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Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

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Ann Harding
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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby Ann Harding » June 2nd, 2009, 8:02 am

I am not a 'list-person', but the idea of choosing my own 25 essential films is very tempting! It's going to be probably a bit odd-looking as I usually prefer off the beaten track pictures. :wink:

1. Battements de Coeur (Heartbeat, 1940) by Henri Decoin. Superb romantic comedy with Danielle Darrieux.
2. Visages d'Enfants (Faces of Children, 1923) by Jacques Feyder. One of the very best French silent ever made and still undated.
3. Le Corbeau (The Raven, 1943) by Henri-Georges Clouzot. A real corrosive masterpiece.
4. Monsieur Ripois (The Knave of Hearts, 1953) by René Clément. Shot in London, a wonderful bitter-sweet drama with Gérard Philipe.
5. La Fin du Jour (The End of the Day, 1939) by Julien Duvivier. An incredibly dark look at human beings. Fantastic cast and dialogue.
6. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) by M. Powell & E. Pressburger. A masterpiece.
7. The Fallen Idol (1947) by Carol Reed. Lest famous than The Third Man, but as engrossing.
8. Die Bergkatze (The Mountain cat, 1920) by E. Lubitsch. Hilariously mad comedy with Pola Negri.
9. Divorzio all'italiana (Divorce Italian Style, 1961) by Pietro Germi. Quintessential Italian comedy.
10. Senso (1954) by Luchino Visconti. Beautifully shot and acted drama.
11. Herr Arnes pengar (Sir Arne's Treasure, 1919) by M. Stiller. Essential Swedish silent. Gorgeous looking and engrossing.
12. Terje Vigen (A Man There Was, 1917) by V. Sjöström. Another magnificent masterpiece.
13. Man's Castle (1933) by F. Borzage. A beautiful emotional film.
14. The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932) by F. Capra. My favourite early Capra.
15. Sylvia Scarlett (1933) by G. Cukor. Lovely bitter-sweet comedy with C. Grant and K. Hepburn.
16. The Devil to Pay! (1930) by G. Fitzmaurice. Beautifully paced early talking comedy with bags of charm.
17. Broken Blossoms (1919) by D.W. Griffith. Raw melodrama with incredible delicacy and poetry.
18. It's Always Fair Weather (1955) by G. Kelly & S. Donen. Lesser known musical with brilliant script and routines.
19. Stella Dallas (1925) by Henry King. Superb melodrama.
20. To Be or Not To Be (1942) by E. Lubitsch. Wonderful comedy.
21. The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947) by J. L. Mankiewicz. Poetry on the screen with Hermann's fabulous score
22. Devil's Doorway (1950) by A. Mann. A wonderful western/film noir with a great score and cinematography.
23. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) by L. McCarey. Absolutely heartbreaking masterpiece.
24. The Crowd (1928) by King Vidor. A masterpiece. Unmissable;
25. Dodsworth (1936) by W. Wyler. A moving Sinclair Lewis adaptation with fab Walter Huston.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby myrnaloyisdope » June 11th, 2009, 11:31 pm

6. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) by M. Powell & E. Pressburger. A masterpiece.
7. The Fallen Idol (1947) by Carol Reed. Lest famous than The Third Man, but as engrossing.
10. Senso (1954) by Luchino Visconti. Beautifully shot and acted drama.
13. Man's Castle (1933) by F. Borzage. A beautiful emotional film.
15. Sylvia Scarlett (1933) by G. Cukor. Lovely bitter-sweet comedy with C. Grant and K. Hepburn.
16. The Devil to Pay! (1930) by G. Fitzmaurice. Beautifully paced early talking comedy with bags of charm.
17. Broken Blossoms (1919) by D.W. Griffith. Raw melodrama with incredible delicacy and poetry.
20. To Be or Not To Be (1942) by E. Lubitsch. Wonderful comedy.
21. The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947) by J. L. Mankiewicz. Poetry on the screen with Hermann's fabulous score
23. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) by L. McCarey. Absolutely heartbreaking masterpiece.
24. The Crowd (1928) by King Vidor. A masterpiece. Unmissable;


