The Cinema

We enjoy movies a lot. There's a number of movies we've seen we want to recommend. There's many different styles of movies out there, we know that. But this reflects our tastes and enjoyment. You'll find there's some crossover in genres for different movies. Some belong in multiple places. This list is not precisely consistent, but it should fulfill the enjoyment quotient anyway for discussion purposes.

Action Adventure/Thrillers

The Action genre seems to include an odd range of titles. The success of Indiana Jones is the direct result of being the descendant of the classic cliff hanger movies. The fun is in enjoying the ride as much as anything else. There are few things we like more than the ride in these films. Interestingly, there's movies that fall in this category without being a ride so much as a bizarre trip of amazing intrique.

  Raiders of the Lost Ark This flick literally revived the cliff hanger as an entertaining adventure. Harrison Ford is pretty much at his best here, though we get used to seeing Harrison Ford in this type of character, competent, strong, steady, white hat type adventurer (never mind that he's stealing the treasures of other people's anthropological past) who justifies his little romps with the certainty he is furthering knowledge. My favorite line in the flick is when he's asked what he's going to do when the bad guys put the Ark on a truck to Cairo... "I don't know, I'm making this up as I go."
  James Bond Any Bond, even the silly production of Casino Royale. Bond gets special points for being escapist fantasy, the gadgets appealing to the toy collector in almost every male member of the audience, and despite his womanizing nature, the women in Bond movies are not wussy little wimps. If I had one bone to pick with Bond movies, it would be the performance of Roger Moore as Bond. His performances quickly became  very unlike his TV role as Simon Templar (The Saint). He seemed to exude contempt for the role, and really seemed to belittle the performance of his predecessor(s), Sean Connery (the best Bond undoubtably), and George Lazenby (who was outstanding as Bond, shame he only did one flick). If I had to the chance to pick an actor to try the role of Bond it would be Adrian Paul (who did Highlander on TV), simply because I think he could bring both the serious pieces and the slightly one off humor to the role again.
  Speed A roller coaster of action saving passengers on a bus from a mad bomber. I enjoy Sandra Bullock, but the performance by Dennis Hopper as the villain was quite good.
  The Mummy Beloved by our kids for "mommy & daddy" saving the world.We have to subject ourselves to it now and then just because the kids like seeing a surrogate of their parents romping around and beating up the monsters, winning out over the bizarre villains, and simply because the dialogue is fun.
  The Mummy Returns
  North by Northwest Alfred Hitchcock just bowls the audience over with a variety of good cinematographic tools that just build to the climatic conclusion. Cary Grant brings class to a role in which he's both pulled unwittingly into a mad spy scheme by mischance, and shows himself equal to the spy masters involved at every turn.
  The Fugitive Tommy Lee Jones at his very best as a good guy. Harrison Ford in the first one is good, but he actually doesn't add as much to the flick as Tommy Lee Jones does.
  US Marshalls
  The Peacemaker George Clooney and Nicole Kidman turn in good solid performances in this adventure which is good more because of the script and directing than the acting. The entire effort pieces together very well and has a message which is very much present but not overwhelming, that being motives are not always transparent and simple.
  The Mask of Zorro Antonio Banderas is delightful in his romp as the masked avenger of California, and matched up with Catherine Zeta-Jones as the romance interest, this movie simply shines. The acting is outstanding and this new plot of an inheritor to the legend of Zorro is a well crafted pleasure to watch.
  The Seven Samurai Really a western, set in samurai Japan, one of the best movies ever for several reasons of depth. There's a lot of similarities in culture between the Samurai adventure and the western culture of honor, manhood, and untamed justice that is very visible.
  Air Force One Harrison Ford plays President on the high profile US aircraft that carries the President when it gets hijacked. He's really being Indiana Jones again, but it works anyway as a tense little thriller with a mid-air rescue. My favorite line comes from the pilot of the rescue aircraft announcing they are now Air Force One.
  Beverly Hills Cop I, II ... not III so much. I enjoy the reparte from Eddie Murphy, who is in Beverly Hills to avenge the murder of a friend by bringing the villains to justice. Judge Rheinhold gives a lot of comic relief as well in his various incarnations as Billy Rosewood. My favorite bit in the flick is given by Bronson Pinchot who puts in one of the single most hysterical performances as Serge, a rather foppish, effette clerk at the art gallery (and later reprises this in one of the later flicks).
  Lethal Weapon I, II, III and IV? Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have a blast as cops, one on the verge of retirement, the other rather psychotically self destructive. It's a wild ride.
  Die Hard I, II, and III. This one is a favorite originally because the first one almost exactly matches some of my fantasies when working downtown Manhattan. It's also amusing all of them happen at Christmas time. And there's some entertaining bits in here as we discover the motive of the bad guys over and over again is ordinary every day greed. As action adventure it's good, as story with message, don't get your knickers in a bind waiting for meaning.
Robin Hood Errol Flynn, who else? This movie more than any other made Errol Flynn a great entertainer. He never did play anyone but Errol Flynn, but that was the studio's doing. The pairing with Olivia DeHaviland was perfect, with Basil Rathbone as the villainous Guy of Gisbourne. Basil Rathbone had a talent for really delivering to his audience as hero or villain, and it's easier to be drawn into the film because of that. Claude Rains as Prince John was just the right degree of petulant selfish power hungry fiend, but casting the character of Sheriff of Knottingham as comic was a bit annoying.
Captain Blood More Errol Flynn.
The Mark of Zorro with Basil Rathbone. Tyrone Power in the title role was decent, but without Basil Rathbone, this Zorro would have been as weak as many of the others.
  Ice Station Zebra An exciting cold war MacLean novel turned movie. Patrick MacGoohan in one of his few performances the US got to see outside Secret Agent (aka Danger Man) and The Prisoner. The artic scenes in the film are very pretty, and enough to make you want a nice warm blanket over you while you watch.
Pirates of the Carribean I could argue this was a dark comedy, but there was so much action that the film was a visual treat for all the adventure fight scenes as well. Depp's one performance that is stunningly good acting, the completely nutso Captain Jack Sparrow.
  The Royal Rascal Actually a Silent film with Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont. Clips from this film have been used in a couple of other movies. It's just a fun bit of sword play & romance, in a setting of anachronistic 14th-15th century France.

Science Fiction

If you haven't figured it out by now, we're a family of Science Fiction Fans. We love science fiction and there's several classics and newer films we enjoy watching. Sometimes we laugh at some of the silliness Hollywood throws into a flick, but the idea is to enjoy and be entertained, so the suspension of disbelief is brought out even for some pretty hokey stuff. And you need it too, cause how in blazes do you figger space ships make noise in space in Star Wars anyway?

