... just singin' and dancin' in the rain!
A comment specifically designed to naff off all the people who are bewildered by my choice of 'Singin' in the Rain' in my top 10.
Let's consider lists for a moment. What good are they? Do we ever learn anything useful from lists? There are, for example, two types of people in the World, those who divide people into two types of people, and those who don't. A list is just a list (a sigh is just a sigh). The fundamental things of life apply in funny ways. A list might be interesting, even if it means nothing. So, I stand by my list, and I repeat it, for those who missed it: My top ten films of all time are as follows:
1) Singin' in the Rain
3) Some Like it Hot
4) This is Spinal Tap
5) A Matter of Life and Death
6) The Empire Strikes Back
7) A Canterbury Tale
8) One Million Years BC
9) Ferris Bueller's Day Off
10) The Magnificent Seven
Now let's see what you made of that.
Oh, and, Zing, by the way.
(Just getting some business out of the way)
Hrothgar - I may well write an Alpha Legion novel set in 40K. Sounds like a good idea. 'The Lightning Tower' and Graham's counter-piece are now available as an audiobook. The next Gaunt's Ghosts omnibus will be out very soon.
Big - (back on topic). Yes, I do tend to take the first three Star Wars films as one gulp, although 'Empire' is still the best. 'The Magnificent Seven' may well be a poor remake of 'The Seven Samurai' (which is a fantastic movie), but 'The Magnificent Seven' is an epic all of its own. Just the relationship between Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner is worth the ticket price, alone. Brynner's iconic role as the man in black was so cool and memorable that it lasted through to movies like 'West World'. Besides that, you've got James Coburn being totally Mkvenner with his knife, Charles Bronson defending the little kids, and Robert Vaughn sliding his lip down the stucco wall as he dies. The film is, in so many ways, a total win. And the answer to the secret question is Brad Dexter. You're right, 'The Magnificent Seven' takes me back to the time I first saw it, pre-'The Seven Samurai'. But it rocks, and it has one of the best soundtracks of any movie, ever. I defy anyone to remain unstirrred when they hear it. This film makes it into the top ten by dint of soundtrack alone, but if it wasn't the soundtrack, there'd be another equally valid reason, probably Steve McQueen saying, "So far, so good."
I think that covers one of my choices.
Rob - Thank you for stepping in. 'Singin' in the Rain' is absolutely the best 'bad day' movie of all time. I agree that there might have been more Kurasawa on my list, but that would be very blinkered. I think you would all agree that my top ten is rounded, if nothing else. Oh, yes I might have two Powell and Pressburger films on there, but it's POWELL and PRESSBURGER for crying out loud.
Jackwraith - You can Scooby Doo all you like, but my list stands. 'Blade Runner' is a fabulous film, and, like 'Pulp Fiction', it would definitely make my Top TWENTY, alongside 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', 'Conan the Barbarian', 'Adam's Rib', 'Born Yesterday', 'Glengarry Glenross', 'Twelve Angry Men' and 'Raise the Titanic' (just kidding about the last one).
Hurrah for the Hussar - If we're on TV series, then 'Band of Brothers' is an absolute winner. I watch it regularly to get in the mood, and I still think that Damien Lewis would make a great Gaunt.
Tom - Thank you for your staunch defence, and your appreciation of the odds I'm up against. 'Singin' in the Rain' stays on my list despite all the nay-sayers.
Someone e-mailed me privately to remind me of the wonderfulness of 'The Godfather'. It would make my 100, because it's properly good, but pay attention to the films in the Top 10.
Big - Thanks for your multi-genre top 10. 'Braveheart'? Despite the historical inaccuracies, 'Braveheart'? 'It's a Wonderful Life' makes my top 20, but I would list 'Them!' and 'The Incredible Shrinking Man' before I'd get to 'Invaders from Mars'. 'Zulu' and 'Wild Geese' are cracking films, but I don't think they'd be up there in my top 20, maybe my top 30. What about 'Deliverence'? Or 'Duel'?
Nik just suggested 'Purple Rain'. You've got to give her full marks for nostalgia and Apollonia.
Okay, let's get down to this properly.
First of all, because I didn't give it, my genre specific top ten list:
1) When Harry Met Sally
2) Steel Magnolias
3) Pretty Woman
4) Singin' in the Rain
... oh, not romcom genre specific, then. Okay, sci-fi (ish):
1) Empire Strikes Back
5) Beneath the Planet of the Apes
6) Blade Runner
7) Close Encounters...
8) Mad Max II
9) The Innocents
10) Moon Zero Two
Let's get down to the ten on the list. Number 1: 'Singin' in the Rain'.
