Inception A Wild Ride Into Your Dreams

inceptionOkay, I know it took me seven years to get to this movie, but I did it.  Here’s what I thought.  Wow!  Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” is a wild ride into your dreams, literally.  This is the most intense movie I have seen in a long time.  It’s the story of Cobb(Leonardo Di Caprio  and Arthur(Joseph Gordon Leavitt), who steal corporate secrets for a living through dream technology.  Saito(Ken Wantabe) hires them to inverse the task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.   The movie is intense and has a brilliant cast, with Ellen Page who plays a young woman named Ariadne, the architect of the dream, Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer the CEO whose subconscious the team enters to plant the idea and British Actor Tom Hardy as the forger.  I think one of the wildest concepts is the dream within a dream sequence.  This could have been confusing but Nolan figured out a way of crafting this beautifully and it was very easy to follow.  The one minor flaw and maybe it really isn’t a flaw, was that he utilized that very technique in the beginning of the movie and you were unaware whether Cobb was dreaming, or he was in reality.  That may have been Nolan’s intent though, because the big question is what’s reality and what’s a dream?  If you have a chance and like science fiction watch this movie.  It definitely makes you think.

Movies That Should Be Made.

I have a small list in my head.  It’s not a big list, but it’s an important list.  It’s a list of movies that I would like to see Hollywood make.  The list I chose is in no particular order,  Some of them are based on books, some are biopics and some are just things I have never seen done.

THE IRISH PELE GEORGE BEST.

george-bestI have toyed for years about writing my own movie about the iconic soccer legend, because the man was the Jim Morrison of Soccer.  He lead quite a colorful, but tragic life.  Part of my movie Derby Double came from the general idea of George Best.  My lead Character didn’t live the partying lifestyle, but he was just as talented.

ENGLAND 66:

alan-ball-1966-wcThe 1966 World Cup was such an achievement for English Football, that I am surprised the English have never made the movie.  Why not?  There are definitely some interesting plot lines that you could weave into this movie. Who could play the Great Sir Alf Ramsey.  I know the perfect man, Anthony Hopkins.  You see England was never expected to win this tournament and the fact they did, blew the English into hysteria.  There were also so many colorful characters on that 1966 team, that it begs to made with some humor.  Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Jimmy Greaves and Alan Ball were all colorful, so when you cast those guys you’d have to cast them with actors that would do them justice.  Then there’s the Geoff Hurst story.  Brought into that final at the last minute because Jimmy Greaves could not go, because of an injury.  Geoff was the true hero and was the man that scored the hat-rick to bring them World Cup glory. The Movie could be titled, the Man Who Wasn’t There?”  He simply snuck in without anyone marking him.  It was a play that his own Manager Ron Greenwood crafted for him at West Ham and Greenwood was an Assistant on that team.  If this movie were done it would simply be one of the best movies done about the beautiful game.

THE TEMPLE OF GOLD:

Temple of GoldBased on the book by William Goldman(Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.), it tells the story of Ray Trevitt, whose parents call him Euripedes,  His father is a cold fish who teaches Greek Mythology at a small college in a small Illinois town, not far from Chicago.  We basically follow Ray through his turbulent adolescence, his confusing love for a girl who suffers depression and his friendship with a girl who really loves him.  The book is poignant, funny and leaves you with a better understanding of what it is like to deal with mental illness.  This was a book my Mother introduced to me and it remains my favorite book.  It should be made into a movie.

TRINITY:

TRINITY BOOK COVERLeon Uris’ tale about the roots of Irish troubles.  It was the first book I read that taught me what the troubles were all about.  It has never been made into a movie and I am not sure why.  If you got this book into the hands of the right director, it would be an academy award winner.

RICHARD III:

RICHARD IIINo, not the Shakespeare classic.  What we’re talking about here is an altogether different movie.  In fact it could possibly be a mini series.  I have an idea for one, which I call the “White Boar”, which was the banner that Richard III fought under during the Battle of Bosworth.  Why a movie about Richard since we already know so much about it.  Quite frankly until I read two books, I really didn’t know anything about the man.  What I had heard, was written by William Shakespeare and that was a bit biased and a bit of revisionist history under Tudor times.  He’s portrayed as a conniving man, who will stop at nothing to put himself of the throne, including delegitimizing his nephews, locking them in the tower and having them murdered.  Did he really do it?  I have my doubts.  As I said I read two books on the subject, Richard Duke of York is shown in an all together different light.  One was a fascinating biopic by Paul Murray Kendall, who deals with Richard from his childhood through his death at the Battle of Bosworth.  The other was a fictional detective novel by Scottish writer named Josephine Tay, who questions whether Richard really did do it. In the book she utilizes a bored detective sitting in a hospital after he is put of commission.  To cure his bored mind, he asks a friend to bring him some pictures of historical figures so he can figure out some of the great mysteries in life.  There is only one known picture of Richard III and the woman brings him this picture and asks him, if the man is a villain or a hero.  It was a fascinating book and brings about some of the very questions Murray-Kendall’s biopic presented.  If this were to be a mini series, I would start at the heart of the reign of Henry VI and about the time Richard was born and work through his life.  There are many things people don’t know about Richard Duke of York.  First of all he was the younger brother of Edward IV and one of the King’s best military advisers, who showed no signs of wanting the throne for himself.  He showed nothing but loyalty to his brother.  There is also evidence that when Richard took over as Regent for Edward V, that he had many advisors, some he could trust and some he couldn’t.  One was the Duke of Buckingham, who had his own claim to the throne.  He was instrumental in suggesting that Richard should get rid of the princes because they were illegitimate.  I always thought that perhaps a more balanced version of the man would be far better than what history has told us.

THE PAUL GASCOIGNE STORY:

Paul GascoigneDuring the Spring Semester of College I was at New England College, the Arundel Sussex English campus.  I had just been selected to be one of many actors in a theater troupe performing shows all across the British Isles.  Coming back to the school and the Theater program that my father had started, put me right smack dab back in the middle of my Soccer obsession.  I saw Gazza(As he was known) in one match.  He was playing in a match for Newcastle United against Liverpool.  He was a young 16 year old apprentice and I could tell just by the way he passed, just by the way he moved on the pitch, there was something special about this kid.  The one problem was he was raw and had a penchant for doing some daft things on the pitch.  After the tour was over, I moved back to the States and life took me in another direction.  1989, I had moved to Vermont and managed to find a little bookstore in Burlington called Chessman and Bem, which carried British Newspapers, like the Guardian and the Observer.  This was great, because I could follow soccer again and low and behold I started reading about the exploits of Paul Gascoigne.  Not just his on pitch antics, but his off pitch too.  Later I saw some video clips of Paul in action during the late 80’s and 90’s.  He was no longer with Newcastle, Gazza was with the mighty Spurs.  What I watched was a talent I had never seen before.  He was a player who could do anything.  He had incredible pace and could unlock defenses like no one I’d ever seen.  Gazza was dizzying to watch on these clips, but there was also those very strange moments that happened on the pitch. The 1990 World Cup Semi final comes to mind.  He had already received a few yellow cards during the tournament, and in the Semi against the Germans, Gascoigne made a vicious tackle on a German player.  He received a yellow card for that foul, which meant he would not play in the Final if England went through.  He simply became unhinged.  Gary Lineker had to console him and there’s a famous shot of Lineker motioning Bobby Robson, he better have a substitute ready because Gazza was losing it.  Those were the moments that humanized Gazza, but there was something else going on with this man.  He was tormented off the pitch with alcohol issues, being arrested a few times of drunk driving and then there were those moments when Gazza would be hit with deep bouts of depression.  Gazza was probably the best English talent of his era, but it was the depression and alcoholism that caused his career to end far sooner than it should have.  He still struggles today with depression and alcohol problems.  If a movie about this man was done right, it would be deeply interesting.  It shouldn’t just be about Football though, we should capture the life of a deeply troubled man.

BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE:

Bonnie Prince CharlieIf there has been a movie done on the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, supposed heir to there English throne, I’ve never seen it done.  He is a hero to many Scots and a deeply compelling figure.  I have done a little research about the man and have a movie in mind that I would like to do.

BOYS LIFE:

Boys Life

     Robert McCammon wrote this brilliant book back in the 1990’s.  It is set in the deep south of Alabama and concerns one child’s realization that the world is not always as it should be as you grow up.  Things are not always safe, things don’t always allow you to be a child growing up in what should be your most innocent time.  The book has a lot of humor in it, but a whole lot of intrigue and suspense and even a sea monster.  A book that would be an awesome summer movie and would definitely get families into the movie theater.

                                                                             STONES FROM THE RIVER:Stones From The River

     In the mid to late 90’s, Oprah Winfrey decided to get out of the sensational talk show racket. She decided she had enough of the Sally Jessy Rafael type show and decided to do more of a thinking person’s show and a show that could help people in a positive way.  One of the things Oprah did was have a book of the month segment.  Enter one of the most incredible female writers I have ever read named Ursula Heggi.  She wrote this incredible book about a dwarf during the Holocaust.  Hearing about it, made me want to read it, so I asked for it for Christmas.  I was not disappointed at all reading about the life of Trudy Montag and how she would climb up to a bar and hang so she could grow.  What an incredible book as it follows her life and her families through a turbulent time.  It’s poignant and beautifully written,  Why this book has still not been made into a movie, I don’t know,  because it should be and I’m sure if it were in the right hands, it would be Oscar worthy.

                                                                              THE SPLENDID SPLINTER.

Ted WilliamsI want to know something.  Why has there never been a movie done on the Splendid Splinter?  I’ve read a few books on this man and he is definitely worth a movie.  From his early days starting out with the Red Sox, to the battle for 406 are indeed interesting.  Add in his wars years as a fight pilot and hero during world war 2 and you have a damn good idea for a movie.  I would certainly see this if it were ever made.

My Top 30 Sports Movies of All Time.

MantleRecently Newsweek put together a critics list of all time great sports movies.    As I read it, I became really angry.   Not only were so many great sports movies not considered, many of the movies were either documentaries or in areas that I don’t consider sports at all.  Sorry folks but Mountain Climbing, Chess and Skateboarding are not sports.   They are skills.  Through out the years I have seen a ton of sports movies and I have some thoughts on what makes a sports movie and what doesn’t.  Sports movies can either be really good, or they can really stink.  Babe(The one with John Goodman) and Cobb are movies that  were really bad.  Those two were hugely disappointing to me.  If you have the right story and the right elements, a good sports movie can be a winner.   I haven’t seen all, for instance, I still have not seen 42, hence why it is not on the list.  The list of 30 sports movies I put together are the ones I’ve seen that I consider winners.   The Criteria is pretty simple.  One, it has to be a sport, which means it has to have some element of athleticism and two, it can’t be a documentary with no acting involved.  The movie has to have acting and a story in it for it to be considered.  You could argue that two of my picks about pool shouldn’t be in here.  Some people consider pool a skill, well there’s a little bit of strategy involved in pool or billiards.   I’ve seen enough pool on television to consider it a sport.  I believe it’s a sport because you are competing against another person.  Skateboarding and Mountain Climbing I don’t consider sports because you are not trying to outwit anyone, and there is no defense.  You challenge yourself with those activities.  Those are my reasons for picking these thirty movies.  So without further adieu here are my top thirty sports movies of all time.

30:  BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY.

Bang The Drum Slowly

The first movie I ever saw Robert De Niro in was a Baseball movie.  He’s done three sports movies.  I have not seen his most recent one, where he plays a boxing trainer and of course Raging Bull.  Bang The Drum Slowly is a strong powerful movie about a popular confident Pitcher named, Henry Wiggin(Michael Moriarity)  who is traded to the New York Mammoths(Fictitious Baseball team that played in the Yankee pinstripes.) and befriends the simple minded Catcher name Bruce Pearson(De Niro) who has a hard time opening up to his teammates and fit in.  Throughout the Baseball season Wiggin and Pearson start to develop a pretty good chemistry and Pearson starts to open up and we discover that he has cancer.  A great movie for all to watch.

29: HOOSIERS:

Hoosiers

In my estimation, this is Gene Hackman’s most underrated movie.   Hackman plays Norman Dale, a former college Basketball Coach given a chance at redemption when he takes a job coaching a small High School Basketball team in Indiana.  Hackman arrives with a lot of baggage and a temper that ruined his college career.  When he arrives, he already runs into resistant through Barbara Hershey, the teacher of Jimmy Chitwood, the star Basketball Player.  Hershey would prefer Jimmy quit the Basketball team and concentrate on his studies.  Hackman would prefer to win at all costs.  A powerful struggle of wills as eventually both Hackman and Hershey reach a compromise.  A powerful movie about a Basketball coach, who learns what it takes to win in a small Indiana town.

28:  KARATE KID:

Karate Kid

“Wax on, Wax off.”  The first few lessons Mr, Myiagi gives young Ralph Macchio when he teaches him Karate is to wax his car.  So the discipline begins.  We all knew the line and recited it many times when Karate Kid came out.  It was a huge hit and made a huge star out of Ralph Macchio and resurrected Pat Morita’s career.  Wonderfully acted with many lessons learned.  It’s a wonderful coming of age movie about how a boy who learns how to handle bullying, through discipline and hard work and gets the girl in the end.   The Karate scenes in this movie are as good as any Bruce Lee movie and the relationship between Macchio and Morita in this classic are great.

27:  THE LONGEST YARD:

The Longest Yard

I became a huge Burt Reynolds fan in the 1970’s and I couldn’t get enough of his movies.  What’s great about this movie is that Burt Reynolds was a star football player during his days at Florida State University, so when he played Paul Crewe, he kind of knew a little about the sport.  The plot is pretty simple, ex Football great, Paul Crewe is arrested on some trumped up charge and thrown in prison, where he has to deal with all kinds of mean hombres.  Rather than let them kick the crap out of them, he befriends them and decides there has to be a way of this situation.  Burt decides it would be cool if there was a Football game, between Prisoners and the Guards.  It ends up being one the dirtiest games of Football you would ever see with lots of ex NFL players playing both guards and Prisoners.  The Longest Yard has been a favorite of mine for some time.  I haven’t seen Adam Sandler’s version, but the original is pretty darn good.

