In celebration of both my birthday month and my first year of blogging, I present to you, a few of my favorite things.
99 of my favorite films, in no particular order
Winner of the Best Picture Oscar. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) runs a café in French Morocco during WWII. Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Rick’s former love interest, shows up with her Resistance fighter husband, and they attempt to get visas out of the country.
To Have and Have Not (1944)
The film that brought Bogie and Bacall together. Bogart smuggles a French family into Martinique during WWII with the help of a nightclub singer (Lauren Bacall).
A dark crime mystery set in high school. Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) goes looking for his missing ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin) who was caught up with bad people.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Traumatized and reclusive Lars (Ryan Gosling) introduces his new girlfriend, a lifesize doll he calls Bianca, to his family and his small town. They pretend she is real to humor him.
The Fall (2006)
A movie stuntman from the 1920s (Lee Pace) tells a fanciful story to a young girl while they are both in the hospital.
500 Days of Summer (2009)
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) have an unconventional romance.
Fight Club (1999)
Straight-laced Edward Norton (the character has no name) moves in with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and the two start a “fight club” that morphs into a rebel group.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
April and Frank Wheeler (Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio) are a couple living in the suburbs in the 1950s. Heartbreaking.
Adam’s Rib (1949)
Hollywood couple Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play married lawyers who take opposite sides defending and prosecuting a woman who shot her husband. Excellent example of early feminism.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Joe and Jerry (the hilarious Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) witness a mob murder and disguise themselves as women to go on the road with a women’s band, featuring Marilyn Monroe as Sugar. A more perfect film has not been made.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino’s debut features his favorites Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth as a gang of contract bank robbers and one undercover cop on a job gone horribly wrong.
Detective Scottie Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart), who suffers from a debilitating fear of heights, investigates the disappearance of his friend’s wife (Kim Novak), but gets caught in a mystery bigger than that.
North by Northwest (1959)
Cary Grant is mistaken for a spy and chases the man he’s mistaken for across the country in several famous scenes including his flee from a crop duster and dangling co-star Eva Marie Saint off the face of Mt. Rushmore.
Rear Window (1954)
Wheelchair-bound because of a broken leg, photographer Jeff (Stewart) thinks he sees his neighbor kill his wife and decides to investigate with the help of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly).
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Tony (Ray Millard) blackmails another man into killing his wife (Grace Kelly), but the plan goes wrong, and he improvises.
My personal favorite Hepburn movie, starring Audrey Hepburn as the daughter of a chauffer to the Larabee family, including brothers Linus (Humphrey Bogart) and David (William Holden). Sabrina is caught in a love triangle with the brothers.
The Red Shoes (1948)
A ballet producer becomes obsessed with his leading lady and infuriated when she falls in love with someone else. Extended dance sequences with amazing color and cinematography.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
Nick (Cary Grant) and Terry (Deborah Kerr) meet and fall in love on a cruise, but both are engaged, They agree to meet again in the future, but on that day, Terry is involved in an accident and doesn’t show.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) prove that men and women can’t be just friends. The forerunner to 90s and 00s romantic comedies.
Wait Until Dark (1967)
Adaptation of a stage play with Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman whose husband unwittingly becomes a drug mule. Men come to collect the drugs and threaten Hepburn. During the original theatrical release, movie theaters turned off the lights during the last 7 minutes of the movie, to coincide with the action on-screen.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Classic use of black and white and color. When Dorothy (Judy Garland) hits her head, she is transported to the mythical Oz.
Two school friends commit a murder just to see if they can pull it off. Hitchcock directs and Stewart plays their professor, who catches on. Hitchcock’s cinematography experiment.
Not the first installment of James Bond (that would be Dr. No in 1962), but my favorite. Bond (Sean Connery) must stop Goldfinger from breaking into FortKnox.
Ball of Fire (1941)
Street-wise Sugarpuss (Barbara Stanwyck) hides out with a group of researchers in a private library, including Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper), who falls in love with her.
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb (1964)
Hilarious and satirical look at what happens when the US finally drops their atomic bombs on Russia. Starring Peter Sellars, the British comic genius, in multiple roles, co-starring George C. Scott, Slim Pickens, and young James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader).
The Thin Man (1934)
William Powell and Myrna Loy are a perfect onscreen pair as Nick and Nora Charles. Nick is a former detective who comes out a retirement for one more case. 4 movies followed. Accompanied by their dog Asta, who became an equally famous cast member.
