Friday, June 22, 2007

Round up the usual suspects

Definitely on-topic, the American Film Institute has issued an updated version of its 100 Best Movies list, and Casablanca is at Number Three, edged out of the Number Two slot by The Godfather.

I followed a link that followed a link, but it led me only here, to some fellow's blog. Still, he does reproduce the whole list and the previous one, which dates from 1998, so I don't know what else you would need. But if someone wants to add in the AFI link, feel free to make an edit.

In the interests of brevity, here's the Top Twenty from each list (links are to reviews of the films in question). My own comments after the listings:

NEW:

1. Citizen Kane (1941) (1)
2. The Godfather (1972) (3)
3. Casablanca (1942) (2)
4. Raging Bull (1980)(24)
5. Singin' in the Rain (1952)(10)
6. Gone With the Wind (1939)(4)
7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)(5)
8. Schindler's List (1993)(9)
9. Vertigo (1958)(61)
10. The Wizard of Oz (1939) (6)
11. City Lights (1931)(76)
12. The Searchers (1956)(96)
13. Star Wars (1977)(15)
14. Psycho (1960)(18)
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)(22)
16. Sunset Boulevard (1950)(12)
17. The Graduate (1967)(7)
18. The General (1927)
19. On the Waterfront (1954)(8)
20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)(11)


OLD:

1. Citizen Kane (1941)
2. Casablanca (1942)
3. The Godfather (1972)
4. Gone With the Wind (1939)
5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
6. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
7. The Graduate (1967)
8. On the Waterfront (1954)
9. Schindler's List (1993)
10. Singin' In the Rain (1952)
11. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
12. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
13. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
14. Some Like It Hot (1959)
15. Star Wars (1977)
16. All About Eve (1950)
17. The African Queen (1951)
18. Psycho (1960)
19. Chinatown (1974)
20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Those I'm at a loss to see why Schindler's List is included at all, let alone in the Top Twenty. The story of Oskar Schindler is a fine one, but the film, where it's not dull and static, is tacky and gimmicky, not at all in keeping with its subject. Likewise, what are Kwai and Some Like it Hot doing here? The African Queen? Who voted for that, Sheridan Morley?are all (except Schindler) gone by the time of the new list, which nevertheless stubbornly retains The Graduate (just because it launched Hoffman doesn't make it per se a great film) and It's a Wonderful Life. Billy Wilder stays in the rankings with Sunset Boulevard, which is a far better film than SLIH, and a better example of Wilder's work.

So what do you all think? Better now or then? Omissions? Howlers?



28 comments:

Miz UV said...

I read at Eden's that Dr. Zhivago dropped off completely, which makes me sad. Now I guess I don't really know how people judge these things, but to see that the fun but basically pointless film Star Wars is in the top 20 and Dr. Z is off completely makes me believe the entire exercise is subjective and worthless.

Eden said...

Aw now ;) I'll defend Star Was being there not just b/c I love it but b/c it really did change cinema.

I would replace Schindler's List w/ Jaws. I mean if SW can be in the top 20, why not the first blockbuster (and a film that I think i s more representative of Spielberg).

I LOVE that City Lights wents from #76 to #11. Don't like GWTW & Sunset Blvd slipping. How about The Searchers? My god, talk about a jump.

Teacake said...

First, I don't get why they changed it. To update it for new movies is one thing, but Casablanca and The Godfather have not changed since 1998, so what gives?

Secondly, you're just baiting me with that African Queen shit, you who claim to want blognicery. The African Queen is great, and anyone who doesn't think so is a schlub. There I said it.

It's a Wonderful Life is a great movie.

And what's with moving On The Waterfront so far down? Pinheads.

Jeff said...

My first reaction was, how the hell did "On the Waterfront" drop from #8 to #19? And Raging Bull jumps 20 spots to #4? (not that I'm complaining about that one, as I did have it in the Final Four of Movie Madness). There are many other "I don't gets," the largest of which is, "I don't get why they did this." The original list was, as all "best of" lists are, a completely fun and subjective conversation piece. It'd be one thing if a bunch of really phenomenal new movies came out since '98 and they had to redo the list because of that, but they just rejumbled it. Wait... holy shit, I just looked again. Vertigo jumped 52 spots? City Lights jumped 65 spots? The Searchers, which barely squeaked into the original top 100, is now at #12? Man, it looks like there was some turnover at AFI.

Jeff said...

