My Favorite Films (American Edition)

Last week, I listed my favorite foreign films. Fakename noticed that there were 10 of them but that was just a coincidence.  Now that I’m moving on American films, there’ll be more than 10.

Since I’ve seen many more American films than foreign ones, I’ve decided to think about my favorites using “categories.”  I’m probably missing some categories because I’ve not seen enough in that category and/or don’t care for it that much.  Or just plain forgot it….

Pre-1965 black and white films:
In chronological order, my top three favorites are Casablanca, Psycho and Dr. Strangelove. All three had memorable scenes and are classics by any standard. (Casablanca‘s “round up the usual suspects” is an enduring line even today.)

Dr. Strangelove’s “nuclear survival plan” scene is priceless!

You can’t ever forget Psychos’ shower scene!  (Only registered YouTube members can view this, due to “graphic” content.)

I’ve always enjoyed Casablanca’s French national anthem” scene.

Retro film noire
A great plot line and four big names (Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, and Kim Basinger) put L.A. Confidential over the top for me.  Here’s the trailer.

‘60s “blockbuster” movie:
This is probably the toughest category because there are lot of classics. It’s also tough because the category is so all-encompassing.  Lawrence of Arabia is compelling because it is true.  But this post is about my “favorites” not the “best” by some critical standard.  So, my favorite is..

The Sand Pebbles, about an American gunboat in China during the Boxer Rebellion, featured my favorite ‘action” star – Steve McQueen.  To this day, I still find occasions to use a memorable line uttered by one of McQueen‘s mates to convince him to allow a Chinese worker on the gunboat to shave McQueen when he wanted to do it himself: “It’s his rice bowl.”  Watch the trailer!

Action:
I’ve never been into guns; they’re too impersonal.  My favorite weapon is a blade, and especially a samurai sword – it’s very personal.  So of course my favorite action film is Kill Bill I.

My favorite actress Uma Thurman slices and dices every villain like an energizer bunny – she just keeps going and going as the bodies pile up.  I’ve got the DVD and watch it regularly.  The final fight scene where she takes out O-Ren (Lucy Liu) accompanied by a classic Spaghetti-western soundtrack is my favorite “watch it again” fight scene to date.

Futuristic:
Although “Blade Runner” is a strong contender, Kubrick‘s “Clockwork Orange” is my favorite, possibly because I enjoy classical music.  Honorable mention: Gattaca, which introduced me to Uma Thurman.  For sheer “huh?” factor, the first Matrix.

Check out these Clockwork Orange highlights.

World War II:
Even though the war was the background, Steve Spielberg’s pre-”Saving Private Ryan” direction of this film about a young boy growing up in a Japanese internment camp in China after being separated from his parents when the war engulfed the Pacific makes “Empire of the Sun” my easy choice in this category.  I liked it so much I bought the DVD. The “Kamikaze farewell” scene reminds me of Alec Guinness’ reaction when the River Kwai bridge was destroyed.

I also enjoyed Enemy At the Gates and Saving Private Ryan enough to buy the DVDs.

Viet-Nam War:
Duuuh….! Apocalypse Now Redux is clearly the Nam movie of all time.  Restoring the French plantation scene added a lot to the movie by drawing an analogy between the American presence and the futility of the French attempt to stay in Indochina.  Watch the classic “Ride of the Valkyries” helicopter assault scene!

Romance:
Maybe it’s the history buff in me, but Doctor Zhivago’s panoramic story against the backdrop of the tumultous years in Russia during the early twentieth century makes this film my favorite romance.  Honorable mentions: tear jerkers Atonement and the English Patient.

Spaghetti Western:
Another easy one:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  I have this DVD too.

Here’s some clips of The Best of Tuco (The Ugly).

And then there’s that post-shootout  great ending.

“Over the Top” Western:
I immediately knew something was up when the opening scene shows children enjoying ants swarm a suffering scorpion because I, and a lot of other kids, enjoyed similar things.  But hey, I turned out “normal”!  Even if I did relish the ultra-gore of Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch.”  It’s just a movie….  The final shootout is a classic!

Western:

This is tough because there are a lot I like, such most of the Clint Eastwood ones, Butch Cassidy, and dances With Wolves.  I’ve always enjoyed “eccentric” (as opposed to “formula”) films, and the Western that most fits that bill is probably “Little Big Man” with DustinHoffman.

Here’s a nice clip.

Gangster:
Lots of good nominees here: Untouchables;  Scarface;  Godfather;  Once Upon A Time in America.  But I’ll go with Gangs of New York… today!  😉

Zombie:
Considering my adulation of Kill Bill I, it’s no surprise that my favorite film in this genre is Resident Evil: Extinction.  Although it’s not Eva Thurman slicing and dicing zombies by the dozens in the Nevada desert, and she’s using what looks like some sort of Gurkha-style knife
(which I have in my collection) instead of a samurai sword, it’s enough for this film to get my attention!  Here’s the trailer.

Comedy:
Comedy is hard to do.  I like mine either raunchy and/or “over the top.” Something About Mary” has elements of both, but Borat is the undisputed king of over the top raunchy! Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles was at top until these later films came along.

Borat in da hood is very funny!

Mystery
No hesitation here: The Usual Suspects.  But I also enjoyed Chinatown and Memento.

