Previous entry:
« Good day sunshine

srah's latest project: watch a hellalotta movies

When I moved here, one of the first things I did was to join the local library. The DVD/video section is just across from the circulation desk and is much more compact than the book section, so the first thing I did was to check out DVDs. They have a list of The American Film Institute's 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time posted on the wall, and this (and the fact that apete's already done it) inspired me to take a shot at watching all 100. It's going to involve watching a lot of westerns, gangster films and war movies, but it's good to get out of your comfort zone (as any good study abroad advisor will tell you).

When I first looked at the list, I counted 47 movies that I'd seen. This counts movies that I saw several years ago but doesn't count movies I've only seen parts of (so I'll actually have to sit all the way through A Clockwork Orange and - although I think I've seen the whole thing in parts - I'll have to rewatch The Godfather). I hope this number's correct, because I've been counting my progress based on that.

I am the worst movie reviewer ever ("It was good. You should see it.", "It was dumb.") but I figure if I write one-paragraph reviews for several movies at a time, it will look like I'm writing more. Here goes:

#48: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - I looked at the list and didn't know where to start, so I picked one that I've always meant to watch and suspected I might enjoy. It didn't disappoint, except in that AFI only ranked it #99. Great performances and an engaging story.

#49: The Searchers - I realized when I checked this out that although my grandfather was a big fan of westerns and John Wayne in particular, I myself had never seen a John Wayne movie. I've seen enough John Wayne impressions to expect it. This was... okay I guess. Again, I'm not much of a western fan and I felt like the movie was dated, even for its time, in terms of racial relations. I don't know. I wasn't around then.

#50: A Place in the Sun - Montgomery Clift, you are a 'tard!

#51: From Here to Eternity - I'm beginning to think that in order to be included in the list, you must have a character, portrayed by Montgomery Clift, who is a 'tard. I didn't think much of him. Frank Sinatra's character was a little more interesting, but overall the movie didn't make much of an impression on me. I don't know why it's always billed as one of those big romantic movies (cue beach scene, Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster covered in seaweed), because I didn't find it very romantic at all. It's a war movie or a boxing movie (neither of which I'm very fond of) with some people having an affair in the background. I checked the book out of the library because I'd seen that it was better than the movie, but then I realized it's also 10,000 pages long.

#52: Giant - My mother once suggested that I watch Giant, saying that she thought it was the kind of thing I would like. "Why? What's it about?" I asked her. "Oh, it's got Rock Hudson and cattle ranchers and oil and stuff." Rock Hudson? Cattle? Oil? How did my mom know that those are my very favorite things on earth? It was a strange recommendation - since I like moo-cows but I really have no opinion on Mr Hudson or oil - but she was right. It was a nice story and I especially liked James Dean. I've never seen him in anything and I always wrote him off as a pretty-boy who got a lot of press for dying young, but he really was quite talented. And thus, my next movie was...

#53: Rebel Without a Cause - Natalie Wood seemed strange and awkward. I've seen Miracle on 34th Street and Gypsy, but I've always been able to separate the two in my mind. It was kind of weird to see the transition between the child actress and the adult. James Dean was good again, it was very angsty, Sal Mineo was great, and I believe that someone, during the first fight scene at the planetarium, referred to someone else as a poophead. I've already returned the DVD to the library so I can't verify this. Anyone?

#54: Modern Times - Yawn. It was 1936. Making a (sort of) silent film was gimmicky. It was the last appearance of Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp" character, and I think it might have been unnecessary to drag him back out like that. Buster Keaton makes me laugh and you, Mr Chaplin, are no Buster Keaton. ¡Viva el Buster!

srah - Friday, 9 December 2005 - 12:24 PM
Tags: , ,

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

'Til I saw your City Lights, honey I was blind from srah blah blah - June 27, 2006 8:20 PM

    Boy, it's getting to be Sarah's Movie Blog around here. But that's because I have no life. Onward and upward! This week, I checked a passel of DVDs out of the library. Once I got them home, however, I was... [Read More]

