Eternal Pollution

San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle ran a brave piece last Sunday. He admitted he hadn’t seen Blade Runner, To Kill a Mockingbird, Young Frankenstein, 2001: A Space Odyssey and An Affair to Remember, and then declared he’d watched all five on DVD and then reviewed them. He half-panned Young Frankenstein and almost totally shredded 2001, admitting “there’s something to be said for the movie’s adventurous subject matter and its vision of the future” but nonetheless calling it “virtually unwatchable, a boring, impenetrable experience that I’m glad to finally have behind me.”

The bravery wasn’t in panning Stanley Kubrick‘s 1968 classic (which will be shown at the American Cinematheque over the weekend of March 7-9 in a reportedly pristine 70mm form) but admitting he hadn’t seen five major films. Major critics are supposed to have covered the waterfront as throughly as possible before becoming major critics. They’re supposed to have 5,000 movies under their belt, know all the players past and present, know the language and the references, and pass along a certain perspective.
How the hell does a big-city film critic manage to not see 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner after a couple of decades on the beat? I don’t know but I can guess: LaSalle isn’t a big fan of futuristic sci-fi films. Just like I’m not much of a fan of 1930s and ’40s big-studio women’s films (especially anything with June Allyson), or almost any late-period film directed by Mervyn LeRoy.
Anyway, LaSalle inspired me. I’ve never admitted the following derelictions but here goes. I’ve never seen F.W. Murnau‘s Sunrise, William Wyler‘s Mrs. Miniver, Budd Boetticher‘s Seven Men From Now, Samuel Fuller‘s 40 Guns, William Deterle‘s The Story of Louis Pasteur and The Life of Emile Zola, Michael Curtiz‘s Mildred Pierce, Sidney Franklin‘s The Good Earth, Fuller’s Fixed Bayonets, Jules Dassin‘s Thieves Highway, and LeRoy’s Little Women, A Majority of One and Mary, Mary.
Which bothers me not. All but A Majority of One and Mary, Mary are on DVD so I’ve got several viewing experiences to look forward to. What does bother me are the black-hole films I’ve sat through and can’t erase. Films that have acted like siphons or poisons. Films whose running times are like shark teeth that have taken bites out of my life. That would be a much more interesting list to assemble — Ten Movies That Have Eternally Polluted My Soul.

  • bill weber

    Jeff’s list isn’t nearly as embarrassing as LaSalle’s, wehich qualifies him as cinematically illiterate, as this erstwhile fan points out:
    http://alsolikelife.com/shooting/?p=264

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Jesus, how could you not see 2001 or Blade Runner, by accident if nothing else? Talk about two of the most ubiquitous movies of the last 40 years…
    As for your list, Jeff, Sunrise is well worth seeing on screen with soaring music but only if you’re ready for self-conscious “poetic” filmmaking (Tabu is actually an easier sit for modern sensibilities), Mrs. Miniver you can skip, it’s well-made wartime propaganda, 40 Guns is actually Fuller and it’s not one of his best, Louis Pasteur is kind of simple-minded but Emile Zola is quite well done, cooks right along with more fervor about the screwing of poor Dreyfus (but still, there’s a million Warner Bros. movies I like better), Mildred Pierce is kind of fun as noir soap opera, The Good Earth is better than you might expect, but still, 2-1/2 hours of yellowface Dallas, basically, I haven’t seen the rest (though I have Thieves Highway). Actually the Dassin movie to catch that’s running on one of the HDTV channels is He Who Must Die, a neorealist Christ parable that kicks ass.
    I tried to think of classics I’d never seen a while back. The only really topshelf title I could come up with was How Green Was My Valley. There are some of those second-tier MGM musicals I’ve never made it through, like Easter Parade and The Pirate, and somehow I’ve never managed to watch High Sierra, but that’s all I could really think of.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Oh, and by the way, if you have the Emile Zola DVD, I’m quoted on the back cover. So far as I know, that’s the only pull-quote from my movie awards book of a decade ago that’s been used by anybody.

  • http://www.mustardayonnaise.com lazespud

    I think it’s great he wrote this; and I can totally see why he didn’t have them under his belt. You watch movies fanatically when you’re younger, then when you get it as a paying gig; 95% of your movies that you watch are new movies for review; why waste the remaining 5% on types of movies you’re not interested in?
    I’ve seen thousands of films (here’s my dvd collection of about 1,000: http://www.invelos.com/DVDCollection.aspx/lazespud) but I haven’t seen:
    The Wizard of Oz
    Casablanca
    The African Queen
    Gone with the Wind
    I finally saw the Sound of Music (I bought the DVD like four years ago ferchristsake!).
    Haven’t not seen these films doesn’t bother me a whit.

  • bill weber

    Let’s see how long it takes people to name one non-American film.

  • js1

    Isn’t Mick LaSalle the guy who claimed that Click, the wretched Adam Sandler vehicle, was one of the best films of its year? And he pans Young Frankenstein. That, in itself, is embarrassing.

  • Dave

    Dang Jeff, first the “Sorcerer” posting, now this. GET OUT OF MY HEAD! ;-)
    My GF admitted to me that she had made it into her mid-thirties without ever having seen 2001. So, I bought the DVD of that and 2010, and we sat down and watched both. (She caught Blade Runner for the first time a few weeks back).
    I kinda/sorta agree with LaSalle on 2001. It’s fascinating, amazing, beautiful, and for a movie made in 1968, both prescient and technically superb. The effects hold up far better than most CGI crapfests today– physical models still possess far more weight than even the best computer effects today.
    As for the film, it IS boring. And soulless. HAL is the only “character” in the movie. I love it, but in the same way I love an art museum– beautiful objects on the walls, but nothing I’d ever hang in my house.
    WRT 2010, it’s nowhere near as good as 2001, but it’s accessible as a fun sci-fi film, a better Clarke adaptation than 2001 was. I re-watched the film constantly in the 1980s, and it still sticks with me as a smart, if slightly clunky, film.
    The GF? She enjoyed 2001, but needed 2010 to make sense of the previous film.

  • Movie Watcher

    2001 is one of the best films of all time and he hasn’t seen it? Where has he been. In full disclosure I haven’t seen:
    Citizen Kane
    Sound of Music
    Gone with the wind
    From here to eternity
    I never get tired of the chimps beating the hell out of one another. Of course, HAL “…what are you doing, Dave.” Priceless. The music alone is worth seeing the movie.

  • MiraJeffAICN

    Jeez, that list really made me feel stupid. The only one I’ve ever heard of is Mildred Pierce. The films I’m most ashamed to admit I’ve never seen are Schindler’s List, The Maltese Falcon and The Bridge on the River Kwai. And Mick LaSalle is right about 2001. It’s boring and overrated. Sorry, Stan.

  • http://giantideasblog.blogspot.com/ giantman

    I’ve never seen Gone with the Wind, other than the usual references and clips, and don’t actually plan on seeing it. Ever. Not out of any malice towards it, but why bother now?
    There are certainly scores of second-tier stupid films that I haven’t seen, probably thousands, that I will also probably never see.
    As for non-American movies, I went through a phase a few years back where that was almost all I did watch. Got caught up on a lot of classics and recommends. Now they’re just part of the normal cycle. But certainly, out of the hundreds of films released every year, no one could possibly watch them all.

  • Howlingman

    Hell, I just want to know which Ten Movies Have Eternally Polluted Jeff’s Soul.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    I could now pick up a bone and beat MiraJeff with it, I know, but that’s what separates me from the chimps.

  • George Prager

    The Onion:
    “Area Girlfriend Still Hasn’t Seen Apocalypse Now”
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38820
    I’ve never seen WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?

  • Dave

    Okay, in the interest of joining in this therapeutic exercise in embarrassing cinematic revelation:
    I’ve never seen the Godfather, Godfather II, or Godfather III from start to finish. I’ve actually probably seen the entire movies in bits and pieces, and I’m totally familiar with the story and quotable lines and contexts, but I’ve never sat down and watched any of them from start to finish.
    Much like a successful adult admitting his/her illiteracy, this is a secret that I, a rabid filmlover who has seen thousands of movies (including the classics), this is my secret shame.
    One of these years. . .

  • nemo

    I can understand LaSalle’s underwhelmed reaction to 2001 if he watched it at home on DVD. It’s a film that demands to be seen on a big screen in a theater with a good sound system. It requires total immersion.
    Getting high beforehand helps too.
    Your list is very obscure compared with LaSalle’s list. I’ve seen Pasteur, Mildred Pierce, and Good Earth. I’m with Mgmax — they’re worth sitting through, but you’re not missing much if you never saw them.
    How old is LaSalle anyway? I didn’t know they hired 14-year-olds to be big-city film critics. If I’d known, I would have applied for the gig myself back when I was 14.

  • facls

    I’m no critic, just a film lover. I haven’t seen a lot of major films, but I always see them as “treats for the future”. I do have a small confession, though.
    One of my favorite filmmakers is Kubrick. It is rather easy to see all of Kubrick’s films, since there are only a few of them, but I confess that I haven’t yet seen Barry Lyndon and Lolita. Before I’m lambasted by Kubrick fans, let me explain why.
    I watched a documentary after the release of Eyes Wide Shut, and I remember Tom Cruise saying that one of the saddest things he felt with the death of Kubrick is “that there will never be another Stanley Kubrick film, never again a movie with that look, with that style, with that camera movement”, or words to that effect.
    Whenever I see people talking about Lolita and Barry Lyndon, which seems to be a favorite on this site, I’m reminded that I must see them, but it will have to be a special occasion.
    Probably one day, when it’s late at night and I can’t be bothered by anyone, I’ll watch them straight through. I want to watch alone so no one can tell me after it’s done that the films’ are no good, even if I might agree. Just want a few moments in silence after I’m done with them to let those sad words from Tom Cruise sink in that, yes, there will never be another Kubrick film.

  • George Prager

    Jeezm Dave. I recommend that everyone read The Godfather by Mario Puzo as well.

  • Dave

    Barry Lyndon is a great snob film, facis. Meaning, you can walk into a room, admit that you like Barry Lyndon, and immediately everyone in the room will know you’re one of THOSE people.
    Me? I love the film ;-).

  • PerfectTommy

    Here are some foriegn films I’m embarrassed to say I’ve not gotten to: the second two films in the Apu trilogy, “Tokoyo Story”, “Fanny and Alexandra” and I’ve never been able to make it through “Jules Et Jim”. As for those who have not seen “Casablanca”, “The Maltese Falcon” or “Citizen Kane” – good news, these films will not be chores to watch.

  • nemo

    Don’t bother with Godfather III. You’ll scream with pain. Certainly do not start with Godfather III, or else you’ll never go on to watch the much better I and II.

  • Dave

    I know, I know George. . . like I said, I’m ashamed to say it. In fact, it’s not something I’ve ever admitted to any of my friends, only here.
    Personally, I’ve been hoping to catch a showing of it up at the AFI Silver theater. This way I can turn to my friends and say, “Hey, you want to see the Godfather as it was meant to be seen?” and they’ll never know the difference.
    Hell, it’s how I finally got to see Lawrence of Arabia in 2004 for the first time ;-).
    Man, I’m awful.

  • MikeSchaeferSF

    LaSalle is one of the worst critics writing for a major paper in the US. He takes great pride in being contrarian for contrarianism’s sake (see: Click). To call 2001 overrated is one thing, to call it “unwatchable” is just preposterous.
    Prager: I’d recommend reading Puzo’s pulp novel just so you can see how Coppola elevated it.

  • mutinyco

    2001 is without peer the greatest motion picture ever made. It deserves to be considered alongside the canon of great artworks ever committed by humanity.

  • Vitesse98

    “Sunrise” is a must-see for its technical achievements alone, and on that count it’s a hell of a lot shorter than “Napoleon.” Pick up the fine Fox edition ASAP.

  • Doug Pratt

    Do not waste another minute. Watch Sunrise immediately. It is one of the most rewarding cinematic experiences ever conceived (right up there with 2001).
    Don’t bother with Emile Zola or Louis Pasteur or Good Earth or anything else with Paul Muni that isn’t a gangster movie. They are all boring as all get out, and Good Earth is especially bad. Mrs. Miniver is pretty tedious, too.
    On the other hand, Mildred Pierce is a fun movie, framed in a murder mystery, and 40 Guns & Fixed Bayonets are good for a bucket of popcorn, too.

  • MiraJeffAICN

    Mgmax, I’d like to see you try. Seriously, I’m waiting for you buddy. Name the time and place.

  • http://www.robertcashill.blogspot.com btwnproductions

    MILDRED PIERCE is terrific. An easy watch.

  • facls

    It took me a long time to watch Casablanca too, finally watched it on DVD at home a couple of years ago, at about 5am, because I arrived at 3am and wasn’t able to fall sleep.
    And no, I didn’t fall asleep, loved it and finally understood what the hype was all about.
    With Citizen Kane, I had seen it in my teens on TV and wasn’t impressed, only with the pristine looking Special DVD I finally realized that it is indeed a special film.

  • Rich S.

    I think one of the worst things that can happen to a movie is for it to be tagged a “great movie.” Most people then assume that it is stuffy, boring and/or has subtitles. Most of all, they believe it is not accessible.
    Nothing could be further from the truth when talking about Casablanca, Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon. Above all, these movies are just plain entertaining and fun. In many ways, they’re the reason why movies are made.
    Young Frankenstein is much, much funnier if you are familiar with the movies it makes fun of (same with Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety). Since LaSalle couldn’t be bothered to see 2001 and Blade Runner, I doubt he’s ever seen any of James Whale’s Universal classics.
    And it is pointless to debate 2001. You either get it or you don’t. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times (only once on the big screen), but I just watched it again in HD, and it was if it were brand new. To me, it is part of the very fabric of movies and its complete and utter genius is self-evident. If someone doesn’t understand that, I can’t explain it to them.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “especially if you√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢ve been warned by just about everyone (including people who like it) that it√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s the most boring movie on earth.”
    It’s okay to not have seen it, but to pull this line out as validation is pathetic. I don’t find 2001 boring at all. It’s endlessly fascinating and simply Kubrick’s most beautiful, hopeful film.
    And despite it’s “boring” reputation, it’s still his biggest hit and was one of the most seen films of 1968. Imagine a three hour metaphysical sci-fi film breaking the box office today.
    And honest, if you have only watched 2001 on a tv, you literally are not seeing it unless you have a screening room. Even then, it’s not enough. 2001 is one of the few movies that MUST be seen in a theater. And you folks who have only seen it on DVD better go check it out at the Cinematheque. And nemo is correct: if you can, toke or drop beforehand. The Ultimate Trip.
    Oh, confession: I haven’t seen any Ophuls, Lubitsch or Tarkovsky. But I have seen ASSAULT ON PRECINT 13 about 20 times.
    And Jeff, go rent SUNRISE. It’s one of the most visually stunning films ever made. EVER. It’s as if you’re watching the most expensive, experimental studio film ever…next to 2001. Fantastic, impressionistic sets and some amazingly sexy moments. Murnau owns.

  • corey3rd

    film critic or merely a chump who wanted a newspaper job that didn’t involve doing actually journalism?
    Even worse is this guy sat down to watch these five films not because he realizes he’s got an incomplete eduction, but needs an excuse to write an article. And then he watches them as if he’s a little kid who attempts to eat the food that mom declares is good for him. Why not review Brussel Sprouts?
    There will be no tears when this guy loses his newspaper gig.

  • Howlingman

    Well to my shame I have never seen IKURU, THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA, RED RIVER, LA DOLCE VITA, and many more.
    I did just catch HEAVEN’S GATE for the first (and last) time just this past weekend, and BLACK NARCISSUS also.