26:  RUDY:

Rudy

Another Football movie, that has heart, passion and you cheer for a kid named Rudy as he chases his dream to play Football for the Fighting Irish or Notre Dame.  I watched Rudy again about 4 years ago and what I came away with was this is the little movie that could, about a guy that would not be denied his dream.  It has a great cast and great acting.  Sean Astin(Memphis Belle and Lord of The Rings), plays Rudy with a raw innocence.  Ned Beatty(Homocide, Life On The Street), plays his father, who wants Rudy to succeed, but he thinks he’s too small to play Football.  Charles Dutton and a young Jon Favreau also star in this wonderful movie that will touch your heart and make you believe dreams can come true.

25:  THE BLINDSIDE:

The Blindside

Quinton Aaron plays Michael Oher a homeless teen growing up in the slums of Memphis Tennessee, when Leigh Ann Tuohy(Sandra Bullock) comes upon this young man and decided to take him home with her, so he can have a better life and to pursue his dream of playing Football.   This is a phenomenal little movie and Sandra Bullock’s performance was Oscar worthy as is Kathy Bates, who plays his tutor.  A must see movie with a lot of heart.

 

24: JERRY MAGUIRE:

Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise has never really spoken to me as an action hero.  He’s much better when he’s playing cocky, or that he’s so self assured, that when the bottom drops from underneath him, he feels put upon and panic stricken.  Jerry Maguire is one of those types of movies. This is a movie about the other sides of Sports.  The agency side.  And the agency side is pretty seedy and it’s something that Jerry Maguire is trying to come to grips with.  His valiant attempt to write that mission statement with a moral center ends up backfiring after he send it to his colleagues and higher ups.   His fall from A-1 Agent is swift and nasty as he is blacklisted from the business.  It’s no problem for Jerry, he thinks everyone will agree with his mission statement.  Only two people believe in Jerry, one is Secretary Dorothy Boyd(Renee Zelwegger), who decides to quit in support of Jerry and work for him as he strikes out on his own.  The second person is a loose cannon Wide Receiver named Rod Tidwell(Played masterfully by Cuba Gooding Junior.), who has plenty of cocky bravado, but talent that has not been realized.  Tidwell is the only client that Jerry has left and his career has been in a tailspin and his wife thinks he’s better than the NFL thinks, so Rod calls him up and yells in Jerry’s ear.  “Show Me The Money!!!”  This movie didn’t have me at hello, it had me during the opening scene, when Jerry is writing the mission statement that kills his career.  It was one of the most interesting and effective openings of any movie I’ve seen.  A great movie, with great acting.  The chemistry between Cruise and Zelwegger is electric and the chemistry between Cuba Gooding and Cruise is filled with hyper frustrated angst, but that works for me as Cuba is supposed to to frustrate the hell out of Cruise to get what he wants.

23: VISION QUEST:

Vision Quest

Okay, all right already, I know Vision Quest is a coming of age movie, but it’s still a pretty darned good wrestling movie.  Matt Modine(Full Metal Jacket, Married To The Mob), one of the most underrated actors in the industry gives a pretty good performance as the young cocky high school wrestler Louden Swain, who falls for a drifter named Carla(Linda Fiorentino) who shows up at his house at the wrong time.  Louden is about to drop down a weight class just so he can beat the best wrestler in the state.  It’s a risk and could kill him if he doesn’t watch how he eats.  However, it’s a risk he is willing to take to beat the best.  Of course as you can imagine, having Carla around is enough to drive any teenage boy to distraction(Hey it’s Linda Fiorentino for God’s sake.)  and of course she does, but she also helps him along the way learn about life.  A good solid movie from the 1980’s.  During a decade that was filled with all kinds of coming age movies.  But it isn’t just a coming of age movie.  It’s a Wrestling movie.

22:  SLAPSHOT:

THE HANSON BROTHERSSlapshot Newman

No sports list would be complete without this ode to Hockey.   Paul Newman plays Reggie Dunlop, he plays for the Charlestown Chiefs in the Federal League.  The local mill is about to go out of business and he knows that if that happens his team will be out of business, thus ending Reggie’s illustrious career.  So he decides to go out with a bang and bring in the wildest bunch of players to play with.  It’s one of the funniest movies you’ll ever see.  Paul Newman looked perfect for the role.  I remember thinking he’s got that Gordie Howe look going out there on the rink.  The Charlestown Chiefs manages to capture your hearts at every turn, even though they play some smash mouth hockey to do it.  So if you want to watch a movie on Hockey, this is your best bet.  You won’t be sorry you did and you’ll love those goony rough housing Hanson brothers.

21:  THE SANDLOT:

The Sandlot

I’d been hearing about the Sandlot for years.  I would talk movies with people and they would mention this movie and tell me it was a pretty cool movie.  So I went out and bought it to find out what all the fuss was about.  The fuss was pretty darned special.  A new kid moves to town and meets a young Baseball prodigy.  Every day he and his friends go out to the Sandlot to play a game of Baseball.  The games are usually a lot of fun until the Baseball prodigy hits the ball over the fence and then they have to stop playing.  You see there is a big beast in the yard next door, whose ferocious, and eats Baseballs for dinner and probably kids too and they don’t want any of that.  I found myself taken back to my own childhood watching where I and played a game of pick up Baseball with my friends down the road.  It was pretty cool.  Look for a young Dennis Leary and Karen Allen as the lead character’s parents.

20:  A SHOT AT GLORY:

A Shot At Glory

You’ve never heard of this small little Independent movie, I hadn’t either and what I saw was pretty special.  I came upon A Shot of Glory purely by accident.  It was a Christmas gift by my father to me because of my love of Soccer.    You must see this movie for the writing, the acting and the story.  The characters are well developed and smart and the story is a winner.  Robert Duval stars as Gordon McLeod and of all the movies I’ve seen this man do, he is most convincing as a Scottish Football Manager.   I’ve watched this movie a few times now and from the first moment I saw Duval play Gordon McLeod I kept thinking I was watching the second coming of Bill Shankley.  He reminded me of the great Liverpool Manager, so much that I believed his role that much more.  The story is simple. I often wonder if he studied Shankley tapes for this role.  He sounds just like him.  A Shot of Glory is about a small Scottish Football club in the lowest league of Scottish Football.  An American owner(Michael Keaton), threatens to move the club unless they do the unthinkable, win the Scottish Cup.  To do that, Gordon McLeod must learn to work, with his son in law, the legendary Jackie McQuillan, who had betrayed him and had cheated on his daughter Kate.  McQuillan is played oddly enough by former Rangers legend Ally McCoist.  I am usually pretty lukewarm about former sports stars turning to acting, but Ally, does a great job in his role as the former Celtic great McQuillan.   The wonderful thing about this movie is there are times, when it could take itself seriously, but it finds those special moments to make you laugh.  A Goalkeeper makes a huge mistake and allows a goal to be scored through his legs.  McLeod, incensed lets him have it with an off color joke about his mother.  A beautiful movie and one that should not be missed and if you were a fan of the Fox Soccer Channel and loved Andy Gray explaining the ins and outs of the game, then you’ll like it even more as he has a cameo as a commentator.

19:  GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS:Green Street HooligansLuckily Parliament and the English FA have helped curb Football violence for the safety of the spectator.  However, it’s still there and still needs to be monitored.  This movie came out at a time, when Football violence was beginning to rear it’s ugly head again.  Green Street Hooligans is a deeply disturbing movie that dares to take a look into the other side of Soccer, Hooliganism.  Elijah Wood plays Matt Buckner an American kid, who is wrongfully expelled from Harvard, when his roommate plants cocaine on him.  He drops out and moves to England to live with his sister and her boyfriend Steve(A man with a dark history).  Matt’s sister decides that Steve’s brother Pete (Charlie Hunnam) should show him around town.  Pete is reluctant at first, because everyone on Green Street knows who he is and they may consider him soft.  What we find out is that Pete is the leader of a soccer firm The Green Street Elite, who go to West Ham matches and attack the other teams firm.(Hooligans.)  However once the two get to know each other it’s too late and Pete is forced to protect Matt when he is beaten up by Birmingham City supporters at an away match.  What happens is a mutual respect, as Matt ends up showing Pete he can handle his own and the fighting becomes an adrenalin rush for him.  This movie is intense to watch, so don’t watch it lightly.  I was struck how good Elijah Wood is in this, but blown away by how good Charlie Hunnam is, because he was new and raw to me.  He breathed a psychotic arrogance in his performance that was very similar to a young Malcolm McDowell of Clockwork Orange.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and hope to see more work from this excellent British actor Hunnam.

18:  BREAKING AWAY:  Breaking AwayAn us verses them type of movie about the sport of Cycling.   This movie is so funny and so genuinely poignant, it almost made my top 100 list.  Essentially this is about a bunch of kids born in a Bloomington Indiana, the home of Indiana University.  To the college kids, the young townies are called Cutters, because of the local stone quarries where many of their parents lived.  Cutters is a slight they use, because those gosh darned trust fund college kids, don’t like the town folk much and they show it time and again throughout the movie.  The movie centers around Dave Stohler(Dennis Christopher), a young kid whose love of cycling and everything Italian drives his Dad(Paul Dooley)crazy.  Dave and his friends Moocher(Jackie Earl Haley), Cyril(Daniel Stern) and Mike(Dennis Quaid) have just graduated high school and are contemplating their futures.  When the college kids are challenged to enter the little 500(An annual bike race in Bloomington), the Cutters accept the challenge and win the race.  A great movie with great performances from everyone involved.  It’s the little movie with a big heart  It’s been close to forty years since this movie came out and it remains one of my favorite.

17:  FEVER PITCH:

Fever Pitch.jpgThe original movie is based on the British novel by Arsenal soccer nut Nick Hornby, who was tormented by his Gunners during the down years.  I have the book, still haven’t read it and I avoided this movie, because I wanted to see the Original with Colin Firth.  The trailer drew me to it and it looked hysterically funny.  My Dad saw it and said it was worth the watch.  He was right.  Instead of Soccer it revolves around a lovable Red Sox fan(Jimmy Fallon), who has suffered through the curse for years.  It’s much more than a Baseball movie though, it’s about what we would sacrifice to be with the one we love.  In this case for Fallon he would sacrifice the Red Sox for  the goofy Drew Barrymore(A personal favorite of mine for years.)  Watch this movie and it will be one of your favorites too.  I do plan on watching the original too, because anything with Colin Firth makes me a fan.

16:  MONEYBALL:

Moneyball_PosterWhat if Billy Beane had become GM of the Red Sox instead of Theo Epstein?  Would he have broken the curse earlier or at all?   John Henry must have thought so, because before Epstein interviewed for the job, Beane did, but  then turned it down.  We also could have had A-Rod too, but sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you don’t make.  Now that’s not to say that Billy Beane isn’t a good GM, oh no, not by a long shot.  This guy turned the fledgling A’s into a contender in the early 2000’s.  His concept was so good that Hollywood decided to make a movie of the topic moneyball.  This is a great sports movie, because it doesn’t just deal with Baseball, it deals with the inner workings of Baseball team and how you worked within the constrained finances of a team.  How you improved your team with saber metric stats that no one considered before.  I apologize if I didn’t give Brad Pitt, much love before, but he’s pretty good in this.  He plays Billy kind of low key and he plays him like his mind is always working on that next deal.  Add Jonah Hill(The greatest character actor going right now) and you have a darned good sports movie.

15:  MAJOR LEAGUE:

Vaughn wild thingWhat happens when you take a real Baseball team with a history of losing and create a movie about them.  You are treated to the most lovable bunch of unique characters ever.  Major League was a movie that gave the Cleveland Indians their day in the Championship sun.  A classic hysterical look at some goofy guys still playing the game, because they love it.  The movie wasn’t just funny, it was brilliant.  The characters were just as nutty as the Red Sox 2004 and 2013 teams.  You had the washed up Catcher Jake Taylor(Tom Berenger.)  You had the speed demon Willie Mays Hayes(Wesley Snipes), Pedro Cerrano,(Dennis Haysbert, 24), the First Baseman with a ton of power and a love for Voodoo, Roger Dorn(Corbin Bernsen, LA Law), an arrogant cuss who cares about nobody but himself and the nutcase Closer with the coke bottle glasses and the 100 mile an hour fastball, Ricky Vaughan.(Charlie Sheen) Not only did this movie make money at the box office and bring the Indians a fictionalized World Series Championship, it revitalized the song “Wild Thing” and made it a hit all over again.  This movie is a classic and whenever I hear ‘Wild Thing” , I see Sheen running out from that bullpen, I watch him take the ball from the catcher and imitate Al Hrabosky and throw heat to the plate.

