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Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

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jdb1

Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby jdb1 » April 8th, 2009, 1:28 pm

I've been thinking about this for two days now, and I don't think I can do it. Every time I think of one, I then think of a half dozen others, just as valid. Maybe I can come up with a few I think are essential:

1. Gone with the Wind -- we are so enured to this now that it's gone beyond cliche. But for me it's still the benchmark for every other Big Hollywood Movie; great story, beautiful execution and terrific performances.

2. King Kong -- perhaps old-fashioned now in the day of CGI, but look what it accomplished without computers; it's still thrilling.

3. Little Women (1930s version) -- how to make a really good film out of a really good book, and be true to both genres.

4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- science fiction, film noir, suspense all rolled into one.

5. Million Dollar Legs -- a very early, and possibly the screwiest, of screwball comedies. It was so forward-looking that it seems perfectly normal today, and it's still funny.

6. The Public Enemy -- sex and violence, and never better. Cagney is a revelation, and every sex symbol wannabe should study this movie to see how it's done.

7. Giant -- how to make a beautifully photographed, sprawling family saga, keep everything under control, and wrest great performances out of its stars.

8. Tomorrow is Forever -- soap opera at its best.

9. The Seventh Seal -- a microcosm of the human experience in riveting black and white.

10. The Wizard of Oz -- a great musical adventure film with many layers; something for everyone.

11. Hard Day's Night/Help -- I always think of these as a unit. A great example of how to lend creative credibility to what's perceived as a mere fad. These movies are so much more than just exploitation of the flavor of the month, and their impact probably far exceeds what was intended.

12. Top Hat -- what everyone should think of when they think of Hollywood movies.

13. High Noon -- real time, constricted sets, and yet it seems so much bigger than the sum of its parts. Great performance from Cooper, in case anyone was thinking he was just a laconic cowboy of limited range.

14. The Gold Rush -- funny, sad, action-packed, silly, touching, satisfying.

15. Lawrence of Arabia -- gorgeous production, gorgeous star, gorgeous "cinema."

16. Adam's Rib -- I've mentioned many times my preference for Desk Set among Tracy-Hepburn pairings, but Adam's Rib is probably the best introduction for those who've never seen their films together.

17. Fail Safe - if you want suspense, this is the one; the tension level is unbelievable.

18. Psycho -- Tony Perkins upped the ante on both neurosis and psychosis in this one. A great and underrated performance, overshadowed by that shower scene.

19. The Long, Long Trailer -- a very stylish, well-made, and funny 1950s Big Studio comedy of marriage. Very entertaining, and a good intro to the world of Lucy & Desi for those who still don't know.

20. La Strada -- After the viewer has seen 8-1/2, he should try this polar opposite from the same director. So touching, so beautifully played.

Now that I've written this, I'll probably think of more, but you did say 25, right?

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby MissGoddess » April 8th, 2009, 1:57 pm

Stephen - I hope my detailed list didn't put you to sleep! You asked for
explanations why we chose our selections, and I got carried away.

My Man Chris - I'd love to get back in that red chair again...and again...and again.
(Reading that I now realize it sounds a little...)

Judith---I think we are supposed to list 25 other than GWTW, the wizard of oz and psycho...
was I wrong about that, Stephen??? Otherwise, I have to radically change my list.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

jdb1

Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby jdb1 » April 8th, 2009, 3:44 pm

Judith---I think we are supposed to list 25 other than GWTW, the wizard of oz and psycho...
was I wrong about that, Stephen??? Otherwise, I have to radically change my list.[/color]

Oh dear oh dear MissG ..... now I know this will be beyond my capabilities; I would have counted those three as givens. Anyway, I want to change the entire list now, because I've come up with approx. 176 others that potential movie fans simply must see . . . . . . .

It just can't be done! Looks like I've watched way too many movies. :?

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby ChiO » April 8th, 2009, 5:10 pm

What a wonderful array thusfar...so this is going to be mundane. Tried to have only one per director and cover major genres/movements (again, with only one film) and key nations, as well as not emphasizing any particular stars. Not necessarily my favorites of each director or genre/movement or nation, but that's the way the ol' reel unwinds.