  • Aguirre

    WELLS- your blog gives me the impression that you don’t have much interest in or knowledge of some of the great foreign masterpieces that are presented via less american narrative means… not that there’s anything wrong with that. as this is only an impression, i’d instantly relent if you gave the word, but i imagine that there is a veritable SLEW of foreign classics you’ve never bothered with… any early kiarostami, mizoguchi, oshima, kim ki-young, bela tarr, sergei parajanov, nelson pereira dos santos, raymond bernard… i don’t think you necessarily need to be a connoisseur of the esoteric in order to be a credible film blogger, but when you routinely ignore the best foreign films every year (your coverage of 4 months doesn’t atone for ignoring secret sunshine, silent light, in the city of sylvia, flight of the red balloon, etc…), i can’t help but think that there’s a world (pun intended) of films that are passing you by. films that are of SIGNIFICANTLY greater value than fixed bayonets…

  • Pelham123

    I somehow managed to miss “Gone With The Wind” and I’m from Atlanta. But, I’m now like Dave on this one in that I’m waiting to see it on the big screen instead of homevideo. Of course, they don’t roll it out so much here in L.A. as they do in the ATL (or used to anyway.) As for “Barry Lyndon” I finally saw that a few years ago and was stunned at how much I liked it. After years of hearing it belittled, I think it’s one of Kubrick’s best. Well, it’s one of my favorites of his films, anyway. And yes, a lot of the classic mentioned already — “Maltese Falcon”, “Casablanca” , “Citizen Kane” and “Mildred Pierce” are all a joy to watch. Not at all a chore.

  • MathewM

    I dare say that you really haven’t seen 2001 until you experience it on the big screen. Kubrick filmed it to be shown in Cinerama and that’s why the film comes across as soulless and boring on the small screen. I was able to see it years ago in 70mm at the IMax on the Navy Pier in Chicago. One of my all time great movie theater experiences.

  • PerfectTommy

    Another shout out for “Sunrise”, a must see. And “Ikuru” is incredible, a film that could be life changing. And I confess that the only Garbo film I’ve seen is “Ninotchka”.

  • PerfectTommy

    Oh, and this is a great thread. This is why I come to this place.

  • Rich S.

    I just read LaSalle’s article. I gave him far too much credit when I wrote my last post. At least I know another critic I can ignore on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Howlingman

    My first time seeing 2001 was at the Cinesphere at Ontario Place in Toronto in 1982. I was nine years old, and it still ranks as one of the great cinematic experiences of my life.

  • WinslowLeachtheComposer

    I just watched 2001 on my iPod and damn if he’s not right: it’s no Click.

  • MathewM

    Classic films I have not seen:
    Gone With the Wind (I’ve never had much interest in seeing it.)
    Bridge Over the River Kwai (I would like to see it on the big screen.)
    The Maltese Falcon (maybe someday)
    Most of Chaplin’s catalogue (again someday)
    I saw Sunrise back in film school and thought it was cool if mostly for the German Expressionism.

  • http://www.mustardayonnaise.com lazespud

    To Christian et al —
    I’ve seen 2001 like 15 times; but only once in the theater. They had a revival about 7 or 8 years ago at the Cinerama theater is Seattle (the one that Paul Allen spent millions refurbishing). They pulled out all of the stops; showing it on their special curved screen (as the movie was shown originally in the 68 road show release). The print was spectacular and the sound was perfect.
    I fell asleep 20 minutes in, and woke about an hour later.
    I love the movie beyond all rational explanation, but I don’t think it’s quite THAT critical to see it in the theater. Besides, if you’re telling someone that a movie is completely a MUST SEE, and if they don’t see it then they are a philistine, then it’s a little unfair to tell them that unless they’ve seen it in a theater they haven’t really seen it. How many times has 2001 played in YOUR city in a theater in the last decade?

  • Howlingman

    Back when Columbia Pictures had their 75th anniversary they roadshowed some of their classics, which enabled me to see KWAI, CE3K and NAVARONE on the big screen at a gorgeous Art Deco theater in Toronto. It’s true; the big screen makes all the difference. Same thing that keeps me seeing LAWRENCE OF ARABIA every time it plays.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Mgmax, I’d like to see you try. Seriously, I’m waiting for you buddy. Name the time and place.
    A double bill of Equinox Flower and Floating Weeds at Facets Multimedia. I’ll beat you silly, then the camera will cut away to a low-angle shot of an empty kitchen.
    Ooh, Perfect Tommy found a foreign classic I’ve never seen, though, Japanophile though I am: Ikiru. I am ashamed.

  • PerfectTommy

    Though I have a very low opinion of LeSalle’s tastes (positive reviews for “Catwoman” and “Fantastic Four – Silver Surfer”, tepid review for “There Will Be Blood”), he does have a point about catching up on a comedy like “Young Frankenstein”. Many of the jokes have been spoiled or stolen, so it doesn’t have the same impact. I watched it recently with my kids (teens) and they loved most of it, but thought it dragged after “Putting on the Ritz”. Still, that song and dance number may only be topped by “Springtime for Hitler” as one of the funniest put on film.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    How many times has 2001 played in YOUR city in a theater in the last decade?
    At least twice, probably more.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    My embarrassed admissions: The Bridge on the River Kwai, Annie Hall, and anything with John Wayne. Nope, never seen a John Wayne movie.
    My not-so-embarrassed admissions: Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Gandhi, and anything I happened to have missed pre-1950. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of them, but I’m not going to kill myself for not being encyclopedic about it. I’m 32, and hopefully have many years to catch up.
    Is Juno too recent to put on this list? I just can’t bring myself to go see it. The commercials are irritating enough to put violent thoughts in my head; I’m afraid I’d end up with murder charges if I went to a theater.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Also, Airplane! raised the ante on spoofs by being so much faster paced, I find Brooks’ films seem slow by comparison now.
    Two more incidental notes before I start selecting femurs:
    1) 2001 will be on HDNet movies on Saturday night.
    2) LaSalle is not uninformed about film history, read this piece about a Norma Shearer silent (which has played TCM since):
    http://tinyurl.com/3y8tzc

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “How many times has 2001 played in YOUR city in a theater in the last decade?
    Fortunately it plays about once a year in Los Angeles. Other big cities get it too, so I’m just saying, it’s a different experience in a theater than on a TV. I waited YEARS before I saw LAWRENCE OF ARABIA because I wanted to see it onscreen. I finally did and it was worth the wait.
    And if you fell asleep during 2001, lazespud, you weren’t taking the right drugs;]
    And really CASABLANCA is just plain great. To me it’s the ultimate Hollywood studio classic. You will not regret finally watching it. Then immediately watch PLAY IT AGAIN SAM for a wonderful movie sandwich.
    And IKIRU is my favorite film.
    It was life-altering.

  • Eric Stanton

    Have to agree with all the “Sunrise” love. Of all the titles on your list, Jeff, that’s the one I’d see first. A great movie, and entertaining. “Mildred Pierce” is totally enjoyable – I’d see that next.
    Christian – no Lubitsch? Coming from such a big Preminger fan, I’m a little surprised. “The Shop Around the Corner,” “Ninotchka,” “Trouble in Paradise” – you’d like all of these.
    Confessions: I’ve never seen a Chaplin film. Not a single frame. Nor any Harold Lloyd. And only one Marx Brothers picture.

  • MilkMan

    Do you realize how childish you sound when you say that 2001 is “boring” and “stupid?” You don’t have the attention span to sit through such a contemplative movie more than once, okay, I get that, fair enough. But to call such a meticulously created film “stupid” really calls into question your credibility, not as a human, but as someone whose job calls on them to sit and watch movies. What, pray tell, is stupid about 2001? The history of mankind vis a vis how it relates to technology, told with a minimum of dialogue, elliptical editing, and some of the ONLY efx that still hold up even though it’s been 40 years. Do you mean the message of the movie is “stupid,” and if you do, I would like to hear your interpretation of what the message is, if there is even a message, and if there isn’t, then maybe that’s what you so strenuously object to, what makes you feel stupid, because you’re not getting something.
    As for movies I have never seen that I am supposed to have seen:
    Gone With The Wind
    The African Queen
    Amadeus
    Out of Africa
    The Sound of Music
    Ben-Hur
    Gandhi
    1900
    The Last Emperor
    Driving Miss Daisy
    M
    The Color Purple
    Rashomon
    In the Heat of the Night
    Bonnie and Clyde
    And I agree with Aguirre about those foreign films. Everyone should see Silent Light and Secret Sunshine. Except for you, MiraJeff. Whatever you do, don’t see Silent Light, or, for that matter, Japon or Battle in Heaven. They’re totally boring and stupid. Maybe you could watch Jumper again instead. I hear that is totally entertaining and goes well with popcorn.

  • kingspiffo

    I’ve tried to watch 2001 a few times but can never get through the first five or ten minutes. It’s funny because another Kubrick film, Paths of Glory, is my all-time favourite film.

  • T. Holly

    You’re fired for lighting cheap hit boom, boom, boom fireworks.

  • T. S. Idiot

    I’ve seen all those Wells hasn’t, with Mildred Pierce being the best, despite the rugged manliness of J. Crawford. Like Wells, I don’t care for musicals, never having seen West Side Story or Mary Poppins all the way through, but then again I’ve never seen a Rossellini film all the way through either. I’m ashamed to admit not having seen a Middle Eastern movie before seeing the delightful Caramel recently. Because I have a resistance to cinema as sociology, I’ve avoided Do the Right Thing and Philadelphia. Hey, Christian, Lubitsch and Ophuls are gods. Otto would be ashamed of you.

  • OddDuck

    The first paragraph from Mick LaSalle’s review of Click:
    “Maybe Adam Sandler and his team intended to make a serious movie, and maybe they didn’t, but in “Click” they’ve made one, all right, one of the best American films of the year so far. The filmmakers take what might have been just a gimmicky premise and pursue it meticulously, following wherever it leads. Along the way, they create a shrewd and moving metaphor for the way people live their lives in 21st century America.”
    Is anyone surprised he’d be bored by 2001?
    How does someone as bad as this get to where he is in life?

  • rockne

    I have never seen nor do I ever plan on seeing Gone With the Wind or On Golden Pond, and I don’t feel the least bit upset about it.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    There’s so much good Lubitsch out, hard to know where to start, but one should. Personally my favorite is the very underrated The Smiling Lieutenant; that last scene, when she’s finally ready and he’s oblivious, is just lovely in its unabashed, yet basically sweet, pre-Code sexual frankness. Here’s something I wrote about some of the German silents recently released, which are very different from his later films:
    http://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?t=70
    Ophuls: see The Earrings of Madame De, one of the ten best of all time. Then work through anything else you find, French or American.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    It seems worse when you think of what you have seen.
    For instance, I’ve never seen The Maltese Falcon, but I’ve seen every Police Academy – some of them more than once.
    Ooh, never mind, bad idea. I’m going to stop playing that game now.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Here’s another sad list of Films I Still No See:
    RED RIVER
    DOUBLE INDEMNITY
    SABOTEUR
    NATIONAL VELVET
    IMITATION OF LIFE
    THE THIRD MAN
    PATHS OF GLORY
    PERSONA
    MY FAIR LADY
    TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    GANDHI
    CHARIOTS OF FIRE
    FANNY AND ALEXANDER
    TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME JUNIE MOON
    And I still have not seen THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

  • PerfectTommy

    Milkman, I’ve seen all on your unseen list except “1900” (yeah, I know I need to), but “Rashomon” is clearly the most important film on that list to catch.
    (If I made Wells soul polluting list, I’d include “Out of Africa”.)

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    It seems worse when you think of what you have seen.
    For instance, I’ve never seen The Maltese Falcon, but I’ve seen every Police Academy – some of them more than once.
    Ooh, never mind, bad idea. I’m going to stop playing that game now.

  • Jay T.

    I’m most shocked by To Kill a Mockingbird! WHAT critic hasn’t seen this before? My god…
    And yes, he’s a total hack, so it’s no surprise. Locally, we joke about the reviews in the SF Chronicle constantly…

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    Oh God, then it double-posted.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “Hey, Christian, Lubitsch and Ophuls are gods. Otto would be ashamed of you.”
    I know, they’re all on my next to-watch list.
    Still I’d like to think Otto would be proud of my SKIDOO pimping. Or more ashamed.

  • MiraJeffAICN

    Jumper was a big disappointment. So was Vantage Point. And The Signal. Don’t see the latter under any circumstances. It’s worse than 2001.

  • Jay T.

    Christian, the only film on your list I would say you “must” watch is DOUBLE INDEMNITY… great film.
    Films I haven’t seen that I can think of offhand…
    – Mildred Pierce (on my Netflix queue)
    – 2001 (has been on my netflix queue for 5 years and I keep sliding it back)
    – The African Queen
    – How Green Was My Valley
    – In The Heat of the Night (on my queue)
    – Ben-Hur (I’ve seen parts of it)

  • Noah

    Christian, I urge you to see Fanny and Alexander as soon as possible. I just watched it for the first time myself and I was absolutely blown away. I can’t remember the last time a film moved me so deeply and so strongly. Of all the movies on your list, I think you should put that one at the top.

  • Howlingman

    “Don’t see [The Signal] under any circumstances. It’s worse than 2001.” — MiraJeffAICN
    I can’t tell whether that’s meant to be an insult or a compliment.

  • DavidF

    I have a real blind spot for “classic” films, I must admit.
    I have seen Casablanca, Maltese Falcon and some others but haven’t seen any Hepburn/Tracy or anything like that. No West Side Story and very few musicals from that era overall.
    I’ve seen most Kubrick but not Lyndon or Lolita (and not Paths of Glory in total). I’m okay on Citizen Kane, Bridge on the River Kwai, A Touch of Evil but definitely missing some things I should see. That said, I’m not a professional critic…
    It’s most amusing seeing everyone’s omissions – how can you avoid The Wizard of Oz?? I haven’t seen Gone With the Wind but mostly on purpose…always struck me as an overblown soap opera but maybe one day I’ll sit through it.
    And as for Bergman, Fellini, Truffaut and those guys? Seen very little, I’m sorry to say…

  • Dave

    “Though I have a very low opinion of LeSalle’s tastes (positive reviews for “Catwoman” and “Fantastic Four – Silver Surfer”, tepid review for “There Will Be Blood”), he does have a point about catching up on a comedy like “Young Frankenstein”.”
    Tommy brings up an excellent point– comedy doesn’t age very well. It’s not that these movies aren’t *funny*, it’s just that tastes in humor changes far more than drama. And let’s be honest, these movies have been seen so many times, their lines quoted by so many drunk frat boys, that anything approaching genuine laughter has long been reduced to a pleasant smirk.
    Case in point: ANOTHER movie my GF hadn’t seen, The Blues Brothers. I know Jeff doesn’t like it, but I love the film. The absurdity, the energy, the music. Plus, I’m from Chicago, so it’s practically a holy document for me.
    Watching it the other night, with someone who has never seen it before? It felt flat and tired.
    Now, I would never criticize the film– nothing about the movie has changed since the first hundred times I’ve seen it. But I know that *I* have changed, and it holds no new mysteries for me, and after thirty years of pop culture saturation, not many mysteries for a new audience.
    If you look back at all the great comedies, they’re all like that– mysteries solved long ago.

  • PerfectTommy

    Jumper was a big disappointment. So was Vantage Point. And The Signal. Don’t see the latter under any circumstances. It’s worse than 2001.
    Posted by: MiraJeffAICN at February 28, 2008 11:40 AM
    And don’t even bother with Thomas Kinkade’s “Snowy Cabin at Sunset”, it blows even more than Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry, Night”.

