Movie Literate

A couple of blogs have linked to this movie critic’s list of 102 Movies You Must See Before You Die. As far as I can make out, it was written in 1999 and brought back to life in response to this book of 1001 entries. Mac has a copy of that book, and from what I saw, it’s missing some key movies and includes some others that I would’ve left out.

The shorter list is a lot easier to deal with, though. I’m going to copy Emerson’s list and mark the ones I have seen in bold. I’m kind of surprised I have so few problems with the list — I don’t agree with it 100%, but as far as the nebulous concept of “movie literacy” goes, it seems to be pretty dead-on.

  • “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) Stanley Kubrick
  • “The 400 Blows” (1959) Francois Truffaut
  • “8 1/2” (1963) Federico Fellini
  • “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” (1972) Werner Herzog
  • “Alien” (1979) Ridley Scott
  • “All About Eve” (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • “Annie Hall” (1977) Woody Allen
  • “Apocalypse Now” (1979) Francis Ford Coppola
  • “Bambi” (1942) Disney
  • “The Battleship Potemkin” (1925) Sergei Eisenstein
  • “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946) William Wyler
  • “The Big Red One” (1980) Samuel Fuller
  • “The Bicycle Thief” (1949) Vittorio De Sica
  • “The Big Sleep” (1946) Howard Hawks
  • “Blade Runner” (1982) Ridley Scott
  • “Blowup” (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni
  • “Blue Velvet” (1986) David Lynch
  • “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) Arthur Penn
  • “Breathless” (1959 Jean-Luc Godard
  • “Bringing Up Baby” (1938) Howard Hawks
  • “Carrie” (1975) Brian DePalma
  • “Casablanca” (1942) Michael Curtiz
  • “Un Chien Andalou” (1928) Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali
  • “Children of Paradise” / “Les Enfants du Paradis” (1945) Marcel Carne
  • “Chinatown” (1974) Roman Polanski
  • “Citizen Kane” (1941) Orson Welles
  • “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) Stanley Kubrick
  • “The Crying Game” (1992) Neil Jordan
  • “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951) Robert Wise
  • “Days of Heaven” (1978) Terence Malick
  • “Dirty Harry” (1971) Don Siegel
  • “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972) Luis Bunuel
  • “Do the Right Thing” (1989) Spike Lee
  • “La Dolce Vita” (1960) Federico Fellini
  • “Double Indemnity” (1944) Billy Wilder
  • “Dr. Strangelove” (1964) Stanley Kubrick
  • “Duck Soup” (1933) Leo McCarey
  • “E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) Steven Spielberg
  • “Easy Rider” (1969) Dennis Hopper
  • “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) Irvin Kershner
  • “The Exorcist” (1973) William Friedkin
  • “Fargo” (1995) Joel & Ethan Coen
  • “Fight Club” (1999) David Fincher
  • “Frankenstein” (1931) James Whale
  • “The General” (1927) Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman
  • “The Godfather,” “The Godfather, Part II” (1972, 1974) Francis Ford Coppola
  • “Gone With the Wind” (1939) Victor Fleming
  • “GoodFellas” (1990) Martin Scorsese
  • “The Graduate” (1967) Mike Nichols
  • “Halloween” (1978) John Carpenter
  • “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) Richard Lester
  • “Intolerance” (1916) D.W. Griffith
  • “It’s a Gift” (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
  • “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) Frank Capra
  • “Jaws” (1975) Steven Spielberg
  • “The Lady Eve” (1941) Preston Sturges
  • “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) David Lean
  • “M” (1931) Fritz Lang
  • “Mad Max 2” / “The Road Warrior” (1981) George Miller
  • “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) John Huston
  • “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962) John Frankenheimer
  • “Metropolis” (1926) Fritz Lang
  • “Modern Times” (1936) Charles Chaplin
  • “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975) Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
  • “Nashville” (1975) Robert Altman
  • “The Night of the Hunter” (1955) Charles Laughton
  • “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) George Romero
  • “North by Northwest” (1959) Alfred Hitchcock
  • “Nosferatu” (1922) F.W. Murnau
  • “On the Waterfront” (1954) Elia Kazan
  • “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) Sergio Leone
  • “Out of the Past” (1947) Jacques Tournier
  • “Persona” (1966) Ingmar Bergman
  • “Pink Flamingos” (1972) John Waters
  • “Psycho” (1960) Alfred Hitchcock
  • “Pulp Fiction” (1994) Quentin Tarantino
  • “Rashomon” (1950) Akira Kurosawa
  • “Rear Window” (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
  • “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) Nicholas Ray
  • “Red River” (1948) Howard Hawks
  • “Repulsion” (1965) Roman Polanski
  • “The Rules of the Game” (1939) Jean Renoir
  • “Scarface” (1932) Howard Hawks
  • “The Scarlet Empress” (1934) Josef von Sternberg
  • “Schindler’s List” (1993) Steven Spielberg
  • “The Searchers” (1956) John Ford
  • “The Seven Samurai” (1954) Akira Kurosawa
  • “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
  • “Some Like It Hot” (1959) Billy Wilder
  • “A Star Is Born” (1954) George Cukor
  • “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) Elia Kazan
  • “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) Billy Wilder
  • “Taxi Driver” (1976) Martin Scorsese
  • “The Third Man” (1949) Carol Reed
  • “Tokyo Story” (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
  • “Touch of Evil” (1958) Orson Welles
  • “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) John Huston
  • “Trouble in Paradise” (1932) Ernst Lubitsch
  • “Vertigo” (1958) Alfred Hitchcock
  • “West Side Story” (1961) Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise
  • “The Wild Bunch” (1969) Sam Peckinpah
  • “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) Victor Fleming