In no particular order:

1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Siegel, horror/sci-fi and one scary, thought-provoking movie
2. A Matter of Life and Death - Powell/Pressburger (Great Britain), romantic, spirtual, and mighty beautiful
3. Dr. Strangelove - Kubrick, Cold War paranoia and deathly funny
4. Rebel Without a Cause - Ray, Dean, JDs and social criticism
5. The Gold Rush - Chaplin and my favorite silent comedy
6. Birth of a Nation - gotta have Griffith and this is a conversation starter
7. Tokyo Story - Ozu (Japan) and too marvelous to omit
8. The Godfather - Coppola, Brando, gangsters and I'm a sucker for the storytelling
9. His Girl Friday - Hawks, Grant and my favorite screwball comedy (and its presence eliminated Scarface as the Gangster entry)
10. The Naked Spur - need Anthony Mann, James Stewart and Robert Ryan somewhere, and a Western, so this is a 4-fer
11. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - Wiene (Germany), fulfills the German Expressionism quota
12. The Passion of Joan of Arc - Dreyer (does it count as French or Danish?) and, like Tokyo Story, a must-see
13. The World's Greatest Sinner - tough to limit Timothy Carey to just one performance, so let's go with the one he directed, and it's a marvelous one at that
14. Gun Crazy - only one film noir? Gotta be Lewis' masterpiece
15. Stars in My Crown - Tourneur's sublime story of memory and myth
16. Shadows - not my favorite Cassavetes, but perhaps the most important
17. Killer of Sheep - Burnett's demonstration of what modern film should be
18. La sortie des Usines Lumiere (Lumiere)/Trip to the Moon (Melies) - isn't there a law that requires showing these?
19. Der letze Mann - Sunrise is stunning, but this is the Murnau film I keep returning to (oops - this makes two movies photographed by Rudolph Mate)
20. Grand Illusion - must have Renoir (French) and this has the bonus of Erich Von Stroheim
21. Rome, Open City - must have Italian Neo-Realism and this is generally considered the beginning
22. Last Year at Marienbad - need a French New Wave representative and, for me, Resnais beats out Godard
23. Written On the Wind - Sirk, a weepie and great
24. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul - Fassbinder is the representative of the New German Cinema (does this count as a second Sirk movie?)
25. The Battleship Potemkin - I know, I know, everyone's seen it...but it is essential

My Edit: Replace The Godfather with Un chien andalou/L'Age d'or - forgot that The Godfather was a given & therefore a Gangster movie wasn't necessary, making way for Spanish-Franco surrealism and Bunuel
Last edited by ChiO on April 9th, 2009, 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby MissGoddess » April 8th, 2009, 5:14 pm

I've never seen The Battleship Potemkin.
"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 ChiO » April 8th, 2009, 5:18 pm

Quick...now's your chance. Call TCM and tell them to cancel GWTW and replace it with THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN!

No?

Okay...then just rent it.

Your pal,
ChiO
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » April 9th, 2009, 2:30 pm

MissGoddess wrote:Stephen - I hope my detailed list didn't put you to sleep! You asked for
explanations why we chose our selections, and I got carried away.


No worries, MG. I was about to respond but was sidetracked by life and all its trappings.
Actually, I think you've inspired me. I might try to go back and edit in some comments on my own list this evening.

MissGoddess wrote: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.


I probably should've included a list of credentials for my list. I did keep personal preference in mind, but I tried to include films that held some significance in our culture yet also would have the potential to keep a first-time viewer interested (and while some of them would require a bit of "selling" during the host segment, I think it could be done). I also tried to limit most of my list films that hadn't been scheduled before.

MissGoddess wrote:1. My Man Godfrey (my favorite comedy and one of the
best exampels of "screwball comedy" ever made.


I love this film and it's probably the choice I'd have made if I'd been a guest programmer (and I'd planned to write a bit about it in the guest programmer thread when I finally found the time). When I first became interested in classics, most of the films I sought out were screwball comedies.

MissGoddess wrote:3. Top Hat (Like My Man Godfrey, this is a peerless
example of the kind of cinemas audiences rushed to
during the Depression.


I feel guilty for not including a Fred and Ginger outing, though I did include a depression-era musical.

MissGoddess wrote:5. Gigi (My pick for best example of the Hollywood
big budget musical, courtesy of MGM.


I will say that this one doesn't seem to get its due these days. Best Picture winners are usually prime targets for critical feeding frenzies, and while there are quite a few Oscar winners I despise, this was really isn't bad (though I would never have voted for it over Touch of Evil or Vertigo). But the set design is magnificent and the songs wittier and more engaging than many an MGM musical I could name.

MissGoddess wrote:8. Dodsworth


I just bought this one a couple weeks ago. Wyler had a great year in 1936.

MissGoddess wrote:11. Treasure of the Sierra Madre


I've had tremendous luck recommending this one over the past few years. Most people - even those not into older films - seem to enjoy it reasonably well.