  • mtgilchrist

    Jeff, I’m not sure it’s commendable for a professional critic (much less one who works for an actual paper) to admit that until very recently he hadn’t seen a significant number of genuine cinematic classics. I am a paid and therefore professional critic who has not seen some of the films on some of the above posters’ lists, but there are some films that are fundamental not merely for being great movies, but for being important and influential works. 2001 in particular is the most important science fiction film ever made, whether you’re particularly entertained by it or not (and I am), and his responsibility is not to love it but understand that and apply that understanding to future films. Many, many, many sci-fi films (much less films of other genres) owe an enormous artistic debt to 2001 that needs to be acknowledged even if at a subconscious level, and it compromises his credibility to say the very least if he cannot contextualize the achievement of the film at the time of its release, much less its enduring impact now. This is a constant problem with readers because they are not beholden to any cinematic traditions other than dutifully going to the movies on a weekly or monthly basis, and so must only look at each film they watch in the context of the now – which is why garbage like Meet The Spartans cleans up, since they’re only interested in Sanjaya jokes or whatever references what happened last week – but a critic’s job isn’t to adhere to this spectacularly short-sighted point of view, it’s to place a work of art in a historical and cultural context and examine its artistic merits. The fact that he admits that the movie is too slow or boring doesn’t just speak to his Click-loving point of view, it compromises his credibility as a critic whose opinion should be taken seriously as a person who not only enjoys and appreciates but understands film.

  • T. S. Idiot

    “And don’t even bother with Thomas Kinkade’s “Snowy Cabin at Sunset”, it blows even more than Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry, Night”.” Perfect, Tommy.

  • mutinyco

    “It’s worse than 2001.”
    Well, considering 2001 is the greatest motion picture ever made, yes, invariably it would be worse.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “not many mysteries for a new audience.”
    I disagree. I watched Harold Lloyd’s THE FRESHMAN with an audience of young, primarily black students; their snickers at the start were replaced by laughter an applause at the end. Gave me hope for the future.
    When THE PARTY played with SKIDOO, the audience was laughing from the git-go. Some comedy ages quite well. I’d put up Woody’s early films too.
    See GONE WITH THE WIND on a big screen. That way you can’t tune out. I’m always surprised by how awesomely made it despite the behind the scenes chaos. And Gable’s last line still KILLS.

  • hanimal

    isn’t mick lasalle the guy who gave gus van sant’s last days zero out of four and called it a piece of trash? ’nuff said.

  • MiraJeffAICN

    “Well, considering 2001 is the greatest motion picture ever made, yes, invariably it would be worse.”
    But Mutinyco, you must be forgetting about The Crow, surely a more worthy cinematic endeavor than a little old Space Odyssey.

  • Rich S.

    Maybe I’m biased because it was my mother’s favorite movie and I saw it when I was very young, but you guys should set aside some time and watch Gone with the Wind. If you’re pressed for time, you can cut it off after the burning of Atlanta. But you really should catch at least the first two thirds.
    Is it realistic? Not really. And it does have some soap opera elements. But there was a reason people would have rioted had Clark Gable not been chosen to play Rhett Butler. It was one of the most perfect marriages of actor and role of all time. And though audiences didn’t know it when she was cast, the same could be said for Vivian Leigh.
    It’s a big, splashy colorful epic of the type Hollywood just doesn’t make any more (right Academy?). And, if nothing else, it is absolutely gorgeous. GWTW, The Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Robin Hood are must sees for the Technicolor alone.
    And christian, I was generally surprised by some of the films on your list. Get a DVD of The Third Man, stat!

  • Dan Revill

    While there are plenty of films that I haven’t seen, I think the smartest thing I did was sign up for a DVD rental service last fall. It’s a smaller outfit up here in Canada, but I went through imdb’s top 250 and then requested any Criterion the site had – so my request list constantly hovers around 160 films, and I may never get to watch every single film on that list, but I’m gonna give it a shot.
    Recently I watched BECKET, which was worth every single damn post Wells has made over the past few years.
    Right now I’ve got IF…. and REIGN OVER ME sitting on my coffee table, with BLOODY SUNDAY on the way…suffice to say, I almost always have a new DVD to watch.
    There are lots of films that I’ll probably never see, but I really care more about older and hard to find films than whatever’s new. Still a few that I haven’t seen that I should:
    – LOLITA
    – SUNRISE
    – HAROLD & MAUDE
    – a lot of Woody Allen
    And so it goes on. I also missed out on a lot of supposedly classic 80s family films that my parents had the wisdom not to expose me to. The ones I have caught up on haven’t exactly thrilled me – but I’ll give ‘em a whirl eventually I suppose.
    PS the first time I watched 2001, it put me to sleep. Then again, I was 16 and wasn’t really well versed in what makes a movie great. Suffice to say, at this point in my life I think it’s one of the greatest films ever conceived.

  • Rich S.

    Also, christian, considering the state of the world today and your observations about them, you should probably also make Paths of Glory a priority. I won’t promise you will “enjoy” it, but I think you especially will be moved by it.
    And you will never, ever look at Kirk Douglas the same again.

  • mutinyco

    “…you must be forgetting about The Crow, surely a more worthy cinematic endeavor than a little old Space Odyssey.”
    Funniest thing I’ve heard all day… You said it with a straight face too. Perfect delivery.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    I think I’ve made up a bit for not seeing THE THIRD MAN by seeing PSYCH-OUT at least 15 times.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Aladdin Sane, get thee to HAROLD AND MAUDE.
    And what’s great about seeing HAROLD AND MAUDE for the first time is seeing it for the first time.

  • http://www.filmjerk.com Edward Havens

    You can’t experience 2001 in any video form. You can watch it on TV, but you can’t experience 2001 until you have seen it in a theatre. Preferably in 70mm, which LaSalle certainly has had the chance to do a number of times in the past forty years. Ditto Blade Runner, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Alien, Aliens, Tim Burton’s Batman…
    Funny part is, I’m not a huge sci-fi fan either, but there are a number of sci-fi movies which are cinematic milestones that anyone with even a modicum of love for movies should have seen at least once in their life, in a movie theatre where you’re supposed to experience them.
    LaSalle’s stock just fell below Earl Dittman’s in my eyes.

  • Dave

    Christian, to clarify, I should have said “the bigger the comedy, the less well it ages.” The Freshman (which one?) and The Party are fairly (hell, very) obscure, and thus would stand to appear fresh to a new audience.
    But any 30-year-old out there has by now internalized pretty much ever funny line in any of the major comedies of the last thirty to forty years, no?
    That’s why I used the “mystery” analogy. The Sixth Sense, Presumed Innocent, The Crying Game, etc. are all good films, but the moment the big “aha!” moment is unleashed, well, they lose their power. Comedies are the same way– the instant the funny moments are unleashed, they lose their power. In time, the only power that they *do* have is in their familiarity, i.e. you can get ten people in a room to quote every funny line in Caddyshack, Anchorman, Woody Allen’s early (popular) works, etc., and you’re going to have a grand time. But the films themselves will have diminishing returns (that is, unless, there is something deeper underneath them– but what deep undercurrent is there in Airplane! or Blazing Saddles?).
    All this before I bring in the *cultural* changes that affect how comedy is seen. For instance, racist jokes can be funny to a certain degree, but they have to be so over-the-top that the audience is laughing along, not at. Crude blackface isn’t funny anymore, if it ever really was in the past.
    Fifteen years ago, a swearing elderly person was the height of hilarity. Now, it’s been done to death.
    Will Ferrell screaming and showing his gut? Highlarious at one point. Now? Overplayed.
    Mel Brooks movies? Blazing Saddles has been parodied to death. Spaceballs made a teenager piss his pants in the 1980s. Now? It’s unfunny throughout, and not just because I got older.
    I’m sticking with my original point: most comedy requires a cultural moment for its maximum impact, and the greater impact it has, the faster it stops being funny.

  • bill weber

    See lots of Ozu, Fassbinder, Makhmalbaf and Kiarostami films.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    “Well, considering 2001 is the greatest motion picture ever made, yes, invariably it would be worse.”
    Bullshiiiit.
    I know at least five movies which are better. Maybe six.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “and the greater impact it has, the faster it stops being funny.’
    Every audience I’ve seen for THE GRADUATE laughs and cheers. Everytime. It always surprises me.
    Most Woody Allen holds up beautifully for crowds too.
    And even BLAZING SADDLES does have an undercurent. Race relations played for laughs against the western back-drop.
    I get what you’re saying, but I think some old popular things still play fine. Look at DUCK SOUP, it bombed but got more famous over time. And it’s still fucking hilarious.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    what deep undercurrent is there in Airplane!
    The cheesiness of mainstream filmmaking. I could watch it 100 times for the cast of inauthentic actors (from stars to bit players), the beige backgrounds, the sound of a prop plane under the unconvincing model of a jet flying…

  • Howlingman

    “Well, considering 2001 is the greatest motion picture ever made, yes, invariably it would be worse.”
    “Bullshiiiit.”
    “I know at least five movies which are better. Maybe six.”
    So which Police Academy movies would those be, Josh?

  • George Prager

    I request that Massey be banned from this site until he has watched a John Wayne movie. Anything. Even MCQ.

  • berg

    See lots of Ozu, Fassbinder, Makhmalbaf and Kiarostami films …
    right on man, now that is what a film critic should have on his list, let’s see I have not seen 3 Fassbinder films, et cetera … but not to have seen classics from the silent era to the present is a dereliction of duty … in the last year 2001 screened theatrically one and a half times in houston … once as a midnight movie at the landmark river oaks, then the angelika had it listed one night followed by a Q&A with keir dullea across the street at the alley theater … to my shock the alley sponsored the screening and showed it in a movie theater projected on DVD – worst experience ever … but not to worry for me it is a win-win year: vote for Obama in the primary next tuesday, vote for Nader in the fall … William Buckley in the laste 60s on his show? mentioned that he sailed to international waters to smoke a joint (so as not to break US law at the time)

  • nemo

    “See lots of Ozu, Fassbinder, Makhmalbaf and Kiarostami films.”
    I still have yet to see anything by Makhmalbaf, but yes!!! to the others.
    When you see GWTW, leave after Atlanta burns and Scarlett declares she’ll never go hungry again. It’s all laughable soap opera after the Civil War is over.
    How can anyone avoid seeing a John Wayne movie? Especially on cable?
    When I moved to New Mexico for a few years, I used to tell my friends back East that basic cable there included the Rodeo Channel and the John Wayne Channel.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Josh, I’m shocked such a conservative has yet to see a John Wayne film. I’ve seen plenty, hippie.
    This is just regoddamndiculous.

  • Dave

    I’m not aiming to disparage comedy, just place it in context compared to other forms of filmmaking. I just think that most of it is:
    1. Dependent on the cultural/historical moment it was made;
    2. Diluted through success via repetition/emulation/imitation.
    Of course, to a certain degree this applies to all movies. Pulp Fiction on the day it comes out feels fresh, new, and to anyone other than Danny, revolutionary. Ten years later, it’s been copied, ripped-off and parodied that it’s hard to look at the movie with the same eyes.
    With comedy, after all the jokes are ruined? Even tougher. The more opportunities to see it, the faster it gets diluted.
    And that’s even if you GET the jokes.
    Anyway, I guess this is a long way of saying my main point: Juno will NOT age well ;-)

  • Dan Revill

    Christian, I’ll movie it up on my queue.
    I’m a little shocked that a film geek hasn’t seen a John Wayne film. By no means have I seen a plethora of Wayne films, but The Searchers was one of the first DVDs I ever bought back in 2000. It’s just phenomenal.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    Howling: I know the stuffy “critics” repeatedly praise the nuances and subtlety of Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, but for my money, it just doesn’t get any better than Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Sir Guttenberg at his finest. The mise en scene during the hot-air balloon chase is breathtaking.
    And upon further review, I actually have seen two John Wayne movies – one I can’t believe I forgot (The Searchers), and one I absolutely believe (Angel and the Badman).

  • lbeale

    Gee, I hate to sound like a ’60s throwback, but:
    You have to see 2001 on the big screen. Stoned. Very stoned. First time I saw it, I was high on hash. The whole audience in downtown Philly – a packed house – was wiped out on drugs. It was a fucking wonderful experience.
    And oh, yeah, things I haven’t seen:
    Just about everything by Jean-Luc Godard.

  • Howlingman

    Bah, only a fool would place “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol” above “Police Academy 3: Citizens on Patrol.” Its use of mise-en-scene is sublime.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    And if you dare to take good acid and watch 2001, I’ve heard from a very close personal friend that it’s, like, the most. You will see a form of God.

  • Howlingman

    My apologies, “P3: Back in Training.”
    See what lethal exposure to those movies does to the brain?

  • Jay T.

    Don’t kill me, but I have to ask… WHAT is so god damn special about The Third Man? I watched it because it’s supposed to be so great and was far from impressed. I mean, I like Orson Welles and all (respect Citizen Kane, love Touch of Evil), but just because he’s in it doesn’t necessarily make it great.
    Oh, and I agree that The Searchers is a must see… definitely one of the best westerns of all time, although calling it a “western” almost feels a little cheap or degrading.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    I’ve only seen one Truffaut film. Two if you count CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

  • nemo

    See The Searchers. See True Grit. See Red River. See Stagecoach.
    Wayne is terrific in his second tier movies too. And his second tier is far better than most actor’s first. See Hondo. See The Spoilers. See anything with “Rio” in the title (well, maybe you can bypass Rio Lobo, the last one). The list goes on and on.
    See the two movies where he appears with Gail Russell, especially Angel and the Badman. Wake of the Red Witch is not as good, but his scenes with Gail Russell are excellent. She brought out a tenderness in him you rarely see in his other films. No wonder his wife at the time thought he was having an affair with her.
    As John Ford said to Howard Hawks after seeing Wayne in Red River: “I didn’t know the big son of a bitch could act.”

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    When I finally saw STAGECOACH a few years back, I was shocked at how GREAT it was. Ford really set out to make Duke a star in this.
    Next to Sean Connery in DR. NO, Wayne has possibly the greatest iconic entrance on film.

  • DavidF

    This may depend on where you live but a tip: Instead of Netflix, try your local library. Mine has a great collection of Criterion stuff and it’s allowed me to see some stuff like Rashomon which the sort of thing I doubt I ever would have grabbed (or even found!) at Blockbuster.
    Throw a bunch of DVDs in your queue, put em on reserve, wait for em to come in and enjoy em for a week for free. It ain’t cheap – it’s systematic.
    I almost caugh The Searchers on AMC the other day but can’t bear the commericals. That means I have seen ZERO John Wayne movies, unless you count A Bridge Too Far…Overall, I’ve seen basically none of the classic westerns and should at least be watching Morriconne’s films because Once Upon a Time in America is one of my all-time faves. Oh, the shame…

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    I thank God my dad has no idea how to access the Internet (slight exaggeration, but not much of one). We’re conservatives from Georgia – I mean, Wayne is a deity to the man. He has a few framed Wayne lobby cards in his house, a half-sheet from The Alamo, and even a John Wayne LP personally autographed in the ’70s.
    He introduced me early on to The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and Where Eagles Dare, but I must have resisted westerns when I was a kid. I only saw The Searchers for the first time about five years ago. BUT I HAVE SEEN IT!

  • http://journals.aol.com/terrymcca/poetry-arts-confidential/ Terry McCarty

    Anyway, LaSalle inspired me. I’ve never admitted the following derelictions but here goes. I’ve never seen F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise, William Wyler’s Mrs. Miniver, Budd Boetticher’s Seven Men From Now, Samuel Fuller’s 40 Guns, William Deterle’s The Story of Louis Pasteur and The Life of Emile Zola, Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce, Sidney Franklin’s The Good Earth, Fuller’s Fixed Bayonets, Jules Dassin’s Thieves Highway, and LeRoy’s Little Women, A Majority of One and Mary, Mary.
    SUNRISE is a triumph of 20s stylization. THIEVES’ HIGHWAY–another great film noir from the pen of A.I. Bezzerides; Lee J. Cobb’s performance foreshadows his later work in ON THE WATERFRONT.
    SEVEN MEN FROM NOW–worth seeing for Lee Marvin’s film-stealing performance.

