Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I am starting a new series talking about my five favorites in a particular genre. Hopefully this will spark some interest, as well as cause spirited discussion amongst the blog readers. For this first post in the series, I wanted to go big and spotlight my five favorite films of all-time. I have watched many movies from the earliest silent films to today's overbudgeted hits. I don't really consider myself an expert as much as I do a film lover, and these favorite films of mine I can never get tired or watching. If I could only watch five movies, these are the ones I would want to watch:

5. BIG FISH (2003)
Director Tim Burton is mostly known for his overblown remakes. I enjoy his movies though. The movie Big Fish was one of his original masterpieces. The movie centered around a dying father (Albert Finney) who told tall tales to his son. Even though he told tall tales there were truth and lessons in every story he told. I think the reason why this movie touches me everytime I see it is because my father in law died the year this movie came out. It is one of the few movies that can make my wife cry.

Because Cary Grant was so good looking, I think his acting ability was largely overlooked. He could do it all from drama to comedy, and the movie Arsenic And Old Lace is the best example of his comedy. As he discovers his loving aunts are really murderers his own life is turned upside down, and you can see the change in Cary Grant just by looking at the craziness he conveys in his eyes. Raymond Massey also gives the best performance of his long career as well.

3. WHITE HEAT (1949)
Like Cary Grant, James Cagney could play any role. However, Cagney's best role was as ruthless gangsters. There was no one more crazed and ruthless than the character of Cody Jarrett. The character had it all - a mother complex, mental illness, and a thirst to kill. The ending of the movie with Cagney screaming "top of the world, ma" is one of the best scenes ever filmed in Hollywood.

2. GOODFELLAS (1990)
It seems like Goodfellas is on television all of the time now. It is one of the movies that when it is on, I have to watch it. The film is nearly perfect especially Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta as mobsters. Liotta plays mobster turned rat Henry Hill. I got to see what the real Henry Hill looked like, and he was no Ray Liotta but the film was great. The movie makes me wish I was more than 25% percent Italian so I could be "made" as well.

1. JAWS (1975)
Yes, this movie is my favorite film of all-time. I have seen it a total of 70 times now. When I first saw Jaws as a child, I was afraid to let my legs dangle over my bed at night for fear that a shark would come around and bite my feet. I grew to love this film, and the best part of the movie is not seeing the shark. The shark was broken so much for young director Steven Speilberg that he had to rewrite most of the film. It made for a different movie, and probably made the film as suspenseful as it was. As for the acting, you can not get much better than Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. The film continues to remind me to never go back into the water!


  1. I have seen 3 of these films---White Heat, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Jaws.

    I must tell you, I lived for over 20 years in Florida, and I was constantly at the beach. Visions of Jaws were never far from my mind...keeping me always at waist-high level or less. I was always amazed that my husband, who grew up a surfer in an Atlantic coast city, was fearless in the water.

    I think James Cagney is the best actor who ever lived. He was brilliant in every role he ever did. I think his performance in White Heat was totally fantastic. That he didn't even receive an Oscar nomination (let alone, not walk away with the win!) is mind-boggling.

  2. I agree. James Cagney should have won!

    When we go to the ocean on vacation - I never go deeper than my ankles. :)

  3. Quite an interesting list you have there.

    "Big Fish" is one of those movies I have been meaning to see. Perhaps you've moved it up on that neverending list.

    There is a soft spot in my heart for "Arsenic and Old Lace". I played Aunt Abby in a community theatre production and the play still works after all these years. I think Cary does an amazing job with a heck of a role. While it is a treat to see Josephine Hull, Jean Adair and John Alexander recreate their Broadway success, and I think Raymond Massey performs fabulously as Jonathan, it still galls me that Karloff is not on that screen. Peter Lorre! What more can you say?

    "White Heat" is remarkable, not only for Cagney's performance (and that should be enough), but Margaret Wycherly and Mayo & Cochrane as well. It's a gangster film, it's a heist yard, it's a procedural. It's tough, it's suspenseful, it's got action. It's a dandy!

    "Goodfellas" is very impressive storytelling. The attention to detail enhances a fascinating story of a side of life I'm glad I'm nowhere near.