MissGoddess wrote: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.)


Another I wish I would have included, but I set it aside for Lubitsch and Trouble in Paradise.

MissGoddess wrote: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.


I tried very hard to think of a dramatic silent film that I thought a younger person or newbie would gravitate toward, but couldn't really convince myself of any. Of the two, I think Sunrise has more potential.

MissGoddess wrote: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.)


Another one that friends have found very entertaining. I'd have liked to have given Preminger a spot just because he gave the censors such fits.

MissGoddess wrote:25. King Kong


Along with Dewey's choice of Singin' in the Rain, this is another that I wish I'd have added to "Bob's list." It really is one of those films that, like it or not, you can't neglect if you want to consider yourself cinema literate.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » April 9th, 2009, 2:33 pm

MichiganJ wrote:3--A Hard Day's Night (1964) Lester


I almost included this one (or one of the other two popular Beatles' features) instead of Don't Look Back or Gimme Shelter. They're all important for different reasons, and I guess one reason I chose the ones I did was that I don't think they're shown enough on TV.

MichiganJ wrote:5--Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Gilliam/Jones


I question whether it's possible to make it through 4 years of college without seeing this movie (or at least hearing your roommates quote all the dialogue).

MichiganJ wrote:6--The Decalogue (1988) Kieslowski


Lordy! Well, maybe given two weeks.... :)

MichiganJ wrote:7--Love Me Tonight (1932) Mamoulian


Another great depression-era musical choice. There were so many great films made in the early 1930s.

MichiganJ wrote:8--Carnival of Souls (1962) Harvey/ Night of the Living Dead (1968) Romero


I'm ashamed to say I totally forgot Carnival of Souls, but given that so many of the horror films of the past decade that have lifted elements of its plot, it seems even more relevant today - and definitely essential.

MichiganJ wrote:18--Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921) Wiene


I wanted to include this one but thought my list already too heavily weighted toward horror films and thrillers. So this one didn't make the cut, but I would've liked to include a straight silent drama. Unfortunately I couldn't really think of one that would appeal to the nominal viewer of classics.

MichiganJ wrote:20--Blade Runner (1982) Scott


I tried to think of more fare from the 1970s and 80s, but unfortunately this one didn't occur to me. Anyway, excellent choice. [I also just thought of Ran, but that would've been 3 Kurosawas for me.]

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What is the law?!?

Postby srowley75 » April 9th, 2009, 2:43 pm

MissGoddess wrote:Judith---I think we are supposed to list 25 other than GWTW, the wizard of oz and psycho...
was I wrong about that, Stephen??? Otherwise, I have to radically change my list.[/color]


MG (and Judith),

The 6 listed in the original post were indeed meant to be "off limits" for our personal lists (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Citizen Kane, Casablanca and The Godfather). I only set it up that way only to avoid excessive repetition, since I'm sure most of us would've listed at least a few of these titles otherwise. (And one reason I've become tired of reading "greatest ever" lists is that I can't take one more article about any of these titles.)

Well, Judith, I guess it's off to the house of pain...paging Dr. Moreau and Dr. Szell... :lol:

-Stephen

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby mrsl » May 4th, 2009, 1:08 pm

And here are my two cents worth:

This list is not in order of preference but simply in numerical order. I have been working on it for about 2 weeks and it is composed of movies I feel are essential to understanding and enjoying good movies, or movies worthy of 2 and or 3 viewings. Remember these are my preferences, they are not considered 'perfect' or 'best'. I watch movies first for entertainment, second for the stars latest offering (much like an author's latest book), and finally to consider recommending it to a friend who may be home bound. In addition, I am not a fan of either Silent or Foreign Language films so I have inappropriate skills to judge them.
(Uh-oh), I used two of the no-no's without relizing it, but my explanation is short and succinct so I don't believe you will receive any after shock from reading them.

1. The Searchers: An example of John Wayne's finest talent, notwithstanding the marvelous story.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird: Gregory Peck give a perfect example of how you can forget it is an actor portraying a role, and not Atticus himself there on screen.

3. The Great Race: Shows comedy in all scenarios, e.g. slapstick, dialog, visual, etc.

4. Psycho: Allows you to see frightful horror in your imagination - worse than on screen.

5. The Philadelphia Story: Adults acting like adults in funny and unusual circumstances.

6. Meet Me In St. Louis: A fine combination of music, drama and family entertainment.

7. People Will Talk: Adults treating emotional and and other viable problems with dignity and sense.

8. The Women: Historical view of women before they chose to take on men's obligations due to WWII as well as an insight to women's attitudes toward other women.

