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Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

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Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » April 5th, 2009, 11:30 am

I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone, whether out of curiosity or sheer boredom, created a thread asking for members to contribute their own lists of "essential" films.

So, with a nod to Ralph Wiggum, I lead the way toward inevitability. Enlighten me, fellow movie-lovers:

If you were given the task to compile a list of, oh, let's say 25 essentials for TCM's weekly series, which films would you select?

There's just one catch: that lovable rapscallion Bob Osborne has already insisted that the following films be scheduled:

Citizen Kane (1941)
Casablanca (1942)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
The Godfather (1972)
Psycho (1960)


Your task, then, will be to add 25 to these that have already been chosen.
(And no, you may not remove any of these titles to add your own, but you may complain loudly about having to tack any or all of them onto your own immaculate schedule. I do this to give you the sense of what it must feel like to be a peon at one of the major studios.)

As far as I'm concerned, the films you list may stem from any time period, from any part of the globe. If you've got the time and the stamina, brief explanations for each title are more than welcome.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » April 6th, 2009, 12:45 pm

Well, hopefully everyone else is thinking through their choices. I guess I'll start things off by posting my own list. Not sure how many of these made it onto schedules in years past.

Might edit in some explanations later if I think there's enough interest. :?

1. Baby Doll (1956)
2. The Virgin Spring (1960)
3. Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
4. Don't Look Back (1967)
5. Sherlock Jr. (1924), Cops (1922), and One Week (1920)
6. Rashomon (1950)
7. Glen or Glenda? (1953)
8. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1969)
9. It's a Gift (1934)
10. Mommie Dearest (1981)
11. The Naked Kiss (1964)
12. The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
13. Halloween (1978)
14. Un Chien Andalou (1929) and Mondo Cane (1963)
15. Yojimbo (1961)
16. Baby Face (1933)
17. All That Heaven Allows (1955)
18. Island of Lost Souls (1933)
19. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
20. 42nd Street (1933)
21. They Live by Night (1949)
22. 8 1/2 (1963)
23. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
24. Trouble in Paradise (1932)
25. Gimme Shelter (1970)

-Stephen

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby movieman1957 » April 6th, 2009, 1:15 pm

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Mommie Dearest" and "Halloween"? You are broadminded. Having sat through one home viewing of "TRHPS" I like to think I have nicely recovered. :)

Working on my list.
Chris

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby Ollie » April 8th, 2009, 7:48 am

We know all the classics, I think, but I don't know if I'd choose those as opposed to using the "One Off Method".

If I was going to name Orson Welles as an Essential 'ingredient-participant', I don't know if I'd use CITIZEN KANE but perhaps another of his works as if that would be a sufficient tip o' the hat. Sort of like Baldwin did with the Marx Brothers by not choosing the almost constantly-praised (and thus over-rated) DUCK SOUP. Maybe I suffer too much from the Scent O' The Herd Syndrome - the most populars are usually not my favorites for that reason, almost as if that was the sole reason.

But at the same time, since the Essentials are TCM's attempt to bait a hook for new, less-educated-in-film-history audiences, showing the standard classics may be dictated. Probably my favorite guest-programmer day was back in 2008 when author James Ellroy hosted THE LINE-UP, STAKEOUT ON DOPE STREET, MURDER BY CONTRACT and a now-forgotten 4th film. These were terrific entries to my film education. I'm not sure I could use those as Essentials, however, because my appreciation for these 4 is likely predicated on my longer viewing-history of films. One of the fond values I attribute to these four is, "Wow! Where have these been all my life?!!" These aren't great films by themselves, but as a collection, Ellroy hit a home-run.

I wonder if I would appreciate the Pre-Code Films if they'd been constantly shown, for example. And would I appreciate so many Wellman films if his son hadn't been along for some long chats to introduce them? SAFE IN HELL and WILD BOYS, HEROES FOR SALE - I'm not sure I'd have watched them without Junior's baiting the hook for me. To me, those now occupy Essential "Why Haven't I Always Seen These?" kind of films. I think I'd have appreciated their differences when I was 13 or 14, when I started paying attention to films and their place in history.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby Dewey1960 » April 8th, 2009, 8:19 am

To avoid excess chronic brain-strain, I've limited my choices to films produced in
the United States. This list doesn't necessarily reflect my twenty-five most favorite
films (although most of them, I guess, are) but they do strike me--for one reason
or another--as "essentials."