One of the tricky things about Science Fiction is some of it is about adventure, some of it is social commentary. As you watch SciFi (pronounced by those in the know as Schi-Fee) sometimes you realize it's just another plot line stuck in a future environment. Other times, you realize the author is trying to say something about the impact of technological change on our world. A clear effect can be seen in some of the thrillers that sneak in a gimmick that will somehow change the balance of world power. Some of the clearest social commentary is some of the hardest to come to grips with...

Our biggest complaint lately is that science fiction on TV and some in movies has been adopting a strange costume policy. All of a sudden everyone is dressed in clothing from medieval times. And it's not always just the costumes, it also becomes the sets and the general environments. Strangely, it's as if all the modern fashion designers and architecture has fallen into the nearest black hole and vanished.

CJ Cherryh has a good essay on what science fiction is really about. I really have to find it and try to paraphrase it better, but mostly it's about Hope. Almost all good science fiction shows a hope for a better future, that change will not mean the loss of values and destruction of society but instead a healthy happy growth that improves our world. Sometimes, the movies get that right.

  Bladerunner Film Noir meets Science Fiction with Harrison Ford as the detective... Actually, this is possibly the single best movie to represent Science Fiction. It has many of the very best serious Science Fiction themes embedded within it, and it has a uniquely poetic nature to it, if you can get past the utter darkness that envelopes most of the film. That darkness is symbolic, and is painted so thickly throughout the movie so the suddenly bright world during the ending will bring out one of my favorite themes in S/F, that of Hope. The depth of the characters, the story, and the intensely created world the story exists in greatly exceeds the original story from Phillip K Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The question of whether Deckard is a Replicant himself is never actually answered, though the shadowy hints of it are so strong with the obvious intent to make the audience question themselves as well. The most cogent quote in the film, which touches on our darkest fears and brings out human mortality in everyone, comes from Roy Batty when he relates the beauty he's seen and yet "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain".
Code 46 A very well hidden little MGM/BBC gem that simply snuck in and out the door so fast few saw it. The downside is there's a downbeat ending. However, as a cautionary tale, this is a story that is classic literary Science Fiction at its finest. A stunning performance by the cast, and a tightly built script with well cut footage, and a moody music score turns this from a quiet little low budget film into a superb study in how society can be changed with the patterns of genetic sciences and oppressive government restrictions on personal freedoms. This is not an action adventure, not a high tech romp in CGI, but instead a well constructed character study in a world that is very real and evident to an attentive audience. It may seem slow, may seem to meander, but the story is very prophetic in ways one can see actually happening in our lifetime. Literally something you probably will only see in a college class on either film or classic Science Fiction Literature though.
On the Beach A serious look at an apocalypse everyone thought could come soon, this movie deals with the handful of human survivors in Australia after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization elsewhere as they wait for the cloud of radiation to kill them too. It's based on the book by the same name, which is both cautionary and a character study in how different people approach impending death. Starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astair in one of his serious acting roles, this film was directed by Stanley Kramer and released in 1959.
  The Day the Earth Stood Still If ever there was a great classic Science Fiction flick, this one is among the most powerful for it's quality and message. In some ways, it has a Capraesque quality to it, in that it brings a message of hope and intense caution of how we deal with the destructive tools humanity has developed.
  Forbidden Planet William Shakespeare as Science Fiction, and one of the better interpretations off the stage of The Tempest. Catch Leslie Neilson when he was doing serious acting. Ann Francis as the daughter of the sorcerer... er, Dr. Morbius... and the first appearance of Robby the Robot. I always loved the force field scene when the psychic monster attacks the space ship.
  The Time Machine 1960 with Rod Taylor. The book is better by far, still this is enjoyable and classic.
  Colossus: The Forbin Project Interesting cautionary tale, super computer tries to take over the world, and of course thus once again the morality story about playing god (as done in Frankenstein, where is Mary Shelly when you need her?)
  The War of the Worlds HG Wells' classic done in with style in 1953 with Gene Barry. There's some interesting stuff in this version, along with some rare vintage footage of the Flying Wing, worth catching this film for all by itself. As always though, it's amazing how ignorant of simple biology the invaders are. Wells was actually trying to put across our own mortality as a race, and did so convincingly without an utter appocolypse.
  Star Wars Innovative to the extent it changed the entire film industry almost overnight. Adventure and science fiction films literally exploded to the screen after this one hit the theaters. The entire film industry shifted as a result, into a higher gear and with more creativity.
  The Last Starfighter First movie ever to have a computer (the Cray Supercomputer!) and the programmers involved receive credits. I enjoy the space opera nature of the movie which really doesn't try to make itself bigger than it is, but just has fun.
  Tron How can you not like watching the man who was Scarecrow being a computer program playing video arcade games?
  Back to the Future Christopher Lloyd is excellent as Doc Brown, and Michael J Fox pretty much makes the entire series work in putting across his somewhat naive reaction to the space time continuum. All in all, it's just plain fun, right down to the way each little event in the past somewhat alters something in the future.
  Dark Star John Carpenter's extraordinarily low budget science fiction comedy. A delight.
  Logan's Run Classic cautionary tale missing only the quality of more modern CGI.
A Clockwork Orange Another interesting cautionary tale, but unquestionably intended for an adult audience.
The Matrix The first is the best, the other two feel like they were tacked on for profit motive but still are enjoyable. These films are a large step down the path to substantial CGI impact on special effects and how we bring imagination to life on the big screen. Although the Sci-fi in the film is weak in several places (people as batteries, oh come on, get real!), the action is a good cyberpunk romp through both real and cyber space to a conclusion that may seem predictable, but works only because of strong suspension of disbelief.
Cocoon It's nice now and then for aliens to be good guys, no?
Barbarella campy, but still decent scifi... very campy. oh, did I mention campy?
Planet of the Apes A favorite for the acting, the unique time travel concept and the look at our society from the outside.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes Another cautionary tale tacked onto the original. The whole Apes cycle was could go into the absurd category, but this extension fit neatly into the first one without adding too many additional idiotic twists. The TV show was a waste though.
The Butterfly Effect Excellent and intense movie, terrible ending. A good example of why we tell the kids to make up their own endings to movies if they don't like the one on the screen.
The Day of the Triffids again, book was better, but this was a classic for it's time
Dr Cyclops (1940) Unique for the special effects of the heroes being shrunk to a fraction of their normal size. In some ways a lot like the Island of Dr Moreau. A classic for the quality of it's innovation and oddly enough that in 1940, it was not exactly common knowledge what radium would be used for.
2001: A Space Odyssey Classic because it started to pioneer some of the special effects that eventually Star Wars would do right. The music was superb, and it used classic Science Fiction plot and results, which were not to everyone's liking.
Fantastic Voyage Rachel Welch.... overshadowed the neat idea of miniature submarines doing surgery. An astounding visual treat as the crew traverses the human body. Donald Pleasance makes a great bad guy as the mole who is sabotaging the effort.
The Fifth Element possibly absurd, possibly adventure, definitely SkifFee. Gary Oldman really proves once again that most of the really quality movies are determined not by the hero of the story (played by Bruce Willis) but by the villain and just how good a villain he is. Despite Gary Oldman's performance having campy bits in it, he brings a unique psychotic nature to any bad guy he plays that shines.
X-Men Comic books make it to Movies. Fun as a comic book, good entertainment, but seeing it as much more doesn't quite work.
Spiderman (I & II) I have to admit to being a long time Spidey fan. So it really shouldn't surprise anyone that I loved these films with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
King Kong Willis O'Brien's special effects inspired Ray Harryhausen
Pleasantville Very good satire about TV from the 50's.
12 Monkeys  But can you follow the time line and logic, or is it really insanity?
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan Ricardo Mantalbon outshines the entire rest of the cast in this remarkable reprisal of his performance in the TV show's episode. Undoubtedly the single best Star Trek movie of the lot (the rest are ho-hum pretty much). Kirstie Alley as Lt Saavik proved she has more acting depth than people expected of her as well.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock I add this in because of the incredible way Christopher Lloyd brought the Klingons to life. On the TV show, they'd been cardboard cutout bad guys, but he gave his Klingon captain such powerful reality that people started to seriously get into the anthropology of Klingons. An amazing feat for any actor in any film, to bring an imaginary race to the point of becoming so real to the audience.
Starship Troopers Not a great film but we enjoyed it anyway for all the campy Government Propaganda ads and the fact we knew it wasn't at all true to Heinlein's book.
Atlantis, the Lost Continent One of those George Pal science fiction/fantasy films. A bit of a mix between Island of Dr. Moreau and one of those old Hercules yarns. 
Outland Sean Connery stars in the role made famous by Gary Cooper originally in High Noon. It lacks the tight editing and directing. It's also missing the Quaker wife conflict with religious pacifism. It simply lifts the showdown incremental action from the western and places it on a mining moon out in the remote regions of the solar system. The best quality of this film is taking a pretty standard plot and simply resetting it into a speculative future background showing the premise of humanity remaining unchanged in nature no matter where we take our society in space. It works well though is far less inspired than the original.
Ghost Busters As much comedy as anything else. Fun, light, and the best line in the movie "If someone asks if you're a god, say YES!", though I also favor a few other bits. It doesn't hurt that I'm a fan of Sigourney Weaver.
Rollerball The original 1975 version, not the remake. The premise that the future will find society controlled by how the media entertains us is repeated in a few other films, including The Running Man starring Arnold Schwartzenegger. In the 1975 film, James Caan and John Housman create a great illusion that is really believable for this premise.
First Men in the Moon 1964 performance of HG Well's classic book. Decent for the time it was done, the special effects today put to shame the quality of the film's effort. Still a lot of fun, finding victorian astronaut leavings on the moon.
From Earth to the Moon 1958 effort to take Jules Verne's book and turn it into a high science fiction adventure. It doesn't quite work right, but it is an interesting film to watch for the progression of science fiction in the film industry.