9. How The West Was Won: Semi-factual representation of the name of the movie.

10. The Enemy Below:
Fine example of a psychological, edge of your seat drama.

11. Citizen Kane: How NOT to make a movie.

12. Oklahoma: The perfect movie musical.

13. Blue Hawaii:
Good movie with songs added for more entertainment.

The next 8 choices are my idea of extremely good examples of each genre.


14. Comedy: Bringing Up Baby.
15. Drama: The Best Years of our Lives.
16. Western: Stagecoach.
17. Mystery: Double Jeopardy.
18. War: The Longest Day.
19. Romance/Love: Penny Serenade
20. Family: Cheaper by the Dozen (Original)
21. Noir: Out of the Past.

22. Guilty By Suspicion: Sad depiction of how the government let the entertainment business down, and caused irreparable damage to some lives.

23. Night and Day: How NOT to make a bio - Truth MUST be told rather than fiction for entertainment sake.

24. In the Heat of the Night:
Shows racism more honestly than in many previous attempts.

25. Crash: (2004) Can't find a better example of "What goes around, comes around".

So there are my choices. I watch movies for enjoyment and entertainment, but if a little learning goes along with it, that's fine. Each of these films has a touch of something that I was able to take away and add to my daily life, whether it was a new tune to whistle, or a joke that made me feel better, or a sentence that made me understand my neighbors woes.

Anne :roll:
Anne


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* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby myrnaloyisdope » May 8th, 2009, 9:07 pm

Well reading this thread gave me something to think about at work today. Glad to see such diversity, and am glad to see The World's Greatest Sinner on somebody's list. I watched it over Christmas with my brother, and we were both very impressed. Gosh Timothy Carey is one of those rare birds who can be absolutely compelling doing pretty much anything.

Anyway here's my list in chronological order, with brief explanations:

1. Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894)/L'Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (1895)/Le voyage dans la lune (1902) - These all count as one. I would argue the films of Edison/Lumiere/Melies are as essential as any film ever made. To know where you're going, ya gotta know where you started. I picked these three because they are the ones that resonate most with me.

2. The Birth of a Nation (1915) - The first American epic film, so polemic, and so polarizing. Essential if only to prove how powerful film truly is in its ability to inspire and incite.

3. The Life Story of David Lloyd George (1918) - Can a film be essential if no one's seen it? This British silent epic, which was shelved, lost, and then rediscovered, made it's theatrical debut in 1996. I have no doubt it would have been a landmark in cinematic history had it been released. Anyway this film functions as a remembrance of all the great work that has been sadly lost, and a reminder that the films that get canonized are the ones that are the ones that get seen. Who knows what other great forgotten works are worthy of praise.

4. Safety Last (1923) - My favorite silent film comedy, though this spot could easily be The Circus, or Seven Chances among many others.

5. The Crowd (1928) - This represents the last wave of great silent films before the talkies killed the industry. This is silent cinema at it's best. Could just as easily be The Wind, Sunrise, or my new fave Paul Fejos' Lonesome.

6. Applause (1929) - The first great talkie, the first great musical, and perhaps the greatest directorial debut in cinema. It's astonishing what Mamoulian was able to accomplish with such stifling conditions. Audacious and innovative.

7. M (1931) - Not my favorite film, or even my favorite Lang, but I think this might be the greatest film ever made. Wonderfully atmospheric, with an all-time great performance from Peter Lorre.

8. Baby Face (1933) - The quintessential pre-code film, if you watch this and aren't instantly hooked on pre-code, I'm thinking pre-code just isn't your thing.

9. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) - I flip-flop between this and 42nd Street, but for spectacle and fun you can't beat Gold Diggers, and I think everyone on earth needs to see "Remember My Forgotten Man".

10. Stage Door (1937) - A wonderful example of that now rare breed: the actress with personality, and not just one in this case but several. Kate, Ginger, Lucy, and even Eve Arden and Ann Miller get their licks in. Oh where art thou actresses who can carry a picture?

11. You Only Live Once (1937) - Proto-noir, symbolic of the ex-pat influence in Hollywood, and it's an early independent film. Lest we mention its role as one of the early guy-girl-gun films that Godard so revered.

12. Holiday (1938) - Elegant, a shining example of the classic Hollywood picture, though most seem to opt for Cukor's The Philadelphia Story.

12. The Roaring Twenties (1939) - My favorite gangster film, and a perfect farewell to the 1930's gangster genre. This spot could easily be The Public Enemy or The Beast of the City.

13. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) - The first hour of the film is perfect, and the rest ain't so bad either. Wonderfully acted, scripted, and Gregg Tolland's camerawork is I think his very best. A shining example of the what the Hollywood message picture could actually be when it didn't pander.

14. Fort Apache (1948) - There's gotta be some John Ford on the list. So why not his "revisionist" western. The film is remarkably modern in it's take on General Custer, and Native relations, and hearkens towards the drastic changes the genre would undergo in the coming decades. But at the same time it's quintessential Ford, and a sterling western even without context.

15. Gun Crazy (1950) - My favorite noir and favorite B-movie. Without this, Bonnie & Clyde never happens.

16. Los Olvidados (1950) - Unrelentingly bleak, hints at the coming wave of teen films in 1950's, as well being representative of the burgeoning concept of the foreign film. Plus I wanted some Buñuel.

17. Paths of Glory (1957) - Forget Full Metal Jacket, this is the Kubrick war film, hell it's the Kubrick film.

18. The Apartment (1960) - The greatest screenplay ever written, with performances to match. This might be the greatest American film. Proof that a film can make you laugh and make you cry.

19. Scorpio Rising (1964) - Brilliant distillation of bikers, kitsch, 60's pop, gang culture, sexuality, religion, and fetish. Proof that non-narrative/avant-garde film can indeed be great. This spot could easily be Rose Hobart, Flaming Creatures, Dog Star Man, or Man With A Movie Camera, among many others.

19. The Graduate (1967) - Symbolic of the the shift from code to no code, as well as the death of the studio system. Gave birth to the phenomenon of the pop-music soundtrack.

20. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) - Possibly my favorite western, as well as being indicative of 1970's film. Manages to subvert and distort just about every conceit and trope of the western genre, and still be a damn entertaining film.

21. Annie Hall (1975) - Proof that a film can be intellectually adroit, stylistically adventurous, and still be funny as hell. Also proof that a film (and a director) that trust its audience can indeed achieve both commercial and critical success.

22. Star Wars (1977) - Well depending who you talk to it either reinvigorated cinema, or destroyed it, but for my money its as fun as it gets.

23. Raging Bull (1980) - This is my Citizen Kane, a film so technically perfect that I can find no fault.

24. Homework (1989) - Abbas Kiarostami's marvellous and sadly underseen documentary about Iranian schoolkids. Remarkably powerful, educational, and devastating simple. I learned more about the Middle East in 80 minutes of Kiarostami asking kids about their homework, than I could by watching CNN for a year straight. Proof of the marvels of the documentary form.

25. The Days of Being Wild (1990) - Representative of the wave of arthouse/forum cinema that became en vogue in the 90's. A film I've gone back to again and again, each time mesmerized by its excesses and dazzled by its beauty. Wong Kar Wai where have you gone?
"Do you think it's dangerous to have Busby Berkeley dreams?" - The Magnetic Fields

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby ChiO » May 8th, 2009, 9:53 pm

Glad to see such diversity, and am glad to see The World's Greatest Sinner on somebody's list. I watched it over Christmas with my brother, and we were both very impressed. Gosh Timothy Carey is one of those rare birds who can be absolutely compelling doing pretty much anything.

15. Gun Crazy (1950) - My favorite noir and favorite B-movie. Without this, Bonnie & Clyde never happens.


Such exquisite taste. Now I wish we had gone to Calgary instead of Montreal to celebrate.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby movieman1957 » May 8th, 2009, 10:39 pm

Chio:

A friend of mine stumbled on "The World's Greatest Sinner." I couldn't figure what he was describing to me until he hit on something that reminded me of what you said. He thought it was crazy but fun. He remembered the line "The world is no place for a weak man" as that one pushed a gun to the other person. A bit chilling. I'm not sure he was converted but I thought you two might have had a nice conversation.
Chris

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

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby Mr. Arkadin » May 31st, 2009, 12:08 pm

myrnaloyisdope wrote:16. Los Olvidados (1950) - Unrelentingly bleak, hints at the coming wave of teen films in 1950's, as well being representative of the burgeoning concept of the foreign film. Plus I wanted some Buñuel.


A great film that is a true Essential, but will probably never be shown in that series (unless you host). I liked many of your other choices as well.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby Birdy » May 31st, 2009, 8:05 pm

I've been reading everyone's lists and jotting down notes. MissGoddess - if we got together, we wouldn't move from the tv for a week! (Bring snacks, please) I hesitate to participate in this thread because I mostly watch and truly enjoy a couple of eras and genres, but wanted to tell everyone how much I enjoyed it.
Birdy


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