  • Dave

    Ha ha ha. . . I’m right there with you Christian.
    “Who is that guy?”
    “Famous French director.”
    “What’s he done.”
    “Dunno, never seen anything he’s done.”

  • http://deanaanderson.blogspot.com PerfectTommy

    Okay, films of a more recent vintage I have not seen:
    Boogie Nights
    Punch Drunk Love
    I know you PTA fans are appalled, but as a seminary graduate, the porn kept me from BN. And as a college grad (high school grad? elementary school?), Adam Sandler kept me from PDL.
    And I second using the library as Netflix. Cheap can be good.

  • Rich S.

    Sad to say, the only Truffaut film I’ve seen is Fahrenheit 451.
    Another great, and I mean great, place to find old movies is TCM. I know, duh. But the best thing to do (especially during “31 Days of Oscar”) is to go through the listings on your DVR hour by hour and record away. You would be stunned by some of the stuff they play in the middle of the night, completely uncut. It’s where I first saw Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, West of Zanzibar, The Unholy Three and, yes, Skidoo! I just recorded Pennies from Heaven the other night, just to watch Chris Walken’s “Let’s Misbehave” (which I believe is they same version they play over the opening credits of Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex).
    To really enjoy the Third Man, don’t let anyone tell you anything about it beforehand. And if they do, try to put it out of your mind. (SPOILER) Orson Welles’ reveal was the Crying Game/Sixth Sense moment of its day.

  • PerfectTommy

    Good calls on the screen entrances of the Ringo Kid and Bond, Christian. I would put Indiana Jones in Raiders and the Sundance Kid in Butch Cassidy up there as well.

  • http://glennkenny.premiere.com Glenn Kenny

    You know, LaSalle’s within his rights to call “2001” “boring.” But to then add “impenetrable” is basically saying, “I’m a dumbass.” The movie’s not all that difficult.

  • Aguirre

    thoughts:
    this has got to be first thread in HE history that has ever evoked the name or works of the great MOHSEN MAKHMALBAF… and probably the first time jeff has ever heard the name. THE CYCLIST is phenomenal, and kiarostami’s CLOSE-UP, a meditation on the film’s power (among other things) is one of the 5-10 greatest films ever made in my opinion.
    2nd… PERFECTTOMMY… i followed the link to your blog as i often do when posters make such things available here… and was a bit disturbed by this snipped from your review of the oscar-nominated films:
    “Daniel Day Lewis gives a larger than life performance as Plainfield, an unbeliever who is willing to confess Christ in a church in order to make a land deal. We also see a believer in the film deny Christ for financial gain. I was thinking after the film — which is worse, someone who calls √ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√Ö‚ÄúLord, Lord√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√Ǭù yet doesn√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t believe in Him or someone who denies Christ? Two sides of the same coin, both hopeless paths.”
    this saddens me, as i’ve always appreciated your posts. you’re certainly entitled to your own creed, but i don’t know if i have the capacity to separate such a narrow-minded statement from your thoughts on filmdom. that being said, i couldn’t agree with you more about IKIRU being a life-changer.

  • thorsen1nk

    The difference between all (or most, anyway) of the people here and Mick LaSalle is that you guys don’t get paid by a major american newspaper to review movies. For this inveterate hack/”professional cineaste” to admit that, over the course of nearly two decades, he couldn’t be bother to see some of the most influential films of our time is nothing short of shameful. It’s also indicative of how many major US film critics (looks at Richard Roeper and Bunghola Dargis) got their jobs through ass-kissing and political machinations than any sort of talent or cinematic insight. DISGUSTING.

  • Dave

    Glenn– I’m interested if your opinion is based on a first viewing or on seeing it now.
    Obviously, that doesn’t excuse LaSalle in 2008, but I can imagine that many millions of people unfamiliar with the Clarke story, or the handholding 2010, watched 2001 in 1968 or even for years afterward and went. . . “Huh?”
    Especially that ending, which let’s face it, doesn’t make much sense by itself (Bowman gets swallowed by the Monolith, got it. He witnesses “creation”, got it. But what’s with the aging?).
    It’s a great film, but c’mon, it’s WEIRD. Kubrick WAS weird.

  • DavidF

    I agree with Dave. Somehow the 2001 discussion is also taking place on the Buckley/Lives of Others thread so I’ll just duplicate my post here – cuz, why not? Reading the book of 2001 (or seeing 2010) is definitely a big help, though you could kind call it “cheating.”
    PASTE…
    2001 is NOT an easy movie to watch the first time. I don’t believe anyone who says they “got it” on first viewing.
    Calling it boring is a bit easy but there are some sequences (Dawn of Man, Stargate, some of the spacewalking) which would probably work perfectly fine at half their length. That said, the film IS about something, it DOES make sense when you watch it all and though I find some segements a bit long, am willing to defer to Mr. Kubrick’s superior knowledge of the medium.
    I don’t expect everyone to love the movie (I appreciate more than LOVE it) but if you like movies you should certainly give it a shot, start-to-finish and then make a call.

  • JHRussell

    Looking at some of these “confessions,” I am stunned by the omissions for some of you. I have seen almost everything listed on this thread except BOOGIE NIGHTS.
    I am dumbfounded that there are self proclaimed movie buffs who have never seen 2001, The Maltese Falcon, Mildred Pierce, GWTW, Casablanca, Ikiru, Tokyo Story, Double Indemnity, The Third Man, The Godfather (I and II), etc…
    As for the confessions of the critic for whom this thread was started, he should be fired.
    I am taking notes on the rest of you guys…

  • Rich S.

    I remember as a kid (probably around 1973 or so) watching a documentary about the history of movies. They did a section on science fiction films, and showed scenes from the iconic movies in the genre up to that point.
    Remember, this was before video and before our house had cable, so it wasn’t easy to see movies once they left the theater. You really had to be vigilant with the TV Guide and your 4 or 5 channels.
    Anyway, they showed scenes from two movies that I had never seen, and they absolutely floored me. The first was from The Day the Earth Stood Still where Gort first opens his visor and shoots the tanks. The weird Theramin music, the black visor opening with the pulsing light underneath, the reverse gun ricochet sound of the laser.
    The second was a simple shot of the Starchild, floating in space, implacable. It was other worldly, but familiar. And I’d never seen anything like it.
    I immediately did all I could to track down the two films, and they remain two of my favorites to this day. That documentary was the first time I can recall understanding the power of images in film. And even though I’ve seen a lot of movies since then through much more “educated” eyes, I’ll still never forget those two scenes, which I still consider some of the best in movie history.
    Sorry to get all Harry Knowles, but in all this discussion, I did want to try to explain one of the things that makes 2001 such a great film.

  • mutinyco

    Well, here’s what K himself had to say about it: http://www.krusch.com/kubrick/Q12.html

  • http://deanaanderson.blogspot.com PerfectTommy

    Aguirre, Don’t see this as a site to talk theology, but the point that I was trying to make at my blog was that both Lewis and Dano’s character’s are willing to deny their fundamental beliefs for financial gain. Whether that is saying you believe in God when you really don’t (a fairly common practice in American politics) or a believer denying God in front of others (Peter at the trial of Jesus.) Anyway, have enjoyed your posts as well. I’d hate to think religion or politics would keep us from getting pleasure and insight from others on this site.

  • joncro

    “And if you dare to take good acid and watch 2001, I’ve heard from a very close personal friend that it’s, like, the most. You will see a form of God.”
    Seconded.
    Dropped then tried to sit through double bill of ‘2001’ and ‘Star Wars'; when the star child stared at us we panicked and bolted out into the Manhattan street.
    Haven’t seen Star Wars on the big screen since 1978.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    PLAYBOY: Some prominent critics — including Renata Adler of The New York Times, John Simon of The New Leader, Judith Crist of New York
    magazine and Andrew Sarris of the Village Voice –apparently felt that 2001 should be among those films still exempted from the category of
    art; all four castigated it as dull, pretentious and overlong. [KAEL: 'It's a monumentally unimaginative movie'; ADLER: 'Incredibly boring';
    SARRIS: 'A disaster' || from Ciment, p. 43 -- B.K.] How do you account for their hostility?
    KUBRICK: The four critics you mention all work for New York publications. The reviews across America and around the world have been
    95 percent enthusiastic. Some were more perceptive than others, of course, but even those who praised the film on relatively superficial
    grounds were able to get something of its message. New York was the only really hostile city. Perhaps there is a certain element of the
    lumpen literati that is so dogmatically atheist and materialist and Earth-bound that it finds the grandeur of space and the myriad
    mysteries of cosmic intelligence anathema, But film critics, fortunately, rarely have any effect on the general public; houses everywhere are packed and the film is well on its way to becoming the greatest moneymaker in M-G-M’s history. Perhaps this sounds like a
    crass way to evaluate one’s work, but I think that, especially with a film that is so obviously different, record audience attendance means
    people are saying the right things to one another after they see it — and isn’t this really what it’s all about?

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    “I am dumbfounded that there are self proclaimed movie buffs who have never seen 2001, The Maltese Falcon, Mildred Pierce, GWTW, Casablanca, Ikiru, Tokyo Story, Double Indemnity, The Third Man, The Godfather (I and II), etc…”
    Oh come on, if we tried long enough we could find your forehead-slapping omission. I’m convinced everyone has one.

  • Dave

    Wow Christian– I just finished reading that interview and came here to post *that very paragraph*.
    For reasons obvious to the HE readership, of course.
    Damn, beat me to it!

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it, Dave.

  • Dave

    And here I was hoping you’d sing me “Daisy” ;-)

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “I tried to think of classics I’d never seen a while back. The only really topshelf title I could come up with was How Green Was My Valley. There are some of those second-tier MGM musicals I’ve never made it through, like Easter Parade and The Pirate, and somehow I’ve never managed to watch High Sierra, but that’s all I could really think of.” -Mgmax
    Try watching “The Pianist” again, so the next time you try to pigeonhole it as “just another Holocaust movie” you might actually remember enough key plot details to convince me how it’s so “run of the mill” (this would also help convince me that you’ve actually seen the film in its entirety).
    For all you completists out there, maybe it’s not the sheer number of films you see, but how well you choose and watch the ones you do see…

  • Rich S.

    I can see your really upset about this. Why don’t you take a stress pill and we can talk it over?

  • JHRussell

    Mgmax:
    Maybe so, but it hasn’t been listed on this thread…yet…
    And we are not talking about “one” omission here and there – nor obscure cult faves – we are listing bonafide classics – and for anyone who spends time opining on a movie blog to have not seen “The Godfather” or several of the other classics repeated on this thread is stupefying.
    But I note that some of the very same folks are still whining about “Zodiac” getting shafted by Oscar…gee, is there a connection?

  • D.Z.

    I “got” Young Frankenstein, but was fairly bored by it. And I’m one of the few people who’d defend “Dracula…Dead and Loving It”.

  • Dan Revill

    I missed seeing Tokyo Story at a screening in Vancouver last year. Hopefully the theater brings it back. It’s on my list of stuff that’s must see.
    Ikiru is on that list too. I remember renting it when I was a teenager, but never did watch it. Glad I didn’t actually, since I’m not sure I could have appreciated it as much as I am apparently going to when I get around to it.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/sandiegocinerama MPNeeb

    Never seen 2001?
    If he lived in Kansas City or Las Vegas where there’s very little Rep / Revival activity I could buy it.
    But he works in San Francisco. He works in the city with the Castro.
    This is grounds for firing.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    And the Castro is the first place I saw it in 70 mm. Come on La Salle.

  • mutinyco

    Speaking of revivals… 2008 is the 40th anniversary of 2001…

  • Walter Sobchak

    My biggest non-see…. “Ben-Hur”…. waiting for the big screen.
    “Sunrise” I have Tivo-ed… I’ll watch it someday soon.
    See “Gone With The Wind”…. it’s simply one of the most entertaining movies ever made. It’s not a chore, it’s not even “high art”, it’s just great fun. Nearly four hours and there’s not a boring minute of it. The restoration is mind-blowing. Seeing it on TCM recently it looked like they filmed it last week, not 1939.
    It isn’t the weepy, soap opera, costumed chick flick it might appear from the outside. It’s Hollywood hitting on all cylinders.

  • Mgmax

    Jesus, how could you not see 2001 or Blade Runner, by accident if nothing else? Talk about two of the most ubiquitous movies of the last 40 years…

    As for your list, Jeff, Sunrise is well worth seeing on screen with soaring music but only if you’re ready for self-conscious “poetic” filmmaking (Tabu is actually an easier sit for modern sensibilities), Mrs. Miniver you can skip, it’s well-made wartime propaganda, 40 Guns is actually Fuller and it’s not one of his best, Louis Pasteur is kind of simple-minded but Emile Zola is quite well done, cooks right along with more fervor about the screwing of poor Dreyfus (but still, there’s a million Warner Bros. movies I like better), Mildred Pierce is kind of fun as noir soap opera, The Good Earth is better than you might expect, but still, 2-1/2 hours of yellowface Dallas, basically, I haven’t seen the rest (though I have Thieves Highway). Actually the Dassin movie to catch that’s running on one of the HDTV channels is He Who Must Die, a neorealist Christ parable that kicks ass.

    I tried to think of classics I’d never seen a while back. The only really topshelf title I could come up with was How Green Was My Valley. There are some of those second-tier MGM musicals I’ve never made it through, like Easter Parade and The Pirate, and somehow I’ve never managed to watch High Sierra, but that’s all I could really think of.

  • Mgmax

    Oh, and by the way, if you have the Emile Zola DVD, I’m quoted on the back cover. So far as I know, that’s the only pull-quote from my movie awards book of a decade ago that’s been used by anybody.

  • George Prager

    And everyone needs to see MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=XKvgOpf9SWM

  • Aguirre

    PERFECTTOMMY – the way you worded your review, it made it sound in no uncertain terms that anyone who doesn’t follow the words of Jesus Christ is on a hopeless path. if you believe that, the lens through which you view any on-screen character’s journey is so particularly skewed that anyone who disagrees with you on that point couldn’t possibly relate to your analysis. such a sentiment wouldn’t make me dislike you in the slightest, but it would demand that i view the majority of your comments in a vastly different light.
    that being said, the way in which you re-phrased it in this thread was both a lot more accepting and a lot fairer to the characters involved, and no grudge will be held by me. obviously this is not the place for theological discussion unless jeff decides it is, and i’m not quite sure why i bothered to mention my qualm earlier given how wildly off-topic it was… i think – given my initial impression of your words – i was just a bit disgruntled at your very ted baher-ish movieguide.org-ian analysis of my favorite film of 2007.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH
    I watched this literally every time it played on HBO circa 1982 or so. I mean, every single time.
    Where’s the DVD?
    And if you haven’t seen it, then you don’t know what’s going to hit you when I seek my vengance on those who haven’t…

  • Mgmax

    I could now pick up a bone and beat MiraJeff with it, I know, but that’s what separates me from the chimps.

  • Walter Sobchak

    I’m the rock music critic for a major daily newspaper. Who are these Beetles I keep hearing people talk about?

  • PerfectTommy

    Thanks, Arguirre. TWBB isn’t my favorite from last year, but I am a fan. And I’m not really concerned about the eternal destiny of any fictional characters. But I appreciate that PTA does wrestle with the spirtual journey of his characters.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    I saw BEN-HUR for the first time at Egyptian’s Chuck Heston tribute. Very cool film. And when Heston came out, we gave him a standing O that made him so happy, he seemed to get 20 years younger.

