Top Ten Films – My Personal List

For all its faults, “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” remains my favorite movie.  Director Sam Peckinpah is famous for his action scenes, but this quietly menacing dialogue between two old friends, which opens the picture, is my idea of a perfectly directed scene.  And  the gun battle below had me weeping in the aisles on at least two occasions.

“Make Way forTomorrow” is the saddest movie I have ever seen, and gets sadder with the years. Orson Welles agrees.

“Children of Paradise” is more than the greatest movie of all time.  It is a requiem for the  civilized world, a howl  of love in the midst of a cultural apocalypse.

I was never crazy about Minnelli’s musicals, but his dramatic films hit me deeply.  “Home from the Hill” is my favorite because it reminds me of the relationship I had with my own father.

“Rio Bravo” isn’t the most majestic western, but it is the most entertaining.  I have been enjoying this one since I was eight years old, and never tire of it. What a script.  What a cast.

I used to say that I discovered religion during a Luis Bunuel retrospective at the University of Washington, but that isn’t quite true. It was a revival of “On the Waterfront” that was my first exposure to Christianity.

My favorite Hitchcock is “The Birds.”   I could go on about why, but instead reccomend  both Robin Wood’s and Camille Paglia’s essays on the film.

Truffaut called “Sunrise” the most beautiful film in the world.”  I agree, and you must see the whole thing from start to finish two understand why. Here it is.

How do you single out one Chaplin film above the  others? Modern Times is the funniest, City Lights is the saddest,  but Limelight is the one that is most personal for me.  Some find it sentimental and egotistic, but I think it brave and inspirational.

“Amarcord” is the Fellini film I always return to. Pure pleasure.  Here is one of its seasons.

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4 thoughts on “Top Ten Films – My Personal List

  1. Hi Bill, great post and it’s cool to see your personal favorites. I think it’s interesting that you like The Birds as the best Hitchcock. I do love the scene you posted of the playground. I love the masculine feminine lady who is the Ornithologist. In fact, my favorite scenes occur in the diner. I remember watching this as a girl and the dead man with his eyes poked out really scared me. It’s certainly a winner, but I thought there was a lot of down time. My favorites are others. Anyway, you inspired me to do create a post in a similar fashion. Rio Bravo is my favorite western. On the Waterfront is the best film every made, in my estimation.

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    1. Downtime in The Birds? Not for me. ive been watching this movie regularly for over 50 years and it never fails to fascinate me. My favorite scene is the family gathering in the living room towards the end of the picture, in which the characters move in and out of different relationships with each other through an exercise in blocking that is perhaps Hitchcock’s most complex deconstruction and re-imagining of the family unit. i also love the beginning, written like a screwball comedy but played so awkwardly that it becomes an existential prelude to courtship. and i am still puled by the age difference between Mitch and his little sister. And where is the father? Could Mitch be father to his own sister? Are we in Chinatown? And let’s not forget poor Annie. —On the Waterfront is the best movie of its kind,but there are so many kinds of movies that it is near impossible to name one that is the best of them all. This list is a list of favorites, not bests. I think most of ford’s westerns are better than Rio Bravo, but Ford was before my time, and his movies dont resonate with me personally nor do I obsessively re-watch them. I wish I had a #11 slot. Last Tango in Paris surely belongs here with the rest of my personal ten.

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  2. Bill, cool analysis about the living room in The Birds. The family shift. You are right. I like Suzanne Pleshette role, in here, too. There’s a shift from jealous-ex to sister that I like. The slow part was the extreme way she crossed the lake in her high heels and nice suit/coat paddling herself and hiding the bird with the note–that scene not only was awkward for me, it slowed down the story. Just that scene, really.

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  3. well, she had to get across the lake to deliver the birds. and it it only took a minute and a half in about 20 shots. maybe some of the cross-cutting between the boat and the house as she approached the dock could have been eliminated. it takes her just as long to take the birds into the house and get back to the boat as it did to cross the lake, but we have the element of suspense in this section, as we are worried she might get caught. the most boring section is getting away from the house, which takes another minute and a half, with too much crosscutting between melanie and mitch. but at the end of this, we get the first appearance of the birds, which we have been waiting for for 25 minutes. finally, it takes her only a minute to make the return trip across the lake, which is sped up even more by mitch chasing her in the car, and climaxed by the seagull attack..so the relative slowness of the previous sequences is justified by the faster rhythm of the final minute. or so it seems to me.

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