Teacake, obviously you and I were thinking alike and posting alike at the same time. Yeah, African Queen is a great movie. It's a double-great movie with hot fudge and whipped cream on top.

Don said...

I've actually seen twelve of these. I feel so IN. Even have three on DVD.

Agree w Paula re Star Wars, it was a fun movie in 1977 but it's crap otherwise and the follow-ups are even crappier. That it changed cinema means as much to me as that the Edsel changed automobile marketing.

Also agree Dr Zhivago needs to be there. Speaking of doctors, so does Strangelove. Oh well, what do I know. And yeah, what's with two lists? What's the diff?

Sour Grapes said...

I think the idea may be that in the intervening years the influence of films may be seen more clearly. Not that new films take over, but that new films show the importance of old films up.

Or it could all just be a ploy to get people talking about the movies. I've heard some peeps will go to any lengths.

Jeff said...

"it was a fun movie in 1977 but it's crap otherwise"

Wholeheartedly disagree. Just watched it last week with my 13- and 10-year-old kids for the second time (2nd time for them, not me) and I still to this day think it's a fantastic movie.

Joe the Troll said...

I have to join the folks who wonder why you would question "The African Queen"'s inclusion, but not "Star Wars". Storywise, it isn't much different from classic swashbucklers. I do not believe that it changed cinema, although it can be argued that it raised the bar on special effects. However, it can also be argued that Kubrick had already done so with 2001, and that it took almost a decade for anyone to match him.

I DO think it is a fun movie and a good story, I just think people project way too much into it. It's greatest importance to the film industry is as a money maker.

Don said...

I overstated. I like SW well enough fun-wise and story-wise. Just that the dialog and the background are all contrived and borrowed. Its brilliance is in the vision to reintroduce unabashed fantastic adventure to the big screen. There is also some appeal in the sense you get that they were somewhat making it up as they went. Otherwise, ihh. Anyway, my opinion is skewed by the more recent movies, which were truly garbagic.

Now that I look, I do agree with the older list much more than the new. And I still hope to grab a gander at Casablanca some time in the next eight days.

Jeff said...

Do not let the newer SW movies taint your love of the old! That would be like using Godfather III against Godfathers I & II.

While the underlying story of SW is of course not original, as Sour Grapes pointed out, neither is Casablanca. However, the imagination behind the worlds and characters that Lucas created to tell the story cannot be denied. As far as heroes and villains go, he created some of the most well-known in the entire history of film. Shitty films with shitty stories don't do that. And the light saber? Single most coveted non-existent gadget ever in the history of any film. I special ordered one; as soon as someone invents it, it's mine.

Teacake said...

Single most coveted non-existent gadget ever in the history of any film.

Hm. One could make a strong argument for the Batmobile.

Jeff said...

No way. Not even close. Sticks, bats, flashlights, brooms... they've all been light sabers to a boy (and many girls, too). That doesn't even count the plastic pseudo-light sabers they sell at Toys-R-Us. My friend's son -- who's 8 -- has three different light sabers. Sure, you look at the Batmobile (though we're talking films here, which makes me ask, which Batmobile?), you think, cool car. But that's nothing like picking up a whiffle ball bat and making a "shhhhhhh" sound, holding it in two hands, and saying to your foe, "Now the circle is complete."

Batmobile. Bah.

Teacake said...

Fair enough.

I remember sitting on my lawn last Halloween (cause I live someplace where you can sit on your lawn on Halloween and you don't, neener) marveling that there are still today kids dressing up as the same characters we dressed up as in 1977. Now that's cultural impact, baby.

But "Which Batmobile?" is an interesting question nonethless. I only recognize the Burton Batman, none of that Shumacher shit, etc., although the new Christian Bale thing (sorry don't know who's directing) was pretty good and if the next one is just as good I may - MAY - be willing to betray - VERY SLIGHTLY - my director boyfriend by recognizing somebody else's. Did you know Tim Burton was my director boyfriend? Oh yes he is.

Okay, it's late.

Eden said...

When I say that SW changed cinema, it's not just about effects. Look at your best picture winners before & after. Would an "Annie Hall" make it today? Would we have movies opening on five screens in a single theater and then fizzling away in a month? Would we have merchandising overload? Love it or hate it, I think that's a huge part of the impact of SW and it did affect cinema.

Star Wars and Jaws made summer the movie season; it used to be the dumping ground, didn't it?

Would I put SW in a general top 10? Probably not. But a Top 20? Oh yeah.

