Monday, November 22, 2010
Movie Review Monday ~ Top Ten Classic Films
On a recent video, I mentioned that 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was my favorite film. This spawned a few questions from viewers as to what my favorite classic films were, a topic that I hadnt really thought to address here. I actually had constructed a list of my 'Top 100' films a long time ago, having grown up with a chronic 'list-making' tendency that I can't deny. The full list can be seen on my movie blog, but today I'll be posting my top ten films before 1965, as well as a brief reason why I love them so much. Look for detailed reviews of these ten films, in future editions of 'Movie Review Monday'.
Top Ten Classic Films:
1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Not one wasted scene or stilted performance. It's a 'hero' movie, in every sense.
2. You Can't Take It With You (1938)
The best of 'feel good' flicks, this is the first of Frank Capra's films to appear in my top films. I am proud to have introduced this movie to quite a few people and all of them now love it and watch it semi-yearly with me. We move the furniture and sprawl out on the living room floor, enjoying the warmth. And we eat 'YCTIWY' food, taffy and popcorn balls namely-we skip the wieners and saur kraut. But it's a great time and I'll never stop doing it.
3. Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Another Frank Capra classic, this one also stars Jimmy Stewart-in my favorite performance of his. My pick for the best movie of 1939, it is one of Capra's greatest movies and also his most moving. Though I do not claim to be a patriotic person by any stretch of the imagination, I have such respect and admiration for Jefferson Smith.
4. All About Eve (1950)
Truly, does it get any better than this? Can dialogue be any more brilliant, quick, quotable? Can acting be more accomplished on ALL counts? Was Bette Davis not the best actress of her time? Did Marilyn Monroe ever look so good or deliver such great lines ('I can't yell 'oh butler' can I? Somebody's NAME might be Butler.')? Has theater life ever been handled so deftly before or since? The answer is a resounding NO on all counts. Absolutely one of the best movies of all time, hands down. Period.
5. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
A thriller that still remains 'thrilling', even by today's standards. But the crowning glory, the shining star, the thing that puts this movie where it is on my countdown is the performance of Angela Lansbury as Mrs Johnny Iselin, Raymond's vindictive and controlling mother. She is astonishing-there's just no other word for it. Every time she's on the screen, I'm vastly uncomfortable-still, after many viewings. Lansbury takes the tenacity of this character and runs with it, pulling off what is probably the best supporting performance by a female in history. Her final scene is my favorite of the film and by far the most powerful as it uncovers some unthinkable plot twists and contains some gripping dialogue.
6. The Great Escape (1963)
Although the subject matter has been handled with more depth and realism since, 'The Great Escape' succeeds on a different plane. It is a perfect balance of comedy and drama...and did I mention Steve McQueen?
7. Gigi (1958)
My favorite musicl of all time, 'Gigi' is also a gorgeous example of film-making and a fabulous character study. Aunt Alicia is my favorite!
'Great kings do not give the expensive jewels...I think it's because they don't feel they have to.'
8. On the Waterfront (1954)
Some of the most powerful scenes ever filmed were created by blacklisted director, Elia Kazaan. He is a phenomenon of filmmaking, in spite of the obvious controversy. This movie is no exception and in my opinion, it is the best of his films. It speaks volumes in its relatively short run time and truly makes an impression when it comes to standing up for what is good and right in a corrupt society.
9. Goodby Mr Chips (1939)
Though tragedy strikes with gut-wreching force in this film, we never stop feeling genuinely warm over this transformation of Donat's character. He becomes an icon of Brookfield school and an icon of cinema itself. The end is one of the most affective scenes ever, in my mind, and never fails to move me. And there is no doubt that it is Donat on which the whole feat hangs. I can't praise him or this wonderful movie enough.
10. Singin in the Rain (1952)
This popular movie is more than just that title number. It's also great ensemble acting (principally by O'Connor and Hagen as the two comic leads), gorgeous technicolor dance productions that carry over seamlessly into the solid storyline, brilliant 20's costuming, and hilariously infectious writing.