I'm mad as hell, and we don't need no stinking giant gorillas! from srah blah blah - November 5, 2010 11:13 AM

    I made a New Year's Resolution to complete the AFI list, but then almost immediately took a break from the AFI to watch as many Oscar movies as possible in February. Then it took me until June to pick it up again, but I've made some decent progress sin... [Read More]

You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me about my little girl hands? from srah blah blah - May 24, 2012 7:31 AM

    In talking to a friend about my AFI project, I discovered that not only had I had not done an AFI progress update since 2009, but in the last three years I hadn't even seen all seven of the movies I had left to see. So I decided it was time to do anoth... [Read More]

Comments (10)

gravatar jamelah - December 9, 2005 - 2:33 PM -

One year, one of my new year's rsolutions was to watch more westerns, so I Netflixed The Searchers, and it is the bomb-diggity, though offensive. Natalie Wood is in that one too, isn't she?

gravatar alfie - December 9, 2005 - 3:01 PM -


gravatar srah - December 9, 2005 - 3:45 PM -

Oh right, I forgot to even mention the incestuousness of all the movies I've watched!

Natalie Wood - The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause
James Dean - Rebel Without a Cause, Giant
Sal Mineo - Rebel Without a Cause, Giant
Dennis Hopper - Rebel Without a Cause, Giant
Elizabeth Taylor - Giant, A Place in the Sun
Montgomery Clift - A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity

(I could play this all day, but I'm not rewatching West Side Story (links Natalie Wood to Rita Moreno) and Singin' in the Rain (links Rita Moreno to Gene Kelly) and An American in Paris... on and on into infinity. Actually, I think it died at An American in Paris. ANYWAY. I refuse to play that game because it hurts my brain.)

gravatar Allison - December 10, 2005 - 12:57 AM -

FYI: 30 movies were made in 1970 or later.

I dislike that, and pick #64: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977). But, I am smitten with the list that unabashedly includes #'s 95, 94, 83, Fargo, and Snow White. Wow.

Other random tidbit: I didn't know if I'd seen Unforgiven 1992 (no), and found its other pseudo-official titles on
"The Cut Whore Killings (USA) (original script title). The William Munny Killings (USA) (working title)." Priceless.

gravatar random person - December 10, 2005 - 6:12 AM -

I have a similar project but the goal: watch 10,000 movies.

gravatar brett - December 10, 2005 - 12:33 PM -

Without setting the typefont to 100pt size, there's no way I can give a suitable "AMEN" to your Chaplin/Keaton comment. Poor Buster was underappreciated back in the day, and I think the situation has only partially been corrected since that point. It's also a wonderful litmus test of how far removed from reality the AFI lists really are, when you look at how few of his works are featured compared to others.

If you want to see a silent film star who's even more overrated than chaplin, though, you really need to watch some Harold Lloyd movies. They're incredibly dull and predictable, and yet he was the most popular box office star of the whole era. On the flip side of that coin, Fatty Arbuckle is absolutely hilarious but thanks to one really, really bad party he threw, he's been barred from inclusion on nearly all 'best of' film listings.

gravatar Jamie - December 10, 2005 - 6:59 PM -

I have only seen about 20 of those movies, so I'm very impressed, and I just don't have the time to watch the remaining 80 any time soon. I'm still busy with my book list and trying to catch up with all my TV shows. Plus, I have to work.

Why do I have to work again?

gravatar Amy - December 10, 2005 - 11:25 PM -

I've been working on the AFI list over the past few years. The Manchurian Candidate is one of my favorite movies ever. (So much better than the remake)

gravatar EV - December 12, 2005 - 12:21 AM -

I just tonight wrote an article about how Netflix is turning everyone into a bunch of freaks, and I'm getting a little misty at the thought that you are getting DVDs from an actual library.

gravatar Aunt Pam - December 12, 2005 - 12:58 PM -

If you want to see a film where Natalie Wood shines . . . see "This Property Condemned". A favorite of mine, I wish it would come out on DVD.

Blog Directory - Blogged