14:  UNITED:

UNITED M N

Let me preface this by saying, that I am not a Manchester United fan.  I bleed London Chelsea blue and it’s no surprise that we’ve been rivals over the last decade or so.  However; I am also a soccer fan and anything about this sport intrigues me.   It is such a fantastic movie about one of the more triumphant, turbulent and then triumphant periods of the clubs history.  It starts with Manchester United’s trip to Europe in what today is known as the Champions League.  In the 1950’s it was called the European Cup.  In 1958 Manchester United were known as the Busby Babes, named after their Manager Sir Matt Busby, (One of the greatest Managers in the history of the game.)and his very young club, who were tearing up English Football with Bobby Charlton and a young England star by the name of Duncan Edwards.  That year they were on their way to Munich to play in the latest round of the European Cup, what happened was tragic.  The plane crashed before they got there.  Half the team was decimated either by death, or by injury.  One of the future stars of the game, Duncan Edwards did not survive.  Bobby Charlton was devastated and for months he could not kick a ball or even go near a training ground. This movie deals with the crash, the after math and how Charlton found the will to go on and help United and Busby create a new Busby Babes side.   From there the rest is history.  This is a deeply moving look into a time in Bobby Charlton’s life he doesn’t talk about much.     The performances are brilliant.  Jack O’Connell plays the young Bobby Charlton, Dougray Scott plays Sir Matt Busby and David Tennant(Dr.Who) plays coach Jimmy Murphy, who gives young Bobby Charlton the confidence to continue his career.  There are many stories about British Soccer that should be told and haven’t been.  It’s about time this one was done and it was done very well.

13:  THE ROOKIE

The Rookie

There are a lot of Baseball movies made, but this one is probably one of my favorite.  The Rookie is about Jim Morris(Dennis Quaid) a high school chemistry teacher in a small Texas town, who just happens to be the school Baseball coach.  Jim has a past that haunts him.   At one time, Jim was a hot shot prospect in the minors, until arm troubles ended his career before it began.  To make matters worse, his hard edged military father, played by beautifully buy the very underrated Brian Cox, was a distant father who cared nothing about Jim’s Baseball dream and their relationship has been contentious ever since.  Because Jim sought so hard to seek his father’s approval he gave up on his dream,  had a family and settled down.  Late in his forties his fortunes suddenly change.  While, throwing batting practice for the team he coaches one of his kids complain that he’s pitching him softballs and he wants something harder.  Jim takes the challenges and suddenly realizes that there’s more zip on his fastball and his arm doesn’t hurt.  His kids realize this guy’s got Major League stuff and discover his Baseball past.   The kids egg him on to go to a big league tryout to see what happens.  Apprehensive at first, Jim takes the challenges and suddenly a scout for the Tampa Bay Rays takes note that Jim has pretty good stuff for an old guy.  They offer him a contract in the minors.  Once his minor league trial goes well, he gets the call to the Show as a reliever and proves he’s more than capable.  Based on the true story of Jim Morris, this is a wonderful movie that teaches you, you can keep your dreams and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there as long as you don’t give up.  Dennis Quaid is brilliant in this movie and I thought after he did this movie, maybe his career had been resurrected, but alas I have not seen him do much since this movie, but this movie is definitely one of his best.

12: THAT DAMNED UNITED:
Brian Clough  Brian Clough is considered one of the best English Football Managers in history.  He took two fledgling clubs, Derby County and Nottingham Forest and brought them domestic Championships, European glory and domestic cup glory.   When I saw the trailer for “That Damned United,”  I had to see it.  Michael Sheen had Clough down to the most minute detail.  This movie revolves around Clough’s most turbulent time, his time Managing Leeds United.  Before Clough took over at Leeds, he was a huge admirer of the legendary Don Revie.  During an English FA Cup tie, Clough’s Derby County meet the great Leeds.  At the time Derby were in the Second Division, while Leeds were in Division One.   With stars in his eyes, Clough greets the great Manager, Revie to his ground.  Revie snubs him and Leeds United turn around and use every dirty tactic in the book to defeat Clough’s Derby County.  Clough never forgets that.  He wants a chance to play Revie again, this time in Division One.  To do that, Clough turns a rag tag bunch of no names into the World beaters in Division Two and they win the Championship.  The next two seasons Clough did what no other Manager had ever done at Derby, he won the English Championship, knocking off the great Revie and Leeds at the same time.  It started a feud, where Clough told Revie he was not a very good Manager and that Leeds United were winners under him, because he taught them to cheat.  When Revie took the English job, Clough was hired for the Leeds job.  It was the most turbulent period of his life.  The movie deals with all this and so much more.  Michael Sheen(One of my favorite English actors) captures Clough’s bravado and arrogance perfectly.  Timothy Spall, is brilliant as Peter Taylor his Assistant.  Taylor was the brains behind Clough.  Colm Meany(Star Trek Deep Space Nine and the Van), captured Don Revie to a t, and Stephen Graham(Band of Brothers as Rainey) was perfect as the dirty fouling Leeds Captain Billy Bremner.  This is not so much a soccer movie as it is a biopic on a man who was cherished by anyone who ever came into contact with him.  It’s beautifully written, wonderfully shot and one of the best movies I’ve seen about the sport of Soccer.

11:  EIGHT MEN OUT:

Eight Men Out

Some movies have to be made to understand how a sport came through it’s growing pains.  In 1988 John Sayles brought us one of those movies, Eight Men Out.  It’s about the 1919 Black Sox scandal, which mobster Arnold Rothstein helped fix and then the fallout of the scandal was the banishment of eight players from Chicago White Sox.   Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the best ballplayers of his day and he went with them.  The acting in this movie is brilliant with great stars.  John Mahoney plays Manager and mentor Kid Gleeson.  A young John Cusak plays Buck Weaver, a ball player with honor and integrity, who took no money, but was one of the eight player named, because he knew about it and didn’t say anything.  DB Sweeney as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Alan Rucker plays one of the instigators First Baseman Chick Gandil.  A brilliant Baseball movie and one that shouldn’t be missed.

10:  BASKETBALL DIARIES:

Basketball DiariesThis isn’t just a movie about High School Basketball, it’s a movie about growing up and falling into the grips of heroin addiction.  Basketball Diaries is an intense movie that will grip you from frame one to the last.  It’s based on a true story and came from Jim Carroll’s autobiographical look at his time as a heroin addict.  For those of you who were fans of the Punk Rock era of the 1980’s you might remember Jim Carroll’s song, “Lots of People Who Have Died,” which is about heroin addiction.  In fact the song is used in the soundtrack to this movie.  The Performances in this movie are gritty, dark and spot on.  A young Leonardo DiCaprio plays Carroll, with that same grittiness.  He was a young kid when he did this.  If you watched a lot of DiCaprio’s early stuff(The Man in The Iron Mask comes to mind and also Gangs of New York)  his performances are weak and forced.  However, Basketball Diaries is one of his better movies from the early part of his career, one that is Oscar worthy.  His performance is mind blowing and I knew that this kid had the goods, he just needed to harness it.  It also stars Lorraine Braco as his mother.  A young Juliet Lewis(The Vacation movies), Bruno Kirby as the coach Smitty.  James Madio(Band Of Brothers) as one of Jim’s slimey friends and a young Mark Wahlberg, also brilliant in this.  It’s a hard movie to watch at times, but it is one well worth it.

9: FIELD OF DREAMS:

FIELD OF DREAMS

“Build It and they will come.”  Kevin Costner did build it in his Iowa corn field and they did come.  He didn’t care that the bank was about to take his house and leave his family homeless.  They is the ball players of his father’s past and his past to a Baseball field built in a cornfield and it is probably one of the most famous movies of all time.  Field of Dreams isn’t just about Baseball, it’s about what Baseball means to us as a fan, as a society and how we all want to hold on to that one moment of our youth, when we got the gloves and the ball and went out into the backyard and had a catch with our Dads.  I did that many times and I’m sure you did too.  A movie worthy of being on this list more than any other.

 

8:  A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN:Hanks Davis A LEAGUE

I saw this movie many years ago and not long after I did, my Dad and I decided to go to the Baseball Hall Of Fame.  Imagine my surprise when I saw an entire wing devoted to the All American Girls Baseball League.  A League started at the time of World War 2 by the owner of Clark’s candy bars.  Clark decided that while the Ball players were away fighting the war, then why not give the home fans some Baseball to watch.   Instead of the scabs that took over they would use girls.   Most people would consider this some sort of chick flick, but not me, it’s deserves to be a sports movie, because it is about Baseball no matter what the gender.   Tom Hanks is at his comedic best as former MLB star Jimmy Doolan, turned drunk after his career went downhill.  Geena Davis plays Catcher Dottie Henson, the teams best player and hitter.  Along with Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell to round out the supporting roles and it has sure fire acting.  This is a movie that will make you laugh and at times make you cry.  If you haven’t seen this movie or looked up the All American Girls Baseball League, you must.  When you do try and look up Bill Spaceman Lee’s mom.  She was quite a pitcher in her day, so as you can see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

6: BULL DURHAM:

kev-and-susanThere have been a lot of movies about Baseball that have been done, but none more realistic than Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham.  Shelton was a former minor league farm hand in the Baltimore Orioles system, so he knew the toils of those long bus rides to places like Kenosha Wisconsin.  There are so many great lines and moments in this movie that I can’t count them on one hand.  Kevin Costner is brilliant as Crash Davis, Susan Sarandon is charismatic as Annie Savoy and Tim Robbins is a lovable knucklehead as Nuke LaLouch, the pitcher with a two cent head.  My favorite part of the movie is the speech Costner gives, when he decides not to share Annie with with Nuke.  I call it the Lee Harvey Oswald Speech and it explains Crash Davis thoroughly.

 

5: THE COLOR OF MONEY:

color_primary

Some people may not consider Pool a sport, but I do and there are two movies on this list based on the topic and they are two of the best pool movies ever made.  In fact both movies are on my top 100 list.  The Color of Money is one of them.  Paul Newman reprises Fast Eddie Felson.  Eddie’s aged a lot, he runs a bar with a pool hall and is interested in Helen Shaver and wants to settle down, but he is drawn back into the wild seedy world of run down pool halls, when he meets Vinnie, a pool flake.  He sees raw talent in this kid and wants to make money with him.  However, he needs Eddie to turn off the flake when it doesn’t suit his needs and turn it on when it does.  Vinnie is wild and cocky and can’t resist showing off.  This movie is brilliant, Tom Cruise(Vinnie) is brilliant.  These types of roles are the reason Cruise is a star.  Paul Newman gives an academy award performance as Fast Eddie and Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio plays Vinnie’s girlfriend Carmen, a bit of a grifter trying to ride Vinnie all the way to the bank.

4: THE WRESTLER:

The Wrestler

There are some movies that come along and make you go wow!  When it’s a sports movie, you’re absolutely numb with delight.  Mickey Rourke finally returns to the big screen after many trials and tribulations and hits it out of the park.  Mickey Rourke plays Randy the Ram Robinson, a washed up Wrestler who still loves the the spotlight and the roar of the crowd.  However, Randy knows his time may be limited and his health isn’t the best and he needs to make amends in his life and reconnect with his daughter.  Also in this movie is Marisa Tomei, who gives a strong performance as a long in the toothed stripper, who falls for Randy.  This movie will eat you up and spit you out for dinner at times.  The best scenes are when Randy tries to reconnect with his daughter(Evan Rachel Wood).  These scenes are poignant and heart wrenching.  As he comes to grips with his heart condition, Randy the Ram, just wants that one more shot at a glory a big main event.  The end is tragic, but in the end Randy ends up dying the way he wanted, in the ring, even though nothing really turned out the way he wanted.  Rourke is phenomenal in this, his best work ever and he won an Oscar for it.  It’s good to see Rourke back and working again doing caliber work like he did with Diner and The Pope of Greenwich Village.  This is a movie that deserves to be on this list and very high on the list.

3: ROCKY:

ROCKYRocky isn’t just a sports movie, it’s one of the greatest movies of all time.  At one point in my life I was a huge boxing fan and this movie was one of the best on the subject matter.  Everyone loves to root for the underdog and Rocky was definitely that.  Rocky was a movie that was done on a shoe string budget, written and directed by Sylvester Stallone’s and it became his breakout movie.  It is not just the story of Rocky, but the story of Stallone’s underdog life.  I think that’s why the movie has so much honesty to it, because he wrote it during a time when he was trying to break out and this movie shows what it was like, just like Rocky.

2:  THE HUSTLER:

the-hustlerThe Hustler is the movie that introduced us to Fast Eddie Felson, whose life was spent in seedy pool halls hustling the seediest underbelly of society. Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost and sometimes he was beaten for his trouble.  That didn’t stop Eddie from being cocky enough to know he could beat Minnesota Fats(Jackie Gleason)    This is a much darker movie than Color of Money, but that doesn’t take away it’s gritty dialogue and great performance by Paul Newman.  This is the best pool movie ever and one that spawned the second best, the Color of Money.

1:  RAGING BULL:

RagingBull_Trailer1

My number one sports movie has to be Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese.  A movie about Jake LaMotta, whose life was fascinating and at times a bit disturbing.  Beautifully shot in black and white with Oscar performances from Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty.  The boxing scenes are some of the grittiest I’ve seen.  I know I wouldn’t have wanted to get in the ring with this guy.  If you watch one movie about sports, watch this one, you won’t be sorry that you did.

My Top 100 Movies Of All Time

My Top 100 Movies:

What makes a good movie?  For me, a movie has those special qualities, dialogue, acting,  cinematography and most of all, that one moment, that leaves you breathless, or makes you jump, or sends a shiver down your spine.  I know a  good movie,  if I lean forward in my seat engrossed.  I know a movie is awesome when that defining moment hits and I get the chill that runs down my spine.  It doesn’t have to be a movie with suspense, it can be anything, comedy, drama, or action adventure. If that  movie leaves me with a lasting impression and  I am still thinking about it weeks or months or even a few years after, I know it was good.  The movies I chose for my  top 100, all share those qualities.    It wasn’t easy choosing this list.  I wrote down as many as 800 movies that I have seen.   Coming up with the 100 was a bit of a trick.  I had five categories..  Legendary, excellent, good, fair and god awful.  Believe me that god awful list was mammoth.  By the time I was done with the legendary list, I came up with 140 movies to choose from.   Whittling it down to the 100 was not easy.  The next chore was putting them in order.  No small feat, but now that’s it’s done here are my 100 favorite movies of all time.