Any film in which Donald O'Connor runs up a wall is tops with me. This film stands out as a benchmark between the times when people could do this shit and when CGI learned to do this shit. It's packed with fabulous tunes and the most amusing story. Cyd Charisse is but a walk-on, with her million dollar legs. People don't have these skills any more, and we won't see a film like this ever again. The 'Make Em Laugh' routine is one of the most extraordinary things ever put on film. And yes, the film is a rainy day pleasure. Nik and I watch it with the girls every Christmas eve, it's part of our routine. If you haven't seen 'Singin' in the Rain', see it. If you've got kids, watch it with them. And really watch it. Look at what they're doing. Nobody can do that any more. I repeat NO BODY can do that any more.
Number 2: 'Casablanca'.
The perfect film. In filmic terms, it's like 'Hamlet', so many lines have been quoted from it that you forget what the original was like. For example, "the usual suspects". The script of Casablance is so tight and so well-delivered that the film hangs together in the most amazing way. On top of that, you've got Bogie, Ingrid Bergman (the most beautiful woman in the world), Claude Raines, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre (in a bit part). It's like all the wonderfulness of Hollywood collided in one place at the same time. I defy anybody to sneer at this film.
Number 3: 'Some Like it Hot'.
A film in which Tony Curtis manages to be more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe. We've got a black and white film in a colour era about cross-dressing with Tony and Jack playing the most wonderful dames. It's a pantomime. Marilyn was never sexier than in this film. She got the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Tony doing Carey Grant on the beach is priceless, and the line, "I'll say, I've had three ponies drown under me" is legendary. Billy Wilder never made a better film, and he made some damn good films. George Raft flicks the coin in the most sinister way, playing upon his movie stereotype. I've been to the hotel in Coranado where it was filmed, and it looks just the same today as it did when they pretended it was Florida. This film has to be on everybody's top ten.
Number 4: 'This is Spinal Tap'.
"In here, there's a little man, but in here, there's nothing. What I want is big bread." If that wasn't enough, 'This is Spinal Tap' has so much clever written all over it that my dad, bless him, thought it was a documentary. This is the most quotable movie of all time, beating out, even, 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', which lurks, affectionately, up in my mid-twenties. We may have the knights who say 'ni', but we do have "Fire and ice", and "Don't even look at that". I dare you to diss this film.
Number 5: 'A Matter of Life and Death'.
Powell and Pressburger. David Niven. Life and Death. Beautifully shot and wonderfully staged, this film has all sorts of goodies waiting for the viewer. The splits between heaven and Earth are wonderful enough, but the moment when the table tennis match freezes in time is one of the greatest moments in cinema. Second only to that, is the moment when David Niven wakes up on the beach, meets the boy playing panpipes, thinks he's gone to heaven, and then looks up as the Mosquito (was it a Mosquito?) thunders overhead: a moment of pure brilliance.
Number 6: 'The Empire Strikes Back'.
Despite the arse about face structure of 'The Empire Strikes Back', it's by far and away the best of the Star Wars films. Who cares if the baddies win in the end? We've had walkers and Hoth and Bespin, and Bobba Fett, and the best asteroid chase in the history of asteroid chases. 'Star Wars' was fantastic and 'Return of the Jedi' was great, but 'The Empire Strikes Back' was the masterpiece in the middle of the trilogy. The Hoth sequence alone is the dog's.
Number 7: 'A Canterbury Tale'.
Yes, another Powell and Pressburger film. I apologise, ( 'The life and death of Colonel Blimp' is right up there too). Powell and Pressburger could do things with cinema that other people could only dream about. A propoganda movie made in black and white, and centred around Canterbury, a recognisable Canterbury, this film is absolutely fantastic. Cameron Diaz was not the first girl to get sticky stuff in her hair. For the first 45 minutes of this movie, you'll wonder why you bothered, and what's going on. Stay with it. It is the most uplifting and celebratory film you've ever seen. If it doesn't bring a tear to your eyes, then you've been watching something else. And where else would you see a boy on the top of a hay cart out of a first floor window, or Bren carriers churning around the landscape?
Number 8: 'One Million Years BC'.
I don't have to defend this. It should be on everybody's list. Ray Harryhausen's dinosaurs win it for me, but then you have to include the wonderful, weird soundtrack that haunts the non-vocal exploits of the Cromagnon and Neanderthal protagonists. Oh, plus, it has Raquel Welch in a suede bikini. Good times.
Number 9: 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'.
This is just a good film that makes you feel happy. "Bueller? Bueller?" I defy you not to laugh at that. Or at "Something D-O-O economics." The sequence in the art gallery just makes you smile. The street dancing is just wonderful. The flip up shades. And there's Alan Ruck.
Number 10: 'The Magnificent Seven'.
I think we've covered this earlier.