Romantic Comedy

We've raised a set of incurable romantics. That's only natural given their parent's proclivity for romance and idealism. So it follows we have a whole armload of favorite Romantic Comedies. We especially like the ones where the guy and girl get each other at the end in the course of a series of serendipitous mishaps.

  When Harry Met Sally Um. The deli scene with Meg Ryan alone makes this one of the most humorous films ever, and the woman in the background who says "I'll have whatever she's having." is Rob Reiner's (the director) very own mother. Just imagine directing that scene with his mother right there, making her part of the scene. The speech from Billy Crystal about how he knows she's the right one should be a must see for anyone considering if someone is the right person to choose as a partner or not.
  Charade Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant! We really love the ending, when the money has been returned to the government and Cary Grant's identity is really revealed to Hepburn's character and she announces they should have a small horde of sons, all to be named after him (all the alias names he used in the course of the story).
  My Man Godfrey William Powell as the Forgotten Man. This is one of the more decidedly delightful movies Powell did, with a lot of farcical behaviors... my favorite quote from the film: "All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people."
  Doc Hollywood Michael J Fox runs over fence, gets stuck in hick town with a pet pig. Um... small town makes good story I think. Oddly enjoyable despite being very light fare.
  The Secret of My Success Michael J Fox caught in bed, with his uncle? This light comedy is a good flick to watch for easing the mood if you just need to relax.
  House Calls Widower doctor becomes playboy until he meets one woman who won't put up with his miscreant behavior. Walter Mathau and Glenda Jackson make this so utterly fun it's a must see.
  Working Girl A must see blue collar class girl makes good to join the ranks of financial mavens. Note that Carly Simon's song Let the River Run won the Academy Award for best song in this movie. Harrison Ford didn't put in a great performance in the film but was good, and Sigourney Weaver (a personal favorite of mine) showed her talent being the somewhat villainous Katherine Parker. Melanie Griffith was excellent, bringing the more coarse Tess McGill from the dye blonde roots to transform to a woman of serious class and style, without losing the qualities that made us believe in her to begin with.
  Sabrina both versions, Harrison Ford or Humphrey Bogart. The chauffeur's daughter returns home from school and the engaged of two brothers falls for her all of a sudden. The other brother steps in to protect the family business deal being made by the marriage plan, and in turn finally changes from cold blooded business tycoon into a schoolboy like romantic, not only successfully foiling any mess his brother was about to create, but winning the fair Sabrina in the process. The original Sabrina starred Audrey Hepburn, who could shine in almost any role she took up, and the remake starred Julia Ormand, who did herself proud, reprising Hepburn's performance superbly. Both versions stand on their own and are worth seeing.
  One Fine Day George Clooney & Michelle Pfeiffer play well as parents (separately single by divorce) who after clashing initially, work together to handle the chaos involved in getting the littles to all their activities while balancing their working lives. The end of the movie rings so true to real life, as they both fall asleep before any romantic activities really happen. In our house, we really felt connected to that conclusion.
  Intolerable Cruelty George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones play off each other as well as William Powell and Myrna Loy did. He's the divorce attorney who represented her ex, and she's out to get even with him, and of course they end up in love.
  Ten Things I Hate About You Taming of the Shrew updated and fun. Heath Ledger is simply inspired in his performance. The music really comes to life in this film too, making the entire movie a well rounded delight.
  Taming of the Shrew The carefully accurate Shakespeare version with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton at their combined best, a great rendition worthy of being on stage. Taylor and Burton were fantastic together on screen.
  Gross Pointe Blank "what have you been doing with yourself?", "professional assassin.","Ah, very good. A growth industry." A delightful black comedy starring John Cusak. Somehow almost all his movies get our attention.
  The Americanization of Emily This has a superb speech from James Garner about European culpability in war and corruption, pointing up the absurdity of looking down the nose on Americans. Mind you, looking down the nose at Europeans is just as silly, but that little spiel pretty much levels any pretense of superiority perfectly.
  Legal Eagles Robert Redford tap dancing, an interesting scene
  Teacher's Pet Doris Day, Clark Gable! This little gem features Gable as a big city newspaper editor and Day as a college professor teaching journalism. Gable has risen the ranks through the hard knocks school and thinks education for being a reporter calls for just that, education simply cannot substitute. Our lady professor has an idealist's view based on hero worship of her father's paper. Both have a bit of world view adjusting to do, and it's not simply an eye opener for the characters, but an interesting view into both the world of academia and business.
  The Courtship of Eddie's Father Glenn Ford and Ron Howard. One of Ron Howard's earliest roles and a real romantic comic treat to watch. The subsequent TV show with Bill Bixby was a waste of time in my opinion.
  Bell, Book and Candle Jimmy Stewart! and Kim Novak! Keep an eye on what the cat is up to. This movie is undoubtedly one of the classics that people overlook as often as not. The Kim Novak character has a brother played by Jack Lemmon, and the witchcraft is defeated in the delightful manner of all such films, by the romance.
