Monday, November 22, 2010

Retro Repost: TOP 20: #1 - #101


Well since we've made it to the one tenth marker, I figure this'd be a nice time to make a TOP 20 list and put some serious thought into the 101 films that I've watched thus far. Let's not dwaddle, let's jump right into it.


Also, a quick note: I've revised the ratings for the following 20 films, as some of them needed a bit of tweaking. The ratings that I give out when I review a film are my knee jerk ratings, and often times those change once a few days has gone by. Here we go...

20. Broken Blossoms (1919) dir. D.W. Griffith 7.5/10
This was actually the first movie that I went the full monty on and gave the full ten stars to. With a little thought I've lowered it to a seven and a half, but in my opinion this was the best, by far, D.W. Griffith film I watched and I can still see that closeup of the irate Battling Burrows, one of the great villains of the silent era. Great film, with a real heartfelt tone to it and one of D.W.'s most down to earth productions.

19. M (1931) dir. Fritz Lang 7.5/10
Only had to tweak this one a hair, as far as ratings go. My original review was a pretty accurate portrayl of my feelings on this film. The atmosphere of this one is so bleak and they plop a serial killer right in the middle of it, to give it an even bleaker feeling. There's so much going on in this one and it has plenty to keep a viewer interested and engaged in the picture.

18. The Gold Rush (1925) dir. Charles Chaplin 8/10
My original rating had this one pegged at a seven, but with some hindsight in play, it gets up to an eight. Hilarity ensues when The Little Tramp plays the gold prospector and winds up being reduced to dining on his shoes. I'll also never forget the visual of the cabin teetering on the edge of a mountain, while The Tramp and Big Jim wrestle to find their footing inside.

17. The General (1927) dir. Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman 8/10
I lowered this one a smidge, from eight and a half to eight. It's definitely my least favorite Keaton film, but that's not saying much, as it's still really funny and solid and provides a healthy look at the Civil War in the process. Constant suspense and excitement, piled with can't go wrong with this one. But there are better Buster movies...

16. Sherlock Jr. (1924) dir. Buster Keaton 8/10
This one originally was given an nine and a half, but I lowered it to an eight, simply because the others stuck with me more than this one did. The scene where Keaton is cleaning up the movie theatre lobby is something that I'll never forget though, that provided many laughs and Buster just being Buster. I think the length of this one was also something that made me remember some of the other ones better, as this one only sits at around 45 minutes. But still some of the funniest 45 minutes you'll ever spend.

15. GREED (1924) dir. Erich von Stroheim 8.5/10
I remember watching this one and gushing it's praises, but the fact is that it just didn't stick with me the way I thought it would. The fact that I had to watch it on YouTube and watch the re-created version, with all of the production stills and extra material sewn into it, may have played apart in it's drop from a ten to an eight and a half. But we're praising movies today, not bashing them and despite the YouTube viewing and the added stills photos, this is still a top notch film, one that I would DIE to see in complete form, as von Stroheim intended it to be. If I could have seen von Stroheim's original, I'm sure it would be an absolute favorite of mine and a sheer masterpiece.

14. Our Hospitality (1923) dir. Buster Keaton & John G. Blystone 9/10
This one got dropped from a ten to a nine, basically just because I realized it wasn't so good that it deserved the full tenner. However, it was my first Keaton film, and for that it will always hold a special place among the movies I've seen. I'll never forget my first experiences with the great comedy master, laughing and loving every minute of it.

13. Blackmail (1929) dir. Alfred Hitchcock 9/10
The only Hitchcock film to make the cut, and it still boggles my mind that this one is one of Hitchcock's forgotten masterpieces. You NEVER hear tell of this one and it's really a shame, as most people probably walk by the Wal-Mart $5 bin, and pass up the Alfred Hitchcock sets that usually include Blackmail, not even realizing what they're missing out on. Great film, and easily one of my favorite Hitch movies.

12. Captains Courageous (1937) dir. Victor Fleming 9/10
Went into this one thinking the worst and came out of it with the best...well #12 anyway. Spencer Tracy delivers in a big way and with his performance he brands this film into my head. I loved his character of Manuel, a character with traits that everyone loves: kindness, hard-working, gentle, intelligent, witty. Way to go Spence, because without you, this film wouldn't be here. Great movie, that ANYONE can enjoy and everyone should check out.

11. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) dir. Mervyn LeRoy 9/10
Paul Muni burst into the book with his portrayl of an innocent man, framed for a robbery. When you're as much of a sucker for prison movies, as I am and then you throw in the great acting talents of Paul Muni, along with the whole innocent man/fugitive angle, then this was a given for the Top 20.

10. The Crowd (1928) dir. King Vidor 9/10
This proves how fast my ratings change, as only two days ago I short changed The Crowd with an eight and a half and now it's been boosted to a ten. The thing that really appealed to me here, was the everyman concept of the film and how our character deals with the tragedies that all of us face day to day: job loss, child loss, relationship trouble, in-law trouble...It's just a tale that is about average day to day circumstances and it's put together quite brilliantly by Vidor.