So I’ve seen 68 out of 102. I may have seen more; I tend to forget westerns immediately after I see them.

There are several on there that I don’t like, but would keep on the list anyway — It’s A Wonderful Life and E.T. and Repulsion, for example. But they’re “significant,” for whatever reason. The ones that I just think don’t belong one the list at all:

  • Bambi
    Not a bad movie, but if you’re only going to include one Disney movie, there are plenty of better choices.
  • Blowup
    I’ve never understood why this movie is so universally regarded as “important.” It’s stone cold dull. If it’s so important to document the whole “mod scene,” then why not include a Matt Helm movie? Or a Bond movie?
  • The Crying Game
    I liked the movie fine, but it’s not significant enough to make a 102-best list.
  • GoodFellas
    Another movie I’ve never seen the appeal of, at all.
  • Halloween
    There are better horror movies, and there are better John Carpenter movies. There are even better Jamie Lee Curtis movies.
  • Pink Flamingos
    This movie really only exists to make lists like this. The problem is, even if it were worth seeing back in the 70s, it’s not now.

And the ones I’d add:

  • Fantasia (1940) Disney
    If only for “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” and “Night on Bald Mountain.”
  • The Thing (1982) John Carpenter
    This is the better horror movie and the better John Carpenter movie
  • Big Trouble in Little China (1986) John Carpenter
    Tell me I’m wrong.
  • Miller’s Crossing (1990) Joel and Ethan Coen
    Fargo is fine, but this is the best Coen Bros. movie (and the best movie ever)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Steven Spielberg
    This is really the only one that I’m completely surprised isn’t on the list.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Ang Lee
    If only to represent all of Hong Kong cinema with an “art film”.
  • Yojimbo (1961) Akira Kurosawa
    Even if you have to take Rashomon or The Seven Samurai off the list, this one deserves to be on it. It’s the best samurai movie ever made.
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) John Ford
    I don’t even like westerns, and I think this one’s essential.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Jonathan Demme
    Even if you have to knock one of the Hitchcock movies off the list (I’d pick North by Northwest).
  • Rushmore (1998) Wes Anderson
    I like The Life Aquatic better, but this one is the one I think is still going to be regarded as a classic 20 years from now.

And all total, that’s not even a list of my favorite movies. But they’re all worth seeing.

5 thoughts on “Movie Literate”

  1. Well, if my calculations are correct, I only have to see six more movies before I can die. I think I’ll let that last one be “Persona,” as it’ll probably bore me to death anyway.

    ZING!

    Of couse I disagree with you almost completely, except for the “Pink Flamingos” thing.

    Also missing from the list: “Manos the Hands of Fate.”

  2. I think at this point you only disagree for the sake of saying, “of course I disagree with you completely.” Sometime I’m going to dig up one of your old blog entries and post it on here to see if you disagree with it.

    Anyway, I think I’m going to save “Taxi Driver” for last. It’s been on my list of movies I have to see to become movie literate (or at least to be able to understand Combat Rock completely) that I’m afraid what’ll happen if I finally watch it.

  3. “Fight Club” would definitely get the ax.

    “The Crying Game”? I agree. Doesn’t survive with the others on the list.

    Where is “His Girl Friday” or “The Hustler”?

    For me, even though it is not considered a “classic”, “Superman — The Movie” is a must see.

    Chuck, e-mail me so we can catch up.

  4. Whoa! Long time no see, Chris!

    Personally, I don’t like David Fincher, but I think Fight Club is a masterpiece. If only for the shot where they introduce Helena Bonham-Carter’s character, and she’s got smoke pouring out of her like she’s one of the undead. It’s just a big, mean, angry movie that says exactly what it’s trying to say without — this is corny, but I can’t think of a better expression — without pulling any punches.

    His Girl Friday is still one of my top 10. I would say that it should replace Bringing Up Baby, but Rain’s mad enough at me as it is.

    And good call on Superman. It totally belongs on there.

  5. I’ll die 44 movies from now. Predictably, I’ve seen all the movies beginning with “Night of the…” in the title.

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