  The American President Michael Douglas, Annette Bening. A widowed president gets romantically involved with a woman who is a lobbyist. The toss up is over the way the opposing politician tries to use that against him. It's a fun flick and with Michael J Fox as a presidential advisor, this movie really comes across as a precursor to The West Wing, the TV show.
Dave Kevin Klein reproduces The Prisoner of Zenda with the setting changed to the US Presidency. A lot of fun and with Sigourney Weaver in the role of the President's wife, it is a uniquely fun adventure. Entertaining bit in this film is when they claim to be impersonators when the police stop them together for a traffic violation. Sigourney Weaver really massacres the song from Annie, "Tomorrow"... intentionally I think.
  Operation Petticoat How can you not like a movie with a pink submarine and Tony Curtis getting his come-uppance every 5-10 minutes. Cary Grant is wonderful as the somewhat frustrated captain, whose boat seems to have been overtaken by forces beyond any control in wartime.
  Donovan's Reef John Wayne & Elizabeth Allen in this south pacific romantic comedy with simply beautiful locations and some pretty simple contretemps. One of the few films with Dorothy Lamour that isn't a Road To flick. It's a fun flick to sit and watch.
  Bringing Up Baby Catherine Hepburn & Cary Grant, what a great combination. Two tigers on the loose, a dog running around with a dinosaur bone, and the museum looking for donations can't have this wild image of any of it's specialists.
  The Quiet Man John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in a little Irish romantic comedy. He's a retired (killer) boxer, and at odds with her brother who must give blessings to stay in tradition for Wayne to court her. In some ways, there's a bit of Taming of the Shrew in this and a bit of the traditional John Wayne showing he's a tough guy.
  Roxanne Steve Martin delivers an outstanding performance in this version of Cyrano de Bergerac. The best scene in the film is the bar scene where he delivers 21 different jokes about the nose.
  Bird on a Wire Goldy Hawn is fun, but Mel Gibson's bit pretending being 'gay' to hide out was just perfect.
  They All Laughed Dorothy Stratten's only movie before her career was tragically cut short. This film started Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara. About a set of private detectives who do the errant spouse snoop and shot type detecting, it's a riot of silly antics and some bitter sweet aspects of romance. Not a hit I'm sure because it almost seems to promote infidelities, it was still good for the mix of comedy, rockabilly music, and just plain New York City scenery that always is fun to see in a movie. John Ritter gets the girl in the end, which is what you end up hoping for even though she's already married... hmmmm.
  Overboard Rich bitch gets her comeuppance. Goldie Hawn gets amnesia and Kurt Russell gets even with her for throwing his tools into the bay by pretending they're married. His kids decide they want to keep her as their new mother when she gets her memory back, and a chase on the high seas ensues.
  Serendipity Cute fate oriented romantic comedy
  The Parent Trap A favorite Disney flick in our house, and both versions always seem to draw the kids' attention.
  Groundhog Day Bill Murray has a very bad case of Deja Vu. Again, and again, and again. Immortality never looked so ugly.


  Casablanca I'm unequal to the task of talking about the history of this film, originally Everybody Comes to Rick's. This movie seems to be one of those films that was not originally going to be made the way it turned out, a comedy, an adventure film, ultimately a romantic adventure with comic bits still in it... (the German couple practicing their English for when they get to America was a riot, "what clock is it";"10:30 O'clock","such clock, tsk tsk"... I may have that quote a little off, but I loved it). The fact the plane in the background was in no way a full size model, and the apparent difficulty finding an ending line for the film, yet this movie is one of those utter classics it is hard to imagine not having around. It's just so good to watch and re-watch.
  Roman Holiday Audrey Hepburn is amazing. As I understand it, Gregory Peck insisted her name be given equal billing to his own because he was dead certain while shooting the film that she would get an Oscar for her performance.... which she did.


  Silverado A great visual treat. The intertwined story lines mingle most of the plots of any generic western into a grand storyline that simply shines.
  High Noon A must see film for anyone who wants to see how editing a film can turn a mediocre story into a great one. Gary Cooper's performance is a bit wooden, but it's the correct performance for this purpose. Grace Kelly shows why she was a star until she married out of Hollywood to become princess of Monaco. The twist ending is very good, but the study of the conflicting values is stunningly well portrayed. Right vs Wrong behavior is brought into contrast with the concept of absolutes really being reduced to immediate choices.
  The Sons of Katie Elder John Wayne
  The Magnificent Seven The Seven Samurai as a western
  El Dorado John Wayne
  Rio Lobo John Wayne
  Night Passage both Audie Murphy & Jimmy Stewart!
  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance A great film in which the usual rules for westerns don't seem to apply. Jimmy Stewart plays a bit of a wimpish lawyer who John Wayne secretly saves because the woman Wayne loves is in love with the Stewart character. A very unusual role for Wayne,  but one very strong show of talent for him in a long career of coasting easily on an image that worked so well for him.
  Destry Rides Again Jimmy Stewart (and the Audie Murphy version, Destry)
  Angel and the Badman one of the early John Wayne movies that made his career so strong.
  For a Few Dollars More Remake of Yojimbo, Clint Eastwood, directed by Sergio Leone
  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Again, Clint Eastwood directed by Sergio Leone
  For a Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood as directed by Sergio Leone


