My Top 100, 30-21

Wow, I can’t believe we’re already up to number 30! This week is another week where if you don’t know anything at all about my style and only saw these ten movies, you’d get a pretty good idea of what my taste is.  So, let’s get on with the list!

30.  The Thin Man  (1934)

My god, do I love Myrna Loy and William Powell together.  After Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Adam’s Rib, Loy and Powell in The Thin Man movies are the other movie couple that I honestly do buy as a married couple.  I can’t get enough of the writing, it’s so incredibly sharp and witty.  It’s always a treat to revisit this one.

29.  Swing Time  (1936)

Fred and Ginger were never more charming than they were here.  There are certain movie I will watch over and over again just for the musical numbers and there’s certainly no shortage of fabulous musical numbers in Swing Time.  I love how fun Pick Yourself Up is, the use of shadows in Bojangles of Harlem, and the pure elegance of Waltz in Swing Time and Never Gonna Dance.  I think Swing Time really is a testament to what a great performer Ginger Rogers was.  It took 48 takes to get the Never Gonna Dance number right.  Ginger danced so hard that her feet were bleeding, but you would never guess it by just watching that scene.  She made take 48 look like take 1.

28.  Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb  (1964)

Only Stanley Kubrick could take something serious like the threat of nuclear war and turn it into a brilliant dark comedy.  With Stanley’s amazing script and direction and add in Peter Sellers playing an astounding three characters, there’s just no way this movie could have gone wrong.

27.  Strangers on a Train  (1951)

When you mention Alfred Hitchcock, the three movies that will inevitably come up first are Psycho, Rear Window, and Vertigo.  Why Strangers on a Train isn’t part of that bunch is completely beyond me.  It’s full of memorable shots like the murder being reflected in a pair of glasses.  I love how creepy the shot is of Robert Walker’s character at the tennis match, sitting in the stands and staring relentlessly at Farley Granger while everybody elses’ heads are moving back and forth following the game.  It was the last complete movie Robert Walker made and his career sure ended in a great way.

26.  Cabaret  (1972)

Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles is another one of those career defining roles.  But as fabulous as Liza was, Joel Grey was equally amazing.  When I saw the movie for the first time, I thought he was incredible in it, but I don’t think it fully hit me just how incredible he was until I watched a clip of him being interviewed in one of the DVD bonus features.  Seeing him just as himself and seeing how little he reminded me of the Emcee just drove it home.  The mannerisms were gone, the make-up was gone, and that voice was gone.  It’s very rare for me to see a part so incredibly well-played that seeing the actor out of character makes them almost unrecognizable to me.

25.  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg  (1964)

I took a couple semesters of French when I was in college, and in French 101, my professor had us watch The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.  At the time, the only foreign move I’d seen was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so this was my first exposure to the wonderful world of 1960s European film.  I fell in love with this movie.  I loved Catherine Deneuve, I loved the use of color, the music was beautiful and haunting.  Absolutely stunning in every way.  This movie is why I’m now here reviewing movies like A Woman is a Woman.

24.  Seven Chances  (1925)

I’m a firm believer in the idea that silent comedies are meant to be watched with other people.  I saw this for the first time at the DFT as part of a double feature with Sherlock, Jr. and it was one of the best movie-going experiences I’ve ever had.  It’s such a hilarious movie, everyone in the theater was laughing non-stop and it was so much fun to be there.  I walked out of the theater that night with a new favorite Buster Keaton movie.

23.  Gold Diggers of 1933

The definitive Great Depression era musical.  It has the glitz and glamour that movie audiences loved to see as a way to escape their bleak reality.  It’s got social commentary on issues like the treatment of WWI veterans.  It’s got fun, bawdy pre-code moments.  It’s just everything you could possibly want in a Depression era movie.

22.  The Apartment  (1960)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like The Apartment.  Imitated, yes, but never duplicated.  It’s probably the bleakest yet most optimistic romantic comedy I’ve ever seen.  Shirley MacLaine was absolutely brilliant and heartbreaking as Fran Kubelik and I always like Jack Lemmon.  I can never go wrong with Billy Wilder and The Apartment is pure Billy Wilder.

21.  A Clockwork Orange (1971)

This is probably the only movie on this list that I don’t think everybody should see at least once.  If you don’t like a lot of violence, then by all means, stay far, far away from A Clockwork Orange.  But if you can handle a lot of violence, you might appreciate the satire, very dark humor, and Malcolm McDowell’s absolutely genius performance as Alex DeLarge.

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4 comments

  1. The movie’s I agree with most here are Dr. Strangelove and The Thin Man. I also like your comments on The Apartment; it really is unique. It feels like it was a huge influence on the modern TV series Mad Men.

    1. I love seeing the references to The Apartment on Mad Men. One of my favorite moments on that show is when Joan is left running the elevator at the end of the episode after telling Roger that she felt like Fran Kubelik at the beginning of the episode.

  2. I like your idea that silent movies should be watched with other people – it had never occurred to me before but I think you are right.

    I loved the Seven Chances clip – in my home town there is a “sport” called cheeserolling where people chase a cheese down a steep hill (honestly!). In that clip it looked as though Buster was being chased by hundreds of cheeses. A cheeseroller’s nightmare!

    1. That must be quite a sight! And if you ever get the chance to see a silent film, especially a comedy, in a theater, definitely go. Few things are as fun as sitting in a room full of people laughing uproariously at Chaplin, Keaton, or Lloyd.

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