09. Le Million (1931) dir. Rene Clair 10/10
Since watching this I've actually bought it on DVD and am glad to give it a home on my DVD shelf. One of the zaniest, yet brilliant films I saw and it all revolves around a missing lottery ticket. The plot is simple and something that has been copied by every successful sitcom since, but it works great and I had a blast watching it.

08. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) dir. Leo McCarey 10/10
"It would make a stone cry", that's what Orson Welles said of Make Way for Tomorrow and I believe the man had a valid point. The only film of the 101 thus far to bring a lot of tears to my eyes and I'm not ashamed to admit it. The principles do a wonderful job of reeling us in, and then once they have us hooked, we can't help but bawl. Love this movie and am so glad it's getting a DVD release this Tuesday.

07. The Unknown (1927) dir. Tod Browning 10/10
Probably ONE OF my biggest director finds from the book thus far, has been Tod Browning, as he totally delivered the goods on three seperate occasions and delivered ten fold on The Unknown. Lon Chaney delivers too, in a deliciously mad performance as Alonzo the Armless and the script is so good that I believe literally ANYONE could find enjoyment out of this one. This would be the movie that I'd recommend to non-silent people, to get them into silent flicks.

06. It Happened One Night (1934) dir. Frank Capra 10/10
My 'ol pal Peter Warne was the main character here and what a main character he was. Clark Gable showed his true acting chops with this one and THIS is the picture that he should be remembered for, not Gone with the Wind (Although, we're not there yet, so I'll hold off my discussions of that film). This took home the Best Picture Oscar, along with four others, for a reason and EVERYONE owes it to themselves to see this picture. Great, great stuff!

05. Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) dir. Buster Keaton & Charles Reisner 10/10
The second best Keaton film that I had the pleasure of seeing, Steamboat Bill Jr. provides us with the unforgettable hurricane scene, that I personally will NEVER forget. Keaton had a knack for all things comedy, whether it be physical comedy, or subtle comedy, such as when he whistles the tune in the jail and tries to get his father to realize that he's brought him a loaf of bread with a knife in it.

04. Seven Chances (1925) dir. Buster Keaton 10/10
The BEST Buster Keaton movie that I saw. Seven Chances has the most memorable plot, in my opinion and to me, it stands out above all the others. You take The General and Sherlock Jr., I'll be just fine with Seven Chances, which made me laugh my ass off and the prospect of Keaton being forced to find a wife by 7pm, I mean c'mon, that just sounds hilarious. This would be the first movie that I'd recommend to someone who has never seen a Keaton picture.

03. Modern Times (1936) dir. Charles Chaplin 10/10
The more I think about this one, the more I love it and we're into the point now, where I'm talking about movies that make me so glad I set out on this journey through cinema. Modern Times is such a sweet, funny, pitch perfect film and honestly my absolute favorite Chaplin flick, of the three I've seen, and I highly doubt that any of the rest can match up to this one, although I'm certainly not above letting them try.

02. My Man Godfrey (1936) dir. Gregory La Cava 10/10
The top two here flip flopped in my head, back and forth, for quite a while, before I finally decided on their precise order. This one came oh so close though and this is the film that makes me want to see every other William Powell film. If I had to pick a favorite actor, based solely on the films that I've seen from the '1001' book, so far, then I'd pick William Powell, no question. He delivers here big time and this is probably the greatest screwball comedy I've EVER seen. There's nothing bad going on here and every aspect of this film is great.

01. La Roue (1923) dir. Abel Gance 10/10
Regular followers of my blog (if there are any) probably were taken by surprise by my #1 pick. La Roue was a film that I originally rated an eight and a half out of ten and one that I really don't remember going on and on about that much. I can still see the railroad engineer Sisif, climbing the big mountain, bearing a cross on his shoulders. I can see Norma going down to celebrate with the people of the village, as they all sing and dance in a big circle and the mountain takes hold of the screen. This is a silent film that was better for being silent, as only words could've screwed this up. This movie is so beautiful and so touching, that there were no words that would've been right in the mouths of the actors, it was just something that had to play out for itself and speak for itself and it did that. I still see this film in my head and think about it all the time and this was, without question, the BEST movie I've watched from the book, thus far and even one of the best things I've ever seen, book or no book.

EDIT: HONORABLE MENTIONS: I've decided to include 10 Honorable Mention films from that original 101 films and they are: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), Sunrise (1927), The Blue Angel (1930), Public Enemy (1931), Duck Soup (1933), King Kong (1933), It's a Gift (1934), Judge Priest (1934), Captain Blood (1935) and Top Hat (1935)

Well there you go. I hope you've enjoyed the list and maybe you'll even take a little of my advice and go out and see some of the ones listed here that you haven't. When I hit 201 movies watched, we'll do this again, except we'll up the number to a Top 40. I think that's all that needs to be said and I'll go ahead and let my list speak for itself.

February 20, 2010 10:38pm
EDIT/REPOST: November 22, 2010 10:54am

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