  Hopscotch Walter Mathau, Glenda Jackson, in a very funny little spy spoof
  The Trouble with Harry The trouble with Harry is that he's dead. Shirley MacLain's first big role, Hitchcock's only real comedy, and a lovely film at that.
  Arsenic and Old Lace Cary Grant brings the Stage Play to life, along with Boris Karloff who is a great villain if ever.
  We're No Angels Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Aldo Ray. A favorite movie of mine. Three convicts on Devil's Island conspire to escape, but get caught up in doing good deeds for a shopkeeper and his family.
  The Princess Bride One of the single most entertaining sword fights in a movie.
  Harvey Everyone should have a 7' tall invisible rabbit following them around.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Oh yeah? Clap" The entertaining and rather off kilter comedy of a high school cheerleader who becomes The Slayer, the one and only vampire slayer of the generation. Peewee Herman plays a vampire side kick to the big bad vampire and has one of the most entertaining death scenes in a movie.
  Please Don't Eat the Daisies Doris Day and David Niven, with Niven rather poorly cast but the movie works anyway.
  Caprice Doris Day
  Adventures in Babysitting "Nobody leaves until they sing the blues." A series of misadventures through Chicago by a young lady who is babysitting and her wards, who essentially blackmail her to bring them along.
  Head Office  
  Stripes Bill Murray and other misfits join the army and play with a very heavily armed recreational vehicle in east Germany.
  Imitation General (Glenn Ford), a great performance to see how Ford brought about a feeling of common man in tough situations.
  The Teahouse of the August Moon Also for Glenn Ford (Marlon Brando? bah humbug)
  Joe Butterfly Audie Murphy
  Better Off Dead John Cusak plays a neurotic teen whose family is definitely around the bend, and his social life has just gone into the dumpster. Favorite bits include the crazed paper boys after the $2, the younger brother who gets trashy women and builds a space shuttle in the garage, and the drag race scenes with the oriental kids one of whom believes he does a good Howard Cosell impression.
  Life with Father William Powell, Irene Dunne, and a very young Elizabeth Taylor
  Weird Science If for no other reason, the two nerds grow up, but mostly because of how the genie they awaken treats the nasty older brother. Amazingly entertaining for an otherwise limp plot and story line. Basically a juvenile bit of film which just catches the fun ride and is entertaining.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off A very wild romp with Mathew Broderick who otherwise has only had a couple other films to recommend him.
Airplane The scene in the cockpit after the autopilot is reinflated is a riot. Robert Stack pokes fun at himself just perfectly, and Lloyd Bridges just plain picked the wrong day to give up smoking.
Naked Gun Unbridled silliness with Leslie Neilson
The General Buster Keaton
Duck Soup Marx Brothers
A Night at the Opera Marx Brothers
A Day at the Races Marx Brothers
Horsefeathers Marx Brothers
The Coconuts Marx Brothers
Monkey Business Marx Brothers
Animal Crackers Marx Brothers
Room Service Marx Brothers
The Big Store Marx Brothers
Monty Python and the Holy Grail Monty Python. A series of bizarre skits that happen to work the humor very well.
Life of Brian
Meaning of Life
A Fish Named Wanda
Francis the Talking Mule Donald O'conner has a bit of a problem with a mule named Francis who keeps giving him advice.
Beetle Juice As much for the use of Harry Belafonte's song "Jump in the Line" as anything else, though Michael Keaton was a blast in this dark comedy about adjusting to the afterlife.
Young Frankenstein Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madelyn Khan, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman under the direction of Mel Brooks in his best comedy.
Blazing Saddles Mel Brooks other top comedy.
The Producers A classic treatment of Broadway, with Gene Wilder and the Late Great Zero Mostel (I still remember seeing him perform in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway and that man was a great, ... and not just in Girth). Best song in a parody movie, Springtime for Hitler.
High Anxiety A good send up of Hitchcock movies by Mel Brooks. There's a lot of good material in here just poking light, gentle fun at the mysteries that made Hitchcock the master of suspense.
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Steve Martin in a clever remix of old films with his clips to do a film noir take off.
Seven Year Itch Marilyn Monroe tempts an otherwise faithful husband when his family goes off on vacation without him.
Only When I Laugh Neil Simon's play comes to the screen.
In Like Flint James Coburn as Flint in the spoof of spoofs to pick on Spy Thrillers. Later in Austin Powers, the President's Hot Line phone to the spy agency has it's ringer sound lifted for re-use. Silly moment of all time, Flint beating the two guards because they have Battle of the Bulge medals (no such medal was ever issued, of course).
Our Man Flint
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Just about everyone in comedy under the sun, including the Three Stooges
  Real Genius Loads of sound bites with a lot of humor in this one. One of my favorites: "in the immortal words of Socrates who said, I drank what!?"
  Cousins Ted Danson in a romp about fidelity
  The Man with One Red Shoe Tom Hanks mis-identified as a super-spy with a series of twisted coincidences that twists life around him into bizarre knots.
  Three Men and a Baby Bachelors with an infant to care for that somehow manage to escape all the legal consequences, and have some pretty awkward moments caring for the child. Interesting also for the supposed ghost in one of the scenes in the background on the set.
  On the Double Danny Kaye is a private with an uncanny resemblance to a Colonel who knows secrets that the Germans are after. A general romp in the style Danny Kaye alone can make hysterical.
  The Man Who Knew Too Little Bill Murray in the misadventures of a man who thinks he's in a reality show like evening of entertainment in which he's supposed to be playing the part of a super spy... but things have gone a bit wrong and he stumbles into a real series of life hazarding events having been mistaken for a professional assassin.
  Some Like It Hot Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon... two musicians on the run from the mob hiding in drag and a couple gold diggers looking for millionaires.
  Ensign Pulver As a sequel to Mister Roberts it wasn't all that hot, but on it's own it's a good film with a lot of good performances in it. But did he leave the marbles in there or not?
  The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother Gene Wilder, Madelyn Khan, and Marty Feldman together again in a farce painting broad strokes over the Sherlock Holmes genre.
  The Assassination Bureau Diana Riggs in this light little murder romp. A colorful treatment of the book, in which an agency has undertaken to do contract killings provided the hiring party can prove the person merits killing. Of course, the story revolves around having proven the man in charge of the Bureau merits assassinating, and thus begins a merry little series of murders.
  Kindergarten Cop Arnold Schwartzenegger does very well in this film where he's supposed to recapture a killer (and his mother) as well as protect a woman and her child from the villain. Best scene is where one of the kids in the class has an abusive father and Arnold pounds the bastard.