100:  GROUNDHOG DAY:

bill-murray-groundhog-dayBill Murray plays a weatherman named Phil, who is given the task of covering the annual Groundhog day event in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania.  When a storm hits, his trip becomes a nightmare as he is forced to live the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.  An ingenious movie and one of Murray’s best.  Harold Ramis directed and wrote the script for this one.  A classic that had me in stitches.

99:  THE CLASS OF 44:

class-of-44It all began with a book by Herman Raucher, called the Summer of 42.  Low and behold we had a copy in the house and I read it in two days. Reading it as 14 year old, I was quite caught by how racy it was.  Then I saw the coming of age movie with Jennifer O’Neill and I loved it.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think there was a sequel, but I found it at my local video store.   It’s not often you can say that a sequel is better than the original, but in this case it was.  It concerns the three friends, Oscy, Benji and Hermie, from Summer of 42.  They all go their separate ways.  Benji to the Army and Oscy and Hermie to College, where they get into all kinds of crazy stuff, like fraternities and trying to stuff as many pledges into a phone booth as you can. Things change when with the friendship when Hermie takes school more seriously and joins many intellectual and social clubs, while Oscy remains a goofball.  The turning point is when Hermie meets a girl, named Julie.  The two don’t hit it off at first and it’s a bundle of laughs to see how Hermie wins her over.

98:  FREEBIE AND THE BEAN:

arkin-and-caan-freebieI see a lot of Buddy Cop movies, and a lot of them are the same tired story or some of them are just plain awful.  Want some advice Hollywood writers, go see the original Cop buddy movie.  No not Lethal Weapon, although that is good and almost made the list.  No I’m talking about Freebie and the Bean.  “Freebie and Who?, you say.”  This was the best Buddy Cop movie of them all.  It starred Alan Arkin and James Caan.  Caan plays the more loud mouth angry cop, while Arkin plays the more reserved and reserved is putting it mildly.  Both of them are reckless, rude and do things they’re own way.  Sort of like Starsky and Hutch.  The case, is simple, bring down a notorious crime lord named Meyer and break any code to get this guy. In the process they upset the Captain, but so did Starsky and Hutch.  Along the way there are plenty of surprises.  I won’t give the ending away, because that is mind blowing.

 

97:  FRANKIE STARLIGHT:

frankie_starlightA movie I almost never had a chance to watch.  My Dad gave me the video, but my VCR was on the fritz and I could never watch it.  One weekend, I came home and Dad pulled it up on Netlix .  It’s the story of a man named Walker (Frank Bois) who suffers from dwarfism.  He tells his story of how he was conceived and how he and his mother Bernadette(Anne Parillaud) get away from Ireland to find a new life in the states.   While in America, Bernadette meets Terry Klout (Matt Dillon) and she’s real enchanted by him.  Klout takes to Walker too and it looks like a life in America is going to happen, but circumstances come along that change all that, so they are forced to move back to Ireland.  Walker’s  mother eventually meets Jack Kelly played by Gabriel Byrne, who she has an affair with and he takes to Walker and the two share an interest in astronomy, where Jack tells Walker beautiful stories about the stars.  Jack eventually calls Walker Frankie Starlight.

96:  THE MALTESE FALCON:

maltese-falcon One Christmas my father gave my mother these two classic movie books .  One was Casablanca and the other was the Maltese Falcon.  I was fascinated by these books.  The books contained every framed shot with all the dialogue.   I had never seen a Bogart movie before so I bought my parents the Maltese Falcon.   There’s a great scene where Elisha Cook, who plays Wilmer, tries to get the drop on Bogart and he turns the tables on him.  Wilmer protests, “Hey I don’t like that.”  In typical Bogart style and fashion, he spits out, “You take it and like it.”  It is a true classic, along with Humphrey Bogart, the movie stars, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre all trying to get this statue called the Maltese Falcon.

95:  AFTER HOURS:

after-hoursI had no idea what I was getting myself into when I went to see After Hours.  For that matter, neither did Griffin Dunne.  What I got myself into was a movie, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of.  This was one of Marty Scorsese first movies and it deserves to be in any list, because it is quirky and deeply disturbing.  Griffin Dunne plays a Processor who meets this very pretty but odd girl played by Rosanna Arquette at a Coffee shop after hours.  That was his first mistake, because through Rosanna Arquette, Griffin ends up having one of the most terrifying and bizarre evenings of his life.  Think Murphy’s law on steroids and that’s what this movie is.

 

94: BACK TO THE FUTURE:

back-to-the-futureWhat more needs to be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said.   Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly, while Christopher Lloyd plays Doc Brown and they must go back to the past to save Marty’s future before Marty doesn’t exist at all.  They hop in a time machine made out of a Dolorean.  It was one wild ride and so were the two sequels that followed.

93:  THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE:

treasure-of-the-sierra-madreAnother Bogart classic about two Americans looking for work in Mexico.  When they find an old prospector to help them mine gold, their troubles really begin.  There’s great acting in this and lots of suspense.  A John Huston classic.

92:  STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.

brando-and-leighTo this day, it remains, my favorite Tennessee Williams play, turned into a movie.  Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh remain my favorite Stanley and Blanche.  A brilliant movie, full of wonderful dialogue and Brando eats up the furniture as Stanley Kowalski, the animal of a man, who just has no use for Blanche and thinks she’s trouble.

91:  THE KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN:

hurt-and-juliaTwo Prisoners, one gay and one Political share a cell together.  Valentin(Raul Julia) is repulsed by Molina(William Hurt), but after spending many hours talking, the two manage to find some respect for one another.   The acting in this is brilliant and it was up for a number of Academy awards.

90: SPARTACUS:

kirk-douglas-spartacusIt seems Spartacus was always on television and I really didn’t mind, because it is one of my favorite movies.  Kirk Douglas plays a classic character.  A movie about a slave that leads a revolt against the Roman Empire.  Someone William Wallace could admire.

89: ROCKY:

rockyFrom out of nowhere, a complete unknown actor, writer and director creates Hollywood Magic, with the tale of Rocky Balboa.  By day Rocky is busting heads as the heavy for a loanshark, when he’s not, he’s in the Gym, trying to get someone to Manage him.  His real dream, he wants to be a Boxer.  When I saw Rocky, I was already a huge boxing fan.  It came out during a time when the Heavyweight Championship was changing hands left and right and the lightweight championship was starting to take over and become all the rage.  Watching Rocky, you felt like you’d been in a Prize fight yourself.  Each round was brilliantly crafted and Silvester Stallone was great.

88: MANHATTEN:

manhattan1Woody Allen plays a television writer who dates Muriel Hemmingway, who is about 30 years younger than him.  Enter Diane Keaton, the mistress of his best friend to further complicate matters.  Beautifully shot in Black and White and some very crisp dialogue as only Allen can write, but the true star of this movie is not Allen, or the black and white cinema photography, it’s Manhatten itself.  A beautiful city, no matter whether it is in black and white or color.

87:  THE GRADUATE:

the-graduates“You’re trying to seduce me Mrs. Robinson.”  Yup she was, the problem was he fell in love with her daughter and that really complicated things.  Dustin Hoffman was brilliant as Benjamin Braddock, shy, nervous and always on edge, particularly around Mrs. Robinson.  A true classic movie and one of my favorites, but you know what, he should have gotten into, plastics.

86:  THE PLAYER:

the-playerRobert Altman was one of the true geniuses in the industry.  Who else could come up with a movie about Hollywood,  and a murder mystery no less, starring Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Vincent Donofrio, Whoopy Goldberg and a host of other actors.  Tim Robbins plays Griffin Mill a ruthless Hollywood Executive who has the power to make or break a movie. When he starts receiving mysterious death threats from an angry writer, he suspects it’s David Kahane.  (Vincent D’Onofrio). Mill meets Kahane in an ally one night and the two have a heated argument, which leads to Mill killing Kahane.  That’s when Mill’s problems really begin.  This is a quirky look at Hollywood and how the game works or doesn’t work in some cases.  Many actors play  themselves.  The plot has all kinds of interesting twists and turns. Whoopie Goldberg and Lyle Lovett are the two cops, who investigate Kahane’s murder.

85:  SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER:

saturday-night-fever A few years back, USA was hyping  the Anniversary for this movie with stories on how it became a classic.  Of course they also showed the movie.  I thought, what the hell, I’ll watch it, but it’s probably very dated.  Nope.  Not by a long shot and I had just as much fun watching it as I did when it first came out.  The opening, catches you.  There he is, Travolta strutting down the street to the BGS’S soundtrack.  From that moment, you believed his character.  The dialogue was very realistic and the story was believable.

84:  GUILTY BY SUSPICION:

guilty-by-suspicionThere was a time in the 1950’s when Hollywood was under attack by Joseph McCarthy.  He was in search of Communists and Hollywood was not immune from his wrath.  This movie was quite a departure for Robert De Niro.  No he wasn’t a Mobster, he was one of those Hollywood writers that had been suspected of consorting with communists and put on the Blacklist.  A movie just as relevant for today  as it was when it came out in the 1990’S.  Annette Bening is excellent as his wife and George Wendt, (Norm!!!!!!)plays his friend who gives his name to the House on Un-American Activities Committee.

83:  ANNIE HALL:

annie-hallI know what you’re thinking, why isn’t Annie Hall higher,  surely it merits it?  There is another Allen movie on here, which I think is far better and far funnier, but I will get to that when it comes up.  It’s essentially that quirky love story that only Allen can do best.  These two must have made five to six movies together and both of them always made Hollywood gold when they worked together.  Oh and yes, the lobster scene is my favorite.

82: THE CONVERSATION:

the-conversationA movie I had only read about, but not seen, until this past year.  An intense, psychological look through the eyes of Security Surveillance expert, played masterfully by Gene Hackman.  When he is hired to catch his clients wife having an affair, he suddenly discovers something much more going on.  The wife in question and her lover are planning to murder the wife’s husband, or are they?  Look for a very young Harrison Ford in this movie, he has a nice scene in this movie.

 

81:   GLORY:

gloryAn important story that had never been told.  A regiment of free slaves fighting against the South during the Civil War.  Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Broderick, Andre Braugher and Cary Elwes star and tell a very realistic tale of one of the First Black regiments to fight in the civil war. It’s intense and worth a watch.

80:  CHICAGO:

chicagoI have to admit, when I first heard this musical was being made into a movie, I was skeptical.  When I heard who was in the cast, I was even more skeptical.  I never thought Richard Gere could pull off Billy Flynn.  I never believed that Catherine Zeta Jones could sing or dance.  I was wrong and my mother was right.  A brilliant movie.  I am convinced that Richard Gere can do anything and he is one of our most underrated actors.  Renee Zellwegger was fantastic and the music, choreography and Queen Latifa were all top notch.

79: BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY:

born-on-the-fourth-of-julyThis is a movie that told the other side of war, the coming home part.  Tom Cruise plays real life Vietnam Vet Ron Kovic and this movie will rip you apart and leave your insides hanging out.   Tom Cruise puts on his best movie performance ever.(And he’s had a few)It was a story that needed to be told.

78:  STALAG 17:

stalag-17One of the great things about visiting my Dad is that he has Turner classics and once in a while, a movie you have always wanted to see, comes on.  Such was the case, this past Christmas.  I had never seen Stalag 17.  I always wondered what the fuss was about.  Now I know.  A brilliant story about prisoners of war holed up in Stalag 17.  William Holden plays a WW2 Blackmarket guy,  who seems to be able to get anyone anything in those barracks. Two American POWS try to escape and were killed.  The escape was very secret and not one German knew about it, but someone had to.  The rest of the POWS suspect Holden.  What looks obvious never really is and it takes Holden to bring the culprit from the dark into the light.  The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously though as there are some moments of humor.

77: SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION:

robbins-and-freemanI’ll admit it, I have never read a Stephen King book.  I was more a Peter Straub fan.  Another interesting thing is that most of King’s later stuff is more geared towards the Supernatural, or the macabre.  Shawshank Redemption is not one of them.  Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, sent to prison for a gruesome murder.  While in jail, he suffers the torments of prison life and meets Ellis Boyd Red Redding(Morgan Freeman) The two bond together and are allowed to work in the prison library and eventually find redemption.  However, there is a surprise ending here, one that cannot be missed.

76:  ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN:

all-the-presidents-menA movie worthy of being on anyone’s list, because of the historical significance it played.  It wasn’t just about the Watergate Scandal, it was how Woodward and Bernstein went about it, which was just as deeply compelling and suspenseful as the Nixon administration or Deep Throat for that matter.

75:  THE FRENCH CONNECTION:

hackman-popeye-doyleThis is the movie that took car chase scenes to another level.  It is also the story of Popeye Doyle whose dogged determination brought down a drug cartel, which in later years eventually led to the mob crumbling to pieces.   Since I’ve seen this movie, I can’t think of any actor that could have played this character other than Gene Hackman.  It’s one of his best movies and he’s had many and it’s one of the most important characters in movie history.

74:  DEAD POETS SOCIETY:

dead-poets-societyCarpe Diem!  I never went to a Private School, but I went to a public school in England and that was like a Private School.  You had to wear uniforms, you had to mind your P’s and Q’S and you weren’t allowed to like any of the teachers.  John Keating comes back to his old school to teach the boys about poetry, through unconventional methods.  Those unconventional methods don’t exactly sit well with the administration.  Through Keating’s methods, he draws these kids out with humor, wit and style. The kids begin to enjoy the boring course of Poetry and his pupils become just as fascinated by Keating as he is in their studies. When  they discover that he belonged to a group called the Dead Poets society, they decide to resurrect it, with drastic consequences.  A whole host of new actors were born through this great movie.  Sean Patrick Leonard(House), Josh Charles(The Good Wife) and of course Ethan Hawke.