Musical
Musicals were big at one time, kinda disappeared, and recently have come back strong. “Phantom” is a great musical which I’ve seen on stage and on screen but for sheer ‘feel good” I have to go with….Mamma Mia! Which I’ve also seen on stage and on screen.  Amazing how they took a bunch of unrelated ABBA songs and created a story line!  I’ve got the Phantom DVD and I’ll be adding Mamma Mia! The DVD’s release set a new “first day” sales record for Universal.

Did you think Pierce Bronson can sing…?

Lay all your love on…ABBA!

The ending credits are a hoot!

Vegas
My favorite film about my favorite city?  That’d be “Casino.”  Martin Scorsese’s film about Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal’s fronting for The Mob at The Stardust (Tangiers in the movie), which, after it fell apart, led to the corporations becoming the dominant casino owners, is quite a tale.  De Niro plays “Lefty” (who died last year) and Sharon Stone was nominated for Best Actress for both an Oscar and Golden Globe, winning the latter.  Joe Pesci has a nice role too.  The Stardust is still standing in Vegas, but it probably should be imploded for bigger and better.

Here’s the trailer.

Miscellaneous
Some films are hard to categorize so I’m throwing them into this catch all.  Like Pulp Fiction, where John Travolta redeemed himself for Saturday Night Fever (although I loved it at the time).
Mix in Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and my favorite femme fatale Uma Thurman and that spells winner!

I always liked the “hamburgers for breakfast” scene with Samuel L. Jackson

Then there’s Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Musical?  Sci-Fi?

What‘s that you say? You want what?  Lips! Lips!

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12 responses to “My Favorite Films (American Edition)

  1. Your taste are varied and you have listed quite a few good movies. But “Full Metal Jcket” has got to be at the top of the list when it comes to Vietnam films. “Pulp Fiction” ranks high on my list also.

  2. Nick, I forgot about “Full Metal Jacket.” Thad’s be my #2 Nam film.

  3. Sheesh. Blades v. guns and ants v. scorpions. Remind me not to agree to meet you in a dark alley.

  4. But Fakename, you have nothing to fear…. and besides, it’s hard to use a blade in the dark! 😉
    Of course, the blade on my Bowie knife is exactly 12 inches, so all I need to do is get close….lol!

    As for ants, they are my friends now. They fight termites.

  5. Anarchist, excluding the Zombies we have similar tastes in movies. McQueen and Sand Pebbles was a fav of mine in the day and I loved him in Nevada Smith, every time I think of that movie I want to go open a can of peaches and sit on some steps and eat them. His first movie is a classic too (The Blob) .

    I was a musician early in life and musicals were a fav of mine so I appreciate almost all of them. Disappointed in the casting of just a pretty face for the movie phantom (NO effin voice) but the cinematography was pretty good.

    And did you see Bugsy, its one of my personal favorites; if you haven’t seen it you will enjoy the creation of Vegas. It is, along with Bonnie and Clyde, one of Beattys best jobs. Matter of fact Beattys filmography is pretty good. You would probably enjoy Reds too.

  6. Being an Anarchist and all I mean.

  7. Well PTFan1…. I wonder how you, who grew up in the rural South, and me, who grew up in a big urban area – and I suspect there were some other differencews 😉 – ended up having similar movie tastes….?

    I also enjoyed Steve in The Blob but I never heard of Nevada Smith. I’ll Google it.

    can’t recall Bugsy, so possibly I missed it. I did see some film about the Flamingo, which I believe Bugsy built and was killed over. So maybe I did see Bugsy….

    And yes, I did enjoy Reds. I completely forgot about that one, as I suspected I’d forget about some movies I’ve seen. If that qualifies as “Romance”, it may tie or replace Zhivago.

  8. I’m putting in my vote for best movie musical ever. Camelot. Great story, great songs. Best one: If Ever I Could Leave You. But there are many, many more. I used to be able to sing the whole score. I think my #2 would be The King and I.
    As for Vietnam, I think The Deerhunter is the best ever. Christopher Walken and Russian roulette…Apocalyse was strange. An (updated) version of Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness. You knew this was coming…I read the book. The movie was just more fantastical than The Deer Hunter. I will grant that “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” is one of the most memorable lines ever.

  9. I enjoyed King and I as well. Didn’t see Camelot.

    Did Deerhunter take place in Nam? Did it have a scene where they played Russian roulette and one guy blew his brains out? That’d probably be my #2 Nam film then….

  10. It begins and ends in Pittsburgh or somewhere like it, but the middle, and most of the movie, is Vietnam. The character Christopher Walken plays is forced to play Russian Roulette by his captors when he’s taken prisoner in Vietnam. When he gets out, he starts playing it for money.

    You really should see Camelot. It has…like…everything. King Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot, and Merlin, and friendship and love and betrayal and battles. Great scenery. Great music. There’s another great song called How To Handle A Woman, which is very tongue in cheek.

  11. Mamma Mia? Please tell me you only went to see it because of your wife! Musicals belong on the stage and not on film.

  12. Nick, I agree 100% that normally musicals belong on stage but there’s always the exception and Mamma Mia! is it! I think that is because it is a “romp” and so the transition from stage to screen lost little. In fact, I think the screen actually enhanced the experience….

    I wasn’t planning on seeing Mamma Mia! on screen. But since it was just a $1.25, I saw it and I’m glad I did.

    But with Phantom, for example, I feel the screen version was not as strong as the stage version.

    I did see Ricky Horror Picture Show at FSU last year and I liked that as well as the movie.

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