Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A list of my Favorite Movies

Movies - I love 'em and I hate 'em.  I'm always amazed how so much money can be spent to create so much dreck.  But still, some cream manages to rise to the top.  So here is a list of some of my favorite movies.

Alien (1979) – behind this horror science-fiction movie also lurks an interesting take on the future – the characters are all working-class schlubs who just want to get home.

Breathless (1960) – Godard’s New Wave film is a must-see for any student of French cinema.

Casablanca (1942) – classic Humphrey Bogart vehicle pits cynicism against love and sacrifice.

Captains Courageous (1937) – aboard a fishing boat, a spoiled boy learns what it means to be a man.

Charley Varrick (1973) – double-cross after double-cross underpin this movie about robbery and theft.  Who will get the money?

Dawn of the Dead (1978) – classic zombie movie set in a shopping mall. 

The Dawn Patrol (1938) – perhaps Errol Flynn’s best role as a commander pressured to keep his boys flying even as the casualties mount.

The Devil Rides Out (1968) – black magic and the Devil are thwarted by the Duc de Richeleau.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) – Cold war turns hot in this Stanley Kubrik comedy.  Peter Seller’s best role(s)?

Eating Raoul (1982) – funny and outrageous look at the 70s swingers lifestyle with murder for cash thrown into the mix.

The French Connection (1971) - International drug bust based on a true story.  A perfect snapshot of the gritty New York of the 1970s.

Hard Times (1975) – perhaps Charles Bronson’s best film, Hard Times is bare-knuckled tough. 

Horror of Dracula (1958) – lush colors, Victorian sets, and Christopher Lee make this movie.

It Happened One Night  (1934) – romantic and sweet without too much sugar.

Klute (1971) – a man goes missing, a call girl is being followed and it’s up to Klute to solve this case.  But there’s more to this movie than that.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) – classic British “coming of age” movie.  Will he win the race to gain the respect of the authorities, or won’t he?

The Long Good Friday (1980) – dark and violent British Gangster Movie.  Paul Freeman makes Tony Soprano look like an angel.

Love and Death (1975) – funny, but uplifting.  Perhaps Woody Allen’s best film.

Mad Max (1979) – a low budget masterpiece with high-octane chases and remarkable stunts.

Master & Commander (2003) – duty and honor drive Captain Jack in the pursuit of a Napoleon-era French frigate.

Murphy’s War (1971) – a Irish soldier wages his one-man war against a German submarine, even though the war has ended.

My Bodyguard (1980) – a dark “after-school special” movie with enough violence and character development to keep it interesting.

The Naked Prey (1966) – the tribal torture still sends shivers down my spine.  A safari guide is hunted to be killed by an insulted tribe. 

The Night of the Hunter (1955) – incredibly creepy movie for the era.  Robert Mitchum plays a murderous preacher who pits his wits against two children hiding money that their deceased father stole.

North Face (2008) – this gritty German movie feels so real, you are literally swinging by a frayed rope.

Repo Man (1984) – quirky “punk rock” movie from the 80s.  There’s enough ‘in-the-know’ humor here to keep you amused.

The Road Warrior (1981) – perhaps the best post-apocalyptic action movie ever made.

The Sand Pebbles (1966) – perhaps Steve McQueen’s deepest role. the Sand Pebbles is also a good parable for our involvement in Vietnam.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – Two clerks who despise each other are secretly writing anonymous pen-pal messages to each other.  A wonderful mix of perfectly balanced comedy and romance.

Sorcerer (1977) – panned at the time of its release, this remake of “Wages of Fear” is a white-knuckle trip of anxiety.  The bridge scenes alone knocks the movie right out of the ballpark. 

Swing Time (1936) – maybe Fred Astaire’s and Ginger Rogers’s best movie?  The dance routines are fantastic along with most of the comedy gags.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) – A subway car is hijacked for ransom money, leading to murder, money and a twist-ending.

Them! (1954) – perhaps the best of the classic 1950s “big animal” movies.  The FX (for the time) are awesome and the ant sound-effects are chilling.

Thief (1981) – perhaps Michael Mann’s best film, Thief oozes suspense and neon glamor.

The Thing (1982) – oppressive and (literally) chilling horror movie.  Who needs CGI when you have masters of latex gore?

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) – at one level, this is just a simple buddy-cop movie, but underneath there are layers of counterfeit deceptions.  The “good” guy and the “bad” guy are hardly different, each living on the edge that ultimately decides their fate. 

The Verdict (1982) – perhaps Paul Newman’s best performance as a drunken lawyer on the down and out.  His salvation comes from a medical malpractice suit.

Zulu (1964) – honor and fate pit a small detachment of British soldiers against a mighty Zulu army.

What are some of your favorite movies?


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