73: CHARIOTS OF FIRE:

chariots-of-fireI can still hear the Vangelis music and I dream of being an Olympic track and Field champ. I met one once and he was British just like these guys were.  It’s about life, friendship and competing at the 1924 Olympics and it still resonates with me to this day.  Ben Cross and Ian Charleson come from two different faiths and don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, both were interesting to watch.

72:  CHINATOWN:

nicholson-in-chinatownI watched the two movies out of order.  I saw the Two Jakes First(Brilliant but didn’t make the list), and decided that it was about time I saw this one.  So I watched it off X-finity one night. Jack Nicholson plays Jake Gittes whose hired to expose an adulterer, what he gets from Faye Dunaway is a web of deceit and corruption.  This is a different part than most of Nicholson’s roles, he’s a lot more reserved and plays Gittes with a tough edge.  I got the sense that Gittes was the new Sam Spade.

71: ON THE WATERFRONT:

brando-on-the-waterfrontI have always wanted to see this movie and five years ago it showed up on Turner Classics.  I was thrilled.  It was magnificent and everything I always imagined it would be.  Marlon Brando is tormented by the lost opportunity of winning that prize fight.  His brother talked him into tanking it as a favor to the mob. Now he’s a tool of the mob and tries to find a way out.  It’s a movie that resonates as much today as the era it came out in.

70:  THE KINGS SPEECH:

 

the-kings-speechColin Firth plays King George VI, who suddenly becomes King of England right at the beginning of World War 2.  He’s reluctant, because now he has the awful responsibility of speaking to his British subjects at the time Britain needs him most.  The problem is that George has a speech impediment.  His Wife Helena Bonham Carter hires Lionel Logue(Geoffrey Rush) to help him work through the impediment and his worst fears, speaking to the country.  A fantastic movie, with great acting.  Firth won an academy award for this and it was well deserved.

69: MIDNIGHT EXPRESS:

midnight-expressThere are few disturbing movies on this list, one of them British, which still sticks with me to this day.  Midnight Express is another one of those movies that is deeply disturbing and still sticks with me.  Remind me never to go to Turkey.  Brad Davis won an Oscar for his portrayal of the College student, who makes the mistake of trying to smuggle drugs out of Turkey.  His punishment isn’t just prison, it’s the torment and torture he must endure while his father tries to get him out.

68:  FISHER KING:

robin-williams-the-fisher-kingWhen Robin Williams was at his best, it was all about the improv and wherever his mind would take him.  In the Fisher King, he proved that and so much more.  You almost forget Jeff Bridges and Mercedes Ruhl are in this movie, because you believe you are so engrossed with Williams portrayal of a Schizophrenic man.  Jeff Bridges plays the radio talk show host who tries to save Williams from himself.

67:  THE BREAKFAST CLUB:

the-breakfast-club John Hughes got youth and the pain of growing up. He spoke to us about what teenage angst was about and brought it to us time and time again.  I think somewhere inside John Hughes lived the heart of a child trying to break into adult hood and I don’t mean that as an insult, I mean that as a compliment.  Every movie he touched, literally was Hollywood Gold and The Breakfast Club was no different.  First off it’s a genius idea.  Why not stick five completely different types of kids in detention together on a Saturday?  What would happen?  What happened was classic, sometimes disturbing and you walked away with a deep understanding of what each kid was going through.  All five of these actors brought some depth to each of their roles.  Emilio Estevez, the angry jock, whose father won’t settle for anything but the best.  Anthony Michael Hall as the kid whose parents have to have straight A’s, so he fails shop.  Molly Ringwald, the most popular girl in school, who hates being popular because it stresses her out.  Ally Sheedy, as the girl who wants everyone to think she’s disturbed, but really isn’t.  Her reason for being there?  She had nothing better to do.  And last, the bomb that goes off, is Judd Nelson.  He plays Bender, the greaser whose Dad beats the crap out of him, burns him with cigarettes and gives him a carton for Christmas and tells him to smoke up.   We all knew people like these kids in High School and we didn’t really get to know them until college. What happens during one Saturday ends up changing lives.  The Greaser, ends up with the Princess and you hope they all decided to ditch their cliques and hang out with each other.  Or at least you want to believe they do.  A brilliant movie you can’t keep your eyes and ears off of.  A true lesson in how to write dialogue for movies.

66:  THE SHINING:

jack-in-the-shining“Here’s Johnny.  A classic line from a classic movie by Stephen King, about a writer who goes completely mad trying to write his latest novel.  When I first saw this movie I hated it.  Can you believe that? I hated this movie.  The reason?  Shelly Duvall.  I thought she was overacting, but then I saw it again and I realized she wasn’t overacting, she was brilliant.  A woman would be that hysterical while some madman tries to kill her.  This movie has definitely grown on me through the years and it is truly a Nicholson classic.  Jack at his sick sadistic best.

65:  SAVING PRIVATE RYAN:

saving-private-ryanTom Hanks plays a Captain of a rag tag bunch who are sent in search of a Private Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed on D-DAY.  The plan is to find him and send Private Ryan(Matt Damon) home.  Along the way, they are confronted with many obstacles.  Once they arrive in a small village with a Bridge, they find Ryan.  He’s devastated when he learns his three brothers have been killed, but he’s decided he’d rather not go home.  He wants to fight and save the Bridge with his combat brothers.  Hanks and his crew feel they have no choice, they have to fight with him.  Ryan gets out, but Hanks and his crew don’t all survive.  There’s some great acting in this and with an all star cast with Tom Sizemore, Henry Thomas, Adam Goldberg, Edward Burns, Giovanni Ribisi and Barry Pepper.  This is the movie that gave Hanks the idea for the two mini series to follow Band Of Brothers and The Pacific.

64: THE DEERHUNTER:

the-deer-hunterNothing more needs to be said about Michael Cimino’s classic Vietnam movie.  It was the first Vietnam movie I saw.  Meryl Streep was barely known, Robert De-Niro had already become famous and Christopher Walken was about to become a huge star.  He has one of the  most disturbing scenes.  For pure tension, the Russian Roulette scene is a ten and maybe higher.  Sometimes I have to close my eyes when I watch this scene.

63:  ET:

et-image “Elliot.” The wonderful thing about characters like ET, is that you can let your imagination run wild.  It’s the perfect way for a writer to have a blast.  That’s what happened with ET when Elliot brought the Extra Terrestrial home and hides him from the Government.  I never expected to like this movie, but after I saw it, there was a tear in my eye.  I walked away feeling as if I had just watched a movie that would be remembered for years to come and it still is to this day.

62:  THE ELEPHANT MAN:

the-elephant-manThis is a story that is sometimes deeply disturbing, sometimes deeply poignant  and most of all pure magic.   It’s a story about humanity at its worst and it’s best.  John Hurt plays John Merrick, a freak of nature who has elephantiasis and lives his life as nothing more than a carnival sideshow, until a Victorian Doctor(Anthony Hopkins) finds him and wants to help him lead a normal life, but nothing is ever normal in John Merrick’s world.

61: ELIZABETH:

elizabeth_poster I am a history nut, so if Hollywood makes a movie about Tudor times, I’m there at the movie theater eating that popcorn.  Elizabeth is a riveting movie about the life and times of Elizabeth Tudor. I found myself fascinated and received a history lesson at the same time.  Before she got to the throne, her time was troubled.  She was a threat to Queen Margaret who wanted her out of the way.  Kate Blanchette plays Elizabeth and she was perfect.  In the sequel she really looks like her.  The first movie dealt with the time before her reign and moves into the beginning of it.  She has a special relationship with Lord Dudley(Joseph Fiennes) , her former beau.  Walsingham(Geoffrey Rush) finds him a threat and he calculates a way to get rid of him as Lord Walsingham did with anyone he felt was a threat to his power, not Elizabeth’s.  Lord Walsingham’s power is personified in both movies and he concocted the Casket letters to convince Elizabeth to execute her cousin Mary Queen of Scots.  I always come away with one thing when I see a movie based on the Monarchy.  The Kings and Queens really don’t hold much power, it’s the people they put in power that can do the most damage or most good.  Sort of like Politics.

60: RISKY BUSINESS:

risky-businessIt was different than any other coming of age movie I have ever seen.  It’s the story of a high school kid named Joel Goodison(Tom Cruise), and what happens when his parents go away for the week.  You see Joel’s parents think he is responsible, but he is warned not to drive the Porsche and use the station wagon, he is warned not to turn up the stereo too loud, which he does and prances around the house in his undies, pretending he’s Bob Segar.   And lastly he is told, not to have any parties.  Which he does in the last half of the movie.  Now it’s not that Joel isn’t a good kid and he won’t listen, it’s his friends.  Particularly Miles(Curtis Armstrong), who starts the whole mess, by calling a hooker for Joel so he can lose his virginity.   From there Joel’s life turns into a mess.  His night with the Hooker,(Rebecca DeMorney) goes great, but it’s what happens when he can’t pay her.  She robs his house.  When he confronts her in a hotel, her Pimp(Joe Pantialone) is after her.  She’s late with the money she needs to kick up to him and she doesn’t like him.  She grabs Joel, pushes him into his Dad’s Porsche and tells Joel to Drive.  The movie is  a wild ride, with plenty of funny, funny moments and great dialogue.  Lines like this.  Joel drives with Lana in the front seat and Myles in the back.  Myles looks behind him.  Guido is on their heels with his gun ready to shoot.  “Great, I have a trig midterm tomorrow and I’m being chased by Guido the Killer Pimp.”  Or a few minutes later as Joel takes a sharp turn in the Porsche.  Joel looks behind.  Myles is about to be sick.  “Myles, Myles are you okay?”  “I’m about to be sick Joel.  I’m about to be sick all over you Joel!!!”  This is why I love this movie and it’s why it’s on this list.  It’s still one of Tom Cruises best.

59: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES:

fried-green-tomatoesI can never think of this movie without one particular line coming out of my mouth.  TAWANDA!!!!!!  Kathy Bates plays a Evelyn Couch unhappy with her life.  She spends time at a nursing home, where she meets Ninny Threadgood(Jessica Tandy), who Evelyn confides in.  Ninny builds her confidence, by telling her wonderful stories about her childhood and her relationship with her sister in law Idgie Threadgood.(Mary Stuart Masterson) a real fire brand, who runs a cafe in Alabama called the Whistle StopCafe, where she makes Fried Green Tomatoes.  (By the way fried Green Tomatoes are pretty good, my Dad, Maryland born introduced them to me.)  We move back and forth in flashback mode to the 1920’s and see her life as it happened.  Idgies story is interesting and mysterious, involving murder, love, triumph and most of all hope.  The Screenplay came from Fanny Flags book with the same name.

 

58: THE WIZARD OF OZ:

the-wicked-witchWhen it’s on, I still watch it because it takes me back to when I was a kid.  A time when I had hope and dreams and I used my imagination. It still scares me from time to time, particularly the Witch and the All Powerful Oz, until he comes out behind that curtain, terrified of human interaction.  It has humor, dancing, singing and most of all it offers you the chance to go home, where somwhere over the rainbow dreams do come true.  The Wizard of Oz is a hard movie to take off anybody’s movie list, because it lives on as a classic.

57:  MARATHON:

marathon-manWho knew that going to the Dentist, was going to put a Graduate Student in such a painful predicament, where Stolen Diamonds, a Nazi and international espionage are at stake.  That’s what happens to Dustin Hoffman when he goes to get a filling fixed.  His dentist?  Laurence Olivier.   One of the most draining and painful movies to watch, filled with gripping tension, and mind bending plot twists.  One of Hoffman’s most underrated movies.  Oh and Laurence Olivier is one deranged ex Nazi.  It also has William Devane an actor, whose work, I have admired for years and who I believed should have been a bigger movie star.  Then again, he got a pretty good run in a classic series called 24 didn’t he.

56: A FISH CALLED WANDA:

a-fish-called-wandaA Fish Called Wanda is the adopted Python Movie, with adopted American Python Members.  Here’s what I mean by that.  It has the humor of Python with two American Actors Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline who would have fit seamlessly within the troupe.  Especially Kevin Kline, who must have been weaned on Python, because throughout this entire movie he acts like a Minister of Silly Walks.   There are so many hysterical moments with Kline and Cleese, Kline and Leigh Curtis and Kline and Palin that your peeing your pants by the time the movie is over.  And don’t get me going on Palin.  This is Michael Palin at his funniest.  He’s never better as the stuttering K..K…K….K….K…K…K…EN.  Note the chips stuck up his nose here.

55:  WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT:

who-framed-roger-rabbitRoger Rabbit, took animation rules and threw them out the window.   Now actors act with animated characters in front of a blue screen and they are edited in.  Roger Rabbit was the forerunner to all of that.  Later, it led to CGI and now movies like 300 take Gerard Butler’s image and animate them digitally and give you the appearance that the actor is there, when he really isn’t.  On a personal level I have real issues with this, because Hollywood, could soon do this with all movies and actors would be out of work.  On the other hand, I think in certain instances, it is perfectly all right to do this when the project is right for it.  None the less,  Roger Rabbit is a fine movie, kids may not get some of the adult jokes, but that’s all right, because the gags still work.  And believe me folks this was a movie that I think was more for the adults than for children.

54:  GET SHORTY:

get-shorty John Travolita takes a low level mob Loan Shark and creates him into a loveable character.  You can’t hate Chili Palmer and I never did.  It’s a story about a Loan Shark whose tired of the mob grind and having to kick up to a selfish powerful jerk named Ray Barboni.  When one of his clients skips town with some money to Hollywood, Chili gets an idea.  The Movies.  He wants out and he wants a new life in the movies as a regular player.  So he shows up at Harry Zimm’s(Gene Hackman) house one night and using his mob guile manages to get him to listen to a story pitch.  Harry’s is not too keen about it at first until, Chili gets him to look at him. Here’s the scene.  This is epic dialogue.