  • AJW

    Since getting Netflix 1.5 years ago I’ve tried to cross a movie off the IMDB Top 250 and/or the AFI Top 100 each week or two (I know, not the best lists and not a very impressive rate, but it serves its purpose for me). I still have my work cut out, but at least I’ve seen 2001 (on a reasonably big screen at school, no less).
    I would list a few of the ones I most want to see, but I fear reprisals for my Wire gaffe on Monday. One I have no interest in seeing, simply because it has already been so ingrained in me, is It’s a Wonderful Life.
    Greatest…thread…ever? I’ve bookmarked this one.

  • http://lipranzer.blogspot.com lipranzer

    This is what I get for being gone most of the day – missing the post and discussion that reminds me why I still keep coming here.
    “I think one of the worst things that can happen to a movie is for it to be tagged a “great movie.” Most people then assume that it is stuffy, boring and/or has subtitles. Most of all, they believe it is not accessible.
    Nothing could be further from the truth when talking about Casablanca, Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon. Above all, these movies are just plain entertaining and fun. In many ways, they’re the reason why movies are made.”
    Perfectly true, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across that attitude in person and online. As someone brought up on old movies (though of a specific type – musicals, Bogart movies, Cary Grant movies, Marx Brothers, Chaplin, and Fields movies, and other 30’s comedies – as my dad bought all those for our family, and since he wasn’t a film noir fan (except for MALTESE FALCON and BIG SLEEP, for obvious reasons) or Western fan, I had to discover those on my own in college), I find it sad but not surprising.
    Having said that, I’ll admit I have my own blind spots. Because my dad showed us a really bad print of GRAND ILLUSION when I was young (the subtitles were hard to read), and I couldn’t understand it anyway, that turned me off of foreign movies for about ten years (it didn’t help that when I finally got over my prejudice, the video stores I went to didn’t stock many of them, and the library didn’t have many that were subtitled). I’ve since seen a lot of the biggies – the Apu trilogy, the best known of Truffaut, Godard, and Fellini, and have seen almost all of the available Bergman and Kurosawa, as those two are my favorites – but I haven’t seen a lot of Ozu except TOKYO STORY (which I love), Bunuel, Fassbinder (though that can partly be excused by the fact that I didn’t get along wtih the co-worker who kept shoving him in my face, and also my already known predilection against Douglas Sirk, one of Fassbinder’s acknowledged influences), Chabrol, and there’s several others I could think of.
    Another one is documentaries. I’m of the generation who was taught documentaries in school as if they were medicinal – taste bad, but they’re good for you. I still haven’t seen a lot of Barbara Koppel’s work except for HARLAN COUNTY U.S.A. (which was very good, and not at all dated) and her more recent stuff like her Woody Allen and Dixie Chick documentaries, nor have I seen THE SORROW AND THE PITY, SHOAH, or any like works.
    Finally, I can’t stand Joan Crawford. I know this is heresy in many quarters, but while I was watching MILDRED PIERCE (an otherwise fun movie), I kept thinking to myself, “If Bette Davis were in this role, she’d have dispensed with Ann Blyth with one hand tied behind her back.” She’s too much of a martyr for my tastes.
    Oh, and while I took Mgmax to task in another comment thread, I must again agree with him that Max Ophuls is a must see, if you can find his movies (which aren’t readily available yet in this country on DVD, I’m sad to say), and I also heartily endorse SUNRISE.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “Greatest…thread…ever?”
    Close. But that would have to be reserved for the massive 200 plus comments for the Indy and 80’s films last month.
    Now let’s see if we can’t get this one up to 201…for LaSalle.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “She’s too much of a martyr for my tastes.’
    Then you must see TROG.

  • Jay T.

    I think this dicussion requires the inclusion of age to some degree. For example, I’m 28, so a great deal of these films were released before I was in high school or even born, so going back to watch them is far more of a task than if I had been around. When you consider that Mick LaSalle is nearly 50 years old, that makes these omissions even more pathetic.

  • berg

    Finally, I can’t stand Joan Crawford. I know this is heresy in many quarters …
    Three years ago I said these words – JOHNNY GUITAR

  • Pelham123

    “Johnny Guitar” is — well words can’t begin to do it justice. It must be seen. Great batshit crazy movie. And I mean that with all due respect.

  • Mgmax

    Mgmax, I’d like to see you try. Seriously, I’m waiting for you buddy. Name the time and place.

    A double bill of Equinox Flower and Floating Weeds at Facets Multimedia. I’ll beat you silly, then the camera will cut away to a low-angle shot of an empty kitchen.

    Ooh, Perfect Tommy found a foreign classic I’ve never seen, though, Japanophile though I am: Ikiru. I am ashamed.

  • Mgmax

    How many times has 2001 played in YOUR city in a theater in the last decade?

    At least twice, probably more.

  • Mgmax

    Also, Airplane! raised the ante on spoofs by being so much faster paced, I find Brooks’ films seem slow by comparison now.

    Two more incidental notes before I start selecting femurs:

    1) 2001 will be on HDNet movies on Saturday night.

    2) LaSalle is not uninformed about film history, read this piece about a Norma Shearer silent (which has played TCM since):

    http://tinyurl.com/3y8tzc

  • Mgmax

    There’s so much good Lubitsch out, hard to know where to start, but one should. Personally my favorite is the very underrated The Smiling Lieutenant; that last scene, when she’s finally ready and he’s oblivious, is just lovely in its unabashed, yet basically sweet, pre-Code sexual frankness. Here’s something I wrote about some of the German silents recently released, which are very different from his later films:

    http://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?t=70

    Ophuls: see The Earrings of Madame De, one of the ten best of all time. Then work through anything else you find, French or American.

  • Doug Pratt

    ‘Great Movies’ that actually suck:
    Grand Illusion
    Brief Encounter
    The Best Years of Our Lives
    Fort Apache
    Scenes from a Marriage (theatrical version)
    Au Hasard Balthasar
    Gigi
    Traffic
    ‘Great Movies’ that ought to suck, but don’t:
    Grapes of Wrath
    Tokyo Story
    Chariots of Fire
    Death in Venice
    JFK

  • Doug Pratt

    Another ‘Great Movie’ that sucks:
    A Woman under the Influence

  • JHRussell

    “‘Great Movies’ that ought to suck, but don’t:
    Grapes of Wrath
    Tokyo Story
    Chariots of Fire
    Death in Venice
    JFK”
    Doug: I would bump 3, 4, and 5 to the top of your suck list where they belong (and I concur with your suck list).
    “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Tokyo Story” are great – neither will be appreciated by Jeff’s “Gorilla Nation” but nonetheless…

  • Aladdin Sane

    While there are plenty of films that I haven’t seen, I think the smartest thing I did was sign up for a DVD rental service last fall. It’s a smaller outfit up here in Canada, but I went through imdb’s top 250 and then requested any Criterion the site had – so my request list constantly hovers around 160 films, and I may never get to watch every single film on that list, but I’m gonna give it a shot.
    Recently I watched BECKET, which was worth every single damn post Wells has made over the past few years.
    Right now I’ve got IF…. and REIGN OVER ME sitting on my coffee table, with BLOODY SUNDAY on the way…suffice to say, I almost always have a new DVD to watch.
    There are lots of films that I’ll probably never see, but I really care more about older and hard to find films than whatever’s new. Still a few that I haven’t seen that I should:

    – LOLITA
    – SUNRISE
    – HAROLD & MAUDE
    – a lot of Woody Allen

    And so it goes on. I also missed out on a lot of supposedly classic 80s family films that my parents had the wisdom not to expose me to. The ones I have caught up on haven’t exactly thrilled me – but I’ll give ‘em a whirl eventually I suppose.

    PS the first time I watched 2001, it put me to sleep. Then again, I was 16 and wasn’t really well versed in what makes a movie great. Suffice to say, at this point in my life I think it’s one of the greatest films ever conceived.

  • Mgmax

    what deep undercurrent is there in Airplane!

    The cheesiness of mainstream filmmaking. I could watch it 100 times for the cast of inauthentic actors (from stars to bit players), the beige backgrounds, the sound of a prop plane under the unconvincing model of a jet flying…

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com/ Josh Massey

    Alright, I’m turning in my movie geek card here, but whatever – was anybody else not impressed with Rashomon?
    I mean, I consider both Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood to be in my top 25 of all time, but I have never gotten the adoration for Rashomon. And I’ve tried, I really have. I’m sure it was groundbreaking and revelatory at its initial release, but yeah… I just got nuthin’ as far as that movie is concerned.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    ‘Great Movies’ that actually suck:
    Grand Illusion
    Brief Encounter
    –both don’t suck, but I agree, among the least interesting of their makers’ films, with obvious messages
    The Best Years of Our Lives
    –Aw, now I know it’s unfashionably sincere, but there are real moving moments in it.
    Fort Apache
    –Yes, very minor Ford.
    Scenes from a Marriage (theatrical version)
    –unseen
    Au Hasard Balthasar
    –Some Bresson films are so bleak and unredemptive they’re unbearable. If the universe is that cold, I don’t go to the movies to find that out. As an atheist, I prefer the Christian ones, A Man Escapes and Diary of a Country Priest.
    Gigi
    –Yes. Ghastly, coy, overstuffed, MGM at its worst.
    Traffic
    –Soderbergh or Tati?

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Rashomon is not my favorite Kurosawa– but then neither is Seven Samurai. (Mine would be Throne of Blood, Ran and High and Low.)
    I think the thing is, it was almost certainly the first Japanese film most of its western audience had seen. So sheer novelty counted for a lot, and it’s well constructed and different. Easy to see why folks in 1950 responded well to it.

  • AJW

    “Alright, I’m turning in my movie geek card here, but whatever – was anybody else not impressed with Rashomon?”
    Maybe it’s because I saw ‘Courage Under Fire’ first, but yeah, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. (I’m at least half-kidding with that statement.) Am I the only one who finds the acting in ‘Rashomon’ and ‘Ran’ really aggravating?
    I loved ‘Ikiru’, though.

  • Aladdin Sane

    Christian, I’ll movie it up on my queue.

    I’m a little shocked that a film geek hasn’t seen a John Wayne film. By no means have I seen a plethora of Wayne films, but The Searchers was one of the first DVDs I ever bought back in 2000. It’s just phenomenal.

  • Doug Pratt

    Soderbergh’s Traffic. In a perfect world, SNL or Mad TV would do sketch merging it with Tati.
    I came -that- close to putting Rashomon on the list, because it has become very dated, but in the end I chose not to because its action scenes remain both engaging and memorable.
    If you want to see a really, really great, less heralded Kurosawa film, check out Stray Dog.

  • Rosebudsthesled

    Doug Pratt–GRAND ILLUSION sucks? Are you pulling my leg? Are you out of your mind? I don’t mean to go all negative, but when somebody says that the greatest movie ever made (in my mind) “sucks,” then I just have to say SHUT UP.
    Oh yeah, and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES is way up there on my list of the greatest too.
    Jeff, you’ve never seen SUNRISE? Wow. Murnau is one of my favorites. SUNRISE is a masterpiece.

  • Doug Pratt

    Yes, I’m afraid you will find that there is a quiet majority of film buffs out there that agrees with me–Grand Illusion is a tedious, painfully uninteresting film with over-stated themes, obnoxious performances and absolutely none of the subtlety that Renoir brought to Rules of the Game or several of his other legitimate masterpieces.

  • T. S. Idiot

    If you haven’t seen Angel on the Amazon and Shack Out on 101, you haven’t lived.

  • mutinyco

    No love for Reform School Girls?…
    BTW/ I realized MiraJeff doesn’t hate Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, he was talking about the disco in Saturday Night Fever. Man, Travolta’s moves are tired…

  • Rich S.

    I would agree with you, Jay T., except for the thing I mentioned above. At 28, you’ve never lived in a world where media was not omnipresent. You’ve always been able to watch classic films whenever you want by going to a well-stocked video store or the library.
    The first time I ever saw 2001 was at a science fiction convention, for crying out loud. They didn’t show it on TCM every month.
    Sorry, that came out harsher than I meant it to. What I really mean to say is, you live in a golden age, when you can track down whatever you want. Use the AFI lists, or this thread, and have at it. In many ways, I envy you because you’re going to get to see things through new eyes.
    When you think of it (to try to get back to the original point of this post), having not seen some of the great movies isn’t such a curse (unless you’re a freaking movie critic). How great would it be to see Ben Hur for the first time? And know, KNOW, that there isn’t a frame of CGI in that incredible chariot race.

  • Rosebudsthesled

    No subtlety in GRAND ILLUSION? Look at Erich Von Stroheim in that scene with the dying soldier. We’re talking about Von Stroheim here, and the guy was kinda crazy, but he achieved the most subtle acting of his life in that one moment.

  • Doug Pratt

    Precisely. How much more obvious can you get than asking Erich Von Stroheim to cool it?

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    If you haven’t seen Angel on the Amazon and Shack Out on 101, you haven’t lived.
    I’ve seen the latter, at least, and I’m pretty sure I had lived both before and after that moment.
    I’m tired of the cult of trash cinema. How about appreciating the ones that were fun on purpose?

  • Mgmax

    “I am dumbfounded that there are self proclaimed movie buffs who have never seen 2001, The Maltese Falcon, Mildred Pierce, GWTW, Casablanca, Ikiru, Tokyo Story, Double Indemnity, The Third Man, The Godfather (I and II), etc…”

    Oh come on, if we tried long enough we could find your forehead-slapping omission. I’m convinced everyone has one.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Best Years of Our Lives is one of my top ten…
    Sucks?
    what are you, 12 years old?
    Have a sense of time and place….. that film is a beautiful snapshot of America in 1945/46….

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com/ Josh Massey

    My Netflix queue has undergone great changes thanks to this thread.

  • Doug Pratt

    Yes, and 1945/46 is over. The film is an adequate curiosity about a brief historical moment, but it does not carry the kind of resonance or universal insight to human experience that its fanatical, and thankfully aging, followers seem to think it possesses.

  • Rosebudsthesled

    “It does not carry the kind of resonance or universal insight to human experience.”
    Tell that to the soldiers who come back from Iraq.

  • mutinyco

    I recall a few years back that American Cinematographer compiled what they determined to be the best photographed films of all time. However, they made a point of creating 2 separate lists — one from the first 50 years, the second from the latter half of the 20th Century. Their rationale was that filmmaking from the first half was sufficiently different from the second in so many ways that they shouldn’t have to compete against each other.
    I think that’s a pretty good example, and it should apply to film lists in general.

  • Aladdin Sane

    I missed seeing Tokyo Story at a screening in Vancouver last year. Hopefully the theater brings it back. It’s on my list of stuff that’s must see.
    Ikiru is on that list too. I remember renting it when I was a teenager, but never did watch it. Glad I didn’t actually, since I’m not sure I could have appreciated it as much as I am apparently going to when I get around to it.

  • Doug Pratt

    “Tell that to the soldiers who come back from Iraq.”
    They, on the other hand, would be underwhelmed by the film’s Production Code timidity and archaic performances.

  • Doug Pratt

    Actually, when you stop to think about it, Best Years of our Lives was made in 1946, during a very brief economic downswing in America that was completely eradicated by the boom of the Fifties. While its narrative strands have both optomistic and pessimistic components, it is basically, as its title would suggest, trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, attempting to paint a generalized portrait of America from a very myopic and, as history would prove, misguided perspective. It is only because William Wyler is such a highly respected director that the movie isn’t lumped immediately with Mrs. Miniver and Gentlemen’s Agreement, but why it has managed to maintain such a passionate following for so long is close to bizarre. Somehow, it is still cashing in chips from having bet on the wrong horse.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “They, on the other hand, would be underwhelmed by the film’s Production Code timidity and archaic performances”
    Nobody can not be moved by Harold Russell. I think some soldiers would feel much to identify with, tho I don’t think of the film as great as others do. It’s more revealing as to how much controversy there was about showing wounded soldiers trying to engage back into society. For that, it’s groundbreaking.