1. I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (1932)
2. DETOUR (1945)
3. SCARLET STREET (1945)
4. OUT OF THE PAST (1947)
5. WHITE HEAT (1949)
6. IN A LONELY PLACE (1950)
7. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)
8. ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1952)
9. THE BAND WAGON (1953)
10. THE NAKED SPUR (1953)
11. KISS ME DEADLY (1955)
12. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
13. NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)
14. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956)
15. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
16. TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)
17. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959)
18. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
19. THE BELLBOY (1960)
20. SHADOWS (1960)
21. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)
22. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
23. THE LONG GOODBYE (1973)
24. MEAN STREETS (1973)
25. AMERICAN HOT WAX (1978)
(Edited to include INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, which I shamefully excluded.)
Last edited by Dewey1960 on April 8th, 2009, 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby MissGoddess » April 8th, 2009, 9:20 am

I just saw this thread, I don't know why it didn't pop up for me the last
several times I refreshed for "new posts". I'm working on my
list now, Stephen.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby movieman1957 » April 8th, 2009, 10:16 am

Great list Dewey. Yours and Stephen's list ought to be what it is all about. The idea of learning about and seeing important films of all kinds. Even "Plan 9" outght to be seen once just so people know how bad things can get. "The Bellboy" is an interesting choice. It's about the only Lewis movie I really enjoy.
Chris

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby movieman1957 » April 8th, 2009, 11:13 am

So mine is.... in no particular order.

1 - The Big Sleep.
2 - Sherlock, Jr. and Seven Chances - Buster Keaton
3 - Red River
4 - Intolerance.
5 - Young Frankenstein. (The original "Frankenstein" should be shown before or after.)
6 - Paths of Glory.
7 - Patton.
8 - The Well. 1951. (A very good movie that hardly anyone knows about.)
9 - Planet of The Apes. (It'll never happen but it is an interesting film. Substitute appropriate SciFi film.)
10-Easy Living - 1937
11-Stagecoach.
12-Gold Diggers of 1933. (Maybe not great but important example of early musicals.)
13-Gunga Din. (If you are going to have an action picture this is as good as any.)
14-Top Hat
15-To Kill A Mockingbird.
16-Little Caesar. (Again, good example of early of gangster pictures.)
17-How Green Was My Valley.
18-Bad Day At Black Rock.
19-Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.
20-Rear Window.
21-Once Upon A Time In The West. (It was certainly a new kind of western.)
22-Spartacus.
23-Sullivan's Travels.
24-Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
25-Fury -1936.

Not exciting (nor do I even like them all) but I hope representative, in some sense, of what people would see for a Movie 101 class.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » April 8th, 2009, 11:44 am

Dewey1960 wrote:12. KISS ME DEADLY (1955)
13. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
17. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959)


Great list, Dewey.

I almost included all of these for various reasons. Aldrich and Ray seem to grow more "essential" as time goes by. Their films seem much more relevant today than the heavy-handed and preachy studio fare that won all the awards through the 50s and 60s.

For Wood, it was between Plan 9 and Glen or Glenda. To tell the truth, either would suffice as far as I'm concerned, but in this day and age, Wood needs to be acknowledged.

Dewey1960 wrote:19. THE BELLBOY (1960)


Dang...when I was first planning this thread, one of the things that occurred to me was that I needed to include a Lewis film. I'd have also thought about including The Ladies Man or The Errand Boy, or of course The Nutty Professor. I've seen a couple articles lately that led me to believe that perhaps Lewis is finally getting some love from mainstream critics. Perhaps this generation of cinephiles will value his work more than the previous ones have.

If we ever do our own "Essentials Jr.," one title I'd be sure to include is Who's Minding the Store (1963). The last I checked, Paramount still had yet to release this one to DVD. During my childhood, this was one of my favorite old movies. Because of the wild slapstick, it seems to go over very well with kids (at least in my experience).

Looking back, I guess I should have taken a bit more time with my list. For one thing, I tried to keep from repeating any one director, and I wound up with 2 Kurosawa titles. And I wish I'd have named at least (1) one western [possibly Stagecoach, Johnny Guitar or The Wild Bunch], and (2) one sci-fi [The Incredible Shrinking Man, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Planet of the Apes]

Oh well...

-Stephen

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby MissGoddess » April 8th, 2009, 11:50 am

In no particular order, my 25 "essentials" based on this criteria:

Their degree of craftsmanship, timelessness or representation
of the best of classical cinema; and that they
contain some element (story, star, director, etc.) that I
personally admire. I didn't want to be so "objective" that
the list retained no real flavor of my personal preferences.

1. My Man Godfrey (my favorite comedy and one of the
best exampels of "screwball comedy" ever made. It also
captures a specific era, the "Depression" era and the
glamour that the movies tried to give audiences as an
escape. The art deco sets and costumes reflect this,
while the script references many topical issues.)

2. All About Eve (Based on an almost flawless script
by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, I think it's the best example
of a "back stage" type of film and of a dialogue-driven
film. It is also one of Bette Davis' finest performances,
and one of the finest performances by an actress of
un certain age. Something I think was more common
then than now.)

