Bob Rehak tagged me with a fun meme: name a favorite movie for every letter of the alphabet.
Adventures of Robin Hood
My favorite Errol Flynn title, though my favorite character in it is actually Basil Rathbone’s Guy de Gisborne. Plausibly I could list Alien and Aliens. But I’m not a big fan of the entire aesthetic of horror, so much as I admire Alien as a film, I’ve never enjoyed watching it that much. Aliens is a really good genre film. I’m oddly fond of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen for all its flaws. But Robin Hood tops it easily for me.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Bonnie & Clyde, Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, Bridge on the River Kwai, Blade Runner are all plausible runner-ups. This is a tough letter.
This was the hardest letter. Citizen Kane, Chinatown, A Christmas Story are all films I could easily name instead. Casino Royale is inching into this company, though it would be better off with a different first letter. I suppose Casablanca is the bloody obvious pick, but I do love it.
Dr. Strangelove would be my other “D” movie. I’m kind of fond of Deep Impact for some reason but it doesn’t quite make this level of goodness.
The Empire Strikes Back
It doesn’t matter how thoroughly Lucas craps on his franchise, I still love this film.
A favorite of my father’s. Les Blank’s documentary about the film is maybe even more compelling than the film itself. A Fistful of Dollars also comes to mind for this letter. I found Flirting With Disaster very funny as well.
The Godfather Part 2
I’m not actually that fond of films about the mob (so no nod for Goodfellas, etc. here) but this one is in another league. However, I could easily jump to Bob’s pick for G, Groundhog Day. I have an odd fondness for Gladiator, which I don’t think is that great a film at the end of the day. Goldfinger is my favorite Bond film after Casino Royale.
I could also name The Hustler here.
The Iron Giant
Still actually my favorite Brad Bird film, much as I like all of his work. The Incredibles competes for this letter, certainly. I also love the Peter Falk and Alan Arkin version of The In-Laws.
I guess. I can’t think of many J films. Jaws certainly holds up as a work of entertainment, even though some of the schtick in it now seems so familiar from long exposure to Spielberg’s works. I enjoyed Jean de Florette but it’s not exactly in the same weight-class as the others on my list. The 1953 version of Julius Caesar had some good performances and a great score.
Kung Fu Hustle
One of the greatest films ever. But until it came out, my pick for this letter would have been To Kill a Mockingbird, which I also still love very much.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Of the three, I thought the first was the best. I like LA Confidential, but it’s kind of the poor man’s Chinatown Lawrence of Arabia is a favorite, and I probably would have named that before the Jackson films.
Just about my favorite film ever, but it’s hard to pass by Monty Python and the Holy Grail without a nod. I’m also very fond of The Man Who Would Be King. Manhattan is about the only Woody Allen movie that really holds up strongly for me, but not nearly strongly enough to get on a personal favorites list. This summer’s Mongol kind of elbowed its way into my estimation for this letter.
My Neighbor Totoro
My favorite of Miyazaki’s films. Night of the Hunter is a great film, and I’m very fond of Paul Newman’s performance in Nobody’s Fool.
Once Upon a Time in the West
Henry Fonda is just great in this film. I love One False Move as well. Office Space might make it except for the weak second half of the film.One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest would be on a lot of people’s lists, but I actually think it’s over-rated.
The Princess Bride
This is a tough letter simply because I’d also like to pick Patton. But Princess Bride is easily in my personal top ten. Pitch Black is a bit of a dark horse contender, if you’ll forgive the phrase.
The Quiet Man
Winner by default, I guess. It’s an enjoyable enough film.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
I enjoy Rashomon (at this point, you can scarcely talk about narrative without someone mentioning it) but I wouldn’t put it in my top personal films. Still, I could be persuaded to knock off Raiders, which I don’t think has aged as gracefully as Jaws or Empire Strikes Back. Raging Bull is a great film but I don’t enjoy repeated viewings of it much. I haven’t seen Raising Arizona in ages, but I might be able to move that to the top. Reservoir Dogs is a great film in its own terms, but I really don’t care for Tarantino’s whole aesthetic.
Another family favorite. I can think of a lot of “S” titles that I really enjoy but maybe none that I’d put in the same weight class as Seven Samurai. I notice that the top IMDB film is The Shawshank Redemption, which I’ve actually never seen.
The Third Man, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Tunes of Glory
The letter T is for torment. I don’t know how to choose between these three films, so I won’t: they’re all equally important to me. Toy Story and its sequel are favorites but can’t stack up against these others. Twelve Monkeys is a fascinating movie but I don’t really enjoy it on repeated viewings too much. Time Bandits, as long as I’m thinking of Gilliam, is also a fun movie, but again, not in this company.
What, did you think I was going to choose Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend? I can’t even think of any other U films, and I liked Unforgiven a good deal, so it gets the nod.
I have no V.
V for Vendetta wasn’t awful, but no way is it a favorite. And I like Newman in The Verdict but the film as a whole is only okay. Vertigo is a good Hitchcock, but Hitchcock’s entire oeuvre leaves me kind of cold in terms of personal taste. Maybe I’ll think of a V movie later.
But I like The Wizard of Oz as well. I didn’t used to so much as a kid because I’d get hung up on its lack of correspondence with the book. The 1953 War of the Worlds is a favorite, in part because my grade-school library used to have a filmstrip version of it tucked in with the educational stuff and I could get away with viewing it repeatedly when we had library time. “Six days, you said…the same time it took to create it”.
Oh, if I have to have an X, X-Men 2, but it’s a pretty mediocre film.
I’m ready to pull this one off my favorites list, though. I watched it again just recently and I find a lot of it doesn’t work very well any more. You kind of had to be 13 at a moment in the general history of the US in which neo-vaudevillean innuendo about breasts and erections was somehow hilarious and daring all at once. I don’t really like Yojimbo, and a few of the awesome set-pieces in You Only Live Twice are spoiled by the craptacular ridiculousness of Sean Connery pretending to be Japanese. Y Tu Mama Tambien is great, but it would be kind of cheating to list it under Y, I think. I remember liking the Turkish film Yol, but it’s been ages since I saw it.
(The Mask of) Zorro
Cheating! But I do love this film. If I have to stick to an honest Z, I have no idea. I don’t like Zentropa, Zelig is a one-joke film, and Zardoz is horrifically bad if in a fantastically enjoyable kind of way. Zulu and Zulu Dawn are pretty weaksauce as films.