  • http://lipranzer.blogspot.com lipranzer

    Anyone who praises CHARIOTS OF FIRE has no business slamming GRAND ILLUSION or THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES or any version of SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (I also like BRIEF ENCOUNTER, FORT APACHE (despite the ending) and TRAFFIC a lot, but I’m not going to go to the mat for them). It took what could have been an interesting story and sucked all the life out of it. And this was even before I got tired of all those “inspirational” sports movies. I believe Corliss at the time called it “a hymn to the human spirit as scored by Barry Manilow,” and I’m right there with him.
    As far as BEST YEARS not having any subtlety to call its own, just watch the informal remake HOME OF THE BRAVE and tell me which is more subtle.
    I will agree with you re STRAY DOG. One of Kurosawa’s most underrated movies.
    JOHNNY GUITAR is batshit crazy, and entertaining in that way, I guess, but as far as batshit crazy Westerns go, I prefer RANCHO NOTORIOUS (now there’s a DVD we need). Also, I must confess, except for THEY LIVE BY NIGHT and parts of IN A LONELY PLACE, Nicholas Ray doesn’t do anything for me either.

  • Jamie

    Granted I am only 19, and a recently converted cinephile, but while I have seen nearly every ‘in contention’ release of the past few years, I am missing an embarrassing amount of the classics:
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    The Sound of Music
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Gone with the Wind
    Notorious
    Rashomon
    North by Northwest
    A Clockwork Orange
    Probably most egregious are the gaps in my foreign film knowledge. I have seen almost nothing by Fellini, Kurosawa, Truffaut or perhaps most shockingly: Bergman. At first it was a matter of convenience, but now I am somewhat overwhelmed by it all. Any recommendations on where to start?

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Jamie, it might be cool to start chronologically. You can get a sense of filmmaking evolution and compare as you move on up.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Frankly, you could do a lot worse than simply working your way through the Criterion Collection. Janus Films was the major foreign film distributor all through the heyday of Bergman, Fellini, Truffaut, Kurosawa, etc., and so by far the majority of their major work and that of their contemporaries is out from Criterion (which Janus is a partner in). Ideally, find a rich relative who’ll buy you this:
    http://www.criterion.com/asp/janusbox.asp
    Another option: get Ebert’s The Great Movies books and work through them, you’re exactly who they’re made for and Ebert is one of the best mainstream critics ever– highly intelligent but not highbrow or high-falutin’, committed to the idea that art movies are for regular folks.
    Finally, I would say don’t be afraid to focus on a single director intensely for a while. Many of them reveal much more when you see the similarities in their work within a short period– Hitchcock, Ford, Hawks, etc.– and some I think only make sense when you seem them working through their ideas film by film, roughly chronologically (Bergman, Fassbinder).

  • Mgmax

    ‘Great Movies’ that actually suck:

    Grand Illusion
    Brief Encounter

    –both don’t suck, but I agree, among the least interesting of their makers’ films, with obvious messages

    The Best Years of Our Lives

    –Aw, now I know it’s unfashionably sincere, but there are real moving moments in it.

    Fort Apache

    –Yes, very minor Ford.

    Scenes from a Marriage (theatrical version)

    –unseen

    Au Hasard Balthasar

    –Some Bresson films are so bleak and unredemptive they’re unbearable. If the universe is that cold, I don’t go to the movies to find that out. As an atheist, I prefer the Christian ones, A Man Escapes and Diary of a Country Priest.

    Gigi

    –Yes. Ghastly, coy, overstuffed, MGM at its worst.

    Traffic

    –Soderbergh or Tati?

  • Mgmax

    Rashomon is not my favorite Kurosawa– but then neither is Seven Samurai. (Mine would be Throne of Blood, Ran and High and Low.)

    I think the thing is, it was almost certainly the first Japanese film most of its western audience had seen. So sheer novelty counted for a lot, and it’s well constructed and different. Easy to see why folks in 1950 responded well to it.

  • Nate West

    I first saw “2001” in 1968 or 1969. People forget how those roadshow releases would play for months, years… And they sold illustrated programs! I still have mine somewhere–an elongated, slickly printed collection of photographs and interviews. Then I got a hold of Jerome Angel’s book, “The Making of Kubrick’s 2001″ (it’s essential reading; Clarke’s “Lost Worlds of 2001″ is good, too).
    What younger viewers may not grasp is the historical context. “2001” was released at the height of national space fever, just before the first moon landing. Kubrick captured the icy, dehumanized cool of the astronauts perfectly! In fact, his depiction borders on satire. I would argue that the entire film–at least up until its transcendental ending–is a comedy, a human comedy (from an extraterrestrial point of view).
    Kubrick was a specialist in cosmic irony (non-fans call this “coldness”), and here, with “2001,” he outdid himself. The “dawn of man” sequence is brutally funny; the encounter with the Russians encapsulates tribal distrust and official dishonesty in miniature; the discussion of the new “sandwiches” highlights human insignificance, as does the posing for pictures in front of the monolith; and HAL is amusing in the way that Richard III can be, even when he is murdering people.
    Today’s viewers sometimes mistake the satirical “boredom as subject” for boredom itself. A case in point is the interminable and tedious “moon briefing.” But this lengthy, and all-too-realistic depiction of human small-mindedness and bureaucracy provides a stark contrast to the eerie scene to follow–the trip to the monolith.
    In its totality, I see “2001” one as the extraterrestrial equivalent of that amusing convent song from “The Sound of Music”: “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Only, in this case, the problem is humanity itself.
    As for Mick LaSalle: his origin and purpose still a total mystery.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    “Today’s viewers sometimes mistake the satirical “boredom as subject” for boredom itself. A case in point is the interminable and tedious “moon briefing.” But this lengthy, and all-too-realistic depiction of human small-mindedness and bureaucracy provides a stark contrast to the eerie scene to follow–the trip to the monolith.”
    Excellent analysis. That’s one of my favorite moments in the film. The dialogue scenes are subtly amusing, especially when Floyd ducks the Russian’s questions.
    Harlan Ellison wrote a funny review/analysis of the film that you can find in the indispensable collection of his film essays, WATCHING. He was impressed with the vision but not the story.

  • PerfectTommy

    Jamie, just another opinion on starter films for those directors, based on…well, nothing much, just things I like:
    Fellini – Amarcord (yeah, the bosum smother scene, sue me)
    Bergman – The Seventh Seal (you will then truly appreciate Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey)… or maybe Shame.
    Truffaut – The Four Hundred Blows (maybe the greatest performance by a child in films)
    Kurosawa – It hasn’t been mentioned on this thread, but Yojimbo is great, great fun (who would have expected an Elvis samurai in that film)
    (We might be beat the Indy/80’s/Greatest Ever Thread with this one.)

  • JB Moore

    Jamie:
    I second working through the Criterion collection. Fuck a film degree. Major in a real subject, and then go through their catalog. You’ll be better for it.
    And 2001 is number five on my all-time list.
    And I’ve never seen CASABLANCA. But I plan to someday.
    That’s about it father.
    (Exits eating a bag of Funyuns)
    And long live the Indy/80s/Greatest Thread Ever!!!

  • Walter Sobchak

    I

  • Walter Sobchak

    hope

  • Walter Sobchak

    this thread

  • Walter Sobchak

    makes it

  • Walter Sobchak

    to 200!

  • Walter Sobchak

    (Maybe this will help push us to the double century mark)
    George W. Bush is a great and visionary leader. History will drape his presidency in metaphorical garlands of sweet lavender.
    Discuss.

  • Mgmax

    If you haven’t seen Angel on the Amazon and Shack Out on 101, you haven’t lived.

    I’ve seen the latter, at least, and I’m pretty sure I had lived both before and after that moment.

    I’m tired of the cult of trash cinema. How about appreciating the ones that were fun on purpose?

  • PerfectTommy

    That’s cheating, Sobchak. I mean, if you put up one or two word posts to reach a higher number…it just isn’t as meaningful.

  • PerfectTommy

    I mean it.

  • PerfectTommy

    Really.

  • Mgmax

    Frankly, you could do a lot worse than simply working your way through the Criterion Collection. Janus Films was the major foreign film distributor all through the heyday of Bergman, Fellini, Truffaut, Kurosawa, etc., and so by far the majority of their major work and that of their contemporaries is out from Criterion (which Janus is a partner in). Ideally, find a rich relative who’ll buy you this:

    http://www.criterion.com/asp/janusbox.asp

    Another option: get Ebert’s The Great Movies books and work through them, you’re exactly who they’re made for and Ebert is one of the best mainstream critics ever– highly intelligent but not highbrow or high-falutin’, committed to the idea that art movies are for regular folks.

    Finally, I would say don’t be afraid to focus on a single director intensely for a while. Many of them reveal much more when you see the similarities in their work within a short period– Hitchcock, Ford, Hawks, etc.– and some I think only make sense when you seem them working through their ideas film by film, roughly chronologically (Bergman, Fassbinder).

  • Rich S.

    Jamie, you’re 19? Then see Clockwork Orange first, now. Seriously. You are at the perfect age for it. In fact, I think that’s when I first saw it, at the student union in college, no less. Talk about a film that was tough to track down.
    If you’re anything like me, at 19 you are at a stage where you have maximum mistrust of the government and bureaucratic institutions and, hopefully, a kind of devil-may-care attitude that Kubrick’s black comedy speaks to. If any of this makes any sense, check out Clockwork while those attitudes are most intense. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  • T. S. Idiot

    “I’m tired of the cult of trash cinema. How about appreciating the ones that were fun on purpose?”
    But Fay Spain is really good in Dragstrip Girl.

  • Howlingman

    Best. Thread. Ever.
    And it’s actually stayed on topic. Amazing.
    I envy Jamie. I remember getting heavily into movies at his age — I am actually excited someone’s in the process of discovering so many classics.
    Watching RED RIVER this eve. And there’s a double-bill of FAHRENHEIT 451 and SOYLENT GREEN tomorrow evening. I’ve only seen one of these three.

  • Rich S.

    I would like to point out, as I did in the earlier Indiana Jones thread, that the two longest (and perhaps most enjoyable) threads in the history of HE consisted of a group of movie lovers bouncing their considerable collective knowledge off one another. Neither ever devolved into political venom on name calling, and so they didn’t attract the posters that are normally obsessed with that sort of thing.
    There’s a lesson there somewhere.

  • Howlingman

    Funny that would happen on what is ostensibly a film blog, huh Rich?

  • dixiedugan

    Jamie, if it makes you feel any better, I haven’t seen much Truffant, Tarkovsky or Ozu (only Floating Weeds, and then not the whole movie). I just recent became a member of Netflix and am going to try and remedy that situtation.
    I do find it somewhat shameful that a film critic, or at least this film critic, has not seen major iconic releases over let’s say…somebody curing cancer or a working stiff in the flyover states. I responded to LaSalle once a long while back because of comments about Louise Brooks being recognized as an actress only because of two films and that she slept with film historians. What a dipshit.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    Shut your trap, hippie.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    I responded to LaSalle once a long while back because of comments about Louise Brooks being recognized as an actress only because of two films and that she slept with film historians. What a dipshit.
    Right, it’s at least three or four films. Beggars on Horseback and Prix de Beaute are good too.
    I suspect he was doing so to promote one of his favorites by comparison– again, probably Norma Shearer in Lady of the Night– and it is an understandable comment, Brooks has gotten more fame out of a smaller body of silent era work than practically anybody (except maybe Max Schreck or Falconetti). I like Brooks fine, but there really are only 4 movies or so tops that she’s significant in, once you’ve seen them it’s well worth moving on to Colleen Moore, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Viola Dana, all kinds of people who were actually much more famous then than Brooks ever was, and had longer and better managed careers.

  • T. S. Idiot

    “Neither ever devolved into political venom.” Venom is a good film, far superior to Snakes on a Plane, though not essential. Dreyeresque mise-en-scene.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Also, what film historians did she sleep with besides James Card?

  • Walter Sobchak

    Yes!
    I’m number #200!

  • Rich S.

    To be fair, Max Schreck had nicer cans.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Welcome to 201.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    We’ve had many adventures, but into the great unknown thread, I go first Indy…I go first!

  • Walter Sobchak

    Does everyone agree that though there is no scientific evidence to prove it, “The Wizard of Oz” must be the most seen film in history?
    Seriously, is there anyone anywhere who hasn’t seen it?
    (except for that pain-in-the-ass contrarian further up this post)
    Can anyone name a movie that has been seen more?
    (and believe it or not, geeks, there are plenty of people who’ve never seen “Star Wars”………gasp!)

  • Rich S.

    The only other film I can think of that fits your criteria, Walter, is GWTW. But its length and subject matter basically exclude a sizable portion of the audience.
    When you consider that Wizard of Oz is in color, appeals to children and adults, has musical numbers that enhance rather than detract from the action and was played at least once a year on CBS BEFORE cable and video, yes I think you are probably correct.
    Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and How the Grinch Stole Christmas might give Wizard of Oz a run for its money, but they are of course television shows.
    Now, if you want to add the caveat “the movie seen by most people in a theater,” I think GWTW takes it.

  • Rich S.

    Oh, and recently we had some friends of the family spend the weekend. I gave my friends’ “too hip for the room” daughter the choice of my 300 DVDs of which one she wanted to watch. She went straight for the Wizard of Oz. It never gets old.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Does everyone agree that though there is no scientific evidence to prove it, “The Wizard of Oz” must be the most seen film in history?
    I think that’s indisputable based on the annual TV showings on CBS, which were highly-rated events for three decades. If it’s something else, it’s unknowable what the actual figures are– I mean, King Kong was the gold standard for local TV stations in filling airtime, you could always throw it on and most of them owned their C&C Movietime prints for life of the print so they could show it five times a week till it was in tatters and some did; and God knows It’s a Wonderful Life was shown to death before Republic Pictures dubiously reestablished copyright over it– but you could never calculate figures for all those showings.
    In terms of theatrical release, I remember somebody (Entertainment Weekly?) calculated that once and GWTW and Star Wars were comfortably ahead of anything else in terms of number of butts in seats over time. (I forget which was first, I think Star Wars, but they were close together and #3 was far behind.) Oz was not a big theatrical hit in 1939, it did okay but cost more than it made; it didn’t become one of the most-seen films until color TV came in, and actually made more money in post-TV reissues than it did originally.

  • Rich S.

    Mgmax, you doubtless know more about this than I, but as I recall, it was not Republic that reestablished the copyright of It’s a Wonderful Life. NBC discovered that the copyright for the score of the film had not yet elapsed, bought the rights and then started enforcing them.
    Thus, if you show It’s a Wonderful Life without the score, you’re still okay. The moving images and soundtrack remain in the public domain. Sneaky but legal.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Now, if you want to add the caveat “the movie seen by most people in a theater,” I think GWTW takes it.
    I would have thought so too, based on its frequent reissues which always did very well*, but I think Entertainment Weekly’s point was that US population growth actually put Star Wars ahead. I’m sure a higher proportion of Americans in 1939 saw GWTW than Americans in 1977 saw Star Wars, but there were just a lot more of us by then.
    * Any time a movie threatened to dethrone GWTW as the top box office champ of all time, they’d stick it back out in theaters; both Around the World in 80 Days and The Ten Commandments managed to get ahead of it for a time, but GWTW would beat them again. Finally, despite the 100th Anniversary of the Civil War reissue (no joke), The Sound of Music beat it for good.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Then again, Mick LaSalle probably never saw “The WIzard of Oz” either.

