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Today in My History

2000:  This One Takes the Cake
2001:  There's No Place Like Home
2002:  Notes to Myself
2003:  With Friends Like This...
2004:  The God of All Fruit
2005:  My Travel Secret

2007: We have VIDEO again!
2008:  New Toy
2009:  I Thought the Depression was Over
In All My Glory

Bitter Hack
Updated: 5/18

Books Read in 2012
 Updated: 5/14
"San Francisco Confidential"

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Santa Barbara, April 2012


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I love the movies

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mail to Walt


22 May 2012

As I have mentioned many times, Kwizgiver often gives me ideas for memes and lists.  Because of her, two months ago I attempted a list of 50 songs which had moved me (realizing, practically, that I could not make a list of 100).  Today I noticed that she had done a 100 movies list too and I thought I'd try that.  I might be able to make 100 which have had an impact on me, or that I would be likely to watch if I saw them come on TV, though I suspect that most of them will not be current movies, since we see so few movies these days.  As I make this list I discover that very few were released after 1970 and that most of them are high on schmaltz and not necessarily long on quality!   Very few are on the AFI list of the top 100 films.  I suspect people will relate to Kwizgiver's list more than to most of mine!

Where they exist, I will include links to the trailers on YouTube in case you want to check them out.  And they are in no particular order of importance, just as they come to mind except, of course, for the first one, which should surprise nobody.  Here goes:

1. A Star is Born.  It has to be the Judy Garland version.   The Janet Gayor version in 1937 was good and I like it, but I prefer it with music.   I am still angry with Barbra Streisand for her version.

2. The Quiet Man.   Take away John Wayne's cowboy hat and his Marines uniform and you have Sean Thornton, former boxer returning to his Irish roots and falling in love with Maureen O'Hara.  I rarely put this on lists of favorites, not because it isn't, but because I forget.  I love this movie.

3. Dave.  I love this movie because I would like to think politics could work like this.  Kevin Kline makes a great president.

4. Moon over Parador.   This is the movie on which Dave was based.  Same story set in a foreign country, with Richard Dreyfus as the stand-in president.

5. An American President.   While I'm looking at good presidents Michael Douglas does a good job too, and proves that even the President needs a little romance in his life.

6. The Frisco Kid.   Gene Wilder just after Willie Wonka and Harrison Ford before Star Wars.  Great little comedy about an innocent, naive rabbi trying to make it from Poland to Old West San Francisco, with the reluctant assistance of bank robber Ford.   Check it out!

7. Mrs. Doubtfire.  I love Robin Williams in almost anything, but he is in great form in drag, playing a British nanny to his own children.

8. The Birdcage.   Speaking of Robin Willliams in drag, how about the American movie based on the French La Cage Aux Folles.  Actually Williams doesn't do drag, Nathan Lane does, but it all takes place in the drag club Williams owns.

9. La Cage Aux Folles.   The original movie is wonderful too.

10. Victor Victoria.   While we're on the subject of drag, this classic with Julie Andrews playing a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman is much fun. 

11. Tootsie.  Another drag movie, with Dustin Hoffman playing an out of work actor who gets a job on a popular soap opera by posing as a woman.

12. The Seventh Veil.   No video trailer of this movie, made in 1945, but I fell in love with James Mason, the aloof, somewhat cruel uncle to brilliant pianist Ann Todd.

13. North by Northwest.   My favorite Hitchcock thriller.  Cary Grant at his best climbing around the heads of Mt. Rushmore.

14. To Catch a Thief.   Or maybe THIS is my favorite Hitchcock thriller.  Cary Grant at his best.   :) chasing the elusive jewel thief that everyone thinks is him.  Best scene--the fireworks scene with Grace Kelly.

15. The Third Man.   This was the movie that made me understand why black and white movies are not better colorized!  Gripping story, directed by Orson Wells, beautifully photographed and death to anyone who tries to add color!

16. Bambi.  My very favorite Disney movie. I bought the DVD for Bri and wanted to watch it with her, but I don't even know if she's ever seen it.

17. Dumbo.  Also a favorite Disney, though not on a par with Bambi.

18. Song of the South.   This controversial Disney movie, based on the Uncle Remus stories, was re-released in 1986, after many years on the shelf, having been removed, apparently, because of material that came to be felt was politically incorrect and racist.

19. The Manchurian Candidate.   Speaking of movies that were pulled from circulation is the original of this movie, the Frank Sinatra version.  Rumor is that Sinatra took it out circulation for many years, following the JFK assassination, but happily it is now available again.  The original version is much better and more chilling than the updated version.

20. The Fatal Glass of Beer.   If you have 18 minutes to spare, do yourself a favor and click on the link to see the whole W.C. Fields movie, which David described as "the dumbest movie ever," and then invited all of his friends, in waves, to come and watch with him.  'tain't a fit night out for man nor beast!

