Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ten Good Movies

In the spirit of this collection of ten best film lists that I was inexplicably not invited to contribute to; here is a list of films. They are not neccessarily my choices for the ten best or even my ten favorites. Just ten good movies. They are presented in reverse chronological order:
  1. Hell's Angels (Howard Hughes, 1930) has a conventional, but well done story line about two brothers -- one courageous and honorable, the other not so much -- who join the RAF to fight in the Great War. What sets the film apart are the stunning visual effects. There are no strings on the airplanes in this movie. Everything looks real. Jean Harlow utters a line so famous that few even know that it came rom a movie. "Would you be shocked if I slipped into something more comfortable.
  2. Dinner at Eight (George Cukor, 1933) features a great ensemble cast including John & Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler and Harlow. Invited guests to a fancy dinner party are variously going broke, dying (and worse), cheating on their spouses and involved in crooked business deals.
  3. Libeled Lady(Jack Conway, 1936). This may be the best film to star William Powell and Myrna Loy. Powell plays a caddish newspaperman sent out to capture Loy in a comprimising position and deflate her lawsuit against his newspaper. A good film is made great by the electricity between the two stars.
  4. The Women(George Cukor, 1939) depicts the fairer sex as scheming, conniving, backbiting, catty and vicious. In other words, it tells the truth. Just kidding.
  5. I Love You Again (W.S. Van Dyke, 1940). This is another great Powell/Loy vehicle. The totally plausible storyline is that Powell is a wise-cracking, hard drinking con man who becomes a nerd after a blow to his head gives him amnesia. Another blow causes him to snap out of it and he hatches a scheme to back to the hick town where he has lived as a nerd and bleed it dry. His plans change when he falls for the nerd's wife, played by Loy, who was planning to divorce the nerd, but falls for the con man. It is very confusing to describe, but makes perfect sense on film.
  6. To Have and Have Not(Howard Hawks, 1944) has a plot similar to Casablanca. My theory is that Bogie let Ingrid Bergman go at the end of Casablanca is that he knew that Lauren Bacall would be coming along in a couple of years. Smart Move.
  7. Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962) isn't particularly faithful to the novel of the same name, but it is still a great film. The acting by all of the main characters is great. Shelley Winters gives one of the all time great performances as "the Haze woman . . . the fat cow. . . the obnoxious mama . . ."
  8. The Godfather, Part III(Francis Ford Coppola, 1990). This one gets a bad rap, but Andy Garcia is great and I love the weaseley and corrupt archbishop. The best visual image from the Godfather Trilogy might just be the sight of his body falling down the center of a spiral staircase in the Vatican after Al Neri whacks him.
  9. Donnie Brasco (Mike Newell, 1997). Al Pacino was great as Michael Coreleone but he shines as a wiseguy with self esteem issues in this picture. It is hard to believe that the Johnny Depp in this film is the same as the one from Edward Scissorhands or Pirates of the Carribean, but he is.
  10. Lost In Translation (Sophia Coppola, 2003). Great pairing of Bill Murray as a perpetually exhausted actor in Tokyo to film a commercial and Scarlett Johansson as the neglected wife of a chinless, whiny photographer.

1 comment:

Kleinheider said...

8. The Godfather, Part III(Francis Ford Coppola, 1990)

Jeez, you make me sad, Clark Stooksbury, you really do. GF I&II were epics. GF III, to the extent I even acknowledge the film existence, was an epic allright. A tragedy of epic proportions.