Of your list I've seen all of these, you've chosen many underlooked films. You insight into French cinema is very useful, given that so little of the early French silents and talkies have been canonized in North America. It's pretty much Melies and nothing till Renoir, with maybe a little Gance thrown in. I have a copy of the Duvivier film, but haven't watched it. Ooh, and do you have a copy of Stella Dallas. I really like the Vidor version, and I'm currently reading Brownlow's The Parade Goes By and Henry King speaks very lovingly of it, so my interest is piqued.
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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby srowley75 » June 13th, 2009, 9:57 am

Thanks to all of you who've participated. I've really enjoyed reading your lists and explanations.

-Stephen

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby fxreyman » June 28th, 2009, 11:22 am

I must first say how impressed I am with this website or blog site, whichever way you all refer to it. And I must shout a special "Thank-you" to several people who informed me about this site over the past few months. LZcutter, MissGoddess, and from the TCM message boards, FrankGrimes. They all told me I should join up and post my thoughts.

So without any further ado, that is what I am about to do now. As some from the TCM message boards will attest to, I am a firm believer in list making. I have been compiling lists for a long time and I simply enjoy the exercise.

For this list I have had to scramble somewhat over the past month or so whenever I have been able to find time to compile a list of Essentials. However, I must say that this list I have come up with has gone through the proverbial ringer at least 25 times now. And tomorrow, I may think that at least half of my selections may be wrong. Or at least at the least be choices that I find not so essential.

So here is the list:

The Adventures of Robin Hood, Michael Curtiz / William Keighley 1938

Gone With the Wind, Victor Fleming 1939

Ninotchka, Ernst Lubitsch, 1939

Stagecoach, John Ford 1939

The Wizard of Oz, Victor Fleming 1939

His Girl Friday, Howard Hawks 1940

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles 1941

The Lady Eve, Preston Sturges, 1941

Casablanca, Michael Curtiz 1942

Random Harvest, Mervyn LeRoy 1942

The Talk of the Town, George Stevens 1942

Double Indemnity, Billy Wider 1944

They Were Expendable, John Ford 1945

The Best Years of Our Lives, William Wyler 1946

It's a Wonderful Life, Frank Capra 1946

Notorious, Alfred Hitchcock 1946

Red River, Howard Hawks, 1948

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, John Huston 1948

All About Eve, Joseph L. Mankiewicz 1950

Winchester '73, Anthony Mann, 1950

Singin' in the Rain, Stanley Donen / Gene Kelly 1952

The Searchers, John Ford 1956

North By Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock 1959

Seven Days in May, John Frankenheimer 1964

The Professionals, Richard Brooks 1966

The final two are very personal favorites of mine and in my view would be very interesting picks due to the great cast in both and the great storytelling of Rod Sterling (Seven Days) and Richard Brooks (Professionals).

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby moira finnie » June 28th, 2009, 12:33 pm

Welcome, FX!

Your list of your own essentials crosses so many genres that it might be useful to keep handy for a course in "Film Appreciation 101: The Studio Era" for newbies, though you've listed several movies that I never really tire of seeing. One big hint that your list is a hit with me: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is number 1, where it belongs!! I also love your avatar for obvious reasons.

It's great seeing you posting and thanks for taking the time to check out the site. I hope that you'll let us know if you need any assistance.
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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby Mr. Arkadin » June 28th, 2009, 12:55 pm

Glad to see you here FX. I see several of my favorites on your list including The Best Years of Our Lives and Citizen Kane. Have fun cruising the forum and don't forget to take a turn at Dewey's Record Party, where everyone can be a DJ!

