Tosy and Cosh did this a while back (most recently here, so he has three posts still to go in his series), and ever one to follow the lemmings off the cliff*, I figure I’ll do it as well. This series of posts will enumerate one hundred movies that I really really really like a whole whole lot, in no real order at first (although as this series grinds on toward my personal Top Ten, I’ll start thinking more about rank), plus a signature moment, line, or bit of dialogue from each that stands out in my head.
So anyhow, without further ado, here are numbers 100 through 91 on my list of Movies You’d Better Love Or You’re A Giant Pinhead:
100. A Room with a View
It’s been years since I watched this, but it always stands out strong in my memory. It was actually recommended to me during the summer of 1987, when I was attending a music camp; this hippie-type guy (I wasn’t a hippie-type myself at the time, just a misfit dork) was talking about movies, and he described A Room with a View as “a movie that made him want to fall in love”. Even then I was a Romantic-in-waiting (remember, even then I’d discovered my deep affinity with Hector Berlioz), so I rented this as soon as I got back from the camp. And yes, it made me want to fall in love. Did I? Eventually.
Signature line: “He’s sounding the eternal yes.” It’s such a weird line — never once have I understood even a little just what the heck the “eternal yes” may be — but Denholm Elliot says this like it’s the most natural thing in the world. I love it when a movie can say something like this and not have me think, “What?!”
99. When Harry Met Sally…
There’s just something so right about this movie’s belief in friendship as a precursor to love. There’s also something so right about this movie’s belief in two completely neurotic people, who are neurotic in completely different ways, being so perfect for one another. I can’t think of a single mis-step this movie takes, really. (And it could have — if you get the DVD, check out the deleted scenes, at least a couple of which are awful.)
Signature line: “You made a woman meow?” For some reason, I actually find that line (by Bruno Kirby) funnier than Estelle Reiner’s famous punchline for the orgasm-in-the-deli scene.
98. The Guns of Navarone
Another terrific movie I haven’t seen in far too long. I rented it in high school, the first time I saw it, mainly out of curiosity. I’d heard of this WWII action movie, but I knew nothing at all about it. I sat down to watch it and was hooked in the first ten minutes. I loved how it took its time with its story, introducing its characters and letting their various personalities interact and clash, all the while honing in on their ultimate mission. It’s just a classy, classy film of the type you don’t much see anymore.
Signature sequence: I can’t remember any specific dialogue from the movie, but the entire last half hour of the movie is riveting.
97. The Love Bug
Cheesy Disney goodness! Many a fine afternoon as a kid was spent seeing the live-action Disney flicks of the late 60s or early 70s (when they were re-released or showed up on teevee, mostly). There’s just something nifty about this tale of the sentient VW Beetle that always makes me smile. If there’s a more pathetic scene in movie history than Herbie’s attempt at suicide by jumping off a bridge, I haven’t seen it!
Signature line: “Think about what you’re saying,” the Buddy Hackett character says to Dean Jones the first time Jones is directly addressing Herbie as if he’s alive.
96. The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers
Every fantasy or adventure movie with a comedic touch to it nowadays is always said to be channeling the spirit of The Princess Bride, but really, The Princess Bride looks back to these two movies (shot as one, which is why I count them together). Just grand, great fun.
Signature moment: When D’Artagnan leaps out the window of the upper-floor room to chase after the man who’d previously assaulted him…only to land on the repair scaffolding directly outside said window.
95. The Sound of Music
So, so cheesy…and how I love it so! From that first opening sweep over the Alps, finally settling in on that one hilltop meadow where Julie Andrews regales us with the film’s title number (before the opening credits even roll). About the only thing I don’t like about the film is Liesl’s singing voice — and Captain Von Trapp’s attempt to appeal to Rolf’s better nature always rings false when I watch it, seeing as how the only times they interact before that, the Captain doesn’t seem to give two shits about Rolf. But I digress….
Signature exchange: “It’s so easy to like Maria…except for when it’s difficult!”
94. Mary Poppins
I really think that two things keep this movie from being considered one of the great musicals of all time: the Disney logo, which pretty much automatically files it under the “Family/Children’s Movie” label for all time, and Dick Van Dyke. I’ve never been a big fan of Van Dyke’s (although later on in this list there will be a movie of his that I really do like him in), and his Cockney antics here get a bit distracting at various points in the proceedings. But other than that, the movie’s loaded with terrific numbers, and the fantasy content is just superb with the fully-realized worlds within London existing, unsuspected, just a short distance from the childrens’ bedrooms.
Signature sequence: Any time Julie Andrews opens her mouth.
93. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
And here’s the movie where I actually like Dick Van Dyke. This movie’s overlong, with an introduction that goes on for something like an hour, but once the car shows up, it gets a lot more fun, even if it is basically a tale being told by Van Dyke as opposed to actually happening. The film is beautiful to behold, and frankly, I could look at Sally Ann Howes as Truly Scrumptious (Ian Fleming and his suggestive names for female characters, yeesh….) all day long!
Signature sequence: The unveiling of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
92. Whale Rider
I can barely describe this movie. I found its tale of a young Maori girl’s attempt to overcome the rigid traditions of her people captivating and magical.
Signature moment: I don’t want to describe it…but if you watch the movie, you’ll know it when it happens.
91. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I haven’t yet seen Order of the Phoenix, so I may be wrong, but so far this is the best of the Potter films. It helps that it was the best of the books, too — but the film is just rock solid from start to finish. After the first two were helmed by Chris Columbus, new director Alfonso Cuaron toned down the schmaltz and highlighted the tale’s darker elements. The first two films, while quite well done, often seemed to be trying so hard to please all the Potter fans in the world; Prisoner of Azkaban, on the other hand, has confidence in its own story and tells it with flair and drama. It’s also no accident that Prisoner boasts John Williams’s finest score of his three Potter efforts, since Williams always responds best to darker story material and since Chris Columbus always brings out the saccharine in Williams. (Really: my least favorite Williams scores are all for Columbus’s movies.)
Signature scene: When Prof. Lupin teaches the kids to defend against the Boggart. Watch this movie and try to figure out when you’re looking at a reflection in the mirror!
And there’s our first installment. Next time, movies 81-90.
* I know, the lemmings don’t really commit intentional mass suicide. No corrections, please!
UPDATE: Well, I wrote this a couple of days ago, so wouldn’t you know that just when I finally publish it, the Cosh Bros. go and update their list. Tsk, tsk.