21. Air Force One.  A gripping thriller of the hijacking of the presidential airplane.  Harrison Ford gets to strut his stuff in this one and Glenn Close plays the vice president trying to keep it all together at home.  For some reason, this movie seems to run quite often on cable...and I usually watch it (or watch "at" it)

22. The Nun's Story. This Audrey Hepburn flick was one that made me want to be a missionary for many years after I saw it.

23. Love in the Afternoon.   I guess this is the Audrey Hepburn section of this list, since I have loved so many of her movies.  In this movie Audrey plays the innocent young daughter of a Paris detective (Maurice Chevalier) falls in love with a middle-aged playboy (Gary Cooper). one of her father's most notorious subjects.

24. Sabrina.  In this Hepburn movie, the chauffeur's daughter gets caught between two wealthy brothers (William Holden and Humphrey Bogart).

25. Roman Holiday.   Hepburn won an academy award for this, her first movie, where she plays a runaway princess having a holiday in Rome, accompanied by reporter (Gregory Peck) who is determined to get a big story out of the fling.

26. My Fair Lady. Was she ever more regal than descending the stairs of Professor Higgins' (Rex Harrison) house on her way to the ball?  Loved this Hepburn film.

27. The Prince and the Showgirl is the unusual pairing of showgirl Marilyn Monroe and philandering prince Laurence Olivier but the result is a charming little film that I very much enjoy.

28. To Kill a Mockingbird.   Everybody's favorite attorney, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) at his most noble.

29. Ocean's Eleven.   The original, with the Rat Pack. Yeah, I know that Brad Pitt and George Clooney et al are the new rat pack, but the original of this movie can't hold a candle to the remakes (IMHO).  The funeral scene is classic.

30. Affair to Remember.   How could I get this far without mentioning this movie?  Classic schmaltzy love story of a shipboard romance that changes the lives of the two lovers (Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr).  I have seen this movie maybe 100 times and still cry in the last 5 minutes.  In fact, I don't need to see the rest of the movie, just catch the last five minutes and I'm heading for the tissues.

31. Sleepless in Seattle.   While not a remake of Affair to Remember, that movie does play a big role in this film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan about two people finding each other.

32. Big.  Tom Hanks is more than believable as a young boy in a grown up body trying to get back to his original size, while at the same time learning what it means to be a grown up.

33. Philadelphia.   While I'm thinking of Tom Hanks, his performance as an AIDS victim fighting an improper job termination was just wonderful. What an impact his performance made!

34. Miracle on 34th St., my favorite Christmas movie--as usual, the original, not the remake.  Is Kris Kringle really the real Santa Claus, as he asserts?  Natalie Wood is the perfect little girl, and the ending is magical.

35. Driftwood.   Natalie Wood also plays the little girl in this movie, which has no YouTube trailer (link is to ImDB).  It has all you want in schmaltz -- a little girl, a lost dog, a virulent virus, and well-meaning doctor and a love interest. 

36. The Blue Veil. Another movie not on YouTube is this movie starring Jane Wyman, which you can't even find in VHS tape now.  Wyman plays a war widow, whose child dies at birth.  She spends the rest of her life working as a nanny and at the end there is a reunion of all of her former charges, now grown up.  It was probably a horrible movie, but I would love to see it again.

37. Ghost.  This movie was released about a year after Gilbert died, at a time when I really needed to believe in life after death.  Patrick Swayzie and Demi Moore convinced me!

38. Shadowlands. I loved this love story between Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, playing CS Lewis and an American divorcee, dying of cancer, whom he marries.  "The sadness then is part of the joy now...that's the deal"

39. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.  Spencer Tracy's last movie.  He died 17 days later.  Rather than linking to the trailer, I'm linking to my favorite monologue that gets me every time.   Are the tears in Hepburn's eyes acting or real?  I'm betting real.

40. Lilies of the Field.   The first time we paid attention to Sidney Poitier and it set the rest of his career.  I just loved his relationship with the German nuns.

41. The King and I.   This musical became the lifelong role for Yul Brynner, who did play other roles, but is most remembered for this which he played on stage for the rest of his life.   Tells the story of a British teacher who comes to Siam to teach the children of the king, and in the process changes the course of history for the country.

42. The Music Man.  In addition to being a movie I enjoy, it also became the family stage show, since Paul and Jeri did it once and Paul did it three times (winning an award once). Robert Preston is the perfect Harold Hill.

43. Lili.  Sweet story of a young girl (Leslie Caron) who  joins the circus and becomes involved with a group of puppets--and the puppetteer.

44. Gigi.  Caron comes into her own with this Oscar-winning movie about the coming of age of the daughter of a courtesan in Paris.  With Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jordan and Hermione Gingold.

