I am not a movie aficionado. Movies are undoubtedly an important art form, but I prefer to simply enjoy them as occasional entertainment irrespective of their art. I do not watch new releases, follow the careers of movie participants, or read much in the way of movie reviews. When I do read the rare informed movie critic, I do make a special mental note for flicks to avoid. I have a good memory for those and believe that I avoid a considerable amount of disappointment due to promotional hype.
I usually do not like to read anything twice, and I particularly dislike watching a movie more than once. Despite my aversion for re-dos, over the years I have found myself returning to certain works of art and craft for reasons of simple comfort, enjoyment, or fond memory.
Just for fun, I decided to compile a list of my favorite movies. When pressed and given enough time, everyone can produce their own list. It’s a universal experience that I think reveals more about personal taste and personality than it necessarily reveals about movie popularity. Not wanting to analyze the process of favorite movie-picking, I therefore present, in no particular order, my favorites with very brief comments.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
I would say that this is a man’s movie. The underbelly of being in the sales business is perfectly portrayed with an almost too powerful realism. No one seems to be acting. Breathtaking performances by an incredible group of actors..
The Godfather (1972)
I attended the very first showing of this movie in Boston and was transfixed.
Quite possibly, movie-making perfection.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)
1939 was the best year in movie-making history with The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights, Gone With the Wind, Babes in Arms, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Dark Victory to name a few of the greatest ones. You’ve probably never heard of the actor, Robert Donat, who won the Oscar for best actor. He beat Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, and Jimmy Stewart – an amazing accomplishment you might say until you watch him play Chips. He’ll make you cry.
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Just the funniest movie of all time. Period.
The Man in a Grey Flannel Suit (1956)
Timeless tale about business life and ethics. Does anybody think about this stuff anymore? Gregory Peck at his best.
Christmas Vacation (1989)
For me, this movie took “It’s a Wonderful Life” off the front page in December. It’s almost as good in June. Watched it last week just because . . . .
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
You just know that Taylor and Burton lived this – not at first of course, but soon enough.
Maybe the best original screenplay ever written (by Robert Towne). The light, the color, the mood — you feel you’re there. What more can you get from a movie experience.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
I did a complete 180 on this movie. I absolutely hated this thing when I first saw it. It seemed too contrived. Something made me break my rule about trying it again. I’ve loved it ever since. This movie, and Chinatown always make me wish that I had been alive as a young man in post-war California – probably the most exciting time/place ever.
Somewhere in Time (1980)
It’s a magical, romantic movie set at one of the greatest places in the world, The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. You can do the movie first, then the hotel – or vice versa. It doesn’t matter, because either one compels you to want to experience the other.
Mickey Rourke at his very best. A wicked slice of alcoholic depravity. The repartee between the bartender (Frank Stallone) and the barfly (Mickey Rourke) is classic. Bukowsi’s story is very unpleasant, but it’s well worth the pain of watching.
Das Boot (1981)
Closest thing that approximates what reality TV would have been on a WWII German U-boat. I always get the feeling when watching this very long movie that, as bad as the war experience was portrayed, you just know that things were ten times more horrifying.