  • T. S. Idiot

    The phenomenon of going to see a movie in a theater five or more times did not begin until Star Wars, did it? The citizens of 1939-1940 probably had fewer opportunities to see GWTW, at least in small towns, because movies didn’t hang around like they did beginning in the 70s.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    Ok then, what about the movie most seen by people who are alive right now. Star Wars? Titanic? Porky’s Revenge?

  • Walter Sobchak

    As I pointed out on another thread, GWTW was the second highest grossing film of 1967, (behind “The Dirty Dozen”)…
    $$$$$

  • Rich S.

    I saw GWTW on a theatrical reissue in a small town in Florida in 1981 or 82. And that was after it had been on TV several times.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Mgmax, you doubtless know more about this than I, but as I recall, it was not Republic that reestablished the copyright of It’s a Wonderful Life.
    Yeah, I abbreviated the story (Wikipedia has the blow by blow, which is byzantine). Basically NBC was the real driver of it, they wanted network TV rights without the local stations stealing its thunder, but Republic was the one making the actual case based on their having purchased NTA, which had been the TV distributor (who bungled the renewal in 1974).
    However, it’s not true that you can play it without the score; Republic also established its claim based on owning the copyright to the underlying story. There are movies which are PD as long as you change the score, such as the ’39 Love Affair, but It’s a Wonderful Life is not one of them.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Hey T.S., ever see Purple Rose of Cairo?

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    The phenomenon of going to see a movie in a theater five or more times did not begin until Star Wars, did it? The citizens of 1939-1940 probably had fewer opportunities to see GWTW, at least in small towns, because movies didn’t hang around like they did beginning in the 70s.
    The program at an individual theater changed weekly or even twice a week, typically, but a hit would be held over, and more to the point, a movie would move step by step from the downtown picture palaces to the bigger neighborhood theaters to the smaller ones. That could take a few months in normal cases; GWTW, about which nothing was normal, was literally in first-run from its premiere in November ’39 to sometime in 1942.
    Ok then, what about the movie most seen by people who are alive right now. Star Wars? Titanic? Porky’s Revenge?
    Theatrically, surely Star Wars. Including TV, surely Oz, all those 60s and 70s and 80s kids who watched it every year on TV are still around and many of them own the DVD and show it to their kids…

  • Doug Pratt

    The best snake movie ever was called Dark Tide. Unfortunately, it isn’t on DVD, but it is on tape and LD. Unlike Venom, Snakes on the Plane and so on, when the snakes escape, you’re genuinely on the edge of your seat until the end of the movie.

  • T. S. Idiot

    “Hey T.S., ever see Purple Rose of Cairo?” Yes, sir, but many small towns at that time had only one theater. In the hick town in Alabama where I grew up (physically but not psychologically), the single theater showed one movie Sun-Wed and another Thurs-Sat.

  • Rich S.

    Back in 1990 or so, before NBC gained exclusive rights to It’s a Wonderful Life, The St. Petersburg Times used to have a running total of how many times it played between Thanksgiving and Christmas on the various stations in the Tampa Bay area and on cable. It usually ran into the dozens, if not hundreds.

  • Bocephus

    I’m not a professional film critic, but I consider myself a huge film buff, and there’s a ton of classic must-see movies that I’ve never seen. Citizen Cane, any of the Godfather Movies, Raging Bull, Annie Hall, Lawrence of Arabia.
    It’s not that I don’t have interest in seeing these films, I’m saving them. You only get to experience something for the first time once.
    What would you give to be able to listen to Revolver again for the first time? To be able to watch 2001 with fresh eyes? I don’t equate love of film with an all-consuming appetite for them.

  • JHRussell

    Bocephus:
    Sorry, but your “waiting for the first time” analogy makes no more sense with regard to classic movies than to holding onto your virginity until you are an old man since you can only experience the first time once…
    I have probably seen GWTW 20 times, and when the titles sweep across the screen with that magnificent theme song, I still get chills and misty eyed…it would be sad to me to not have that experience in my memory banks to draw upon…

  • http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/ vp19

    “(Louise) Brooks has gotten more fame out of a smaller body of silent era work than practically anybody (except maybe Max Schreck or Falconetti). I like Brooks fine, but there really are only 4 movies or so tops that she’s significant in, once you’ve seen them it’s well worth moving on to Colleen Moore, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Viola Dana, all kinds of people who were actually much more famous then than Brooks ever was, and had longer and better managed careers.”
    ___________________
    That’s true. If a woman from today went back to 1928-29 with a Dutch boy hairdo, people would compare her to Colleen Moore, not Louise Brooks.
    ___________________
    “The program at an individual theater changed weekly or even twice a week, typically, but a hit would be held over, and more to the point, a movie would move step by step from the downtown picture palaces to the bigger neighborhood theaters to the smaller ones.”
    ___________________
    Definitely true. To get a feel for how movies ran in those days, visit the home page of the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, Calif., now a renowned revival house. Back then, it ran studio product, and you can find a fascinating list of what it showed from 1929-1961 at http://www.stanfordtheatre.org/stf/aboutHistory.html. Often, the theatre changed its schedule three times a week.

  • dixiedugan

    I really really hate The Wizard of Oz. Really.
    Mgmax, I’d agree that Brooks established her screen image with less films, due to her own machinations, I’m not one of the more rabid members of the Cult, but his implications to me are incorrect – and yes, he is a big time Norma fan boy as evidenced from his books. As much as I love some of Norma’s films, she still had a limited range as an actress…you can see the same expressions and physical emoting being used in every one of her films, as if she’s ticking off a list.
    My possible theory to some of our viewing habits is that with anything else, we have preferences. I didn’t put Ozu on the top of my Netflix list because it’s spring training for the Cubs and White Sox, so I rented Ken Burns Baseball series. And then I rented a couple of docs I haven’t seen, one being This Film Is Not Yet Rated. With my own home viewing, I love pre-codes so I tape and watch as many as TCM will air. So, with me, it’s not so much I don’t want to see Floating Weeds, it’s just my other preferences come first.
    I hope that makes sense. Probably not.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    I started to say something about Brooks and it sounded so familiar to me that I realized I posted it at NitrateVille a month ago:
    “Brooks was a time capsule, buried in the early 30s, that popped up in the 70s or 80s. (Yes, I know others knew about her before then, but that’s when her widespread fame came.) Suddenly her affectless, minimalist acting (compared to frenetic sorts like Clara Bow, or often Mary Pickford or Colleen Moore, who sometimes work a role so hard it’s frightening), and the sexual frankness of her European films (and, for that matter, Beggars of Life, which is plenty raw), jumped and grabbed us precisely because it wasn’t quaint and typical of the 20s. It was, in fact, closer to the blank stare and bored anomie of 60s actresses like Julie Christie or Monica Vitti. All this makes her accessible to people who would have trouble with Garbo’s endless punishment for wanting love, or Mary Pickford’s little girl act, etc….
    “One thing about the haircut and so on– for all that she is a sex symbol to us now, I don’t think she was to the 20s. Certainly if she was modeled on Colleen Moore, Moore was considered cute rather than sexy or beautiful (and her roles stayed within the cute-good-girl-next-door range, no grand passions). There’s also a level of androgyny to Brooks that sets her apart from hotsy-totsies (Bow) or golden-locked maidens (Pickford)– after all, before it was Colleen Moore’s haircut it was Jackie Coogan’s in The Kid, and Beggars of Life in particular is built around the idea that she can pass as a boy. I think it took decades of fashion eroding the barriers between men and women (so firm in the Victorian era), it took Audrey Hepburn and David Bowie and Helmut Newton photographs and Chanel’s little black dress before the simple lines of her look became conventionally attractive.”
    http://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?t=305

  • http://c christian

    “The phenomenon of going to see a movie in a theater five or more times did not begin until Star Wars, did it?”
    It actually started with THE GRADUATE. Young people saw it repeatedly to analyze scenes.
    As for snake movies, I’m afraid you left out the bst one: SSSSSSS with Strother Martin.
    Best snake-man ever.
    As per Great Movies That Are Not So Great, I might blaspheme and put CLOCKWORK ORANGE around that list. I now find it shrill and overwrought and often over-acted (except for McDowell who incredibly didn’t even get a Best Actor nom). Kubrick paints everyone but Alex as a rotter so it’s easy to over-empathize with one of the most loathsome leads in film history. Discuss.

  • Rich S.

    Sorry, christian, you lost me there. Clockwork Orange is my favorite movie. It’s not because I empathize with Alex, or find the violence “cool” or whatever, but because I love Kubrick’s view of freedom of choice and its very real costs. I was also struck by the way Clockwork shows how the government and the media are like the stock market. The stock market goes up and it goes down, but savvy investors make money either way. The government scores points for taking violent criminals off the streets; the government scores points for putting them back exactly as they were.
    It’s truly breathtaking in its cynicism. Plus, the movie looks like no other and, as you noted, McDowell is phenomenal. It’s not Kubrick’s best film, which would be Strangelove or 2001, but it’s my favorite.

  • dixiedugan

    That’s an interesting take Mgmax. What with all this this talk of silent actresses and movies, it kinda depresses me that so many silent films are lost, never to be seen again.
    I wish I could warm up to Colleen Moore, but as you mention Mgmax, to me she’s doing a job, and it’s competent, but that’s all there is to it, no great depth…or maybe not a depth that I can relate to or enjoy.
    Hell, I’ve got pictures of my grandmother as a young gal in the early 1910’s with a Buster Brown Bob. Wasn’t that uncommon back then.
    Jeff needs to see Sunrise, and as soon as possible.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    I loved the film when I first saw it age 16, read the book and felt the soul was lost in the movie. I feel the point is lost today when I see yuts dressed up as droogs without a shred of irony. I mean, they’re rapists.
    And while I admire the film’s technical prowess, the acting is as subtle as Hee Haw, particularly the scene with Deltoid grilling Alex at home. If we ever meet, I do a pretty good impersonation of Aubrey Morris: “Yes, Alex, my boy? Hmmmmm? Busy are we? Yes? Hmmm?” Too much Dr. Shrinker there.
    But boy, I would love to see all that footage that Kubrick destroyed. Imagine.

  • Rich S.

    I actually enjoy the over-the-top nature of Clockwork. I was raised on Charlton Heston (my parents were big Biblical epic fans) and Rogers and Hammerstein, so I have no problem with the flamboyant. I love naturalistic acting, too, but I’ll take entertaining over realistic every day of the week. It’s why I prefer Dali to photographs of clocks.
    I also do a fair Deltoid, since that’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie. It sure looks like McDowell really takes one for the team there.

  • Doug Pratt

    I saw Bullett about 20 times when I was 14, and Bonnie and Clyde nearly as much, since Warner put them out as a double bill.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    See Colleen Moore in Lilac Time. That actually is as close as she got to a grand passion movie (Gary Cooper, who’s stunningly handsome in it, is the guy) and it’s a great movie to see with booming organ and a full house swept away by the romanticism of it all. Twinkletoes, on the other hand, is almost unbearable thanks to her Terminator-unstoppable perkiness.
    Yeah, so much is lost, but on the other hand, so much is on DVD, we’re living in the golden age of silents in many ways. And if you want to talk those further with lots of folks, check out NitrateVille.

  • Jay T.

    I have to say, when it comes to catching up on your film history, Netflix is pretty much the greatest thing ever… pre-1998, it was still difficult to watch a lot of older movies without actually buying them (it’s not like many movie stores would rent out a lot of movies made before 1980).

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    Except Sunrise isn’t available… Grr…

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Try Green Cine — a more highbrow netflix.

  • dixiedugan

    How bout at your library Josh?
    I just stuck those Edison flicks on my queue – and hopefully I’ll be getting my Arbuckles by the end of March.

  • Mgmax

    I responded to LaSalle once a long while back because of comments about Louise Brooks being recognized as an actress only because of two films and that she slept with film historians. What a dipshit.

    Right, it’s at least three or four films. Beggars on Horseback and Prix de Beaute are good too.

    I suspect he was doing so to promote one of his favorites by comparison– again, probably Norma Shearer in Lady of the Night– and it is an understandable comment, Brooks has gotten more fame out of a smaller body of silent era work than practically anybody (except maybe Max Schreck or Falconetti). I like Brooks fine, but there really are only 4 movies or so tops that she’s significant in, once you’ve seen them it’s well worth moving on to Colleen Moore, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Viola Dana, all kinds of people who were actually much more famous then than Brooks ever was, and had longer and better managed careers.

  • Mgmax

    Also, what film historians did she sleep with besides James Card?

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Well, at least LaSalle has inspired a few folk to get out there and film in the blanks. Get it?

  • Mgmax

    Does everyone agree that though there is no scientific evidence to prove it, “The Wizard of Oz” must be the most seen film in history?

    I think that’s indisputable based on the annual TV showings on CBS, which were highly-rated events for three decades. If it’s something else, it’s unknowable what the actual figures are– I mean, King Kong was the gold standard for local TV stations in filling airtime, you could always throw it on and most of them owned their C&C Movietime prints for life of the print so they could show it five times a week till it was in tatters and some did; and God knows It’s a Wonderful Life was shown to death before Republic Pictures dubiously reestablished copyright over it– but you could never calculate figures for all those showings.

    In terms of theatrical release, I remember somebody (Entertainment Weekly?) calculated that once and GWTW and Star Wars were comfortably ahead of anything else in terms of number of butts in seats over time. (I forget which was first, I think Star Wars, but they were close together and #3 was far behind.) Oz was not a big theatrical hit in 1939, it did okay but cost more than it made; it didn’t become one of the most-seen films until color TV came in, and actually made more money in post-TV reissues than it did originally.

  • Mgmax

    Now, if you want to add the caveat “the movie seen by most people in a theater,” I think GWTW takes it.

    I would have thought so too, based on its frequent reissues which always did very well*, but I think Entertainment Weekly’s point was that US population growth actually put Star Wars ahead. I’m sure a higher proportion of Americans in 1939 saw GWTW than Americans in 1977 saw Star Wars, but there were just a lot more of us by then.

    * Any time a movie threatened to dethrone GWTW as the top box office champ of all time, they’d stick it back out in theaters; both Around the World in 80 Days and The Ten Commandments managed to get ahead of it for a time, but GWTW would beat them again. Finally, despite the 100th Anniversary of the Civil War reissue (no joke), The Sound of Music beat it for good.

  • Mgmax

    Mgmax, you doubtless know more about this than I, but as I recall, it was not Republic that reestablished the copyright of It’s a Wonderful Life.

    Yeah, I abbreviated the story (Wikipedia has the blow by blow, which is byzantine). Basically NBC was the real driver of it, they wanted network TV rights without the local stations stealing its thunder, but Republic was the one making the actual case based on their having purchased NTA, which had been the TV distributor (who bungled the renewal in 1974).

    However, it’s not true that you can play it without the score; Republic also established its claim based on owning the copyright to the underlying story. There are movies which are PD as long as you change the score, such as the ’39 Love Affair, but It’s a Wonderful Life is not one of them.

  • Mgmax

    The phenomenon of going to see a movie in a theater five or more times did not begin until Star Wars, did it? The citizens of 1939-1940 probably had fewer opportunities to see GWTW, at least in small towns, because movies didn’t hang around like they did beginning in the 70s.

    The program at an individual theater changed weekly or even twice a week, typically, but a hit would be held over, and more to the point, a movie would move step by step from the downtown picture palaces to the bigger neighborhood theaters to the smaller ones. That could take a few months in normal cases; GWTW, about which nothing was normal, was literally in first-run from its premiere in November ’39 to sometime in 1942.