INT. KAREN'S STUDY – SAME TIME

               Harry moves into the glow of the big Sony, the rest of the 
               room dark. On the tube, Dave is interviewing actor Martin 
               Weir when suddenly the screen goes black and the desk lamp 
               comes on. Harry jumps...

                                     HARRY
                         Jesus Christ!

               Chili leans into the light, keeps his tone quiet, controlled.

                                     CHILI
                         Harry Zimm, how you doing? I'm Chili 
                         Palmer.

               Harry presses a hand against his chest.

                                     HARRY
                         Jesus, if I have a heart attack, I 
                         hope you know what to do.

                                     CHILI
                         Where you been, Harry?

               Harry lets his hand slide down over his belly, taking his 
               time, wanting to show that he has it together now.

                                     HARRY
                         Have we met? I don't recall.

                                     CHILI
                         We just did. I told you my name's 
                         Chili Palmer.

               Harry stares back, trying to figure out who this guy is.

                                     HARRY
                         You're in pictures, right?

               Chili smiles. Doesn't say anything.

                                     HARRY
                         Did you stop to think what if I had 
                         a heart attack?

                                     CHILI
                         You look okay to me, Harry. Come 
                         over here and sit down. Tell me what 
                         you been up to.

               Harry takes one of the canvas director's chairs by the desk. 
               He looks at a bottle of Dewars sitting there, runs a hand 
               through his hair, thinks about a drink...

                                     CHILI
                         Harry, look at me.

               Harry brings his hand down.

                                     HARRY
                         I'm looking at you.

                                     CHILI
                         I want you to keep looking right 
                         here, okay?

                                     HARRY
                         That's what I'm doing.

                                     CHILI
                         You know Dick Allen, Mesa's Casino?

                                     HARRY
                         Dick Allen's a very dear friend of 
                         mine. How far you want to go with 
                         this?

                                     CHILI
                         We're there, Harry. You signed markers 
                         for a hundred and a half, you're 
                         over sixty days past due and you 
                         haven't told anybody what the problem 
                         is.

               Harry looks at Chili.

                                     HARRY
                         Jesus Christ, what're you, a collector 
                         for a fucking casino? You come in 
                         here, walk in the house in the middle 
                         of the fucking night? I thought you 
                         were an actor, auditioning, for 
                         Christ's sake.

               Chili nods, almost smiles...

                                     CHILI
                         Is that right? That's interesting. 
                         You thought I was acting, huh?

               Harry pushes out of the chair, looks down at Chili.

                                     HARRY
                         We'll see about this...

               Harry grabs the phone, punches the '0'.

                                     HARRY
                         Operator, how do I get Las Vegas 
                         Information?

                                     CHILI
                         Harry, lemme give you some advice.

               Chili leans forward, hangs up the phone with his index finger, 
               casually reaches for the receiver...

                                     CHILI
                         You don't want to act like a hard-
                         on, you're standing there in your 
                         undies. You know what I'm saying? 
                         What you want to do is sit down and 
                         talk to me.

               Harry sits down. Chili hangs up the phone.

                                     CHILI
                         A marker's like a check, Harry.

                                     HARRY
                         I know what a marker is.

                                     CHILI
                         They don't want to deposit yours and 
                         have it bounce. That annoys them. So 
                         your dear friend Dick Allen's been 
                         calling, leaving messages on your 
                         machine, but you never get back to 
                         him. I happen to be in Vegas on 
                         another matter, and Dick asks me as 
                         a favor would I look you up. I follow 
                         you over here, see you in the window 
                         with this woman, looks a lot like 
                         that actress Karen Flores, was in 
                         Grotesque, except she's not blond 
                         anymore...

               Harry's gaze moves to the bottle of scotch on the desk...

                                     CHILI
                         You're not looking at me, Harry.

                                     HARRY
                         Why do I have to keep looking at 
                         you?

                                     CHILI
                         I want you to.

                                     HARRY
                         You gonna get rough now, threaten 
                         me? I make good by tomorrow or get 
                         my legs broken?

                                     CHILI
                         Come on, Harry -– Mesas? The worst 
                         they might do is get a judgment 
                         against you, uttering a bad check. I 
                         can't imagine you want that to happen, 
                         man in your position.

                                     HARRY
                         Fuckin' basketball game.

               Harry reaches for the bottle of scotch and pours himself 
               drink.

                                     HARRY
                         Tell Dick Allen I'll cover the markers 
                         in the next sixty days at the most. 
                         He doesn't like it, that's his 
                         problem. The prick.

               Harry starts to take another drink, looks at Chili, not 
               moving.

                                     HARRY
                         So, you want me to call you a cab?

               Chili shakes his head, keeps staring at Harry, but with a 
               different expression now, more thoughtful, curious.

                                     CHILI
                         You make movies, huh?

                                     HARRY
                         I produce feature motion pictures, 
                         no TV. You mentioned Grotesque, that 
                         happened to be Grotesque Part II 
                         that Karen Flores was in. She starred 
                         in all three of my Slime Creatures 
                         releases you might have seen.

               Chili nods, leans forward on the desk.

                                     CHILI
                         I think I got an idea for a movie.

That’s where the story takes off and it is a brilliant story taken from one of Elmore Leonard’s novels and turned into Hollywood gold.  “Harry, look at me.”  We all looked, we all believed and we all loved.

53: THE INTERNATIONAL:

the-internationalMy neighbor insisted I watch this. He had it on DVD and am I glad that I sat down and watched this.  Believe me it held my attention from the first frame to the last.    It gave me some great ideas for the Third Eye  and it is a very relevant film now and in the future.  It makes you think about finance and how our money is being used.  A lot of it for secret operations and illegal activities.  That’s not what you’re bank is supposed to do with your money.  It’s supposed to be there for you.  Clive Owen stars as an Interpol agent working to uncover an international drug ring that is linked to International banking.  What he uncovers is much more than funding for drug cartels, he uncovers how the banks control everything, not just in the US but around the world.  A deeply disturbing movie that will make you think and will get  you  pissed off.

52:  THE LAST EMPEROR:

the-last-emperorLittle is known of the Last Emperor of China, but Hollywood thought the story was important enough to be told in 1987 and I saw it on a big wide screen and loved every second of it.  I learned so much about the history before communism.   It’s an intriguing story and you learn so much about the history of China.  Peter O’Toole gives a marvelous performance as the Last Emperor’s tutor and friend.

51:   A CHRISTMAS STORY:

a-christmas-storyIt’s official Christmas Story has replaced It’s A Wonderful Life as the all time favorite Christmas movie.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it is in my family.  My sister loves it.  I do too and no Christmas seems complete without it.  This was a movie that I could relate to on so many levels.  I too had two instances in my life where I had small tiny toy guns.  When I was five, I had a six shooter, that mysteriously went missing.  Hmmm.  I suspect my mother might have had something to do with that.  Then when I lived in England I came back from a school trip to France with a cap gun.  That was confiscated immediately.  The lesson learned, was violence doesn’t solve problems even in the fantasy world of a kid.  But I am not about to go on about whether kids should have cap guns or not, my purpose is to talk about how wonderful Christmas Story was.  It was set in middle America, with the perfect middle American family.  It took you back to when you were a kid.  Who can forget double daring your friend to do something stupid, like sticking your tongue to a frozen pole.  Oh it was a wonderful time to be a kid and later reflect upon some of the stupid things you did, even if it wasn’t around Christmas.  Most of all this movie reminded you, that the true meaning of Christmas is family.

50:  THE PRINCESS BRIDE:

princess-brideBefore William Goldman ventured into Hollywood, he was quite a fiction writer.  I’ve read his best book, “Temple Of Gold,” which still has not been made into a movie.  Hint hint Mr. Goldman, I think I could write this for you.  Another book Goldman wrote was Princess Bride about the Dread Pirate Roberts.  A beautiful book, set in a fictional land that was made into the most enchanting movie by Meathead(Rob Reiner).  What a movie he created.  It’s a movie with humor, action and adventure. Our hero is  Carey Elwes(Westley aka the Dread Pirate Roberts) and he  reminds you of a young Errol Flynn.  (I am still trying to figure out why this poor British actor has not become more relevant. Anything I have seen him in has been first class and he deserves  A list status.)  Robin Wright Penn plays the woman he is trying to rescue from Prince Ruppert, the evil Monarch of our story.  She and Westley(Dread Pirate Roberts), fight all sorts of things to be together.  They fight swamp rats, hideous villains and the Six Fingered Man.  Actually Mandy Patinkin fights the Six Finger man, but that’s another story within this story, which is beautifully done and a favorite of mine because there are so many quotable lines.

49:  MIDNIGHT COWBOY:

midnight-cowboyThere’s a reason Angelina Jolie is at the top of her game.  She gets it from her Father John Voigt, who is a pretty good actor in his own right.  He happens to be in one of my favorite movies of all time.  My mother introduced me Midnight Cowboy  and I loved it so much, that I had to see it again and rented it.  It is a deeply disturbing movie set in New York City.  Voigt plays Joe Buck a young man who travels to New York to find fame and fortune and instead meets up with a homeless sort of down on his luck guy named Ratso Rizzo(Dustin Hoffman).  There’s a whole lot of strange stuff that happens to Joe and he never does find that fame and fortune he seeks.

 

48:  LORD OF THE RINGS:

lord-of-the-rings Middle Earth is the place where Hobbits, dwarves, elves and fairies reside with other darker elements.  Peter Jackson brings that world to us in Lord Of The Rings, the sequel to the Hobbit.  Frodo is our next hero as he comes upon the ring that his uncle Bilbo has.  He is told to return it to the place where it truly should rest, away from darkside of Middle Earth.  A brilliant movie, with plenty of special effects that will blow your mind away.  There’s a lot of tension in this too.  In the The first movie Bilboa and his buddy Sam are chased by these dark evil men with swords and hoods riding serpents, they made me quake in my shoes.

47:  COOL HAND LUKE:

cool-hand-luke-eggs My favorite cable channel is Turner Classics, because it always seems to deliver classic movies that I have always wanted to see.  Cool Hand Luke is another.  Paul Newman is Luke, a man forced to serve his time in a work prison in the south.  Well there’s not much to do in this prison, except plan your escape and along the way, bet someone that you can eat dozens of eggs in record time.  I have to admit, it’s the best scene in the movie and the one that made me slightly queasy.

46:  LA CONFIDENTIAL:

la-confidentialThis was the movie that turned  Russell Crowe into a star.  Not so much for Guy Pearce.  It’s about a Cop’s dogged determination to solve a crime that leads to corruption in his own LA Precinct.  Crowe and Pearce are brilliant in this as they are forced to team with each other, while falling for the same women.  The Woman?  The Gorgeous Kim Bassinger.   James Cromwell(One of my favorite character actors, he played Jack Bauer’s Father in 24)), plays the villain and he is a slimy cuss.  It’s a tense gripping movie with a film noire look and edge to it. Oh and some guy named Spacey is also in this.  He’s also pretty darned good.

45:  PLATOON:

platton One of the most deeply disturbing movies about Vietnam you will ever see.  It pretty much launched Charlie Sheen and he is brilliant as the young soldier thrown into a conflict he didn’t want.  However, he’s not the only actor in this movie that puts in a great performance.  Tom Berenger, plays the sadisctic Sergeant Barnes who fights for control of his platoon with the Sgt Elias(William DeFoe) the leader everyone likes. Kevin Dillion(Entourage) has a very interesting character as a nutcase who wants to kill an entire Vietnam village.  (A scene that reminded me of the Mi Lai Massacre.) John C. McGinley(Scrubs and Burn Notice), plays Sgt O’Neill the kiss ass who sides with Barnes.  It’s a movie that begs the question, what was the purpose of this war?

 

44:  ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST:

mcmurty-one-flewI was a little late getting to the party on this one.  Oh I knew the play well.  It’s a movie that gives you a good look inside mental institutions and how there is always a power struggle going on between the patients and the medical staff.  I think it’s still as relevant today as it was back in the sixties. I know, I saw it first hand within the last year.   Jack Nicholson is McMurty, the rabblerouser of the group.  All he wants to do is have a little fun, maybe bring a girl or two in, or take his fellow friends fishing or watch a ballgame on television, but poor McMurty never gets his way, while Nurse Ratchet(Louise Fletcher) is around. She’s more concerned with making sure everyone is sedated and on their medication.  Many future stars were in this movie including two taxi alums, Christopher Lloyd and Danny Devito.

43:  THE EXORCIST:

the-exorcistA movie that still gives me nightmares  and I’ve seen it five times.  If I’ve seen a horror movie five times, then it must be good and it must have my attention.  (Although I did see the Entire Nightmare On Elmstreet series.)  Basically it’s pretty much what the title says it is, an exorcism.  And if an old priest dies because the devil is too strong, bring in Jason Miller, he can get the job done.  For its time, the special effects were amazing.  The turning of the head thing that Linda Blair does…umm well that made me squirm.  The vomiting…I wanted to vomit.  The Exorcist will always be a true American Horror classic.

42:  TAXI DRIVER:

travis-bickleDe Niro is just plain messed up in this one and that’s what makes it a great movie.  If there wasn’t a more wackier character than Travis Bickle,  I probably haven’t seen him.  It’s a movie that just blows you away, as we follow this guys sad life.  He never does get the girl he pines after(Cybill Shepherd), then again he takes her to a porn movie.  Not exactly a way to make points with a girl you’re trying to impress.  So Travis decides street hookers will do.  It isn’t until he meets teenage Jodie Foster that he decides he needs to change the world and bring down the scum that make him angry.  So he  goes after a politician to get attention.   The politician that Cybill Shepard works for.  A brilliant movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first frame to the last.

