This is it! Last day of vacation, girls and boys. To honor doing nothing, here is complete fluff: a list of movies that I will always watch. These are not the only movies I watch, nor the only ones I like: just flicks that if they make an appearance on television (really only TCM) I will tune in to, even if I’ve seen them recently.
As a memory aide, I used the well-organized movie site Films 101. I sorted by year and went from 2010 to 1930, glancing at the entries. My list today would not be the same as the one I might have compiled twenty years ago, which would have been more heavily weighted toward science fiction.
I have been honest: every movie I would always watch is on the list, even the bad ones. But my memory is not particularly good, so if somebody reminds me of a classic, I’ll add it. My journey through the years confirmed what I already believed: that movies are growing less and less watchable. That joy and beauty have been replaced with cynicism and ugliness. And we musn’t forget the horrible intrusion of computers, the use of which is inversely proportional to a movie’s timelessness.
These are only in rough order, crudely sub-grouped by actor, director, or genre.
- Double Indemnity The origin of the anklet parody in Naked Gun (see below).
- Top Hat
- Stalag 17 Ach so.
- Swing Time
- The Apartment
- Shall We Dance Pretty much anything with Fred Astaire, really. Especially Holiday Inn or any movie featuring Edward Everett Horton.
- Adam’s Rib Or many of the other Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn matchups, esp. Desk Set.
- Springtime in the Rockies If you haven’t seen these early John Payne vehicles, you’re missing out. Like Tin Pan Alley or The Great American Broadcast. Plus, E.E. Horton!
- Miracle on 34th Street Perfect. Maybe I should put this first.
- Witness for the Prosecution Billy Wilder tops any list.
- Laura The best film noir.
- The Blue Gardenia Maybe the second best.
- Grand Hotel Soap opera; Wallace Berry at his best.
- Road to Morocco Really any Hope-Crosby Road flick.
- Going My Way Really any Bing Crosby movie, even the poor ones.
- My Favorite Brunette Really most Bob Hope movies; those before, say, 1950. The ones after that don’t travel so well.
- The Man Who Came to Dinner Monty Woolley. What? You don’t know this one? What a treat!
- Mr Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse First seen on channel 50 with Bill Kennedy at the movies. Add in any other early Cary Grant movie, esp. those with Irene Dunne.
- The Thing From Another World The original, baby.
- The Thing Best remake since The Maltese Falcon
- Big Trouble in Little China I’m still searching for the alley in SF’s Chinatown.
- The Day the Earth Stood Still I’ve heard they made a remake.
- War of the Worlds I’ve heard they made a remake.
- The Maltese Falcon
- The Big Sleep You get the idea: add Bogart.
- The Seven Samurai or most early Akira Kurosawa, especially Yojimbo and Ikiru.
- The Thin Man Any in this series, esp. The Thin Man Goes Home.
- Libeled Lady Or any other William Powell-Myrna Loy flick. Got a set of these for my birthday once. Love it!
- Romance on the High Seas Any early Doris Day; especially Teacher’s Pet (Clark Gable) or Love Me or Leave Me (James Cagney).
- To Be or Not to Be Mel Brooks remake. Jack Benny better on radio.
- A Night at the Opera You’re supposed to say Duck Soup, but I won’t. I’ll say Horse Feathers instead.
- Singin’ in the Rain But I always go to the bathroom in the “Gotta Dance” interlude.
- The Quiet Man Often heard while watching: “Didn’t you just watch that?”
- Donovan’s Reef The King of the United States of America.
- Big Jake Your fault, my fault, nobody’s fault. It won’t matter. I’m gonna blow your head off. No matter what else happens, no matter who gets killed I’m gonna blow your head off.
- The Searchers Add in Rio Bravo, and maybe any other John Wayne movie
- Buck Privates Yes, or most any Abbot and Costello team-up.
- The Sound of Music
- From Here to Eternity
- Tora, Tora, Tora! Pearl Harbor is an interest
- Twelve O’Clock High
- A Shot in the Dark
- A Christmas Story The Ovaltine secret-decoder gag was first used on the Bing Crosby radio show, St Patrick’s Day 1947, with Margaret O’Brien sending in boxtops.
- It’s a Wonderful Life And I’m admittin’ it, too.
- Switching Channels Yes, one of the many remakes of His Girl Friday, which is herewith on the list.
- Naked Gun! From the Files of Police Squad Cops and women don’t mix. It’s like swallowing a spoonful of Drano. Sure, it’ll clean you out. But it’ll leave you hollow inside.
- Hot Shots! If you have trouble hitting your objective, your secondary targets are here and here: an accordion factory and a mime school.
- Man of the Century I provided a link since most will not have heard of this.
In addition to these, any old B mystery movie or vehicle featuring a big band or musical with Betty Grable or Alice Faye. Also, movies with James Cagney, Jimmy Durante, Uncle Felix or dancing before “choreography” hit, as parodied by Danny Kaye in White Christmas—a movie which should be added to the list.
(Your author, incidentally, says, “I’m seventeen! Plus thirty.”)