I love classic movies. I DON’T like much of what has been coming out of Hollywood lately. Not because of the content, although that is certainly bad enough.
No, my complaint is that most moviemakers seem to have forgotten how to tell a good story. Thirty-seven explosions in search of a plot does NOT make a good movie, in my opinion. Computer graphics are no substitute for character development, and special effects cannot take the place of, you know, a good story. I don’t think I’m just being an old curmudgeon. I don’t hate technology in movies – I just think I deserve more than that for my $10 or $12.
Actually, I like playing a little game with other movie fans. Here’s how it goes: pick a category of movie and list your five favorites from that category. Drama. Action / Adventure. Horror. Comedy. So here are some categories of movies, and five of my favorites of each category – the movies times five, get it?
FIVE WAR MOVIES – So-called “war” movies are sometimes accused of glorifying violence, but I think a good one has just the opposite effect, showing the waste and futility. Here are five good ones.
5. Gettysburg. Jeff Daniels shines as the professor-turned-colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who receives the Medal of Honor for his actions at Little Round Top.
4. The Enemy Below. Robert Mitchum and Curd Jürgens are amazing as the American and German captains opposing each other. Who – or what – is the real enemy?
3. Saving Private Ryan. I always wondered what it would be like to be behind a landing craft door when it dropped open. It ain’t pretty.
2. Twelve O’Clock High. Gregory Peck as a good man struggling under the burden of what he must do to push his men and accomplish the mission.
1. The Guns of Navarone. Another great Gregory Peck role, with another fine cast. David Niven is terrific.
FIVE JOHN WAYNE MOVIES – John Wayne is, and always will be, known for his Westerns. But I think he was often at his best when he took that persona and translated it into other kinds of movie storytelling. Honorable mention: Hellfighters.
5. The Shootist. The Duke’s last movie, playing an aging gunfighter who just wants to die in peace. All actors should go out so well.
4. True Grit. Come see a one-eyed fat man.
3. The High and the Mighty. John Wayne is a pilot on a doomed airliner.
2. Fort Apache. Watching him work with Henry Fonda is SUCH a treat.
1. The Quiet Man. Sean Thornton, home from America, to forget his troubles.
FIVE ALL-TIME FAVORITES – These are my TOP FIVE.
5. The Shawshank Redemption. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are a treat to watch. NOT family friendly.
4. Tender Mercies. Talk about redemption: at the end of the movie, when Robert Duvall is throwing the football with his stepson, you have the answer to the question, “Why?”
3. The Quiet Man. John Ford and company at their best, along with stunning Irish scenery.
2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Newman and Redford. A sentimental favorite because it was the movie Kathy and I went to see on our first date.
1. Casablanca. Is it a war movie? Is it a romance? Is it a character picture? Yes, all of that, and more. Bogart. Bergman. For all sorts of reasons, everybody comes to Rick’s.
So, those are some of my favorites. What are yours? And please pass the popcorn.