    If you don't like "Jaws" then you don't like movies.

  4. Lobosco,
    I enjoyed your list. I may have to create my own now. Of course L.A. Confidential would be on it as well as Gran'ts Bringing Up Baby. (It's nice that Grant made your list as well)
    Big Fish is such a great film and my favorite of Burton's work. After seeing it I called my family and friends to let them know that it was a must see film.

    As for Jaws. I have fond memories of the first time seeing it. My parents were big on taking us to the Drive-In as kids and Jaws was the first film that we all went to see at a walk-in theater. Well, because it was such a blockbuster the theater was packed so we all had to sit on the front row. I've never seen my mom so traumatized. We tease her about that to this day. (I think she's been to a walk-in theater twice since then and only recently.

  5. If I make a comment about my favorite movie. The answer will turn out to be only as good as my memory is at that particular moment. I'd say mine was MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE. It is a comedy filmed in black and white in 1948. If I'm asked again I might say it is THE DEAD, a James Joyce story from the Dubliner's directed by John Huston and starring among others his daughter Angelica. I loved both of these movies. If I would be asked what criteria went into judging a favorite movie, I would probably fall back on the question, 'would you watch it again?' I would, and have watched both of these movies numerous times and they are always fresh to me and even though I know what's coming I always watch it eagerly and enjoy it thoroughly.

    Mr. Blandings has star power with Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Melvin Douglas and of course I think one funny moment after another. They are all intelligent characters with intelligent lines to speak. I know the funny lines and yet miraculously it does not spoil it for me. I laugh every time where I think I am supposed to.

    THE DEAD is a wonderful story written by James Joyce. It is set in Dublin in the early nineteenth century. It is a dinner party given by three young to elderly sisters for their friends and acquaintances. The span of action is dancing in an upstairs ballroom, a dinner, and performances by some of the invited guests. It is civilized and touching as they become aware of the passing time and their lives also. It is a snowy night and a guests wearing of the new fangled footwear called galoshes cause a hired servant to comment, what will they think of next.

    It's not an action thriller but if you are willing it has a lot of thought provoking drama. Enough for me to admire it over and over.

    A movie I really like is HOOSIERS, with Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, and Dennis Hopper who was a scene stealer par excellence. I've watched it many times and get caught up in the action just as I did the first time. A clear indication that it is a great film.

    Another movie I love is an older one THE GRAPES OF WRATH, because of the story and the star HENRY FONDA, but also for its abundance of character actors that act their hearts out, Jane Darwell and the father of the Carradine clan John are two of the better known, but there are many more that make you feel like you're back home in Oklahoma.

    I hope this is not too long and I know I have forgotten for the moment many great movies that I watch over and over.

  6. I've seen all but #5. What a great list! I'll have to do some thinking about a top 5 of my own -- I'm sure you had as hard a time as I will cutting them down! White Heat is of course one of my favorites, and would definitely be in there. Cagney was robbed by a silly prejudice against gangster movies! I'm not a fan of the screwball comedies, and perhaps Arsenic is not considered that, but I adore that movie. One of the best comedies ever. Jaws superb. Even Goodfellas is a good movie, although not in a top 5 for me. I'll have to see Big Fish. Your taste is so excellent that I'm sure I'll love it!

  7. I do recommend Big Fish. I am extremely sentimental, and that movie really is good. I guess if I was picking my favorite classic movie it would be White Heat then - I don't know if you can consider Jaws a classic movie?

  8. That's a good question, Lobosco! I suppose it is not in the sense of classic being silents to 1960's, just the way I've always seen it as an era. But it IS a classic in quality and I believe staying power. Just depends on what your reference point is, I guess. If Jaws was a car, it would be a classic by now -- shoot, if I were a car, I would be a classic many times over! LOL!

  9. I have always went by the year I was born - 1974. Anything made before that I used to consider a classic. Now as the years go on, I have to rethink that!

  10. JAWS is a great choice! For me, it's one of those movies that has gotten better over the years. The scene where Robert Shaw talks about the USS Indianapolis is a chiller.