41:  TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN:

take-the-money-and-runThis is the story of Virgil Starkwell, one of the most inept criminals to ever commit crime.  How inept is Virgil?  It’s better that we play a clip and you can see for yourself.  Take the Money and Run. This is how Take The Money and Run starts.  It had me peeing in my pants and laughing so hard tears were literally rolling down my cheeks.  In my mind, it is by far the best Woody Allen movie of all time.  Yes I know, Annie Hall is good, yes I know Manhatten is good, but this one is the one that I always come back to time and again to keep laughing and peeing in my pants.  Allen tells the tale in documentary form.  This is the  idea of a genius and that’s what Allen has been since he arrived in the 60’s.   At the end, Virgil meets an old High School classmate on the street.  After sharing a few stories, the guy promptly pulls out a set of handcuffs and arrests him.  It turns out his old classmate is a Cop.  Thus ends the story of Virgil Starkwell as ineptly as it first began.

40:  PUMP UP THE VOLUME:

IPUMP UP THE VOLUME (US 1990) NEW LINE CINEMA CHRISTIAN SLATER Date: 1990In the winter of 1990 the legend of Hard Harry (Christian Slater) was born.  The Script for Pump Up the Volume was written by an unknown screenwriter and Director by the name of Allan Moyle.  Allan had been kicking around Hollywood for over twenty years without much success, but then he hit gold with Mark Hunter’s alter ego, Hard Harry.  Hunter is just an average high school kid during the day, but at night after the homework and chores are done, he grabs his black jack bubble gum, kisses his pet iguana pops open his can of  Doctor Pepper and turns on his microphone and becomes Hard Harry.  Hard Harry makes Howard Stern seem PG.  His peers love him.  He speaks to them about all the usual normal things they are dealing with.  Getting a girlfriend, and keeping your parents happy with good grades.  Then he speaks about the generation gap and how parents don’t understand what teenagers are going through.  He talks about suicide and homosexuality and takes calls from his teenage listeners.  A lot of those calls make you think.  Hard Harry’s show is vulgar, very R rated and he plays the wildest music, from bands like Sonic Youth, The Descendants, Ice Tea, and the Pixies.  This was a movie that not only spoke to youth back in the 90’s, but it speaks to youth now.  It’s the best movie I have ever seen Christian Slater do.  Each monologue(And there are many)that Slater  delivers is  a wild ride on an emotionally charged roller coaster. By the time they are done, you’ve been blow across the room.  The story is simple, Hard Harry senses his school is kicking out all the undesirable students to keep their accreditation high.  So he exposes them using his Hard Harry persona.  He takes great delight in attacking the Head Of Guidance Counseling.  Slater plays this moment up in such a way he reminded me of my best friend and how acts when he gets excited.  Eventually the FCC catches wind of what Hard Harry  is doing and shuts him down and arrests him, but not before the school is exposed and the Principal fired by his father who happens to be the Superintendent.

39:  CLOCKWORK ORANGE:

clockwork-orange Based on the book by Anthony Burgess, Clockwork Orange is a disturbing futuristic look into what it would be like if Britain adopted an aversion therapy program for the hardest of criminals.  What’s the program?  Make criminals watch their own crimes as they happen.  I won’t tell you how they make Malcolm McDowell do this as it makes me cringe.  Clockwork Orange  is disturbing, very disturbing, from the crimes that Malcolm McDowell commits to the actual aversion therapy.  I squirmed and crawled around in my seat, because this movie was so disturbing, but I could not turn my eyes away from the screen, I was that riveted.  Malcolm McDowell plays Alex DeLarge, like some sort of deranged clown laughing at us and tempting us to view more of his horrible world.  The second time I watched this, my mother rented it and I found it even more disturbing, perhaps because there is so much sex and so much violence in it, that I felt uncomfortable watching it with her.  When we were done, she asked me what I thought of it.  I looked at her and said, I’d seen it before, and it was just as disturbing the first time as the second, but brilliant.  Did my mother like it.  Yeah, she said as only my mother would say, “That was a gooder”

 

38:  DONNIE BRASCO:

donnie-brascoI watched Al Pacino in Dick Tracy and Scarface and was so revolted by the overacting, I told myself I would never watch him play another mobster again.  Then Donnie Brasco came along.  A movie based on the Joe Pistone book.  I had read that book and it gripped me, so I had to see it.  When I saw Pacino first come on screen as Lefty Ruggerio I got angry for a moment, because he was so damned good.  It’s a sad character.   His home life is crumbling and he has spent most of his mob career getting passed over.  Pistone(Johnny Depp) felt sorry for him too.  This was a movie about how the mob works and all the little rules that go along with being a made guy. We watch Lefty teach Donnie how to carry his money in his money clip and he teaches him how to talk to the right people and earn their respect, just like a real mentor would his protégé.   It’s also  a movie about how being undercover can destroy the family.  Because of his work, Pistone misses his time with his kids and his wife.  When he misses his daughter’s communion, Anne Heche(Academy award performance here.) loses it.   Johnny Depp is fantastic as Pistone and Brasco.  He finds a way of separating the two characters to create the illusion that he needs.   Even though, I knew the story, I always had this sense that somehow Depp was going to join the mob, because as Brasco, he gets so caught up in the life.  A movie for the ages.

37:  BULL DURHAM:

Here’s a scene, because Shelton’s dialogue is just pitch perfect for this great movie.

bull-durham

Crash Davis: Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: [to himself] What’s this guy know about pitching? If he’s so good how come he’s been in the minors for the last ten years? If he’s so good how come Annie wants me instead of him?

Crash Davis: Oh, hey, and another thing, Meat. You don’t know shit, all right? If you wanna make it to the bigs, you’ll listen to me. Annie only wants you so she can boss you around, got it? So relax! Let’s have some fun out here! This game’s fun, OK? Fun goddamnit. And don’t hold the ball so hard, OK? It’s an egg. Hold it like an egg.

A few minutes later after the home run.

Crash Davis: [Mechanized bull noises in background] Well, he really hit the shit outta that one, didn’t he?

[laughs]

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: [softly, infuriated] I held it like an egg.

Crash Davis: Yeah, and he scrambled the son of a bitch. Look at that, he hit the friggin bull! Guy gets a free steak!

[laughs]

Crash Davis: You having fun yet?

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Oh, yeah. Havin’ a blast.

Crash Davis: Good.

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: [pause] God, that sucker teed off on that like he knew I was gonna throw a fastball!

Crash Davis: He did know.

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: How?

Crash Davis: I told him.

Bull Durham isn’t just a good movie, it’s a great movie.  It’s not just a Baseball story, it’s a story about what it’s like to struggle for years to get to the majors.  If you have talent, some get there quicker than others.  It’s a story about all the little quirks and idiosyncrasies that ballplayers go through, from wearing women’s lingerie because you think it’s the reason for your hot streak,  to having a wedding at home plate.  Kevin Costner plays Crash Davis, a lifelong minor league catcher who spent 21 days in the show.  His job?  Teach the new hot shot kid with a fireball arm, how to pitch and handle himself when he gets to the show.  The problem, he’s Nuke LaLoosh(Tim Robbins) and he has a two cent head and won’t listen to Crash.  Poor Crash, he didn’t ask for this assignment all he really wants is the girl Annie Savoy(Susan Sarandon), the problem is Nuke’s got Annie and that makes his job even more difficult.

36: THE CRYING GAME:

the-crying-gameThe only true way to tell this story was to revolve it around something that was current during it’s the day and give it some dark seedy suspense.  The IRA was the answer.    It’s the story of a group of IRA terrorists who kidnap a British Soldier, played with poignancy by Forest Whittaker(His British accent is spot on.)  The soldier manages to befriend Fergus, (Stephen Rae) one of the terrorists and he tells him stories about his girlfriend before he is shot to death.  His dying wish is that Fergus go see her and tell her what happened to him.  Fergus reluctantly agrees, because it’s the one chance he has to be done with the IRA.   He the meets the soldiers girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson) in a London pub.  They strike up a conversation and find they like each other and start to date.  When it comes to the night of passion, Fergus discovers Dil has a secret.  She’s a transvestite.  He’s revolted and throws up in the bathroom and doesn’t want anything to do with her.  Now he’s in London and lost until his worst nightmare arrives.  His IRA friends (One of them played sadistically by Miranda Richardson.) have a job for him. The job involves blowing up a building that Dil will be in.  He now must save her.     This movie is hugely controversial, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

35: PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILE:

martin-and-candySometimes a movie comes along that is just so damn silly that you can’t stop laughing.  Such was the case, when my Mom pulled this gem out of the video store and imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a John Hughes movie.  Neil Page(Steve Martin) meets Del Griffith(John Candy) at an airport.  Griffith is a shower curtain salesmen and a real slob.  The two strike up a conversation.  Page finds the man completely annoying, but somehow gets stuck with him on his way home for Thanksgiving.  There are too many funny moments in this movie to count and my mother(Who rarely showed laughter during funny movies) was in literal stitches.  So was I.  It was another pee in your pants movie.

 

34: PULP FICTION:

pulp-fictionYou were hoping I was going to have this on here weren’t you?  It may be violent(Although probably the least violent of Tarrantino movies), it may have a lot of foul language in it, but it is so damn good, you can’t keep your eyes off the screen.  Basically it’s a series of different stories all interconnected in some way or the other and that’s what’s brilliant. Tarantino sets it up subtly and you don’t realize that one story is connected to the other until you see a character you’ve just watched in a previous story.   Then you’re saying, “wait a minute, weren’t Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta just in another story and how come these are the same characters?

33:  FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF:

ferris-bueller Ferris Bueller isn’t just a movie about some punk kid skipping school.  It’s Ferris Bueller having the time of his life and I wanted to have the time of my life right along with him.  I did five times.  Yes I’m kind of nutty about this movie, because it’s another John Hughes classic.  It’s not just about Ferris having fun on his day off, it’s about the friendship Ferris has with his highly strung, paranoid and neurotic friend Cameron, played by Alan Ruck and believe me Ruck is a laugh riot and very poignant in this.  His best scene is his monologue when he finally decides to talk to his father and kicks the car into the woods behind the house.   You see Ferris knows high school is coming to an end and he won’t see Cameron much longer, or his girlfriend Sloan, played by the lovely Mia Sara.  Ferris decides  to give them the time of their life. His plan is to take the day off, go see a Cubs game, take in a art museum and to top it all off, join in on a raucous braut fest party in the middle of the Chicago streets.  Believe me the best part is that scene, where Matthew Broderick sings Twist and Shout. Nobody had more fun than Ferris with that.  In the end as Cameron mockingly says, “Ferris, you’re my hero.”

 

32: CITIZEN KANE:

citizen-kaneCitizen Kane is a powerful movie and brilliantly done.  The fact that Orson Wells practically wrote it, Produced it, acted in it, speaks volumes to how hard he worked on all his pictures.  This is a timeless classic that still hits home today.  Oh and those dying words at the end, definitely not what I expected when I saw it.

31: PSYCHO:

pyschoIt is Alfred Hitchock’s best movie of all time. You can probably remake this a thousand times and I would still say the original was better.  In fact they did some sequels which I have not seen yet.  There are many reasons why it is the classic that it is.  Today’s horror movies need to remember that less is more.  Personally we don’t need to see gallons of blood on the screen , it’s overkill and takes away from the plot.  Second, Hitchcock shot in black and white, so when Janet Leigh is murdered in the shower, you don’t get as grossed out, but it is still creepy.  A third reason. he killed off what you thought was the lead character, which enhanced the suspense. I’ve seen this movie dozens of times now and I always come away tense and disturbed.  I think it’s the ending that gives me the creeps most.  There’s Norman Bates, in a cell and we are inside his thoughts and he’s looking at that fly on his hand.  He refuses  to swat it, because he won’t give anyone the satisfaction of seeing him doing it.  Chilling.

30:  RAGING BULL:

raging-bullAnother movie shot in Black and White and another spectacular movie by you guessed it Marty Scorsese.  Wow what a film about the life of Jake Lamotta, his obsession with his wife and his relationship with his brother Joey(Joe Pesci) I particularly found the fight scenes intriguing to watch, so graphic and real.

29: MYSTIC RIVER:

mystic-riverA powerful movie about three childhood friends brought back together under tragic circumstances. Clint Eastwood directed this and it’s set in Boston, starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins.  Jimmy Markum(Sean Penn) is a low level criminal who runs a grocery store, when his daughter is murdered he goes out in search of the man who did it.  Also working on the case is Sean Devine(Kevin Bacon), a cop and one of his Jimmy’s lifelong friends.  All the evidence, points to Davie Boyle(Tim Robbins) the third friend from the neighborhood.  Davie’s had it the roughest, because when they were kids, Jimmy and Sean saw him abducted by a crooked cop and taken off into the woods where he was sexually abused.  The two friends felt guilty they never saved him.  A powerful movie, with powerful performances by all three men as well as Jeannie Triplehorn who plays Davie’s wife.  The ending leads to a surprise you would’t expect.

28:  THE UNTOUCHABLES:

the-untouchables As a kid I watched the Robert Stack series in reruns and thought hey, this is cool.  The movie version is just as cool if not better.  It’s also a very, very intense piece of filmmaking by Brian De Palma.  Robert De Niro may be frightening as Al Capone, but you still don’t want to mess with the Untouchables.  Kevin Costner once again manages to show up in one of my favorite movies and I consider him an average actor.  His performance as Eliot Ness is very believable.  Andy Garcia, plays the Italian Fed of the group Guiseppi Patri alias George Stone, Charles Martin Smith is Wallace the treasury agent and Sean Connery is Malone and he’s the best thing in this.  When Ness arrives, at Malone’s door, he thinks Ness’s plan to stop Capone is a valiant, but as he asks him time and again, even when he is dying in a pool of his own blood, “What are you prepared to do?” Ness is prepared to do anything, even if it means he has to take it right to the mob.  He does time and again.  Talk about tension.  Two scenes have you scraping your fingernails against the wall.  The scene where Malone shoots the dead mob guy, to scare the bag man into talking, and the train station scene.  Ness must time his shot perfect and save a child from rolling down the stairs in a baby carriage, well what can I say. that’s classic film making.

