Another week, another ten movies! Up this week: Jacques Tati, Marion Davies, and The Ramones. No, really. You’re not going to see that combination on any AFI lists! We’re already up to the halfway point…
50. Rock and Roll High School (1979)
I don’t care how goofy this movie is, I can’t get enough of it. I’m a big Ramones fan, so I adore the soundtrack and even though the humor is pretty stupid, it always makes me laugh.
49. The Third Man (1949)
It doesn’t get much more gloriously mysterious than this! The story is great enough, but when you add in the cinematography, the camerawork, the music, the cast, and a spectacular entrance from Orson Welles, you’ve got perfection.
48. Star Wars (1977)
Even though a lot of elements of the story are pretty simple and have been done before, George Lucas really made them his own here. I love the concept of the original trilogy, that it was meant to be a throwback to old serials and you’ve missed the first few episodes of it.
47. Mon Oncle (1958)
My favorite Jacques Tati movie. A brilliant satire on technology and the modern world. Kind of like Chaplin’s Modern Times, only French. Like Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, it’s just good, lighthearted entertainment.
46. The Patsy (1928)
I just can’t get over how charming and hilarious Marion Davies was in The Patsy. It amazes me that she doesn’t often get mentioned along with Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd when someone brings up the great silent film comedians. It truly is a delight to watch her in this movie. I’ve heard it described as “cinematic Prozac” and I think that’s a pretty apt description. A perfectly fun, and hilarious movie.
45. Psycho (1960)
I’m really at a loss of things to say here. It’s Psycho, I don’t know what to say about it that hasn’t already been said before.
44. A Star is Born (1954)
I keep trying to think of something insightful to say about A Star is Born, but it all keeps coming down to one thing: Judy Garland. Nobody every played Esther better than Judy. This is truly the role she was born to play (no pun intended). I have nothing against Grace Kelly, but I’m astonished that she won the Best Actress Oscar over Judy that year. Groucho Marx was right: the biggest robbery since Brinks.
43. Almost Famous (2000)
Definitely my favorite movie to come out in the past ten years. I listen to a lot of 1970s rock music, so I suppose Almost Famous was a natural fit for me. I loved Frances McDormand as William’s insanely uptight mother. The writing is funny, heartfelt, and quite touching. It’s just a rare movie. I’ve seen a lot of rock and roll movies, but “heartfelt” and “touching” aren’t generally words I’d use to describe them. And it’s Kate Hudson giving a great performance in a movie that’s actually good! It doesn’t get much rarer than that.
42. The Public Enemy (1931)
I like to think of The Public Enemy as The Godfather for those of us who don’t want to spend three hours watching a movie. It’s got a great, layered story with complex characters, lots of action, it’s even got senseless horse killing! Plus it’s got James Cagney in one of his best performances as one of the greatest gangsters in movie history.
41. Night of the Hunter (1955)
One of the great crimes of film history is the fact that Charles Laughton only directed this one movie. But at least he made it a good one! It’s beautifully shot and it’s got one of my favorite movie villains, Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell, and one of my favorite movie heroes, Lillian Gish as Rachel Cooper. Robert Mitchum’s character was so absolutely terrifying. When I wrote about The Wind, I said that Lillian Gish had a very quiet strength about her and that really comes through here. She didn’t look a tough lady, but she wasn’t about to back down to Robert Mitchum.