Kids Movies

The Incredibles Quite a lot of fun, the Holly Hunter character gives a lot of oomph to the whole film, but the concept is good for both kids and adults.
Finding Nemo Full of great little one liners and little situation humor bits.
Monsters Inc Not at all scarey, but a lot of fun.
Toy Story I & II... how can you not like a bunch of toys having adventures?
Bugs Life um... kind of an animated version of The Magnificent Seven or The Seven Samurai with a hell of a lot more humor to it.
Antz Woody Allen as a bug. There's a lot of hidden gems in this animated movie
Shrek I & II, both are destined to become classics, despite the embedded toilet humor. One of the few Mike Myers performances I can stand (perhaps because it's voice only) and Eddie Murphy does great in the talking mule bit. I really enjoyed the sequel's use of Antonio Banderas as Puss N Boots.
Spirited Away Potentially classic anime
Kiki's Delivery Service another potentially classic anime
Chicken Run Okay, this isn't strictly speaking a kid's flick. It's a take off on Stalag 17 and a few other prisoner of war escape movies. But it's unending little bits of humor will catch you unawares sometimes and leave you chortling hours later.
Willy Wonka Sigh... it's a classic, the kids love it, Gene Wilder had a blast I'm sure.
Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang Thank's to Ian Fleming, his one children's book. Film with Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes
Mary Poppins A flying nanny, rather delightful. The music is a blast, and Dick Van Dyke as the chimney sweep is so fun it overcomes some of the less pleasant bits.
  Babes in Toyland The Laurel & Hardy version.
  The Iron Giant For some reason, this one captured the interest of the family and we really enjoyed the ending.


Baron Von Munschausen If this isn't absurd, nothing is.
The Black Shield of Falworth The era of Knights overly fanciful and completely not historical, fun anyway.It's just so anachronistic for a medieval adventure that even though I love watching it, I keep shaking my head every time.
The Villain Kirk Douglas (Cactus Jack), Arnold Schwartzenegger (as Handsome Stranger) and Ann-Margeret (Charming Jones) in this cartoon made with live actors. The ending is a riot, the performance is pure Road Runner, and the hidden adult innuendo is pretty subtle. It also doesn't hurt to know something about the people in the Hollywood cartoon business to catch some of the sly side references and inside jokes.


Even though Fred Astaire is the most celebrated dancer in movies by many, in our household Gene Kelly is the unquestioned best dancer in the old song and dance flicks. When I got the DVD player for the first time, the kids insisted on two movies being the first ones we picked up. The first and most critical of those was Singing in the Rain (the other being The Princess Bride). My daughter loves to dance, and has been planning a career in dance since she was about 3, though she's realistic about it and realizes that may mean just running a dance school somewhere.

  Singing in the Rain A classic if ever there was one. Undoubtably the favorite with the kids. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Conner, and Debbie Reynolds performing so well together they are clearly just plain excellent as a team.  Jean Hagen was nominated for an Oscar for the performance she put in speaking so perpetually throughout the movie with the unforgivable accent. Donald O'Conner shows in this movie his talent eclipsed his reputation by leaps and bounds. And Debbie Reynolds put in a coming out performance to equal Kelly and O'Conner.
  White Christmas Der Bingle and Danny Kaye
  Xanadu Gene Kelley on roller skates, we especially love the name of the muse, and just plain enjoy this movie for the lightheartedness of it, the music and the visual enjoyment. As entertainment its just fun. It falls short of plot and other qualities, but who cares.
  Rocky Horror Picture Show Aw, how can you not love a musical with Rock Music in it? Favorite tunes include Science Fiction/Double Feature, Sweet Patootie, The Time Warp, and Over at the Frankenstein Place. Of course I've only seen this once at the 4th Street theater in NY City with the fans doing the dialogue/ad libs, but plenty of other theaters with the same cast treatment. As a cult favorite, the amusing thing was having the kids when very young singing the lyrics.
  Brigadoon Gene Kelly.
  The Pirate Gene Kelly!
  An American in Paris Gene Kelly again! Can you tell we like Gene Kelly? If you like musicals at all though, you have to love this film. It was a tour de force for Kelly in 1951, and simply has a grand style that lasts and lasts.
  My Fair Lady 1964. Pygmalion done up fun and extravagent.
  On the Town  
  Finian's Rainbow  
  Daddy Long Legs  
  Holliday Inn  
  Top Hat  
  Lullaby of Broadway  
  On Moonlight Bay  
  The Music Man  
  Oklahoma Poor Judd is Dead.
  Calamity Jane The Doris Day version
  The Glass Bottom Boat Doris Day
Mary Poppins Where can I get an umbrella like that?


  The Thin Man the whole series with William Powell and Myrna Loy, such incredible banter they had
  Sleuth Intense story, almost perfect adaptation of the play
  Citizen Kane Interesting also for it's personal vendetta against William Randolf Hurst by Orson Welles. One of the most innovative movies of it's times, literally including camera angles no one ever had tried before.
  Rear Window One of the better roles for Jimmy Stewart, being a rather dubious voyeur out his window while laid up.
  The Trouble with Harry Alfred Hitchcock's only comedy. Shirley Maclain's debut in a title role. Watch for Hitch as in all his flicks, somewhere making his trademark cameo.
The Hound of the Baskervilles Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, almost any Sherlock Holmes title with these two is excellent afternoon fare. They also did several years of Radio Mysteries based on their roles in the films that were simply superb.
M Peter Lorre (he was a well known and successful German actor before coming to Hollywood)
The Man Who Knew Too Much The later version, not the first one Hitchcock did. (he did both, but the later one is much better)
Dial M for Murder
  Charade Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Walter Mathau in a very entertaining murder mystery/comedy in which the dialogue between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn characters is so strong you hardly notice the parade of corpses. One of our favorite lines in the flick comes near the very end where Audrey Hepburn says "I hope we have a lot of boys so we can name them all after you."

Mommy & Daddy Save the World

This genre is pretty much defined by our kids. They select movies sometimes because there's a mommy or daddy in the flick saving the world and doing great deeds. They tend to like these perhaps because they have mommy & daddy on a pedestal, but most of all because they like to think that mommy & daddy are capable of doing these great deeds. Why discourage them?

  The Mummy Romantic, Fun, wild, and quite the entertaining experience.
  The Mummy Returns Now with son in tow, our two anthropologists again prove they are tougher than Indiana Jones
  True Lies Um... Daddy, you sure you're not a secret agent?
Mom and Dad Save the Universe Though also belongs in the Absurd category

