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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Lots of good nominees here: Untouchables; Scarface; Godfather; Once Upon A Time in America. But I’ll go with Gangs of New York… today! 😉
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 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!
No hesitation here: The Usual Suspects. But I also enjoyed Chinatown and Memento.
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…?
The ending credits are a hoot!
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.
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!