Two for the Road (1967)
Details Joanna and Mark Wallace’s (Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney) marriage, out of order, as they try to understand what went wrong.
Shutter Island (2010)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo are US Marshals sent to ShutterIsland, an asylum for the criminally insane to find a missing patient. But what is really going on?
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
George Clooney as Everett, breaks free from a chain gang, still chained to Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and takes them on a search for treasure. A Coen Brothers film.
The Apartment (1960)
C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lets his bosses use his apartment for their affairs, until one of them hurts the girl he has a crush on (young Shirley MacLaine).
The Blues Brothers (1980)
The late John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd star as a pair of brothers who elude the cops in order to put on a concert to benefit an orphanage. Star-studded cameos from 1960s and 70s music stars.
The Prestige (2006)
Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) becomes consumed with knowing how his rival Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) does his greatest trick and create one to top him. You won’t be able to figure it out either.
Charleton Heston stars in this epic set in Roman times. He is sold into slavery, and through imprisonment as a rower on a ship and a driver in chariot races, he vows his revenge.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Tarantino’s latest film is set in WWII. French Jew Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent) vows revenge on the Nazi officer who killed her family (Christoph Waltz) and plans to attack him at a movie premiere the same night as Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and underdcover German actress (Diane Kruger) set a trap for him.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The fifth film in the series and the second to be made finds Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) fighting the empire led by the evil Darth Vader and his second death star once more. My personal favorite of the series.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
A quirky family (with Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin) drive their equally quirky daughter (Abigail Breslin) to a beauty pageant.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) is kidnapped by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and Fezzik (Andre the Giant) from her evil fiancé Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) and saved by the Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes).
Double Indemnity (1944)
Insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) and bored wife Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck) plot to kill her husband and collect the insurance money.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Audrey Hepburn plays Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower seller who is taken under the wing of Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) and taught to speak proper English in this musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. Nobody in this movie can sing, but it’s still stunning.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The second installment of Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the Batman legends. Christian Bale plays Batman/Bruce Wayne, Maggie Gyllenhaal, his unrequited love Rachel (replacing Katie Holmes from the first movie), and Aaron Eckhart, Harvey Dent, the DA and Rachel’s new love interest. Dent is intent on cleaning up GothamCity, and the newest villain is the Joker (Heath Ledger’s last, legendary performance).
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
The six British comedians play King Arthur and his knights of the round table in this trademark silly satire.
The popular girls in this high school all happen to be named Heather, but when new kid J.D. (Christian Slater) shows up and starts dating reluctant Heather (Winona Ryder), kids start dying.
The Godfather (1972)
The original, the epic, tells the story of the head of a mob family (Marlon Brando) and his sons (Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert de Niro), who seek his approval.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
Commonly regarded as the third in Leone’s series of westerns starring Clint Eastwood, this one names Eastwood Blondie, his partner Eli Wallach as Tuco, and Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes, all in search of treasure.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Gene Kelly stars in this landmark musical about the transition movies made from silent to talkies.
White Christmas (1954)
One of the best movie-musicals to come out of Hollywood in the 50s, featuring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a singing duo who team up with a female singing sisters, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, and all fall in love.
Back to the Future (1985)
Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invents time travel, and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) tests it out, accidentally meeting his parents in 1955 and getting between them. The first in the trilogy.
The Cameraman (1928)
Buster Keaton, silent film’s greatest comedian, stars as a man who wants to become a news cameraman to be near a pretty girl.
Citizen Kane (1941)
A rich man dies and a news reporter goes back through his life to understand why his last word was “Rosebud.” Classic directed by and starring Orson Welles.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Golddigger Lorelei (Marilyn Monroe) takes a trip to Paris with her friend Dorothy (Jane Russell), trailed by a private detective hired by her fiancé.
The Big Sleep (1946)
Bogie and Bacall’s second time in a movie together, right before their marriage. Bogie plays a private detective hired by a rich family. True film noir; based on the novel by Raymond Chandler.
Les Choristes (2004)
A new teacher at a strict boys’ school starts a choir.
Amelie is a kind young woman living alone, who decides to help others to keep them from being alone and ends up helping herself.
Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Hepburn stars as a princess who runs away in Rome and is shown the city by reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who instead of selling her story, falls in love with her. Hepburn was 19 when she was made this, her first movie, and won an Academy Award.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Katharine Hepburn is heiress Susan, who chases geeky paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant) and hilarity ensues.
Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) returns to Paris to find her husband dead and money missing. Mysterious Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) shows up to help.
The Children’s Hour (1961)
Karen (Hepburn) and Martha (MacLaine) run a girls’ school, and a spiteful student’s accusations ruin their lives.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Brothers Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman take a train trip across India to reconnect. A Wes Anderson film.
His Girl Friday (1940)
Rosalind Russell stars as newspaperwoman Hildy Johnson, who is getting ready to re-marry, but her ex-husband and editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant) uses a story to get her back.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Two men meet on a train and one proposes to the other that they kill for each other. He begins to plot, attempting to pull off the perfect murders. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
The Third Man (1949)
A man looks into the death of an old friend in post-WWII Vienna, and gets tangled up. With Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles.
Johnny (Cary Grant) meets a woman on vacation and they become engaged. She takes him home to meet her rich family, and he falls in love with her rebellious sister, played by Katharine Hepburn.
Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) is recruited by American spy Devlin (Cary Grant) to discover what weapon a South American Nazi spy ring, led by Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), has discovered.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
With the amazing Myrna Loy and Teresa Wright, it is a story in true epic fashion. It follows the lives of three veterans returning home from WWII.
The Little Foxes (1941)
Starring Bette Davis and Teresa Wright. From the play written by the brilliant Lillian Hellman (The Children’s Hour). It tells the story of a ruthless Southern family at the turn of the century. More American than Death of a Salesman.
King Kong (1933)
The original adventure film. The 2005 version with Naomi Watts and Jack Black was an almost scene for scene knock off. It’s still exciting, and the special effects are impressive for the time.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
With Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur turning in astounding performances, this movie about a rookie senator crusading for the truth will make anyone feel patriotic.
101 Dalmatians (1961)
The story of an awkward couple brought together by their beloved Dalmatians is turned sour when the evil Cruella de Ville decides she wants a fur coat made out of Dalmatian puppies!
The Sword in the Stone (1963)
How a young King Arthur, awkward youth that he was, met Merlin and his faithful owl Archimedes.
Disney’s 1001 Arabian Nights tale, heavily influence by Douglas Fairbanks’ 1924 silent, The Thief of Bagdad. Featuring the voice of Robin Williams and music by Alan Menken.
Finding Nemo (2003)
A clownfish (who’s a bit of a square) goes in search of his missing son and is helped by endearing and quirky sea creatures.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
George Raft turned it down. Edward G. Robinson turned it down. No one had ever heard of Sydney Greenstreet. This brilliant and unexpected film, written and directed by John Huston, skyrocketed Humphrey Bogart to box office fame and founded the film noir detective genre.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Once again the wonderful pairing of John Huston and Humphrey Bogart. Huston coaxes a genuine performance out of both Bogie and Huston’s own father, Walter. Filmed in Mexico, it tells the story of a group of men in search of gold.
The Petrified Forest (1936)
Humphrey Bogart’s first role in a Hollywood film (the producers didn’t want him, but co-star Leslie Howard insisted). Bette Davis runs a gas station in the desert, and falls in love with Howard when he stops by. The gas station is held up by Duke Mantee, a bank robber on the run, played to perfection by Bogie.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Whatever may or may not be true about Joan Crawford’s personal life, she is a superb actress. This film noir tells the story of a working mother—when there were no working mothers—and her spoiled daughter (Ann Blyth). Re-made by HBO as a mini-series in 2011 starring Kate Winslet.
Stalag 17 (1953)
The original POW movie, AND the original “I am Spartacus” movie. (They all stand up and take the blame… like Tony Curtis in Spartacus… never mind.)
The Misfits (1961)
In addition to being thoughtful and sad, it is also the last screen appearance of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Gable died 10 days after filming ended and Monroe shortly after. It was also on TV the night co-star Montgomery Clift died years later. His last words were a refusal to watch it.
The Departed (2006)
A star-studded, Martin Scorsese-directed Boston mob/cop movie. The best movie Scorsese has directed in a long time, and the best movie about the Irish mob in Boston in even longer. Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiglia, and Jack Nicholson. Twisted and intriguing.
Starring Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent (of Inglorious Basterds fame), and Christopher Plummer, this movie tells the story of Oliver, a man struggling to deal with his father’s recent death and to start a relationship with a French actress. Compounded by his father’s admission that he is gay, and his late father’s Jack Russell, Arthur’s attachment to him, the story is told beautifully with the camera. Long streaks of sadness run through it.
On the Waterfront (1954)
The unbeatable team of Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando create this gritty, naturalistic story of an ex-prize fighter. Many see this as Kazan’s apology for cooperating with HUAC.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Jimmy Stewart returns to movies from fighting in WWII. This holiday comedy classic is consistently ranked high as a family movie, but it actually dark and thoughtful, marking a shift in Stewart’s career.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
The movie that rocketed William Holden to fame. Holden is a washed up screenwriter who takes up with a much older washed up silent movie star. Check out cameos by other silent stars as the Waxworks.
All About Eve (1950)
Bette Davis plays an older Broadway star who is pushed out of the spotlight and her own life by a younger starlet. It spawned a Broadway musical in the 1970’s called Applause, which earned Lauren Bacall a Best Actress Tony.
Marion Crane, on the run, stumbles into the Bates Motel one rainy night, and when she disappears, the come looking for her. The scenes everyone knows don’t even do the cinematography in this movie justice. Brilliant. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates; Janet Leigh as Marion Crane; Vera Miles as Lila Crane (a consolation prize for getting pregnant and not being able to star in Vertigo).
The General (1926)
Buster Keaton is an endearing sap once more. The only thing he loves more than his girl is his train engine, and when the Yankees steal it, he’s off on a chase to get The General back.
Easy Living (1937)
The perfect screwball comedy. Edward Arnold plays the rotund, blustery “Santa Claus,” and Jean Arthur, in top form, plays the happy-go-lucky, down-on-her-luck girl who suddenly finds her luck changed. Ray Milland provides the perfect complement to Arthur’s comedy.
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
While not Buster’s best film in terms of story, it is worth watching, if only for the brilliant stunts and special effects. This was the last film Buster made as an independent, and the last in which he did all of his own stunts, before moving to MGM. Here he is at his acrobatic best.
Our Hospitality (1923)
Based on the Hatfield/McCoy feud, this Buster Keaton film is one of his best in terms of story and plot. Buster is at his cleverest as he evades the Canfield brothers.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Based on the stage play of the same name, this film showcases the comic genius of Cary Grant, Josephine Hull, Peter Lorre, Priscilla Lane, and Jean Adair. Mortimer Brewster, a sworn bachelor, falls for the minister’s daughter and marries her, only to find out that his doting, match-making aunts are also polite murderers.
Private Lives (1931)
Norma Shearer plays opposite Robert Montgomery in Noel Coward’s marriage comedy. Ex-spouses Elyot and Amanda find themselves honeymooning at the same hotel with their new spouses. Norma Shearer proves she can hold her own against the ever on-his-toes Robert Montgomery. ‘Don’t quibble, Sybil!’
Without Love (1945)
I’m just going to say it: this is one Tracy-Hepburn film I like better than Woman of the Year. Classic plot: two scientists get married for convenience, swearing off of love forever. Of course they are perfect for each other, and eventually realize it. The plot may be predictable, but Katie and Spence still manage to shine. And Keenan Wynn’s imitation of a drunk man is not to be missed.
Robert Mitchum in the role he was born to play: a rapist who once released from prison, menaces Gregory Peck and family, as the stand-up lawyer who put Mitchum away. What better casting could you get? Great suspense.
Now, Voyager (1942)
Its name comes from a poem, and it is beautiful like a poem. Somehow, all of the crazy coincidences seem believable because there is something so real here. It is the story of a lonely woman who finally finds love. We all sort of feel like her sometimes.
Love Crazy (1941)
MGM was capitalizing on the success of the William Powell-Myrna Loy pairing that was so successful in the Thin Man films, and this script is perfect for them. Powell imitates a tea pot, frees all of the top hats, and dresses up as a woman.
Children of Men (2006)
No more children are born, until Clive Owen runs across the last pregnant woman.
Paris Je T’aime (2006)
New York, I Love You (2009)
Two collections of shorts about love in the greatest cities for love.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
It is a crime that Daniel Day-Lewis does not get every role in Hollywood. He is amazing. “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!”
Young Man With a Horn (1950)
I thought this would be a sappy movie, but the performances are amazing. And the jazz is jumpin’.