45. Anastasia.  Even though DNA evidence proves that Anastasia, daughter of Czar Nicholas did not escape the execution of her family, this Ingrid Bergman/Yul Brynner movies still makes me wonder! Helen Hayes is marvelous as the Dowager Empress.

46. Summertime.   Katharine Hepburn as a single middle aged woman finding love with Rosanno Brazzi in Venice.

47. The King's Speech.   Hey!  A sort of reecent movie! The story of the relationship between King George VI and his speech therapist (Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush) is just beautiful.   I love triumph over tragedy stories!

48. Rebel Without a Cause.   This James Dean movie had an impact on any teen ager who saw it.  The alienation between the teens and their parents, the friendship that grows between Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, all three, in their own way, misfits.  Beautiful movie.

49. Death of a Salesman.   This version of the Arthur Miller play with Dustin Hoffman as the down and on his way out salesman Willy Loman is just magic. I've seen several versions of this play and this is, for me, the best.

50. Marathon Man.   Hoffman again in the thriller starring Laurence Olivier as an ex-Nazi war criminal (who also happens to be a sadistic dentist) will keep you on the edge of your seat.

51. Castaway.  Tom Hanks carries a movie about one man stuck for years on an otherwise deserted island after the crash of the plane in which he was flying.  He makes each scene special. And you'll never casually punch a volleyball again.

52. The Old Man and the Sea.   Speaking of solo performances, this movie telling Hemmingway's story of an old Portuguese fisherman battling his "big fish" against sharks and the elements is just amazing. I love that the only trailers I could find have Greek subtitles (but the film clips are in English)

53. Hoosiers.  Another David-and-Goliath type movie of a down and out coach (Gene Hackman) taking a down and out high school basketball team and bringing them to the state championships.

54. Superman.  Not "my kind of movie" ordinarily but Christopher Reeve's performance was so good...and his sad history after he finished making the Superman movies makes this one of the special ones.

55. Unfaithful.  This movie with Diane Lane having an affair with Richard Gere a brilliant romantic thriller.   The scene with Diane Lane on the bus was just classic.

56. For Me and My Gal.   Well, I should include another Judy Garland movie.  This was Gene Kelly's screen debut, as a vaudeville hoofer with eyes set on playing The Palace in New York, but who gets drafted and the effect that has on his relationship with Garland.  Maybe one of my favorite of her MGM years.

57. I Could Go on Singing.   Judy Garland's best film since A Star is Born.  More autobiographical in spots than most!

58. Back to the Future.   I enjoyed the whole trilogy, but #1 and #3 were the best.  Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly goes backward and forward in time with buddy Christopher Lloyd so often it will make your head spin.

59. Chaplin.  Robert Downey, Jr. makes Charlie Chaplin live again.  Fabulous film.

60. The Kid.  Charlie Chaplin's first full length film, with Jackie Cooper playing the child Chaplin adopted as a baby.  Funny and a tear jerker at the same time.  The link is to the full movie.

61. Rear Window.   Another Hitchcock thriller, which shows that terror can be produced with very little actual action.  Grace Kelly plays Jimmy Stewart's girlfriend.  I remember watching this with Paul, who was clutching a pillow the whole time.

62. Vertigo.  I love this movie not only because it's a good Hitchcock thriller, but because it was shot in my neighborhood -- James Stewart's character's flat is 3 blocks from where I grew up.

63. The Great Escape.   One of the great prisoner of war movies, starring everybody (James Garner, Steve McQueen, Richard Dawson, etc.).  Hogan's Heroes this ain't!

64. Moscow on the Hudson.   This was the movie that made me realize there was more to Robin Williams than his comedy. 

65. Patch Adams.  This is how I wish medicine was practiced...at least with the level of care that Patch has.   The scene welcoming gynecologists to the hospital is priceless.

66. Steel Magnolias.   What a wonderfully empowering women's film...showing that those ol' southern belles are really made of steel!

67. The Trouble with Harry.   An early Hitchcock film that is more quirky than terrifying.  Shirley Maclaine's movie debut in a starring role.

68. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Leonard Nimoy's first outing as directing one of the Star Trek films.  This is the one with the whales and, of all the films, my favorite.

69. Calendar Girls. What a wonderful, fun movie.  The women's club of a small town in England comes up with an unusual way to make money for the group.

70. Waking Ned Devine.   I laughed so hard during this Irish movie, which involves a winning lottery ticket found on the body of a dead man.  Can the money be claimed?

71. A Private Function.   Another hilarious movie about a small town in England dealing with post-World War II rationing...and a pig.  Michael Palin and Maggie Smith are both very funny.

72. 84 Charing Cross Rd.   It's one place I wanted to go when we were first in England.  Charing Cross Rd. exists,but #84 does not.  Still this story about a British book store owner (Anthony Hopkins) and a book enthusiast in America (Anne Bancroft) is a classic.