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby ken123 » July 31st, 2009, 6:09 pm

In no special order:
The Searchers
Fort Apache
The Grapes of Wrath
Twp Rode Together
The Long Voyage Hoe
My Darling Clementine
How Green Was My Valley
The Last Hurrah
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Lost Patrol
Rio Grande
The Gunfighter
Brute Force
Crisscross (Siodmak )
Sunset Blvd
The Treasure of Sierra Madre
The Big Sleep(Hawks)
Ace in the Hole
The Best Years of our Lives
Of Mice & Men ( Milestone)
Mutiny on the Bounty (Lloyd )
North by Northwest
Strange Cargo
Detective Story
Thieves Highway
The Roaring Twenties
Scarface ( Hawks )
Bring Up Baby
The Charge of the Light Brigade (Curtiz)
The Devil & Daniel Webstser
White Heat
Public Enemy
The Ox - Bow Incident
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Laughton)
The Mortal Storm
Red River
The Killers (Siodmak)
The Furies
Double Indemnity
The Woman in the Window
Fury
Shenendoah
No Way Out(Widmark)
Nightnare Alley
I Wake Up Screaming
Stranger on the Third Floor
The Mask of Dimitros
A Letter to Three Wives
All About Eve
The Black Legion
i

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby kingrat » August 24th, 2009, 7:16 pm

This is a great exercise for making us think about the classic era. I've deliberately limited the list to English-language films. To me the modern era begins in 1967, though a films in the older style were made for the next few years. THE GODFATHER belongs to the newer era, so by removing it from the list I've added another slot for a classic film. I've concentrated on genres and on directorial approaches. Most of the films are favorites, but not all.

1. THE GOLD RUSH (1925) - Only one silent film is too few, but it's a great introduction to silent film technique and silent film comedy.

2. TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1931) - Shows the connection with European models of sophistication. Completely imagined as a film comedy with sound, not just a film of a stage comedy. Perfect of its kind.

3. BABY FACE (1933) - This is how frank a film could be prior to the imposition of the Code.

4. STAGECOACH (1939) - Set the pattern for Westerns and for editing.

5. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) - Capra is not one of my favorites, but this kind of idealism is an essential element of classic Hollywood films.

6. THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940) - The use of film to examine social problems. Also a successful film made from a literary classic. Unlike most classic Hollywood films, this one tilt to the left rather than to the right.

7. HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) - Classic screwball comedy. Use of overlapping dialogue. How to turn a play into a movie. Although most of the film in one setting. Interesting relationship of the sexes with Rosalind Russell's hard-driven professional woman.

8. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) - A classic Hollywood type is the tough guy, and Bogart incarnates him perfectly in this film. The private eye as one of the most important Hollywood heroes.

9. NOW, VOYAGER (1942) - Women's pictures get underrepresented on most lists, and praising Douglas Sirk for maintaining an ironic distance from his material is only the latest way of belittling or denying the emotional pull of this genre. NOW, VOYAGER is perhaps the classic women's film. A not-so-great director, Irving Rapper, makes a remarkable film. The star as auteur. Psychiatry in the movies.

10. KINGS ROW (1942) - Classic Hollywood melodrama. A women's picture with men in the key roles. Again, psychiatry in the movies.

11. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) - One of the best "singing musicals," as opposed to dancing musicals. Hollywood-style sentiment. The perfect family and community as seen by Hollywood.

12. DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) - Film noir. A great femme fatale.

13. LOVE LETTERS (1945) - Hollywood has always been about romance. This is one of the best romances.

14. CROSSFIRE (1947) - Wilder's noir was laced with cynical humor. Here's a more serious take on noir, with an anti-Semitic killer--and a killer opening scene. The importance of the "good bad girl."

15. BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) - Studio stylization. Color as an essential element of the film, not just a medium.

16. THE THIRD MAN (1950) - The importance of camera angles and location shooting.

17. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) - Dialogue reigns supreme. The prestige of the theater. Because theater has become more marginal in our society, we underestimate the importance it had from the introduction of sound to the end of the classic film era.

18. THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) - Sets the pattern for the heist film. One of the most imitated films ever. Use of silent sequences.

19. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) - One of the best "dancing musicals" ever, with very athletic choreography. A huge personal favorite.

