Thursday, January 23, 2014

The movies that made me, well, me

Continuing with a theme I stumbled onto this week, here's a list of the movies that have made me the person I am today.

As with the last two lists, I'm sure I'll unintentionally forget a few (thank you, Giant Rat of Knoxville), and they are listed in no particular order. This is not a "great films" list, just one that includes celluloid that made me care, chuckle, or cry.

I'm sure I'll think of 20 more tomorrow.

Citizen Kane -- Everybody pretends to love this film, but I do. I'll never forget where and when I first saw it. (God bless Chuck Maland). Superb, stunning, stimulating. You don't pop some corn and prop up with this on a Friday night, but you can't pretend to love film and ignore it. Orson Welles' masterpiece.

Walking Tall (1973) -- It's quaint to think about now, but this was the first R-rated movie I ever saw. McNairy County, Tenn., sheriff Buford Pusser's picture show exploits left a large impression on an impressionable kid.

To Kill A Mockingbird -- I read the book before I saw the movie. Didn't matter. I was hooked from the opening Elmer Bernstein score. Still try to watch it every few years. Gregory Peck was never better. Mary Badham was precociously perfect.

Casablanca -- "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world," this is one hell of a picture. Brings back a lot of personal memories, too. What a movie. It's a shining testament to the studio era. P.S. Bogie never says "Play it again, Sam."

The Last Picture Show -- This film grabbed me, stabbed me, and I gabbed about it for days. Finally took a road trip to Archer City, Texas, in 2004. It hasn't changed much since 1971, and that's a good thing. Honorable mention to its sequel, Texasville, although don't watch it after your high school reunion.

The Empire Strikes Back -- The best of the three. (Notice I didn't say six.)

Dr. Zhivago -- This one seduces me to screen it every...single...time. "Lara's Theme." Lovely.

True Grit (1969) -- My favorite, my "comfort food." Duke Wayne was born to play Rooster Cogburn.  "Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!"

The Best Years Of Our Lives -- What a picture. I watch this one at least once a year. It poignantly captures the problems GIs have adjusting to the homefront. They truly don't make 'em like this anymore.

Harvey -- Mary Chase's tale of Elwood P. Dowd and his pooka named Harvey is as charming a picture as I've ever seen. Best line: "I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it."

My Favorite Year -- My favorite Peter O'Toole film. I've lived just long enough now to go from wanting to be Benjy Stone to wanting to be Alan Swann.

Flesh and the Devil -- The film that made me fall in love with Greta Garbo

Field of Dreams -- I don't care what Dean Harned says, this is the greatest baseball film of them all. Just listen to James Earl Jones' speech if you doubt my word.

Smokey and the Bandit -- OK, it's a guilty pleasure. Don't care. Love it. Jackie Gleason steals the show. "You sumbitch!"

Laura -- Film noir at its finest...

Andy Hardy -- Mickey Rooney's charming series of an America that never existed.

The Magnificent Ambersons -- There are no words.

The Third Man -- Ditto

The Hound of the Baskervilles -- Basil Rathbone. Nigel Bruce. Monochrome magic.

The Road to Morocco -- Bing, Bob, Dorothy, and lots of laughs. Perfect for a rainy day.

From Here To Eternity -- Frank Sinatra's shining piece of celluloid. (Honorable mentions to "Suddenly" and "The Man With The Golden Arm.")

Nashville -- Robert Altman at his best. Sadly, this turned out to be prophecy in a way.

It's A Wonderful Life -- A Christmas classic.

El Dorado -- A sentimental favorite I first watched with my dad.

Same Time, Next Year -- I've been watching it the same time each year for more than 20 years.

Vertigo -- Hitchcock at his darkest

Elvis On Tour -- For obvious reasons (and part of it is filmed in Knoxville!)

The Last Waltz -- Best rock and roll documentary of them all.

Nixon -- I hate Oliver Stone and it's full of fiction, but this one hooked me. Nice homages to "Kane."

The King's Speech -- Instant classic

Annie Hall -- Yep, I fell in love with her, too.

Forrest Gump -- Cause life IS like a box of chocolates.

Being There -- I'm afraid this one has become prophetic, too.

F For Fake -- Orson Welles and magic tricks of the mind...

High Noon -- Perhaps the truest Western of them all, regardless of the lies we tell ourselves.

Somewhere In Time -- Sentimental favorite based on a story by the late, great Richard Matheson

The Artist -- I never thought I'd ever see a movie like this again. I was wrong.

Saturday Night Fever -- I love the nightlife. I want to boogie. Don't judge.

That's Entertainment! -- Those were the days, indeed.

10 -- I'm a sucker for Blake Edwards' humor

Revenge of the Pink Panther -- See above (plus Peter Sellers!)

Tombstone -- The Western I never thought I'd see again. I was wrong.

One, Two, Three -- Jimmy Cagney, Arlene Francis, Cold War hilarity.

Sex and the Single Girl  -- Natalie Wood. 'Nuff said.

American Graffiti -- George Lucas' greatest film. Yep, you read that correctly.

A Beautiful Mind -- Saw it when I needed it.

The Narrow Margin -- My favorite film noir.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service -- The best James Bond film nobody's seen.

The Front Page (1974) -- Matthau and Lemmon, newspapers, nuts!

Grumpy Old Men -- Heh, heh.

Patton -- A hell of a picture.

The Godfather -- No words needed

High Society -- Crosby. Sinatra. Princess Grace.

Rear Window -- Wonderful and horrible and back again

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -- The best of the bunch. Kirk out.

Stone Reader -- A bibliophile's dream

Midnight in Paris -- Ditto

2001: A Space Odyssey -- I can't pass a talking computer without thinking of HAL

The Graduate -- Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson

The Searchers -- John Ford and John Wayne's masterpiece

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World -- I break up into hysterics. Every. Single. Time.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington -- I keep hoping he's still out there.

Full Metal Jacket -- Holy *&^%

Apocalypse, Now -- See above

Ikiru -- I never looked at cinematic storytelling the same way again.

Lost In Translation -- "For relaxing times, make it Suntory time!"

Duck Soup -- You know why...

In The Heat of the Night -- "They call me MR. TIBBS!"

Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight -- Bridget Trogden understands...

Groundhog Day -- Janna Barrett understands...

12 Angry Men -- Whew. Close one.

Sunset Boulevard -- Elegiac, awesome.

Yankee Doodle Dandy -- My favorite musical

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -- "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

The Shootist -- John Wayne's awesome epitaph.

The Public Enemy -- Jimmy Cagney at his best...

Murder By Death -- "Hey, look, it's 22 Twain's house!"

Planet of the Apes (1968) -- That. Last. Scene.

Radio Days -- My favorite Woody Allen picture.

Seven Men From Now -- Underrated Western

The Horn Blows At Midnight -- I just wanted to see if you read all the way to the end...

What are your favorites? Go with your heart, not your head.


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