3. Top Hat (Like My Man Godfrey, this is a peerless
example of the kind of cinemas audiences rushed to
during the Depression. The set design is stunning
black-and-white Hollywood "Deco"; the score by
one of America's greatest composers, Irving Berlin,
is timeless. Last but not least, you have Fred and
Ginger---truly the screen's greatest dancing couple)

4. Shane (One of the finest westerns ever made;
a real "director's" picture, the film is almost flawlessly
crafted, right down to the last detail; Alan Ladd as
the title character creates a mythical hero for generations)

5. Gigi (My pick for best example of the Hollywood
big budget musical, courtesy of MGM. It's also an example
of a time when America had a love affair with other
cultures and expressed their curiosity and fascination
via stories and adaptations such as this glorious musical.
It shimmers with Euro Hollywood flair via sumptuous decor
and costumes by Cecil Beaton and a ravishing score by Lerner and Lowe)

6. The Misfits (A must see for what are perhaps two
of the greatest stars of all time going out on their
possibly strongest performances: Clark Gable and
Marilyn Monroe. An elegy to a way of life that would
soon be gone, making such figures obsolete.)

7. The Searchers (Regarded by many as John Ford's
western masterpiece, it still powerfully resonates
with modern audiences and for good reason. The
direction, performances and setting all combine
to make a powerful impact in a timeless tale
of vengeance, hate and love.)

8. Dodsworth (The kind of movie they definitely
lost the ability to make somewhere along the way.
Performance and dialogue driven, it's one of the
most singularly engrossing movies ever made. Few
people have come away disappointed in this film,
despite the unlikely premise of a burn-out middle
aged couple on holiday; most are awed by the humanity
and perfection of its cast, headed by Walter Huston in
the title role. Want to know what the much sneered
upon old Hollywood bywords "taste" and "class" were
really about? See Dodsworth.)

9. Angels with Dirty Faces (My choice for most
accessible and enjoyable of the Warner's gangster
pictures. It's pacing, charismatic performances
and visually compelling cinematography make
this movie a favorite with many.)

10. High Noon (One of the great westerns, and
Gary Cooper's second Oscar-Winning peformance.
It's spare direction, terse dialogue, unforgettable
theme song and above all, Cooper's toweringly sincere
and anguished sweat-and-tears presence makes this one
hard for you to look away).

11. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (I struggled to include this
title because, like King Kong, it's not a favorite. However,
that doesn't prevent me from admiring it greatly, nor can I
deny how it continues to be a source of reference and a
touchstone throughout the decades. I simply can't leave it
out.)

12. Out of the Past (Probably the exemplary film noir.
Dark but funny, satirical and laced with poetry. It hangs onto you after
it's over, a mark of truly strong filmaking.)

13. The Philadelphia Story (Like Dodsworth, I consider it an
example of the kind of studio picture that is unique to its era.
The subject matter---upper class society in America---and its
root in the drawing room type of stage play are here depicted
at their zenith. Katharine Hepburn seldom inhabited a role
more comfortably, probably because Tracy Lord was tailor made
for her by the playwright, Philip Barry, and she is able to soar
all the higher because of the wonderfully grounded cast that
surrounds her, including Cary Grant in one of his most underrated
performances, James Stewart and Ruth Hussey.)

14. The Thin Man (Nick and Nora are considered by many the
most enjoyable married couple in movies, and their first outing
as the "Charles" family is a perfect introduction to how Hollywood
could make marriage and mystery seem glamorous and fun.)

15. City Lights (Chaplin is indispensible to experiencing classic
cinema and this is my pick of his masterful oeuvre because of
its extraordinary emotional impact, particularly in the final scene.)

16. The Grapes of Wrath (Movies about working people, economic
upheaval and the impact of hard times on the family are, to me,
part of the heart of the greatest films of all time, and this one
is as visually compelling as it is humane.)

17. It's a Wonderful Life (My pick for "essential" Capra)

18. The Big Parade (One of the best American silent films ever made)

19. Sunrise (One of the best silent films made, and perhaps German
director F.W. Murnau's best film which was made not at UFA, but
in Hollywood. Despite being an abortive collaboration in Murnau's
case, it remains a good example of why Hollywood was immeasurably
enriched by European emigrees.)

20. Ninotchka (My Lubitsch pick, because I believe he is an "essential"
director, was tough because this is not my favorite nor do I consider it his best, but
it combines so many elements---a great script, a topical subject in the "Russian experiment"
as well as emigrees in Europe---not to mention it features Greta Garbo, one of the screen's
greatest stars.

21. Laura (Film noir to some, glamour fluff to others, it has staying power
and is just a fabulous movie with an almost hypnotic appeal.)