20. EAST OF EDEN (1955) - I had to include either a Brando/Kazan or this Dean/Kazan film for the importance of the new style of acting identified with these two actors and this director. EAST OF EDEN features three very different acting styles: Raymond Massey's traditional performance, James Dean's new style, and the lyrical approach of Julie Harris. Jo Van Fleet is perhaps somewhere between Massey and Dean.

21. THE SEARCHERS (1956) - The only film on TCM's list of 15 most influential films that doesn't belong there. (My vote would go to THE WILD BUNCH for the quantity of its violence or to AMERICAN GRAFFITI for its pre-recorded soundtrack.) There had been earlier revisionist westerns. This one, however, stands apart because of its quality.

22. VERTIGO (1958) - I greatly admire the formal perfection of PSYCHO, but this is the Hitchcock film I love the most.

23. THE NUN'S STORY (1959) - David Lean spoke of the "narrative juggernaut" of Zinnemann's films. A great example of a film that places story and characters first. The influence of documentary on feature film (the whole process of how to become a nun). About as objective a recording of a story as a film can be.

24. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) - Epic has been an essential genre for Hollywood. It still is, though the historical epic has given way to the fantasy epic. Epic isn't usually this intelligent or this gorgeous. Peter O'Toole gives one of the greatest performances in film history.

25. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) - Intelligence, style, strangeness, and absolute confidence.

26. KING RAT (1965) and THE HILL (1965) (tie) - Neglected films can be essential, too. Think of BABY FACE. These two films are great examples of the all-male film, which is usually a war film. What happens when the moral order gets turned topsy-turvy (KING RAT)? What is moral authority and how do people use power in extreme situations (THE HILL)? KING RAT represents the British New Wave, and THE HILL has stunning photography and some of the most expressive uses of camera movement I've ever seen.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 24th, 2009, 7:50 pm

I dig most of your faves, particularly Black Narcissus, Vertigo, Manchurian Candidate, King Rat, and The Hill.

I'm also a big Wild Bunch fan. :wink:

jdb1

Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby jdb1 » August 25th, 2009, 9:59 am

I'm very pleased to see The Nun's Story on your list, rat. I loved the book, and I was not at all disappointed in the film version. This is a film I like more every time I see it, for the story, the cinematography, the direction, and especially for A. Hepburn's strong and understated performance as a woman of science and no small ambition who struggles to live a life of faith and self-abnegation. I don't think she ever got enough credit for this -- apparently, the public didn't want to see her in anything but Givenchy.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby kingrat » August 25th, 2009, 12:15 pm

Glad to find other fans of THE NUN'S STORY. Audrey Hepburn is usually so charming and magical, but here she had to dig deep inside herself. To me, it's her finest performance, and no one could have played the role better.

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby JackFavell » August 25th, 2009, 4:43 pm

Everyone has such great lists!

Ken123 - Heavy on the John Ford - love it! And Nightmare Alley is an excellent choice....

Nice to see you over here, Rey!

It will take me a while to come up with a list.... but this is a great thread. I can't tell you how many times I have thought, "Why did they pick THAT film for The Essentials?" Now I see how hard it is to pick them......

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby kingrat » February 22nd, 2013, 12:53 pm

Has it really been three and a half years since we made our lists of essentials? If Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore are picking a new set of 26 essentials, shouldn't we do the same? Under the original rules, we assumed that GONE WITH THE WIND, CASABLANCA, and THE GODFATHER had been picked. In general we weren't picking films later than THE GODFATHER, but RO and Drew are picking some 80s films (THE BIG CHILL, STAND BY ME) for their new season. Who wants to play?

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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby ChiO » February 22nd, 2013, 1:15 pm

Citizen Kane, Wizard of Oz & Psycho also were assumed.
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Re: Choo-choo-choose Your Own Essentials!

Postby JackFavell » February 22nd, 2013, 4:20 pm

I guess I was right when I said it would take me a while to come up with my list of Essentials. I still haven't done it. See you in 3 years! :D


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