But it is SO weird to think of “the greatest movies of all time” as meaning, for so many people, “since around when Star Wars came out.”
Many favourite movies are ones I have no intention of seeing again. Precious memories of Heathers, …if, Harold and Maude and other relics of my morbid adolescence would be ruined if I saw them now. When I turned 35 or so, I stopped automatically identifying with teenagers in movies. This probably happens to you sooner if you have kids of your own, which I don’t.
The same goes for Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” films, which served as booster rockets to get me out of my awful hometown, with their promise that non-hick people who didn’t hold burping contests existed somewhere out there. If I met those characters now I’d probably punch them out. They’ve served their purpose.
A lot of “big names” aren’t on here. The Godfathers impress me less each time I see them, with their long stretches of sepia nothingness (Dear Moviemakers: the past wasn’t yellow. Thank you). Ditto Apocalypse Now. The Quiet Man made many artsy critics lists for years, and I bet even those critics don’t remember why any more. My hatred of 2001 is well known to regular readers. You’d think I’d love Cinema Paradiso. You’d be wrong.
Gone With The Wind, on the other hand, improves with age.
Some greats like The Seven Samurai, The General, The Searchers etc. are not on this list because even I haven’t seen them yet.
Every copy of Bringing Up Baby I’ve tried to watch has a bad soundtrack and I can’t make out half the jokes. Sorry. I am really NOT a “screwball comedy” fan — if everybody would just stop yelling for five minutes, all their stupid non-problems would go away. Sheesh.
I honestly cannot say that I ever “liked” Dr. Strangelove. I am also not a Preston Sturges “fan”, but I admire, in a cold, detached way, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels (esp. Sturges’ ability to hide Veronica Lake’s third trimester pregnancy), the whole narrative sleight of hand that is Miracle At Morgan’s Creek. But I just don’t care.
Shane. Don’t get it.
Yes, I do hate Night of the Hunter. We’ve gone over that.
I have never been able to sit through The Magnificent Ambersons because I want to kill that one guy sooooo bad.
Know what I really hated? Band Wagon. Jezus.
The Big Sleep makes no sense. No, it does not. Bad Day at Black Rock? Engh. The Deer Hunter? zzzzzzz. Unforgiven? Unoriginal.
You will NOT find any of those “food equals sex” movies of the 90s, because it doesn’t.
A few things: these are not “the greatest” movies. They are my favourites and/or ones that influenced me personally and/or creatively. Ones I’ve seen numerous times and retain an often inexplicable affection for.
This is the ultimate schizoid, introverted autodidact’s fave list, more than anything, with a fair sprinkling of armed/entrepreneurial/mouthy women, angry guys shooting people who deserve it, people just generally getting revenge on someone, show-biz-is-a-sewer-but-you-love-it, and characters of dubious/overblown sexuality and with various identity/ocd problems.
A nice (or, if you like, unpleasant) glimpse into the inside of my head, should that interest you for some reason.
In only very rough order and subject to change over the course of the day as people email me to complain:
Dressed to Kill
Disney’s Alice in Wonderland
Imitation of Life (Sirk version)
A Star is Born
Yankee Doodle Dandy (patriotic Democrat captured on film!)
The Bonnie Parker Story
Beverly Hills Cop (a frickin’ masterpiece and I’m serious)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Song of Bernadette
The Best Years of Our Lives
Lenny (my grandmother accidentally took me to see this when I was a kid. Yes, they let me in. Now you see the results!)
Cat People (and the superior, suprising sequel, Curse of the Cat People, which has nothing to do with cat people)
Kiss Me Deadly
Bride of Frankenstein
All About Eve
Ghostbusters/Stripes (basically the same movie)
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
This is Spinal Tap
House of 1000 Corpses/The Devil’s Rejects
Silence of the Lambs
The Manchurian Candidate
The Valley of the Dolls
Sweet Smell of Success
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
A Face in the Crowd
I guess my current top titles would be:
The Thing From Another World
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane
The Nicholas Brothers sequence in Stormy Weather
Man of a Thousand Faces
I’ll Cry Tomorrow
Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!
Ace in the Hole
The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp
And of course, the last thirty seconds of Easy Rider.
(Actually, were you to edit all the characters out of Easy Rider and simply show the POV passing-landscape shots, you’d have an attractive American travelogue.)