    Ok then, what about the movie most seen by people who are alive right now. Star Wars? Titanic? Porky’s Revenge?

    Theatrically, surely Star Wars. Including TV, surely Oz, all those 60s and 70s and 80s kids who watched it every year on TV are still around and many of them own the DVD and show it to their kids…

  • Bocephus

    There’s a bit of a difference between watching every great, essential film ever made and having sex for the first time. Watching every important film would take months of time where I have nothing better to do than sit around watching movies. Having sex for the first time takes 2, 3 minutes at best, and can be done in the back seat of my car or in the vestibule of a church.
    I definitely wouldn’t want to go back in time and re-live the first time I had sex, but I would love to be able to go back and watch Empire Strikes Back without knowing the twist ending.
    I still have plenty of precious film memories. And I’m not missing the ones I haven’t experienced yet. To me, there is nothing that compares to the spine-tingling sensation of absorbing great art for the first time. Why would I want to blow my film load in 3 minutes, when I can be patient and have a lifetime of transcendent experiences, absorbed at my own pace?

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    Because one does not know what will constitute a lifetime…

  • Mgmax

    I started to say something about Brooks and it sounded so familiar to me that I realized I posted it at NitrateVille a month ago:

    “Brooks was a time capsule, buried in the early 30s, that popped up in the 70s or 80s. (Yes, I know others knew about her before then, but that’s when her widespread fame came.) Suddenly her affectless, minimalist acting (compared to frenetic sorts like Clara Bow, or often Mary Pickford or Colleen Moore, who sometimes work a role so hard it’s frightening), and the sexual frankness of her European films (and, for that matter, Beggars of Life, which is plenty raw), jumped and grabbed us precisely because it wasn’t quaint and typical of the 20s. It was, in fact, closer to the blank stare and bored anomie of 60s actresses like Julie Christie or Monica Vitti. All this makes her accessible to people who would have trouble with Garbo’s endless punishment for wanting love, or Mary Pickford’s little girl act, etc….

    “One thing about the haircut and so on– for all that she is a sex symbol to us now, I don’t think she was to the 20s. Certainly if she was modeled on Colleen Moore, Moore was considered cute rather than sexy or beautiful (and her roles stayed within the cute-good-girl-next-door range, no grand passions). There’s also a level of androgyny to Brooks that sets her apart from hotsy-totsies (Bow) or golden-locked maidens (Pickford)– after all, before it was Colleen Moore’s haircut it was Jackie Coogan’s in The Kid, and Beggars of Life in particular is built around the idea that she can pass as a boy. I think it took decades of fashion eroding the barriers between men and women (so firm in the Victorian era), it took Audrey Hepburn and David Bowie and Helmut Newton photographs and Chanel’s little black dress before the simple lines of her look became conventionally attractive.”

    http://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?t=305

  • Doug Pratt

    I showed my 22-year old son 2001 for the first time a couple of months–decent sized TV, darkened room and surround sound–and he was totally blown away by it. He was actually so buzzed when it was over that he couldn’t do his school work for another couple of hours. He came down later and asked me how many Oscars it had won, and I had to explain to him the sad facts of life…

  • Doug Pratt

    I showed my 22-year old son 2001 for the first time a couple of months ago–decent sized TV, darkened room and surround sound–and he was totally blown away by it. He was actually so buzzed when it was over that he couldn’t do his school work for another couple of hours. He came down later and asked me how many Oscars it had won, and I had to explain to him the sad facts of life…

  • Mgmax

    See Colleen Moore in Lilac Time. That actually is as close as she got to a grand passion movie (Gary Cooper, who’s stunningly handsome in it, is the guy) and it’s a great movie to see with booming organ and a full house swept away by the romanticism of it all. Twinkletoes, on the other hand, is almost unbearable thanks to her Terminator-unstoppable perkiness.

    Yeah, so much is lost, but on the other hand, so much is on DVD, we’re living in the golden age of silents in many ways. And if you want to talk those further with lots of folks, check out NitrateVille.

  • George Prager
  • Doug Pratt

    La Luna is generally a lesser Bertolucci film that kind of detiorates as it goes along, but it has one indelible sequence that stays with you forever, when Jill Clayburgh’s character follows her son at a distance during a party because she sees him slipping off with a girl. You follow the kids from her point of view and with her emotions until they turn back to the camera and you discover that they haven’t slipped off to make out, but to shoot up.

  • PerfectTommy

    I do love Kubrick’s “Clockwork”, but it is one of those times I have to say “I liked the book better”. Particularly with the epilogue of the older and wiser Alex. I also enjoy seeing Nadsat in print. Perhaps we could get this thread past 300 if we went we Wells’ original suggestion of “films that pollute the soul”.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    I would start with BLOODSUCKING FREAKS.

  • JHRussell

    Bocephus:
    Great art is something to be experienced time and again – great art lives and breathes – and as we grow and experience life, revisiting great art can reveal different textures, different revelations, and open us up to different experiences. Finally, great art is best when shared and discussed with others.
    Your logic is flawed. You are denying yourself the opportunity to incorporate these great films into your core being, to share them with others, and to grow.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    The other thing is, you’ll see so many of the classics and think, well, that’s okay but it’s not the greatest thing I ever saw. Then you’ll keep digging deeper into the filmographies of directors you know, of directors you don’t know, of genres you’ve already seen the classics of, and you’ll find great things you never heard of, because they weren’t the official classics.
    Me, I’ve seen all those classics, I could do without most of ‘em ever again, but then I watch a Frank Borzage movie or a Warren William picture, I make sure to catch some B movie by Budd Boetticher or some Columbia noir on TCM, I pick up some foreign film just because Criterion thought it was worth putting out, and I’m blown away. So hurry up, see all the classics, so you can get on to the real movies.

  • T. S. Idiot

    “Then you’ll keep digging deeper into the filmographies of directors you know, of directors you don’t know, of genres you’ve already seen the classics of, and you’ll find great things you never heard of, because they weren’t the official classics.” Leaving a college screening of Mitch Leisen’s Midnight around 30 yrs. ago, I spotted a friend, who now slaves away at TCM. We stopped dead still, stared at each other, and he exclaimed, “Now that’s a movie!” Mgmax is so right. Once you get beyond the canon, there are still tons of wonders out there. Midnight, which I consider easily the best film of 1939, though it is never even mentioned when this sacred year comes up, will finally appear on DVD in April, along with Easy Living, another masterpiece by the chap known in my house as the Great Mitch Leisen.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Both fine, underrated films. I just watched Midnight last week, actually, and I saw Easy Living at a screening a couple of years ago. It’s interesting, apparently Preston Sturges (who wrote Easy Living) hated Leisen… but if you didn’t know, you’d swear Sturges had directed it himself, it has exactly the same tone, pacing, everything of something like The Palm Beach Story. Maybe what Sturges hated about Leisen was that he learned so much from him… including that it’s NOT all in the script.

  • Rich S.

    I recently discovered, through the magic of TCM, that one of my favorite stars was a man I had barely heard of five years ago: William Powell. I had heard of The Thin Man, of course, but never seen it. When I finally caught up with it, I was blown away. What an incredibly entertaining and contemporary film!
    Then, by chance, I caught My Man Godfrey. Had never heard of that one before. Then the other Thin Man films.
    Just last week, TCM played Libeled Lady, with Powell, Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy (of course) and Jean Harlow. It was fantastic.
    They’re right, Bocephus. Never mind the fact that you can never watch a great movie too many times (I think I’m up to five on The Thin Man now), but once you’ve watched one, you’ll only want to watch more.
    And christian is absolutely right. You will never have enough time, no matter how much time you think you have.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/ vp19

    To Rich S.: Let others wish they were Cary Grant (heck, Cary Grant once said he wished HE were Cary Grant). I wish I were William Powell…urbane, intelligent, debonair and able to win the likes of Loy (on screen) and Lombard and Harlow (in real life).

  • frankbooth

    Do NOT try Greencine, unless you want to wait forever for your movies or are a hentai freak. We started out with them, but they changed ownership recently and we’ve reluctantly joined the Netflix crowd.
    Ah, The Thin Man. Great movie, but I would recommend against trying to drink like that in real life. It’s not as fun as it looks.

  • Mgmax

    The other thing is, you’ll see so many of the classics and think, well, that’s okay but it’s not the greatest thing I ever saw. Then you’ll keep digging deeper into the filmographies of directors you know, of directors you don’t know, of genres you’ve already seen the classics of, and you’ll find great things you never heard of, because they weren’t the official classics.

    Me, I’ve seen all those classics, I could do without most of ‘em ever again, but then I watch a Frank Borzage movie or a Warren William picture, I make sure to catch some B movie by Budd Boetticher or some Columbia noir on TCM, I pick up some foreign film just because Criterion thought it was worth putting out, and I’m blown away. So hurry up, see all the classics, so you can get on to the real movies.

  • Mgmax

    Both fine, underrated films. I just watched Midnight last week, actually, and I saw Easy Living at a screening a couple of years ago. It’s interesting, apparently Preston Sturges (who wrote Easy Living) hated Leisen… but if you didn’t know, you’d swear Sturges had directed it himself, it has exactly the same tone, pacing, everything of something like The Palm Beach Story. Maybe what Sturges hated about Leisen was that he learned so much from him… including that it’s NOT all in the script.

  • PerfectTommy

    My favorite William Powell film is “My Man Godfrey”, but I enjoy him as Nick Charles in the Thin Men as well. I’ve only seen one Philo Vance film (“The Kennel Murder Case”), are the others worth seeking out?
    Also noticed at IMDb that he played Moriarity in an a silent Sherlock Holmes. That would be fun to see if it still exists,

  • PerfectTommy

    And, of course, “Mister Roberts” (not a bad swan song). A good thirty plus year career in films.

  • PerfectTommy

    Christian – Happily, I’ve never subjected myself to “Bloodsucking Freaks”. But I did watch “Shriek of the Mutilated” which I don’t think prospered my soul all too much.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Powell turns up in a lot of silents, usually as a sinister villain– ie. John Barrymore’s Don JUan, which turns up on TCM a lot. His reinvention after sound as a debonair leading man is one of the more surprising transformations in Hollywood history… along with that of Loy, who tended to play exotic-looking hotties (you can see her as the daughter of Boris Karloff’s Fu Manchu on TCM) until she became the ideal sophisticated wife.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    The Kennel Murder Case is the best of the Philo Vances, if you like those 30s murder mysteries (which are more like TV episodes than series films, which is fine as long as your expectations are for that) then some of the other Vances with William Powell and Warren William are fun too. Some other good Powells include I Love You Again, The Senator Was Indiscreet and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (which, like Kennel Murder Case, is kind of a dry run for The Thin Man).
    And now let me plug Warren William, one of my favorite forgotten stars– a kind of cheesier John Barrymore who specialized in pre-Code days in playing rapacious businessmen with no heart and an eye for the secretary pool. Watch TCM for titles like Employees’ Entrance (note double entendre in the title), Skyscraper Souls, Beauty and the Boss, The Mouthpiece, and The Dark Horse.

  • PerfectTommy

    Thanks for the tips, Mgmax.

  • Mgmax

    Powell turns up in a lot of silents, usually as a sinister villain– ie. John Barrymore’s Don JUan, which turns up on TCM a lot. His reinvention after sound as a debonair leading man is one of the more surprising transformations in Hollywood history… along with that of Loy, who tended to play exotic-looking hotties (you can see her as the daughter of Boris Karloff’s Fu Manchu on TCM) until she became the ideal sophisticated wife.

  • Mgmax

    The Kennel Murder Case is the best of the Philo Vances, if you like those 30s murder mysteries (which are more like TV episodes than series films, which is fine as long as your expectations are for that) then some of the other Vances with William Powell and Warren William are fun too. Some other good Powells include I Love You Again, The Senator Was Indiscreet and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (which, like Kennel Murder Case, is kind of a dry run for The Thin Man).

    And now let me plug Warren William, one of my favorite forgotten stars– a kind of cheesier John Barrymore who specialized in pre-Code days in playing rapacious businessmen with no heart and an eye for the secretary pool. Watch TCM for titles like Employees’ Entrance (note double entendre in the title), Skyscraper Souls, Beauty and the Boss, The Mouthpiece, and The Dark Horse.

  • T. S. Idiot

    The Ex-Mrs. Bradford came two years after The Thin Man. In between was Star of Midnight, also an excellent mystery comedy.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    PT, I have a major film gap admission:
    I have never seen SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED.
    Though I love the poster.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    D’oh, you’re right, T.S.

  • Doug Pratt

    The films in the Warner Myrna Loy and William Powell Collection were mostly rather weak, but I Love You Again was a gem.

  • Mgmax

    D’oh, you’re right, T.S.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/ vp19

    Powell made several good pre-Codes at Warners around 1932 or so, including “One Way Passsage,” “Lawyer Man” and “Jewel Robbery.” One wouldn’t think that Powell would be a good match with Warners of that era, but he fits in well with the studio’s urban sensibility, though he’s certainly nowhere as frenetic as, say, James Cagney. Still, it turned out that MGM was the ideal studio for Powell’s strengths, even more so than Paramount (where he had worked in the early sound era and had met, then subsequently married, Carole Lombard).

  • dixiedugan

    Damn it anyway, I can’t believe I almost missed out on William Powell/Warren William discussion!
    I second Mgmax with the recommendation of The Mouthpiece, Beauty and the Boss, and vp19 with One Way Passage – all great films. I would say that the first couple of Lone Wolf and Perry Mason films are probably the best out of the bunch with Warren William – fast and fun. He’s rather good in The Mind Reader and Gold Diggers of 1933 also.
    I really love Evelyn Prentice, one of the films in the Loy/Powell box set, though I’d first seen that years ago on TCM. Isabel Jewell and Aline MacMahon are my M Emmet Walsh, any film they are performing in is a better film, or at least even if the film is a dog they are the best thing in it.

  • PerfectTommy

    A little irony in that this thread has lead to an area (pre-code Hollywood) where Mick La Salle (the genesis of this thread) really is an expert:
    http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/books/lasalle.shtml

  • PerfectTommy

    It looks like this thread is nearly dead. It has been a fun one. Longer, perhaps, than the classic “Indy/80’s” thread. A common thread is MiraJeff’s bashing of a classic (2001 in one, Star Wars, Indy and Bond in the other.)
    But nothing can compare to the moment in the previous thread when Dirty Harry and Christian bonded over Charles Bronson. I get misty eyed just thinking of it.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    And if you could have laid down some Morricone over that moment, there wouldn’t be a dry eye on the thread…

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    God, i totally forgot Powell was the male lead in Jewel Robbery. That’s one of my favorite Kay Francis pictures, Kay Francis being a less-than-great early 30s actress (she basically had one expression, rueful longing) who wore clothes great and consequently is in a lot of movies which are fun just for soaking deep in the 30s glamour atmosphere. (Yes, I realize how gay the last paragraph was, I’m okay with that.)
    One Way Passage, a poignant little love story that could as easily have been a silent, is another fine one, as you rightly point out.

  • Mgmax

    God, i totally forgot Powell was the male lead in Jewel Robbery. That’s one of my favorite Kay Francis pictures, Kay Francis being a less-than-great early 30s actress (she basically had one expression, rueful longing) who wore clothes great and consequently is in a lot of movies which are fun just for soaking deep in the 30s glamour atmosphere. (Yes, I realize how gay the last paragraph was, I’m okay with that.)

    One Way Passage, a poignant little love story that could as easily have been a silent, is another fine one, as you rightly point out.

  • PerfectTommy

    One last thought from here about this thread. It says something about the relationship between Wells and his readers that he wanted to do something about “soul sucking” films, that he loathed. And his readers go to films that they love.

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