite is Star Wars. Easily tops the list for me.

Runners up, in no particular order, include: Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, The Fifth Element and Mallrats. (Yes, Mallrats rather than Clerks. While I readily admit that Clerks is the "better movie," I find Mallrats to be infinitely more fun and enjoyable.)

I love Bruce Campbell, but Army of Darkness just doesn't hold up any more. Good but not great or excellent. Now Evil Dead: The Musical on the other hand...

GinaFan said...

Groundhog Day, Jaws, Pulp Fiction.

Bill Murray at his finest, and great romance too.

Incredible atmosphere and progression of terror.

A wild ride that is rich with themes and comments on life.

Corner Stone said...

A Few Good Men

Seriously? No one else is going to mention this one? Infinitely re-watchable and some of the most dominatingly quotable lines of the 90's.
Sure there was some Cruise stuff going on there, as well as some Demi Moore not so goodness, but hey - when Kevin Bacon's character lays down some truth and Cruise shouts back, "You're a lousy fucking softball player Jack!" Well, I mean, that's just genius.

Theliel said...

@John Seavey

No, I totally think the original Trilogy is a Masterwork, and Indianna Jones ark and crusade sort of denumonts, but I think it's an acciental masterwork in that not only did Lucas almost destroy himself in creating it, but there was that certian perfect combination of support agents and selective pressures that only made things BETTER.
You can see things drop off when he starts getting too much control (ewoks instead of wookies for III) but it still works somehow.

And I think i'm the only one who didn't find most of the first trilogy to be that bad, it was just competant instead of teh awesome.

ahh, the 5th element. The Full Mila.

I gotta also say Hot Fuz is by far my preferred over sean of the dead. it just encapsulates the udnerlying subtext of buddy cop films and murder mysteries so terrifyingly perfectly.

oh, and because i forgot the anime while i was first doing it:

pat labour II - the anime's Usual Suspects and a tie between KiKi's Delivery Service and Laputa: Castle in the sky.

and for fun any of the slayers movies (which due to licensing is differnt from the show/ova in supporting characters)

Scott said...

My favorite movie overall changes too much for me to really nail it down, but my favorite for what it is is John Woo's Hard Boiled.

The DVD case pictured on Wikipedia says "From the director of 'Mission Impossible II'", which is kind of like labeling "Saving Private Ryan" with "From the director of '1941'".

Denita said...

Night of the Living Dead? A classic yes but you know, I thought Return of the Living Dead was better.

And where's the Steel Magnolias love?

Thaddeus Pickering, the second gunman said...

I forgot After Hours, Something Wild, Boby Double and She's Having a Baby, Mystery Men, The Hunger, Bound and Dogma.

OK, I'll pick one, just give me a mi.....milleneum.

Marz Richards said...

FAVORITE COMEDY: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone - I love it because it is the ultimate punk rock film, made for $20 and a box of matches and representing the birth of Danny Elfman as a composer and the transition of the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo from a theatre company to a straight-up band.

FAVORITE TRAGEDY: Blade Runner - I love it because it hits all my buttons; science-fiction, great antagonist, stellar cast, fun script, beautifully shot, wonderful design, and constantly subverting form.

Anonymous said...

My all time favourite is a tie - Snatch and Ferris Bueller, with the Princess Bride a close second. I could watch any of these probably every day.

It was a coup for me to get my Mom to go see Ferris Bueller in the theatre (without finishing the dishes!) so it will always have a special place in my heart. Oh, and she laughed like crazy, which was cool.

gil mann said...

Ginger Snaps fuck yeah.

The second one is---arguably---even better. Doesn't have the great hook and Ginger's not really in it but there's a new character you could build a trilogy around.

Shaun of the Dead. There are things I'd rather watch at any given moment but nobody ever made a movie just for me before.

Jean-Paul said...

A lot of the movies mentioned above are in my favorites, especially Strictly Ballroom.

But a movie that hasn't been mentioned and is incredible is Grosse Pointe Blank. It may be my favorite movie of all time. The comedy is sharp, the acting is sharp, and the pace moves to a perfect beat. The action scenes are great, and everyone seems to be having a rollicking good time.

+3 Pants of Quietude said...

I'll say 12 Angry Men, for three reasons:

1) Nobody's mentioned it yet.

2) It's a movie about twelve guys in a room talking, and it's more riveting than Get Carter.

3) By all rights, it absolutely should not work as a film. And yet it does, and very well to boot.


Theliel said...

But a movie that hasn't been mentioned and is incredible is Grosse Pointe Blank.

I love me Groose Point..because I'm from michigan, it was released in 1996 (the year i graduated highschool) and it's got alot of my favorite peoples.

I even watched it june 06, for the win.

however...i've got pretty intense emotional attachments because, senior year of hs.

so i own it, and i'll break it out once or twice every few years.

also, boondock saints.

it's just an awesome mess that doesn't know what it wants to be, but it's in the 'fight club' category for me.

it's the closet they'll ever get to a film version of snowcrash

Tabatha Atwood said...

Babe- Pig in the City

Dark Victory

Joy Luck Club

Singing in the Rain

Grave of the Fireflies

woolywoman said...

Ok. Two that I haven't seen mentioned. Kelly's Heroes and Animal House. Also, one that I can rewatch, but I don't know if I like it is Buckaroo Bonzai.

msd said...

Top Five:
The Princess Bride (inconceivable!)
Young Frankenstein (used to be the movie we watched every Christmas Day!)
The Hunt for Red October
The Blues Brothers

Mike said...

The Electric Horseman. I've loved it since I was a kid. No idea what an 8 year old kid saw in it to love, but I loved it, and still do.

Matt Rackham said...

Lots of good movies already listed. But here are some I keep returning to:

Joe vs. The Volcano
Zero Effect

And, OK, Terminator 2. (I have a thing for the buff Linda Hamilton. So shoot me.)

I would consider both Joe vs. The Volcano and Zero Effect to be "third date" movies. If she doesn't love them, there's really no point to a fourth date.

Ladypeyton said...

Laura, best film noir movie ever.

Anonymous said...


Daniel B said...

Return of the Jedi. Yes, even with the ewoks. The throne room redemption scene is unparalleled.

elmwoodblues said...

"Animal House". THE oft-imitated, never duplicated template for every college movie made from 1978 to now.
"0.2... Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
--Dean Vernon Wormer

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