War Movies

  Battleground One of the very best war flicks ever made, an interesting study of the men in the pocket at Bastogne during the Bulge.
  To Hell and Back Audie Murphy's autobiographic book turned into movie. Almost the same as reading the book but you miss out on some of his observations of how soldiers become weapons and where the emotions go.
  The Longest Day A great tribute to the men who breached the Atlantic Wall in WWII.
  The Guns of Navarone Alistair MacLean well done as a movie, but the performance of Gregory Peck and David Niven shine in this movie.
  Where Eagles Dare Alistair MacLean's book, and the very best film based on his novels.
  Bridge Over the River Kwai Alec Guinness at his very very best. His amazing talents shown in this movie are part of why Star Wars were a success. He mentored almost the entire cast of Star Wars.
  The Green Berets Transparently Propaganda, but a good movie despite that. John Wayne had people trying to warn him away from making this movie, but it never could hurt a man with a reputation such as his.
  The Americanization of Emily with such a superb line from James Garner about European culpability in war and corruption
  Imitation General Glenn Ford as a Sergeant who pretends to be the unit's General to keep the unit working together well.
  Mr Roberts Henry Fonda, a man whose talents could turn mediocrity into brilliance, takes a great script, and a great role... turning it into a Shining Example of the very best of his field. I never understood how he could not be given an Academy Award for this role.
  Midway The Turning point in the Pacific in WWII, and a great movie, showing the effect of both the Air Craft Carrier and code breaking.
  Operation Petticoat Cary Grant, Tony Curtis... and a Pink Submarine
  A Bell for Adano only because the book moved me deeply
  Tora, Tora, Tora Pearl Harbor... interesting for it's history
  The Battle of the Bulge extraordinarily bad for history, but it's fun to watch anyway
All Quiet on the Western Front World War I
Saving Private Ryan The importance of war in one last sentence. The importance of all the ugliness of the fighting boils down to what Ryan says over the Captain's grave at the very end.
Band of Brothers Not a movie, but a real cinematic treat anyway. History and War presented well
The Great Escape A good war movie with the drama of escaping en masse from the POW camp. Based loosely on the real deal.
Kelly's Heros A fictional adventure that simply shines with fun and believable happenstance
Stalag 17 A serious movie that led to a sit-com TV show, Hogan's Heros. Only Sgt Schulz made the cut to the TV show that I know of.
Das Boot Intense movie about submariners in the German U-Boat service during WWII... almost a companion to Iron Coffins which is a history of the German U-Boat service in WWII.
Run Silent, Run Deep Submarine movie
  The African Queen Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in a stunning performance with character study that shows the incredible depth of both performers.
The Incredible Mr Limpet Yeah yeah yeah, a war movie, a Disney movie, a kid's flick, but still a war movie
  Patton George C Scott actually turned down the Academy Award for his role in this movie because of his dislike for Patton the man. Given how incredible his performance was, that was pretty silly. The only other Oscar I know of being turned down was by Marlon Brando for some pretty silly and petty political reasons... no comment on the merit for that one though.
  Zulu Michael Caine

Film Noir

This genre is such a mood creating mystery style that it has a strong impact on the audience. I find I enjoy it but have to keep doses to small amounts, often on a rainy afternoon when the mood is already good for this purpose. So many directors have put together movies that fall in this genre that it's hard to miss. Even science fiction films are drawn into this, a perfect example of that being Bladerunner.

  The Maltese Falcon Humphrey Bogart at his best as a detective looking for a golden bird.
  The Big Sleep  
  Key Largo any time I see Bogey & Bacall in a movie together I can't help but think of intense romance, since their off screen romance was in fact so powerful and real
  The Big Heat Glenn Ford, directed by Fritz Lang, 1953
  Kiss Me Deadly 1955... a Mike Hammer mystery
  The Postman Always Rings Twice  
  This Gun for Hire Veronica Lake!
  Murder, My Sweet Dick Powell, 1944
  Double Indemnity Fred MacMurray, a role that really demonstrated his depth
  Bladerunner Science Fiction in Film Noir style.
Amazing Dr Clitterhouse
The Lost Weekend Ray Milland
  Sunset Boulevard 1950. Catch the future star of Dragnet, Jack Webb, being a thug.
  Strangers on a Train Hitchcock film with two strangers agreeing to trade murders with each other so they'll have alibis.
  White Heat James Cagney in his best known gangster role.
  The Killers 1946. Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster, Edmond O'Brien... interestingly, an Ernest Hemingway story.
  The Asphalt Jungle A John Huston flick... but catch Jean Hagen. If you ever doubt she was a good actress, catch her performance in this, and then in Singing in the Rain. Then you'll know why she was nominated for an oscar in Singing in the Rain.


I don't really know how to classify some movies that just touch that quality Frank Capra had. They have come to be described by some as Capraesque, which is fair, since he pretty much created the type. So they're included here simply because we love them for what they are. Obviously his movies belong here first and foremost.

  Mr Smith Goes to Washington  
  It's a Wonderful Life  
  Meet John Doe  
  Arsenic and Old Lace Right down to the final line in which our good son proclaims "I'm a Bastard! I'm a Bastard!" (and the cabbie who espouses, "I'm a little teapot!")
  Lost Horizon Such a classic that it's easy to forget this was a Frank Capra film.
  It Happened One Night  
  Mr Deeds Goes to Town  
  You Can't Take It with You  
  Pocketful of Miracles  
  We're No Angels Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Aldo Ray - One of my very favorite Christmas Movies
  Angels in the Outfield 1951, Try to spot Bing Crosby in this flick. He's not credited for his role.


We really don't like Horror in our house. None the less, now and then a film from this genre creeps up on us and gets our attention. Often for reasons of being connected to other genres. Alien took me a number of free sittings to watch to conclusion. But Aliens, the sequel, was a very high must see for me, and the reaction of the Marines to yet another "bug hunt" was very well placed. The finale' fight scene between mother bear Ripley and the Queen Alien was just plain inspired.

  Aliens Go Space Marines! er, too bad none of them survive
  The Hidden 1987, an alien using human bodies to hide on earth from another alien, a police officer
  The Thing From Another World 1951, also known as The Thing
  Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
  The Blob 1958, Steve McQueen
  Invaders from Mars 1953 (remade badly in 1986) The only movie to ever really give me nightmares and make me too scared to sleep as a kid.
  Fallen 1998 film with an evil entity that passes from person to person, possessing them and committing hideous serial murders that detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington) has sort of solved. When he works out what is going on and tries to off the entity, the result is a little hard to predict. A very deeply thoughtful kind of horror that catches up with you later in ways you can't quite predict.


I take movies seriously, but principally we watch them for entertainment. If a film is there to put across a message, that's great too, and some things are critical for messages. Our clan takes these higher purpose films in stride as critical and important. None the less, I have them close to the end of my list of flicks because we want to enjoy ourselves, enjoy the escapist nature of film more often than not. And still there is a time for the more intense movies that are serious dramas.