73. Mr. Holland's Opus.   We knew a couple of Mr. Hollands and I love this movie, which celebrates teachers who make a difference.

74. Whiskey Galore (aka Tight Little Island).  This is more one of Walt's favorite movies--a Scottish island which runs out of whiskey...and how providence provides for them!

75.  Gaijin. This is a beautiful Brasilian movie that I saw back in the 1980s.  It is about the Japanese migration to Brasil to work on the coffee plantations.  To truly appreciate the message of this film, it is important to watch the captioned version, so you can appreciate the Portuguese, Italian, English, and Japanese languages spoken during the film, and how important the language mix is to the understanding of the story.  Couldn't find a film clip from it.

76. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  A children's classic that can be enjoyed by adults as well.   Wouldn't everyone like to live in a chocolate factory?

77. Gia.  Angelina Jolie plays model, Gia Carangi.  She brings such power to this portrayal that it is mesmerizing.

78. Interrupted Melody.   When I first saw this movie about Australian opera singer Marjorie Lawrence, when I was in grammar school, I decided I was going to become an opera singer and probably drove my mother nuts with my attempts to skreetch high notes!

79. Experiment in Terror.   Not only was this Blake Edwards movie shot in San Francisco, but my then-boyfriend, Randy Ray Jones, was in a couple of scenes as an extra.  In addition to that, it holds you on the edge of your seat.

80. Days of Wine and Roses. Coming from a long line of alcoholics, I was particularly taken with this film, which shows how an upscale couple, Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, begin to sink into alcoholism.   Title song won the Oscar.

81. Show Boat.  I am sure I must have seen movies before Show Boat but this is the movie I remember going to for the first time, with my grandmother.  I even remember that we arrived late.

82. High Society.   Bing Crosby! Frank Sinatra! Grace Kelly! Louis Armstrong! Cole Porter! Is there any need for further explanation?  This is the musical remake of the old Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn movie,The Philadelphia Story.

83. White Christmas.   While I'm mentioning Bing Crosby, I must add White Christmas as a favorite Christmas movie.

84. The Court Jester.   Danny Kaye classic.  Where is the pellet with the poison anyway?

85. Oh God.  As is obvious if you have made it this far down this list, my tastes in movies do not go deep.   I will forever more picture George Burns when you ask me what God looks like!

86. Going My Way.   Bing Crosby crooning at his best, a young priest sent to help a failing parish.   Barry Fitzgerald was younger than I am when he played the doddering old priest.   Sigh.

87. Bells of St. Mary's.   Obviously movies that affected me in my early years had a lot to do with religion, particularly catholics.  In this one Ingrid Bergman is a nun and Bing Crosby is a priest ... and no hanky panky takes place.

88. Paula.   Oh this may be the schockiest of them all.  Loretta Young plays a society matron who hits a young orphan (Tommy Rettig, who went on to be in all those early Lassie TV shows) with her car and causes injuries that prevent him from speaking (he also loses his memory).  The movie is about retribution and acceptance and is worth a few tissues.

89. Half Angel.   I don't really remember much about this movie (other than I remember loving it) about a woman (Loretta Young) who suffers from sleep walking.

90. Come to the Stable.   Another nun movie.  This one takes place at Christmas time and stars Loretta Young.  This link is not to a trailer, but to the first of seven parts, so you can see the entire movie in 7 chunks on YouTube.

91. The Apartment.   How C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) find his cajones and a girlfriend (Shirley Maclaine) to boot.

92. Slum Dog Millionaire.   A feel good movie about poverty in India...and an introduction to Bollywood dancing!

93. Shawshank Redemption. Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

94. Toy Story.  I would be hard pressed to name which of the 3 Toy Stories I prefer.  The first one was wonderful because it was something new.  The 3rd one was wonderful because it brought the story full circle perfectly. The second one was just wonderful.

95. Hotel Rwanda.  I was appalled that I had known so little about what happened in Rwanda and angry that the United States did so little to help the people who were killed.

96. The Sixth Sense.   I wonder how many people, like me, have to see this movie for a second time, knowing how it all ends, trying to figure out where it all began.

97. Good Will Hunting.   Another non-comedic role for Robin Williams, and a first outing for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck...and we all know where that led!

98. The Horse's Mouth.  This quirky film stars Alec Guinness as Gulley Jimson, a vulgar but dedicated painter. The Lt. Kizhe Suite by Prokofiev features prominently.

99. Kind Hearts and Coronets.   A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.   Alec Guinness x8.  What could be better!

100. The Mouse that Roared.   An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose so they can get financial assistance, but things don't go according to plan. I can never hear the phrase "Grand Duchy" without adding "Fenwick." Peter Sellers plays four different roles in this movie.

I probably could have gone for 200.  Aren't you glad I didn't?



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