Goal #26: Watch the AFI Top 100 movies.
Note: The AFI released two lists, one in 1998 and one in 2007. I’ll consider this goal finished if I complete one of the lists, but I’ll probably aim for both of them.
This week I watched:
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is one of those weird movies that only could have been made 1967-1969. It’s half early ’60s problem picture, very earnest and speech-y. And it’s half very contemporary, a movie about the Civil Rights Movement falling apart when people have to come to grips with the reality of it instead of the philosophy about it. Of course, today it looks dated; like American Graffiti, it’s one of those films which captured the zeitgeist perfectly but that later critics have less and less of a connection to as the years pass. Guess Who‘s star fell quickly even between the release of the 1998 list and the 2007 one; attitudes on integration and “color-blindness” being the cure-all to racism have changed. And while I did tire of the film’s preaching, here’s one speech that I did love: Hepburn’s, when she and Tracy are in the car eating ice cream:
“You know for us it’s all been great . . . but you know what was the best time of all? It was in the beginning when everything was a struggle, and you were working too hard, and worried, and sometimes frightened. And there were times when I felt–when I really knew–that I was a help to you. That was the very best time of all for me.”
Apocalypse Now: After all that whining last week about “boxing movies,” I loved this one. I’m not sure if we ended up watching a re-mastered version of this or what, but the shots were all so gorgeous, so crisp and modern that I couldn’t believe this was filmed in 1979. (It helps that 1979’s mustaches are back in fashion.)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Hands down, the most painful entry on the list so far. Imagine going out with your couple-friends who always get drunk, fight with each other, try to drag you into it, reference the most inappropriate things and try to humiliate each other by mining their partner’s deepest insecurities . . . That’s this movie. If I wasn’t doing this project, I would have turned it off ten minutes into it. I get that it was groundbreaking both in Liz Taylor’s performance as something other than a sex kitten and in the role it played in dismantling the production code, but Christ, how did this get to be such a sell-out success of a play that it was made into a movie in the first place? Who would willingly subject themselves to this?
Still to go: Chinatown, Annie Hall, The Godfather, Part II, Midnight Cowboy, Rear Window, King Kong, A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, Jaws, All Quiet on the Western Front, MASH, Tootsie, The Silence of the Lambs, The Manchurian Candidate, The French Connection, City Lights, Rocky, The Deer Hunter, The Wild Bunch, Modern Times, Platoon, Fargo, Mutiny on the Bounty, Frankenstein, Easy Rider, Patton, The Jazz Singer, Pulp Fiction, Unforgiven, Saving Private Ryan, The Sixth Sense, The General, Intolerance, Nashville, All the President’s Men, A Night at the Opera, 12 Angry Men, Sophie’s Choice, The Last Picture Show, Blade Runner, Toy Story.
Finished: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Apocalypse Now, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Duck Soup, Network, Shane, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz, The Graduate, On the Waterfront, Schindler’s List, Singin’ in the Rain, It’s a Wonderful Life, Sunset Blvd., The Bridge on the River Kwai, Some Like It Hot, Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, All About Eve, The African Queen, Psycho, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Grapes of Wrath, 2001–A Space Odyssey, The Maltese Falcon, Raging Bull, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Bonnie and Clyde, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, High Noon, To Kill a Mockingbird, It Happened One Night, The Best Years of Our Lives, Double Indemnity, Doctor Zhivago, North by Northwest, West Side Story, The Birth of a Nation, A Streetcar Named Desire, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Philadelphia Story, From Here to Eternity, Amadeus, The Sound of Music, The Third Man, Fantasia, Rebel without a Cause, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Vertigo, Stagecoach, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, An American in Paris, Forrest Gump, Ben-Hur, Wuthering Heights, The Gold Rush, Dances with Wolves, American Graffiti, Giant, My Fair Lady, A Place in the Sun, The Apartment, Goodfellas, The Searchers, Bringing Up Baby, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Titanic, Sullivan’s Travels, Cabaret, The Shawshank Redemption, In the Heat of the Night, Spartacus, Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans, Swing Time, Do the Right Thing.