  To Kill a Mockingbird No movie is as moving, no movie as powerful, in showing humanity being both noble and flawed. Gregory Peck at his absolute best
  12 Angry Men Henry Fonda, courtroom at it's best, justice at it's most raw exposure
  Kotch Walter Mathau. Meant to be a comedy, there's a very intense message in this movie about living life and caring for others simply missed if all you watch is for the comedy.
  On the Waterfront Not for Marlon Brando, whose acclaim as an actor I question, but for the directing and cutting. this movie was edited to hone a fine tale to become a great story, directed to provide an incredible look at the people in the story, and connects with reality in ways many films merely aspire to.
Bronenosets Potyomkin 1925, documenting a very important 20th century series of events, the Soviet Revolution.
Master and Commander An interesting Naval Tour de Force with astounding visuals and very close to representing what naval action of the times really was like.
Moby Dick The book is great literature, the movie a pale shadow of it, but still worthy of watching.
  Treasure of the Sierra Madre Humphrey Bogart in a character study of greed that shows more of his talent than many expect.
  My Life Micheal Keaton, Nicole Kidman. A great movie for the subject matter. That said: Never ever see this movie. This is one of the single most painful tear jerkers ever. A 4 or 5 box tear jerker at that. Keaton plays a man who is dying does video tapes for his about to be born son. One amusing line in the flick, "don't listen to your mother, she'll have you singing show tunes."
  Fail Safe Henry Fonda as the president in this deeply cautionary tale dealing intensely with the disturbing nuclear brinksmanship at the height of the Cold War. The acting is very good, but no where near as intense as the final cut of the movie makes the entire screenplay. Very well directed, very strong development of the building tension, and almost Aesop like fable ending, warning of what can happen without destroying the whole world.
  October Sky Based on the real life story of Homer Hickam Jr, this is the tale of a young man with a dream to build rockets as a school interest who goes on with his team of friends to win scholarships in the national science competition they enter. Outstanding film for a number of reasons, but one thing that shines brightly is how his father is discouraging him and seriously wants him to work the coal mine as he has; And in spite of all the bad traits his father may exhibit, the man is a Hero with a capital H. Complex characters are often strong and powerful to a story, and in this case, they build well, effectively, and add to the story. On a side note, we had the unique pleasure of meeting the real Homer Hickam at a special event at COSI. The real man is charming, friendly, and a very good story teller.

Foreign Film

Typically, foreign films aren't a lot of fun to me personally. I don't speak anything but North American English, and sometimes I suspect even that is a language I speak poorly at times. So subtitles become necessary for me to follow any foreign made film not done in English. That said, there are some amazing films out there not made for English speaking audiences. It would seem the epitome of arrogance to assume films made in English are the only suitable product of the medium.

Shichinin No Samurai Known to English speaking audiences as The Seven Samurai, this film is virtually a cultural classic of the western genre. Redone in the US as The Magnificent Seven which received with popular acclaim, the two films are almost identical even to the very dialogue. The single noticeable difference comes from the ending, where a cultural clash between Japanese audiences and US audiences would have problems with each other's understanding of the nature of the mercenary behavior. In the US, the ex-farmer stays with the girl he's come to care for in the village, in the Japanese it would be a horrible caste violation for a samurai to do such a thing. Akira Kurosawa directed this movie, and with such resounding effect, the remake for the US audiences was altered only the tiniest bit for the reasons above.
  Yojimbo Another Akira Kurosawa classic samurai film. Done twice as English speaking films, though dubbed in one.. Clint Eastwood in an elegant performance in Per un pugno di dollari which in English was For a Few Dollars More. Directed by Sergio Leone, it captured for the rest of the world what Kurosawa put into the Japanese film. The more recent remake staring Bruce Willis fell flat, Last Man Standing simply didn't hold up well in comparison even with a clearly lifted story into a prohibition era town.
  Kakushi Toride No San Akunin Known to english speakers as The Hidden Fortress, this Kurosawa film was a framework used to create Star Wars. Star Wars is not completely a lift, but uses elements to build on and makes the tale behind the plot a bit deeper perhaps than otherwise.
  Année des méduses, L' In English, The Year of the Jellyfish. A bizarre French comedy, where a young teenage girl is infatuated with her Mother's lover, and embarks on various liaisons to distract herself. It is trippingly slow and tedious in places but we enjoyed it none the less. Our favorite line in the flick "She hasn't been the same since the dog died" as an explanation for the young lady's behavior.
  Cousin, Cousine Redone in English with Ted Danson as Cousins this is another odd French romantic comedy that touches on the dark side of interpersonal relationships.
  Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire Tom Hanks was the main character in the English remake of this, yet another French comedy. The English version is a favorite of ours for the contretempts, The Man With One Red Shoe. The original is pretty much the same movie and just as silly.
  3 hommes et un couffin Three Men and a Baby was this film's English remake. Entertaining French comedy.
  M Peter Lorre was a star in his own rights in Germany well before coming to the US. This classic movie is about how even criminals join in to hunt down and bring a serial child killer to justice. Made in 1931, it is one of the few German films Peter Lorre made that is remembered still. Lorre puts in a superb performance as the murderer that David Wayne in the US remake (1951) simply could not match.
  Das Boot German film about the claustrophobic life of the sailors on U-Boats during WWII. Intense study of the pressure of war, the nature of submarine warfare, and the interactions in the boat. 1981

Really Bad Movies We Enjoy Laughing Over

This turns out to be a really hard category to put movies into. On the one hand, there's a good long list of really bad movies that could be thrown out as perfect material to give the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment to, to laugh over and laugh hard and long that anyone at all could treat them even mildly seriously while filming them. But to actually put them up as recommendations for films you'll laugh over, and could be repeated to watch again as Bad Movies to Laugh At with Friends, is not so simple. Most of those titles are bad enough you just need to walk out of the theater and demand your money back. It's hard to reach a point you have to stay and let yourself laugh it out.

  Battle Beyond the Stars Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven rip off science fiction
  Sheena: Queen of the Jungle Tanya Roberts and the obligatory bare breasts scene, plus nudity under a waterfall.
  Evil Alien Conquerors Entirely tongue in cheek and intended to be comedy but it's so bad even in that context that it's even funnier if you can possibly imagine.
  Plan 9 From Outer Space Quite possibly the worst movie ever made
  The Brain that Wouldn't Die Just too outrageous to believe that someone actually thought this would be a serious topic.
  Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Deliberately bad, but still one of those things you have to choke back the laughter anytime it appears someone may have taken it seriously.
  Killer Klowns from Outer Space So bad it's almost as bad as Plan 9, but the vulgarity just makes it less bearable for humor value.
  Doc Savage: Man of Bronze The pulp books for Doc Savage are a lot of fun, and apparently the director tried to do this as tongue in cheek. But it's just one of those films that turned out awful, not quite on par with Sheena, but close enough.
  The Dueling Cavalier Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont star in their first talkie ever. The worst possible positioning of microphones and out of sync sound track show what can happen with poor technology. Originally intended to be a Silent film, it was converted right during the period of transition which lead to a plethora of false starts and bizarre horrors. Note the entertaining dialogue in the love scene with "I love you" repeated over and over, and the missynchronized soundtrack exchange of "No, No, No!" and "Yes, Yes, Yes!" imposed on the wrong actors. Remade as a musical with the title The Dancing Cavalier, with the dubbed voice of Kathy Seldon for Lamont's character.

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