22. Lawrence of Arabia - (My pick for "essential" epic. While not a favorite,
this movie makes such a visual (and aural) impact on audiences, especially when
seen on the big screen, that I cannot leave it off any list of "essential"
cinema. I chose it despite my lack of personal interest beause I do acknowledge
that despite being a massively scaled adventure, it is threaded throughout with
a trace of poetry and grace. Something nearly impossible to accomplish. I
think Lean and Ford were the masters of combining such disparate elements.)

23. La Grand Illusion (If I had to choose just one foreign language
film as the best, this would be it. I think it's very accessible to anyone
from any land, because of its timeless, human message.)

24. Vertigo (This is Hitchcock's masterpiece in my estimation. I do
not regard Psycho nearly so highly because Vertigo has characters that
are fascinating on their own terms, not just because of the complicated
vortex they become drawn into, and because the director's control of
story, visuals, score, and point-of-view were never so assured and effective.)

25. King Kong (I had the hardest time with the 25th selection. I was
going to pick a Billy Wilder film, but decided this one has more universal
appeal and, like Treasure of the Sierra Madre, it may not be a personal
favorite but it remains unique and the remakes only serve to point up
its status as one of the best spectacle pictures.)
Last edited by MissGoddess on April 8th, 2009, 12:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » April 8th, 2009, 11:56 am

movieman1957 wrote:So mine is.... in no particular order.
2 - Sherlock, Jr. and Seven Chances - Buster Keaton


Cool list.

It appears you felt the same way I did - Sherlock Jr. is essential but too short to stand on its own. It should be shown with more of Keaton's work, whether another full length movie or one or two shorts.

movieman1957 wrote:9 - Planet of The Apes. (It'll never happen but it is an interesting film. Substitute appropriate SciFi film.)


Great choice-wish I'd have chosen it myself. Another one-time "cult movie" that today seems to have grown in stature.

movieman1957 wrote:10-Easy Living - 1937


Just watched this gem last night. What a script. My favorite scene: Jean Arthur, having lived through a day of incredible "good fortune," awakens in her grand hotel suite to a wave of phone calls from people wanting to give her things.

movieman1957 wrote:11-Stagecoach.


I'm not Ford's biggest fan, but I do love this film. I've suggested it to more than one western-hater and they've nevertheless enjoyed it.

movieman1957 wrote:21-Once Upon A Time In The West. (It was certainly a new kind of western.)


Another great choice. Just so I could've limited each director to only one film, I wish I'd have dropped Yojimbo and replaced it with either this one or A Fistful of Dollars.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » April 8th, 2009, 12:09 pm

MissGoddess wrote:In no particular order, my 25 "essentials" based on this criteria:


Wow, MG...talk about above and beyond the call of duty...

Well, this will make for fun lunchtime reading. 8)

-Stephen

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby movieman1957 » April 8th, 2009, 12:56 pm

Stephen:

I had forgotten you picked "Sherlock, Jr." but I agree that it is too short not to have another included. I had toyed with "Our Hospitality" until I remembered "Seven Chances." Any Keaton is worth a follow-up.

I wondered about too many films by the same director but I wound up with two Kubrick films abd I don't even like Kubrick all that much. I did think that these two were fairly important.

April:

Good heavens, what detail. Would yu be interested in a Co-host spot on "The Essentials"?
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby MichiganJ » April 8th, 2009, 12:56 pm

No order on mine as well....

1--A Film Johnnie (1914) Chaplin /Sherlock Jr (1924) Keaton/Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) Allen
2--Breathless (1960) Godard
3--A Hard Day's Night (1964) Lester
4--Do the Right Thing (1989) Lee
5--Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Gilliam/Jones
6--The Decalogue (1988) Kieslowski
7--Love Me Tonight (1932) Mamoulian
8--Carnival of Souls (1962) Harvey/ Night of the Living Dead (1968) Romero
9--Killer of Sheep (1977) Burnett
10--The Lady Eve (1941) Sturges
11--The Leopard Man (1943)/Night of the Demon (1957) Tourneur
12--L'Avventura (1960) Antonioni
13--Intolerance (1916) Griffith
14--Swing Time (1936) Stevens
15--Tokyo Story (1953) Ozu
16--Persona (1966) Bergman
17--Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Whale
18--Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921) Wiene
19--King Kong (1933) Cooper/Schoedsack
20--Blade Runner (1982) Scott
21--Freaks (1932) Browning
22--The Grand Illusion (1937) Renoir
23--Pinocchio (1940) Luske/Sharpsteen
24--Apocalypse Now (1979) Coppola
25--The 400 Blows (1959) Truffaut
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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby movieman1957 » April 8th, 2009, 1:01 pm

That's quite a list. I had "A Hard Day's Night" but then changed my mind. Well, if I could add a week it would go there.
Chris

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