A guest post by Peter Freedman:
Recently at a small party, conversation died. To liven it up again our host asked us to name out Ten Favourite Movies.
So we each sat in a corner of the room and wrote them down. Everyone had finished with a quarter of an hour. Everybody, bar one. Guess who?
I said I was having trouble whittling them down and needed a larger piece of paper.
“How many have you got to choose from?” said mein host courageously.
“Not many,” I cheerily replied. “Down to the last 172, should be finished in an hour. My wife sighed and gave one of her famous “What the f- is he up to NOW?” looks.
Anyway, this is my ten for now, Tomorrow the list will be quite different.
- Inherit the Wind. I am amazed at the number of so called film buffs who have never heard of this film. A real classic based loosely on the Tennessee monkey trial. Now, there wasn’t a chimp in the dock but might as well have been for all the importance the defendant was ,The trial was over a school teacher persuaded by the CLU to test the state law which barred the teaching of evolution. The pawn is played by Dick York later Darren as he was Bewitched. The two real antagonists were, in reality, the legal leviathans Clarence Darrow (Spencer Tracey) and William Jennings Bryan (Frederic March),.The men were lifelong friends, Bryan stood unsuccessfully for President with Darrow’s support. But the two drifted apart and found themselves squaring off in a mall Bible Belt town,.Tracey and March are, of course, brilliant, and so is Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter in Mash) as a befuddled judge. But star of the show is Gene Kelly, who doesn’t dance a step but cleans up in the role of a cynical big city news hound. His best line comes as Bryan is welcomed into the town by the good citizens all singing in unison: “Gimme that Old Time Religion” Seeing Kelly as a stranger needing a bed, one worthy woman asks him if he needs a nice, clean place to stay” “I had one,” says Kelly, “but I left it to come here.”
- Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Surely needs no introduction here, the greatest Aussie film ever made. Knocks that fat girl’s wedding for six. If Dame Edna had accepted a part it would have been No 1. If you haven’t seen it you have missed what one diminutive Asian lady can do with table tennis balls. No more hints, but please remember to duck.
- The Bird Cage. I didn’t care for Mr R Williams till I saw him in this. He’s brilliant but he doesn’t steal the show. Nathan Lane as the “lady” of the house almost takes the honours in his campest performance, but I give my Oscar to Gene Hackman as the tight laced Senator who finds his daughter wants to marry into one of THOSE sort of families. The final scene where a blond-wigged Hackman in drag escapes the paparazzi to the tune of “We are Family” must be one of the funniest in movie history.
- Casablanca. Nothing more to say, move on. Louis, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. PS: If anyone bets you “Play it again Sam, is this movie’s most famous line take them on. Bergman begs: “Play it Sam, play as Time Goes By.” There is no “again” never was and never will.
- The African Queen. Bogey and his longtime co-star Bergman sail down an African river to torpedo a German boat with home made weaponry. Look for a superb cameo role by the rotund Richard Morley.
- Mississippi Burning. Hackman again, this time as an unconventional FBI man alongside William Dafoe, the straight man. They go to the Miss to investigate the death of two white guys and a negro who had been campaigning for black rights. Closely allied to a real story. Many memorable moments, but the best has to be when a negro hired by the FBI kidnaps the town Mayor and holds him in a small shed, threatening to castrate him if he doesn’t cough. “Do you know, Mr Mayor, how much you bleed when your balls are cut off?”
- Stand By Me. I hate Stephen King but this is magic. A group of young boys go looking for a body and learn the realities of life. Too many stars and great scenes to mention but the classic line has to be “Suck my fat one, you cheap dimestore hood!”
- Romeo and Juliet – the de Caprio/Clare Danes version by a nose from the delightful Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. The Leslie Howard version made in the 30s doesn’t even get to the gate. FFS Romeo was about 17, not 42!
- Shakespeare in Love. Even if you hate the Bard you HAVE to see this. If R and J wasn’t written this way it should have been. Dame Judi takes the cake with her OTT Queen Liz 1 and has the best line, muttering “too late, too late” when the men are tardy in lowering their capes to prevent the royal tootsies encountering the London mud.
- White Heat. Had to get Cagney in somewhere. Along with E G Robinson’s Little Caesar, this is the quintessential gangster movie. Cagney is awesome as the psychopathic killer Codey Jarrett, but Margaret Whycherly steals her scenes as Ma Jarrett. Almost certainly based on the reallife Ma Barker. Ma Jarrett is evil, immoral, unscrupulous and magnificent.
So there it is. Some great movies didn’t make it, like almost anything based on Dickens. Some Like It Hot, with the immortal line uttered by Dave Barry, a besotted millionaire with the hots for Miss Jack Lemmon. As the couple speed away in his motorboat, Lemmon finally has to come clean. I can’t marry, you, I drink. That’s okay says Barry. I smoke say Lemmon. I don’t mind, Barry replies. I can’t give you children. No problem, we’l l adopt some. Lemmon flings off his wig and shouts: “I can’t marry you, I’m a man!” Barry doesn’t hesitate.
“Well, nobody’s perfect,” he says.
That’s my list, How about giving yours?
This isn’t a top 10, but some movies I love and can always watch again.
- Shawshank Redemption
- Love Actually
- Four weddings and a funeral
- Lord of the Rings
- Blues Brothers
- Kill Bill Vol I
- South Park
- Life of Brian
- Star Wars Episode IV
- The Omen (I and II)
- No Way Out
- Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels