Johnny Foreigner
“I make the list for myself, not for anybody else. I am sure than Eisenstein’s “The Battleship Potemkin” is a great film, but it’s not going on my list simply so I can impress people.” – Roger Ebert


d. Victor Fleming
Arlen & Harburg's music and lyrics; Judy ( ! ) Everything about the making of this film, particularly the casting, was miraculous,IMDBWiki
d. John Ford
Wales ( ! ) The Morgan family, boxer Dai Bando socking Huw's abuser;
Welsh choral singing, Maureen O'Hara ( ! ) young Roddy McDowall
d. Mike Curtiz
Bogie ( ! ) Dooley Wilson's "As Time Goes By", Ingrid Bergman ( ! ) The Marseillaise scene; Claude Rains ( ! ); the lines: "Here's looking at you, kid" & "We'll always have Paris"IMDBWiki
d. Frank Capra
Capra's style as one "of almost classical purity"; Jimmy Stewart, Zuzu's petals, Barrymoore's "Mr. Potter"; Best love scene ever is Stewart & Donna Reed on the phoneIMDBWiki
d. Elia Kazan
ON THE WATERFRONT ; Kazan, Brando ( ! ) Leonard Bernstein's thrilling & beautiful music; Steiger & Brando in the cab: “I coulda been a contenderIMDBWiki
d. Billy Wilder
THE APARTMENT; Jack Lemmon, The theme song; "Efficiency-wise, cookie-wise, Kubelik-wise" lines; The Ending scene with Miss Kubelik running back to the apartment IMDBWiki
d. Robert Mulligan
Gregory Peck, Harper Lee's story, Elmer Bernstein's sublime score , When Scout says, "Hey, Boo"IMDBWiki
d. Alfred Hitchcock
Tippi Hendren ( ! ) , Hitchcock ( ! ) Mrs. Bundy, the ornithologist (Ethel Griffies); the underrated Rod Taylor; The "Why are they doing this?" lady; Bodega Bay.
d. Peter Bogdanovich
THE LAST PICTURE SHOW ; Black & White brilliance from Bridges, Bottoms, Burstyn, and LeachmanIMDBWIKI
d. Norman Jewison
The entire cast of "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" is terrific -especially Alan Arkin and Carl Reiner. “Emergency! Everybody to get from street!IMDBWiki
d. Hal Ashby
Bud Court's "Harold", Ruth Gordon's "Maude", Cat Stevens' music - "Aim above morality" -Maude; Dating Survey scene with Vivian PicklesIMDBWiki
d. Francis Ford Coppola
THE GODFATHER Pt I & II: Brando, DeNiro, Pacino, Italo-American culture; "Leave the gun, take the cannoli”IMDBWiki
d. William Friedkin
THE EXORCIST: Friedkin's direction, Blatty's novel, Ellen Burstyn's pure acting brilliance; Mark Kermode podcastIMDBWiki
d. Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, perfect cast. Gene Hackman as blind man, "Wait. Where are you going? I was going to make Espresso"IMDBWiki
d. Elaine May
THE HEARTBREAK KID: Elaine May ( ! ) ; Charles Grodin & Jeannie Berlin are amazing; Scene: "No pecan pie?!!" WATCH ONLINE
d. Steven Spielberg
Spielberg ( ! ) Robert Shaw's "Quint", Murray Hamilton's "Mayor"; The Indianapolis Speech scene; Martha's Vineyard; Quint crushing a 'GansettIMDBWiki
d. Bill Forsyth
LOCAL HERO: Bill Forsyth, Scotland, Mark Knofler's amazing soundtrack, Line: "Oh yes, a great asset" ; Burt Lancaster; Line:"I'll make a good Gordon, Gordon"IMDBWiki
d. James Ivory
A ROOM WITH A VIEW is James Ivory at his best, Puccini, Verdi, Italy. The great Denholm Elliott ( ! )Scene: The Kiss in the Poppy FieldIMDBWiki
d. Woody Allen
Woody's best;. Michael Caine ( ! ); soundtrack of Big Band jazz; Diane Wiest ( ! ) Line: "If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."IMDBWiki
d. Joel & Ethan Coen
THE BIG LEBOWSKI: Joel & Ethan Coen ( ! ); Goodman's "Walter Sobchak"; "The Dude" Nearly every line is memorable, including "this aggression will not stand, man."IMDBWiki

Didn’t Make Johnny’s Final Cut:

• No William Shakespeare? “Villain, I have done thy mother!”

Of course, I read Bill Shakespeare in high school and college, and I’ve even seen a few of his plays performed onstage. Usually I get a popsicle-headache halfway through either the read or theater experience. This is NOT the case with these three terrific movie adaptations, and all three nearly missed my Top 20:

  •  “Romeo and Juliet” (1967 Franco Zeffirelli)
  •  “Tempest” (1982 Paul Mazursky) starring John Cassevettes, Gena Rowlands, Raul Julia, Susan Sarandon, and Molly Ringwald.
  • “Much Ado About Nothing” (2012 Kenneth Branaugh)

• Not One of My Favorite Current Movie-Makers
Missing from my Top 20 are Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, Isle of Dogs); Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor, Win, Win); or Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways, The Descendants) How can this be? All these directors and their best work were considered, but just missed. However, I’ve listed my “Top 10 Films of the Past 20 Years” at the end of this post, and each of these are represented.

• No Monty Clift, No James Dean, and No Steve McQueen

Impossible! I spent most of my youth trying to BE these guys! Perhaps I DID become them and hence don’t feel the need to watch my own movies.  My favorites of these three? “Clift as Robert E. Lee Prewitt in “From Here to Eternity” (1953); Dean as Cal Trask in  “East of Eden” (1957), and McQueen as “Boon Hogganbeck” in “The Reivers” (1969)

• No French films in my Top 20, “C’est absurde!” 

“Amélie” (2001,Jean-Pierre Jeunet)  and “Incendies” (2010, Denis Villeneuve) came very close. An admission – I’ve not seen many French classics, not Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows,” nor Jean Renoir’s “Grand Illusion.” However, I HAVE seen Bob Hope in “Paris Holiday” (1958) which features a thousand bad jokes delivered in snarky Hope-style … AND Anita Ekberg! Love that! But not Top 20.

• Toughest Call: 

– Elaine May’s “Heartbreak Kid” (1972) over her former partner Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate” (1967) But the right decision was made!

Rather than make an endless list of “Honorable Mentions,” here are a bunch of small lists that cover about 50 additional “near-misses” – all films that I  really love:

Remakes Even Better Than the Excellent Originals

• “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978 Philip Kaufman) over (1956 Done Siegel)

• “Parent Trap” (1998 Nancy Meyers) over (1961, David Swift) *** My daughter can recite the entire “Parent Trap” from start to finish.

• “Heaven Can Wait” (1978, Warren Beatty, Buck Henry) over (1941 “Here Comes Mr. Jordan”)

• “True Grit” (2010, Coen Brothers) over (1969, Henry Hathaway)

Great Recent Films from/about Middle-East/Islam

• “Incendies” (2010, Denis Villeneuve)

• “Of Gods and Men” (2010, Xavier Beauvois)

• “A Separation” (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

• “Wadjda” (2012 Haifaa Al Mansour)

Best Holiday Movies

• “It’s a Wonderful Life”

• “Groundhog Day” (1993, Harold Ramis)

• “Comfort and Joy” (1984, Bill Forsyth)

• “Trains, Panes And Automobiles” (1987,John Hughes)

• “Scrooge” (1970 Ronald Neame)

• “A Christmas Story” (1983, Bob Clark)

• “Home For the Holidays (1995, Jodie Foster)

• “The Family Stone (2005, Thomas Bezucha)

Politically Correct. Really

• John Ford “Grapes of Wrath” (1940)

• Stanley Kramer “On the Beach” (1959)

• Stanley Kubrick “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)

• Martin Ritt “The Front” (1976)

• Hal Ashby “Coming Home” (1978)

• Nicholas Hytner “The Crucible” (1996)

• Most everything by Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and The Dardenne brothers

Favorite Disney Non-Animated

• “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier” (1955,  Norman Foster)

• “Dr. Syn, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” (1963, James Neilson)

• “The Three Lives of Thomasina” (1963, Don Chaffey)

• “Summer Magic” (1963, James Neilson)

• “Ringo the Refugee Raccoon” (1974 Roy Disney; Narrated Rex Allen)

Dysfunctional Family Flicks that Make Mine Feel Functional

• “Ordinary People” (1980, Robert Redford)
• “Distant Voices, Still Lives” (1988 Terrance Davies)

• “Festen” (A Celebration) (1998, Thomas Vinterberg)

• “The Squid and the Whale” (2005, Noah Baumbach)

You Should Be Dancing

• Carey Grant and Sophia Loren slow dance to Sam Cooke singing “Almost In Your Arms” in “Houseboat”

• Anna Karina, Sami Frey, and Claude Brasseur dancing “the Madison” in the French classic “Bande à Part” (Band of Outsiders, 1964)

• Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn and ensemble in West Side Story’s “Dance at the Gym” (music Leonard Bernstein)

• Rosie Perez dances to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” during the opening credits “Do the Right Thing” (Spike Lee, 1989)

Ich Liebe Dich

• “Bagdad Cafe” aka “Out of Rosenheim” (1987, Percy Adlon)

• “Wings of Desire”  aka “Der Himmel über Berlin” (1987, Wim Wenders)

• “The Nasty Girl”  aka “Das schreckliche Mädchen” (1990, Michael Verhoeven)

• “Run Lola Run” aka “Lola Rennt” (1998, Tom Tykwer)

Siblings Double-Feature

• “Men Don’t Leave” (1990, Paul Brickman) with Joan Cusack & “Say Anything” (1989, Cameron Crowe) with John Cusack

• “Splendor in the Grass ” (1961, Elia Kazan) with Warren Beatty & “Terms of Endearment” (1983, James L. Brooks) with Shirley MacLaine

• “Pope of Greenwich Village” (1984, Stuart Rosenberg) with Eric Roberts & “Erin Brocovitch” (2000, Steven Soderbergh) with Julia Roberts

• “Secretary” (2002) with Maggie Gyllenhaal & “Brokeback Mountain” (2005 Ang Lee)  with Jake Gyllenhaal

3 Terrific Adaptations of Roald Dahl

• “Matilda” (1996, Danny Devito)

• Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1972, Mel Stuart)

• “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009, Wes Anderson)

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

• “Sound of Music” (1965 Robert Wise)

• “West Side Story” – (1961 Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise)

• “Camelot (1967 Joshua Logan)

• “Oliver!” (1968 Carol Reed)

• “The Music Man” (1962 Morton DaCosta)

Yes, Sister

• “Lillies of the Field” (1963 Ralph Nelson)

• “Trouble With Angels” (1966, Ida Lupino)

• “Heaven Knows Mr. Allison” (1957, John Huston)

• “Doubt” (2008, John Patrick Shanley)

• “Dead Man Walking” (1995, Tim Robbins)

• “The Magdalene Sisters” (2002, Peter Mullan)

• “Ida” (2014,Pawel Pawlikowski)

The Piano Has Been Drinking

• “Day of Wine and Roses” (1962 Blake Edwards)

• “My Name is Joe” (1998, Ken Loach)

• “Tender Mercies (1983, Bruce Beresford)

• “Postcards From the Edge” (1990, Mike Nichols)

• “Withnail and I” (1997 Bruce Robinson)

• “Affliction (1997 Paul Schrader)

Put Another Shrimp on the Barbie 

• “Walkabout” (1971, Nicolas Roeg)

• “Picnic At Hanging Rock” (1975,Peter Weir)

• “A Cry in the Dark” (1988 Fred Schepisi) featuring the line “A Dingo ate my baby!”

• “Strickly Ballroom” (1992, Baz Luhrmann)

• “Muriel’s Wedding” (1994, PJ Hogan)

• “An Angel at My Table” (Jane Campion, 1990)

• “Babe” (1995, Chris Noonan) featuring the line  “That’ll do, pig…that’ll do”)

• “The Babadook” (Jennifer Kent 2014)

Tusen Tak

• “The Celebration” aka  “Festen,” Denmark. (1998, Thomas Vinterberg)

• “Babette’s Feast” aka “Babettes gæstebud,” Denmark. (1987, Gabriel Axel)

• “Fanny and Alexander,” Sweden. (1982, Ingmar Bergman)

• “My Life as a Dog” aka “Mitt liv som hund,” Sweden. (1985, Lasse Hallström)

• “Breaking the Waves,” Denmark. (1996, Lars von Trier)

• “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” aka  “Män som hatar kvinnor” Sweden(2009, Niels Arden Oplev)

• “Happy, Happy” aka “Sykt lykkelig,” Norway. (2010, Anne Sewitsky)

• “Force Majeure,” Sweden. (2014, Ruben Östlund)

Stayed in Theater While Others Walked Out  

• “Nil By Mouth” (1997, Gary Oldman)

• “Once Were Warriors” (1994, Lee Tamahori)

My Date Walked Out

• “Blue Velvet” (1986, David Lynch)

I Walked Out

• “Away We Go” (2009, Sam Mendes)

• “Hook” (1991 Spielberg)

• “The Wiz” (1978 Sidney Lumet)

Really Good Movies Featuring William Hurt Playing a Real Dick

• “The Big Chill (1983 Lawrence Kasden)

• “Children of a Lesser God” (1986 Randa Haines)

• “Broadcast News” (1987 James L Brooks)

• “The Accidental Tourist” (1988 Lawrence Kasden)

• “One True Thing” (1998 Carl Franklin)

• “Rare Birds” (2001 Sturla Gunnarsen)

• “The Doctor” (2001, Randa Haines)

“They! Who the Hell is ‘They?’”

• Stagecoach (1939, John Ford)

• Rio Bravo (1959, Howard Hawks)

• Cat Ballou (1965, Elliot Silverstein)

• Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 1969)

• The Appaloosa (1966, Sidney J. Furie)

• The Magnificent Seven (1969 John Sturges)

• The Wild Bunch (1969, Sam Pekinpaugh)

• True Grit (2010, Coen Brothers)
*** Note: I don’t much like Spaghetti Westerns, but I love Ennio Morricone’s music

You Should Be Dancing II

•  Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow and Alan Cumming dance to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” in “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” (1997) If you’ve seen this, you know.
• “The Doctor” (Randa Haines, 1991)  Elizabeth Perkins and William Hurt heartbreaking dance in the desert to Laurie Anderson’s “Strange Angels”
• Roller skate dance to Cajun fiddle in “Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)

• Greta Gerwig dancing through New York streets over David Bowie’s “Modern Love” in “Frances Ha” (Noah Baumbach 2013)
• Mark Whalberg and John C. Reilly in “Boogie Nights” (P.T. Anderson 1997) disco dance scene.

• “Strictly Ballroom” (Baz Luhrman 1989) characters Fran and Scott practicing their dance steps to “Time After Time” (again this song!)

• Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell (“Broadway Melody of 1940”) The jukebox dance. Greatest ever.

“They call me Mr. Tibbs!”
Best of Sidney Poitier (1961-1978)

• “Brother John” (1971, James Golstone)

• “In the Heat of the Night” (1967, Norman Jewison)

• “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967)

• “To Sir With Love” (1967, James Clavel)

• “A Patch of Blue” (1965, Guy Green)

• “Lilies of the Field” (1963, Homer Smith)

• “The Defiant Ones” (1958, Stanley Kramer)

Random Hilarious Scenes

• “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones) – “Make sure the prince doesn’t leave the room until I come and get him” scene

• “The Producers” (1967, Mel Brooks) – the Hitlers audition.

• “Groundhog Day” (1993, Harold Ramis) Dressed in spaghetti western garb, Bill Murray as “Phil” meets his date in front of the movie theater (“I told you to call me Broco…”)  and proceeds to buy tickets at the ticket window  “that’ll be one adult and …” (date wearing a tiny french maid’s costume interrupts) “thats TWO adults..”
• Best In Show (2000, Christopher Guest) Parker Posey attempting to purchase a “busy bee” replacement

• Catch 22 (1970, Mike Nichols) Alan Arkin, Richard Benjamin, Orson Welles. The entire “A chair for the lady” scene. Welles: “There’ll be no more moaning in this outfit… the next man who moans is going to be very sorry.” Benjamin moans. Welles: “Take him out and shoot him”

Unforgettable Movie Characters of the 1970s

• Jack Nicholson as “Bad Ass” Budusky in  “The Last Detail” (1973, Hal Ashby)

• Ben Johnson as “Ben the Lion” in “The Last Picture Show” (1971, Peter Bogdanovich)

• Gene Hackman as “Max” in “Scarecrow” (1973, Jerry Shatzberg)

• Diane Keaton as “Annie Hall” (1977, Woody Allen)

• Gene Wilder as “Willy Wonka” (1971, Mel Stuart)

• Robert Duval as “Lt. Col. ‘Bull’ Meechum” in “The Geat Santini” (1979, Lewis John Carlino)
• Peter Finch as “Howard Beale” in “Network” (Sidney Lumet, 1976)

• Robert Shaw as “Quint” in “Jaws”(1974, Speilburg)

• John Casale as “Sal” in “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975, Sidney Lumet)

• Robert DeNiro as “Travis Bickle” in “Taxi Driver” (Martin Scorcese, 1976)

• Gena Rowlands as “Mabel Longhetti” in “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974, John Cassavetes)

How Did this Guy Turn into THIS Guy?

• Cameron Crowe “Almost Famous” vs. Cameron Crow “We Bought a Zoo,” “Elizabethtown”

• Sam Mendes “American Beauty”  vs.  Sam Mendes “Away We Go”

• Peter Bogdanovich “The Last Picture Show” vs Peter Bogdanovich “At Long Last Love”

• M. Night Shyamalan “The Sixth Sense” vs. M. Night Shyamalan “Lady in the Water”

• Baz Luhrmann “Strictly Ballroom” vs. Baz Luhrmann “Australia”

• Jon Landis “An American Werewolf in London” vs Jon Landis “The Stupids”

• Lucille Ball (television) vs. Lucille Ball (movies)

These Filmmakers’ Lesser-Known Films are Awesome

• Coen Brothers “Hudsucker Proxy”

• Martin Scorcese “After Hours”;  “King of Comedy” and “A Letter to Elia”

• Wes Anderson “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

• P.T. Anderson “Punch Drunk Love”

• Mike Leigh “High Hopes” and “Career Girls”

• Bill Forsyth “Comfort and Joy”

• Disney Studios/Pixar “Ratatouille”

• Woody Allen “Radio Days” and “Broadway Danny Rose”

Why I Am the Man I Am

• Sam Jafffe blowing the warning bugle before he dies courageously in “Gunga Din” (1939).

• Jackie Gleason as the mute “Gigot” (1962) punching himself in frustration.

• Jack Lemmon as “Ensign Pulver” throws overboard the prized palm tree of his Captain (James Cagney) in “Mister Roberts (1955).

• “Village of the Damned” (1960) Those little nazi-looking bastards with the huge eyes scared the shit out of me

• Maria Falconetti’s face as she is burned at the stake in “The Passion of Joan” (Dyer 1928)

• Davy Crocket (John Wayne) killed at “The Alamo.”

• Drive-in Horror, sex, and unspeakable claymation evil in “The Equinox” (1970)

Murray Hamilton – “Pompous, Cowardly, Corrupt, Obnoxious, Alcoholic – Villain of Awesomeness!”

• Obnoxious bully “Irving S. Blanchard” challenges the kind-hearted country bumpkin “Will Stockdale” (Andy Griffith) in “No Time for Sergeants” (1958)

• The cocky, pool-playing Kentucky millionaire identified as “Findley,” who challenges “Fast Eddy” (Paul Newman) in “The Hustler” (1961). Good luck with that, Findley.

• In “Houseboat” (1958, Melville Shavelson) the wealthy,lecherous drunk “Captain Alan Wilson” grabs the magnificent ass of “Cinzia” (Sophia Loren) who retaliates by throwing a drink in his face. Bravo Cinzia!

• Pompous and cowardly mayor “Larry Vaughn” in “Jaws”:

“I’m pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers.”

• Alcoholic, cowardly hypocrite “Mr. Robinson” in “The Graduate” (1967) “Just ‘shaking hands’? Well, that’s not saying much for my wife, is it?”

• The cowardly and corrupt oilman “J.H. Kilbourne,” again challenging Paul Newmnan (cool private investigator “Lew Harper”) in “The Drowning Pool” (1975):

“I’m not like most folks who get their kicks ‘head-on’. I sort of slide in sideways-like. In high school, they used to call me ‘The Crab'”

• Pompous/cynical priest who doesn’t believe “good” priest Rod Steiger in “The Amityville Horror” (1979)

• Compromised prison official challenging reformer “Henry Brubaker” (Robert Redford) in “Brubaker” (1980, Stuart Rosenberg)

*** Note: Murray Hamilton died of lung cancer at age 63 (1923–1986). Onscreen, he was never short of “perfect” playing the “pompous, cowardly, corrupt, obnoxious, alcoholic” villain. In life, he was regarded by his friends and peers as a lovely guy. RIP. 

Hugely Popular Movies I’ve Still Never Seen

• “2001 A Space Odessey (1968, Stanley  Kubrick)

• “Saturday Night Fever” (1977, John Badham)

• “Top Gun” (1986, Tony Scott)

• “Casino” (1995, Scorcese)

• Any hit movie with a “3” or “III” after the title


• Yip Harburg

• Julie Newmar

• Lee J. Cobb

• Rod Taylor

• Patrick McGoohan

• Carole Lombard

• Zohra Lampert

• Paula Prentis

• Kelly MacDonald

• Russ Tamblyn

• Buck Henry

• Melinda Dillon

• Kate Nelligan

• Jim Broadbent

• Amy Ryan

• Patricia Clarkson

What the hell happened?

• John Voight

I Can Shake a Chicken in the Middle of the Room

• Blackboard Jungle (1955, Richard Brooks)

• A Hard Day’s Night (1964 Richard Lester)

• The Harder They Come (1972 Perry Hensell)

• American Graffiti (1973 George Lucas)

• The Last Waltz (1978 Martin Scorcese)

• This Is Spinal Tap (1984 Rob Reiner)

• The Commitments (1991 Alan Parker)

The Apple Didn’t Fall Far From the Tree

• John Huston, director “The Matese Falcon”(1941), “Key Largo” (1948) “The African Queen” (1951) Actor, “Chinatown” (Polanski 1974)

– Angelica Huston, actress “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) “Prizzi’s Honor “(1985)

• Carl Reiner (writer, actor “The Russians Are Coming” director “The Jerk”)

– Rob Reiner (writer, director “This Is Spinal Tap” “The Princess Bride” “A Few Good Men”)

• John Mills (actor) “Ryan’s Daughter” (1970)
– Haley Mills, actress, “The Truth About Spring” (1965); “The Trouble with Angels” (1966)

• Ingrid Bergman “Casablanca” (1942, Curtiz) ;”Notorious” (1946, Hitchcock)

– Isabella Rosellini “Blue Velvet”(1986, David Lynch) “Fearless” (1993,Peter Weir)

• Tippi Hedren, actress “The Birds” (Hitchcock, 1963)

– Melanie Griffith, actress “Something Wild” (Jonathan Demme, 1986)

• John Casevettes. director “A Woman Under the Influence (1974), actor “Tempest”

– Nick Cassavetes  director “The Notebook” (2004)

• Alan Arkin (actor)  “Catch-22”, “The Russians Are Coming,The Russians Are Coming,” “Wait Until Dark”

– Adam Arkin (actor)  “Northern Exposure,”  “The Doctor”


Apple Fell Pretty Fucking Far From the Tree

Robert Mitchum (“Heaven Knows Mr. Alison”, “Night of the Hunter”, “Ryan’s Daughter”, “Donovan’s Reef”, “Cat Ballou”)

– Christopher Mitchum (1973’s “Rico and the Mean Machine” )


• “Departures” (Japan 2008)

I Don’t Get It?

• Robert Altman

• Kevin Smith

• Jodie Foster

• Remaking “Willy Wonka”

• Anthony Franco

Give Me That Old Time Religion

– Harry Dean Stanton singing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” in “Cool Hand Luke”

– Robert Duval singing “Wings of a Dove” in “Tender Mercies”

– Burt Lancaster singing “I’m on My Way” in “Elmer Gantry”

Maureen O’Hara Got My Irish Up

• “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1939 Wilhelm Dieterle)

• “How Green Was My Valley” (1941 John Ford)

• “The Quiet Man” (1952 John Ford)

• “Spencer’s Mountain” (1963  Delmer Daves)

• “The Parent Trap” (1961, Disney)

More Random Hilarious Scene

• “Shaun of the Dead” (2004, Edgar Wright) when Ed rewinds camera

• “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)  When Fox’s friend Kylie’s eyes would glaze over into pinwheels when he’s given critical information.

• “Dr. Strangelove” (1964, Stanley Kubrick) entire scene with Peter Sellers as “Mandrake” with Keenan Wynn as “Col. ‘Bat’ Guano”

• “The Royal Tennenbaums” (2001, Wes Anderson) when “Royal” (Gene Hackman) tells his wife “Ethel” (Angelica Huston) that he’s dying of cancer, then admits he’s not dying, then says he is dying.

• “Moonstruck” (1987, Norman Jewison) “It’s Johnny Cammareri,” – singsong announcement by “Rita Cappomaggi”

• “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987, John Hughes) Candy driving car, singing along to Ray Charles’ “Mess Around,” then falling asleep in a car he’s set on fire by attempting to toss a cigarette out the window

• “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984, Rob Reiner) –  “Stonehenge” scene

• “Bridesmaids” (2011) Kristin Wig on the plane.

So Bad They’re Good

• “FootLoose” (1984,Herbert Ross)

• “The Other Sister” (1991, Garry Marshal)

• “Nell” (1994, Michael Apted)

• “Twister”( Jan de Bont, 1996)

• “The Lady in the Water” (2006, M. Night Shyamalan)

• “Yours, Mine and Ours” (1968,  Melville Shavelson)

Starring Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda. “Yours, Mine and Ours” tagline: “When a widower with 10 children marries a widow with 8, can the 20 of them ever come together as one big happy family?” The writing and dialogue is sexist throughout, and nearly as unfunny as parenting 20 kids might actually be.  Generally makes “The Brady Bunch” look like “The Magnificent Ambersons.” It is AWESOME! Don’t pass it up if you see in on your cable guide!

So Bad You’ll Want to Puke

• “Hook” (Spielburg, 1991)

• “About a Boy” (Weitz, 2002)

• “Away We Go” (Mendes, 2009)

Excellent yet Disturbing Movies that Nearly Cost me Friends After Recommending

• “Requiem for a Dream” (2000, Darren Aronofsky)

• “Breaking the Waves” (1996, Lars Von Trier)

• “Ladybird, Ladybird” (1994, Ken Loach)

• “Nil by Mouth” (1997, Gary Oldman)

• “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (2011, Lynn Ramsay)

Greatest Performances in the Shittiest Movie

• Jim Carey “Grinch”

Best Movie with the Shittiest Title

• “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” (1993, Lasse Halstrom)

Food, Glorious Food

• Babette’s Feast (1987, Gabriel Axel)

• My Dinner With Andre (1981, Louis Malle)

• Like Water for Chocolate (1992, Alfonso Arau)

• The Big Night (1996, Sanley Tucci, Campbell Scott)

• Eat Drink, Man Woman (1994, Ang Lee)

• Mostly Martha (2001, Sandra Nettlebeck)

• Ratatouille (2006, Brad Bird)

• Waitress 2007, (Adrien Shelley)

• The Trip 2010, (Michael Winterbottom)

More Random Hilarious Scenes

• “Withnail & I” (1987, Bruce Robinson)  “Balls! We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!”

• Albert Brooks in “Broadcast News (1987, James L. Brooks)  “I can sing… while I read…I am singing, and reading  ..both.”

• Jack Lemmon in “The Out of Towners” (1970, Arthur Hiller) “Explain? What I’m doing in the bushes with a little boy? With my hands in his pockets?”

• “Happy Go Lucky” (Mike Leigh,2008)  Flamenco dance instructor meltdown. “This is my space!”
• “Office Space” (1999) Lumbergh: “I’m gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9, that would be great”

Grodin is King

• “Midnight Run” (1988) playing Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas. “I just wanna tell you that I have fear of flying.”

• “Heartbreak Kid” (1972) playing Lenny Cantrow “No pecan pie? No pecan pie?”

Stephen King’s “Carrie” (1977)

I paid for a movie ticket to see “Carrie” about 30 times in 1977. I was not so much a reader of Stephen King novels, nor a big fan of director Brian DePalma. In truth, as a teenager I was simply smitten with the celluloid images of Sissy Spacek and Amy Irving, and I had lots of extra time on my hands. (I also snuck into theaters often with pals Dick and Troy, avoiding paying the hefty $2 matinee ticket.)
“Carrie” was a great movie in a great movie year (1977 was the year of “Taxi Driver”, “Network”, and “Rocky,” among other notables.) The movie was based on a cool Stephen King novel, and DePalma chose a wonderful cast of good-looking 20-somethings (Spacek and Irving,  John Travolta, Billy Katt) for his leads. Spacek was nominated for an Oscar, and Piper Laurie also was nominated for her campy portrayal Carrie’s crazy mom. DePalma’s awesome “ending-that’s-not-quite-the-ending” would eventually became a horror flick cliche.

“Carrie” holds-up as a classic horror flick 30 years after it’s release, and it might be the most influential of that genre made post-Hitchcock. I still can recite the dialogue from  “Carrie” (I’ve used the line “take off that dress – we’ll burn it together and pray for forgiveness,” more than once.)
More than 50 of Stephen King’s stories have been made into movies. Three of these great movies almost made my Top 20, but just missed.

• “Carrie” (written by Stephen King 1974, directed by Brian DePalma 1977)

• “The Shining” (written by Stephen King 1977, directed by Stanley Kubrick 1980)

• “Shawshank Redemption” (written by Stephen King 1982, directed by Frank Darabont 1994)

My Top Ten Films of the Last 20 Years

• Groundhog Day (1993, Harold Ramis)

• Babe (Chris Noonan, 1995)

• Fargo (Coen Brothers, 1996)

• Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)

• The Big Lebowski (Coen Brothers, 1998)

• American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)

• The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999)

• Amélie (Jean Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

• The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy, 2003)

• In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)

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