Joe the Troll said...

Then we agree - it's value to cinematic history was as a money-maker.

Don said...

Light sabres are cool but Lucas didn't invent them. Didn't invent anything I'm aware of. But who the hell does? It hardly matters. He put the elements together and it worked. Good advice about new vs old movies. Watched GF III last night, as it happens. Bit of a jumble, it was, though not bad. At least it didn't make me root for the supposed bad guys, as the later SW films do.

Wait, yeah it did. But I mean on purpose.

I still love the TV Batmobile and want me a big black '65 T-Bird because of it.

Natsthename said...

I have to jump on the SLIH bandwagon. If you argue that Sunset Blvd. is a better Wilder film and a better example of his work, that's fine. But why shouldn't something light, ridiculously funny and sort of daring for its time be counted out just because it's comedy? Comedy just doesn't get as much respect from filmies, which sort of pisses me off. Movies are for entertainment, and comedy sure is entertaining! And does each filmmaker get only one chance to make this list? I think not. So, why not SLIH?

Jeff said...

Who invented the light saber?

Jeff said...

I absolutely agree with you, Joe, that SW had a huge financial impact on Hollywood. Which is ironic, because SW was made outside the Hollywood system. Lucas' most impressive move, outside of actually getting the first film made, was having the foresight to secure all the licensing rights. That had never been done before. SW completely changed licensing (for better and/or worse).

I do believe, however, that SW contribution to Hollywood wasn't only a financial one. "Spaceballs" would never have seen the light of day were it not for SW!

Don said...

Who invented the light saber?

Larry Niven had some books out at the time that featured artifacts created by an earlier, long dead space civilization. One of them was a sword that, upon press of a button, extended an unbreakable molecule which, being molecule-width, would cut through literally anything. It had a little glowy thing at the end so the user could see where his "blade" was. I thought it was a neat idea, and then SW came out, with a version that works better on the movie screen.

This is just my opinion, though. Experts may say something else.

Don said...

Totally agree SLIH should stay on the list. It's one of the best funny movies ever made and quite daring for its time.

Natsthename said...

Yay, someone agrees with me on SLIH. And let's not forget the great performances by all the major players and the excellent bit part of the fab Joe E. Brown. Perfection!

Natsthename said...

Wait! Didn't Lucas and his crew invent all sorts of techniques for filming exteriors of those ships? I thought he was an innovator there (ok, that's effects, but still.) All I know is that as a 20-year-old, when the original SW was released, I'd never seen anything like it (and I had seen 2001 by then) and it was visually exciting. Lucas admits virtually making a serial Western in space, but it was the way he did it that was so original. Who'd ever seen a band such as the cantina band before? The sounds their instruments made. Who'd ever seen a "walking carpet" that looked so real? And the detail on all of those ships? Amazing. Hyperspace jump? Blew me away. It's not a perfect movie, but how many on the list are actually perfect? I"m still pissed that Rosebud was a f'n sled.

The Exterminator said...

Any film list that doesn't include Double Indemnity in the top 20 isn't worth anything. It's THE film noir. Also, I'm pissed that Pinocchio isn't included, since it's probably the greatest animated film ever made (using all kinds of visual techniques from big-boy movies). I'd happily blast Star Wars into deep space, and you are definitely right about The Graduate, which I've always thought is sophomoric. And what's the deal with It's a Wonderful Life? That sappy story and overwrought acting! If it were up to me, I'd replace it with The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, or Adam's Rib.

And where the hell are Fred & Ginger?

O' Tim said...

I'm gonna pipe up for Chinatown. The Injustice! OK, it's more like a Travesty. What a great story, and what intense acting.

Sour Grapes said...

"Watched GF III last night, as it happens. Bit of a jumble, it was, though not bad."

In times to come people will be mystified by our age's reaction to this film. It's a lot better than people were led to believe, with all that stupid insulting shit about Sofia Coppola. What are we putting up with from critics these days?

I didn't love it as I loved I, and I didn't enjoy it as I enjoyed II, but it absolutely had to exist, and it makes so much sense in the grand scheme of Godfather films that I prefer to wait until one day that trilogy becomes a subject in its own right before elaborating.

Sour Grapes said...

On another topic, there's a case to be made for The Apartment as the best Billy Wilder comedy, because it's truly black as all his best work was. SLIH was a piece of pap in my view, forgotten two minutes after the credits roll. We think highly of it now because Marilyn died prematurely. That's all.