27:  CASINO:

casinoThe movies are beginning to get more intense as we climb towards number one.   This one is based on the Las Vegas mob skim.   The names of the characters were all changed, but if you’ve read anything or know anything about the mob, you know who these people are.  Robert De Niro plays Sam Ace Rothstein who runs a casino for the Chicago mob.  Nicky Santoro(Joe Pesci) is sent by the outfit to oversea the work that Rothstein is doing.  While Santoro is there, he figures he’ll start his own jewel heist crew.  Pesci, is a complete wack job in this.  Perhaps because Pesci’s character is loosely based on Tony the Ant Spilatro, who was very ruthless.  The movie is intense from the first frame to the last and you never know what Pesci is going to do.  I wont talk about the scene with the vice as it is pretty gruesome and supposedly Spiltatro really did this to this guy.  Oh and Sharon Stone(Wow!), she plays De Niro’s drugged up wife with belief and conviction.

26:  THE COLOR OF MONEY:

the-color-of-moneyI have been a fan of billiards since my Dad took me into his local pub in England and treated me to a game of bar billiards.   It was only fitting that when the sequel to the Hustler came out I was there in fifty seconds and it was fitting that I saw this movie with my parents.  The two of them didn’t like it, preferring the original, The Hustler far better.  I came out lukewarm about it.  The acting was good, and the storyline was interesting.  However I decided to give it another shot, and another, then another and then I began to realize that this is really a great movie.  Fast Eddie Felson(Paul Newman) rides again, this time he runs a bar and is dating Janelle, his Manager played by Helen Shaver.  One night this hot shot kid named Vinnie(Tom Cruise) enters his bar and starts hustling Fast Eddie’s protégé Julian( John Tuturro) As Julian keeps losing and asking Eddie for more money, Vinnie has Fast Eddie’s attention.  “Who is this kid and is he really this good?  Vincent is good, he’s very good, but a bit of a flake, so Eddie drops Julian and decides to ride Vincent’s horse through all the pool halls in every part of the country.  Along the way, he has to teach Vinnie to turn the flake on to suit his needs and turn it off when it doesn’t.  Vinnie doesn’t listen and that breaks them apart at the most important moment.  The high stakes pool game, the type you see on television.  The soundtrack to this movie is incredible.  It’s pool hall music and my favorite scene is when Vinnie hustles a cowboy in St. Louis, while Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London plays.   Another great scene is where Fast Eddie decides to get into this high stakes pool game on his own and is hustled by a young Forest Whitaker. No one knew who Forest Whitaker was at this point, but he managed to do Good Morning Vietnam right after this with Robin Williams.  Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio plays Vinnie’s girlfriend, who rides his coattails.  I can still see Vinnie preparing the break and Mary calling out. “On the Snap Vincent, on the snap!”

25:  GROSSE POINT BLANK:

grosse-point-blankTrue story, I was writing a played called “Most Likely Too…”which is essentially the same piece, with one difference.  Mine was about an inept FBI agent who goes to his ten year class reunion, to bring down the mob.   When I finished the first draft I sent it off to my Dad.  I was hoping this would be the next play that I would present to his Summer Stock theater. I also sent it to a lifelong friend and his father for a read.  My friend contacted me first and loved it.  Then he dropped the bombshell. “Pete it reminds me of that movie Grosse Point Blank.” I wrote this before Grosse Point Blank came out.  I’d never heard of the movie.  I never read about it in any movie magazine and I had no idea it was coming out.  Then one day I caught the trailer.  It had two things going for it.  It had John Cusak in it and second it looked fresh.  Cusak plays Martin Blank, a hit man, who takes lucrative contracts to kill all sorts of people around the world.  His sister Joan Cusak plays Marcella his wacky, but very efficient secretary.  Marcella will give you recipe tips over the phone if you ask her.  “No that’s just a base of the Soup”, she screams into the phone.  Dan Akroyd plays Blank’s nemesis Grocer, another hitman, who always seems to find a way to worm in on all of Martin’s hits.   The whole story involves Martin taking a lucrative contract in his home town of Grosse Pointe.  Marcella discovers that it’s the same time as his ten year class reunion and she suggests he go down there for the reunion.   At first Martin balks at the idea, until he talks to his therapist Alan Arkin(Yeah a hitman with a therapist.  See why I like this movie so much.)  Arkin tells him it would be good for Martin to get away and relieve some of his stress and perhaps see that girl he’s always loved Debbie(Minnie Driver)So Martin heads to Grosse Point, where he rekindles his relationship with Debbie(Although she’s slightly ticked off at him, because he stood her up at the prom), and things are going great right.  Wrong, the contract Martin has, is Debbie’s father.  That gives you an idea of how great the story is.  The snappy dialogue is just as great.  Here’s an example.

Martin in a session with Doctor Oatman his therapist.

MARTIN:  “I just honestly don’t know what I have in common with those people anymore… or with anyone, really. I mean, they’ll all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they’ll have made themselves a part of something, and they can talk about what they do. And what am I going to say? ‘I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How have you been?’ I just think it’ll be depressing.

And what of my play?  I did a stage reading of it a few years back and it still needs some work, but I’m not giving up on the idea, because it came from my own high school reunion.

 

24: THIS IS SPINAL TAP:

spinal-tap-630x420This Is Spinal Tap is a wild ride.  A Mocumentary by Rob Reiner about probably the worst heavy metal band that ever graced the cover of Rolling Stone.  I loved it!!!!!!  The songs are so trashy you have to laugh.  The bands concert mishaps are farcical. (The Mini Stonehenge set piece scene comes to mind.)  This movie is completely insane.    This is a band with  three friends who are so bad and so inept they can’t even find the main stage. It is a band that is cursed.  Something always befalls their latest drummer, he either blows up in concert, is hit by a car or something terrible and awkwardly funny happens to him.  This was a very fresh movie when it came out and one that will stand the test of time and live on forever in the hearts of every heavy metal fan that ever watched it.

23: INDIANA JONES/RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC:

raiders-of-the-lost-ark-chamberMy list would not be complete without this movie.  It has to be in here, because Raiders is simply the best of the series.  Thank you Stephen Spielberg and Robert Zemekis for bringing back the Saturday Afternoon matinee.  This is a wild ride that takes you everywhere you imagined you wanted to go.  It has a great story, great characters, intense action and most of all, it makes you want to write stuff like this.  I’m not gonna lie, Raiders is the reason that Drake Darrow and the Third Eye live.  Sure he’s not an archaeologist, but the roots of this Private Eye came from watching Raiders.  I must have seen this movie dozens of times(I now own it) because it never gets stale.  I always find something interesting and new from  it.  The acting and the humor  keep you in stitches.  And it has that one moment that I talked about.  The defining moment.  That scene where Indie meets the bad ass Arab with the saber.  The guy shows him all his tricks and then Indie has enough and just shoots him with his gun.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

22: FACEOFF:

faceoffA movie that probably doesn’t show up on a lot of Hollywood’s lists, but it showed up on mine, because the concept is so outrageous and the acting by Nicolas Cage and John Travolta is mind numbing.  It’s the best movie I’ve seen Cage do.  It’s the story about an undercover cop, who has a face transplant to bring down an international terrorist.  The problem is the Terrorist is onto him and does likewise.  So basically John Travolta and Nicolas Cage play the same two characters.  The movie is intense, because you have no idea from one frame to the next who is who.  The movie is also a study of two different styles of acting and it is interesting to see how Travolta and Cage come at both characters differently.  It’s worth a watch and when you’re done, believe me, you’ll be drained.  It also gives you some intense dreams after.  Not nightmares, but intense dreams.  If a movie gives me dreams, then it’s hit you.

21:  SILENCE OF THE LAMBS:

silence-of-the-lambsI used to drive my work friend Wade Adams crazy, because I would do a fairly decent Hannible Lecter impression.  Watching Anthony Hopkins play head games with Jodie Foster is all part of the fun  of this movie.  He is absolutely deranged, but maybe not as much as Buffalo Bill.  It is one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat as a locked up Psychopath helps an FBI agent find a serial killer.

20:  SCHINDLER’S LIST:

Schindlers List.jpgIn the mini series Band Of Brothers, the 506th parachute infantry regiment of 101st Airborne division are instructed  to accept the surrender of the German army at the end of World War 2.  Easy Company are tired and weary from all the fighting.  As the tanks and military personnel drive along the highway, they watch thousands of the German army marching lock step to surrender.  One of those frustrated soldiers from Easy Company (Private Webster) has had enough and lets the German’s have it.  At the end of his speech, he asks, “What Are We Fighting For?”  It’s the beginning of the Holocaust episode.  Soon Easy Company find out what they have been fighting for.  They come upon a concentration camp full of starved Jewish prisoners, who have been through hell, just because the Germans thought they were inferior.  It is an episode that leaves you raw, tense, sad and angry, much like Captain Nixon at the end of it.  Schindler’s List is a movie very much in the same manner.  The difference is that the hero in this story is a member of the Nazi party.  Oskar Schindler(Liam Neeson) is rich and wealthy and doesn’t agree with Nazi politics.  He decides to save the Jews from the Nazi death camps before they are gassed.  It is a movie that Stephen Spielberg decided to shoot in black and white with one glimpse of color in it.  A scene with a little German girl wearing a red coat.  That image  is the most powerful image in the entire movie.  It’s a movie that is heartbreaking and upsetting.  It makes you angry that the human race could allow this to happen.  It is the most important movie of our times and is more relevant today than ever before.

19:  THE HUSTLER:

the-hustlerThe Hustler is a movie that brings us a look at the seedier side of the world of Shylock pool.  Fast Eddie Felson(Paul Newman)  is one of those kids who would like to make a lot of money hustling with his sharp pool game.  Most of all he would like to play the legendary Minnesota Fats(Jackie Gleeson) Fast Eddie gets his chance, but not before he receives a few lessons in manners from  the seedier side of pool. One lesson from his Manager(George C. Scott) It’s an interesting movie with some great writing and acting.

18:  THE PANIC ROOM:

the-panic-roomThe Panic Room is not a movie to take lightly.  It is a movie starring Jodie Foster, that you need to be prepared for.  So make sure the doors are locked, the windows are shut and no one can get in.  That is literally what happens to Jodie Foster and her daughter as their house is broken into by some very nefarious characters looking to get their hands on hidden loot.   One of them Forest Whitaker.  It’s an intense psychological thriller that leaves you breathing and gasping for air.  The most intense part is the cell phone scene.

17: CASABLANCA:

casablanca-003 “Of All The Gin joints in all the world why did she have to walk into mine.”  Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in this World War 2 movie classic.  How could you go wrong?  You can’t.  It’s a love story, a thriller and very suspenseful as Humphrey Bogart tries to get his ex and her husband out of Casablanca before the Nazi’s get them.  And no he really doesn’t say Play It Again Sam.  I know I’ve seen it five times. I think what he really says is “Play It.”  We did over and over again for the last 60 odd years.

16:  MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL:

monty-pythonMonty Python’s take on the Legend of King Arthur is just plain silly, fun and outright outrageous.  These guys are the masters of sketch comedy and they delivered a whole host of laughs with this classic.  Who can forget that terrifying bunny, or the Knights who sang and danced at Camelot, or Brave Brave Sir Robin, who bravely ran away.  I can’t ever.

 

15:  FARGO:

fargoOnce in a while my old neighbor and I talk about movies and I suggest things he should watch.  When I told him about this movie and Green Mile he practically looked at me as if I had five heads.  So one night, I went over to Mike’s and insisted we watch Fargo and I promised he wouldn’t be disappointed.  Mike wasn’t and ever since that day, I swear he’s seen Fargo more than I have and I own it.  It’s a deeply twisted look as to how far one man would go to get a leg up in the world.  Everything about this movie is wild an imaginative.  The theme music is really haunting, (A death dirge) the humor bizarre and the characters, ordinary colorful folk near Fargo North Dakota, where the winters are harsh and you know your neighbors.  Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy formerly of St. Elsewhere), is a car salesman for his overbearing father in law.  Jerry would like to move up in the company, but sees no way around it unless he can scare his father in law into it, so he hires two very strange characters, Carl Showalter(Steve Buscemi, a perfect movie for him.) and Gaear Grimstud(Peter Stormare) to kidnap him, but somehow the two guys botch the job and kill his father in law and leave him by the side of an abandoned road in the middle of a noreaster.  Enter local cop, Marge Gunderson(Frances McDormand), a very local yocal cop, determined to find out what happened and all the clues lead to Jerry Lundegaard.  The wonderful thing about a Cohen brothers movie, is it never takes itself too seriously.  This one has bags of humor in it.  It also has a woodchipper, but you’ll have to see the movie to find out what happens with that.

14:  THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN:

yul-brynnerIf you grew up in the seventies and your were male, Westerns were your thing.  There was none better than The Magnificent Seven, or the Mag Seven as I called it.  I can still hear the thundering Elmer Bernstein soundtrack as Yul Brynner, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughan and Charles Bronson all ride into a small Mexican town to save the day.  It’s based on the Seven Samurai and if I can ever find the movie, I want to see that too.  It’s the best Western ever.  How do seven gunslingers come out alive against 200 banditos lead by Eli Wallach?  Not all of them do, but the few that remain standing, are left to tell the story to their Grand kids.

13:  THE GREAT ESCAPE:

steve-mcqueenI remember when I first saw this movie, I thought Steve McQueen was it.  I wanted to be him.  He became my favorite actor, which was odd, because I’ve only seen him in two movies, The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. It’s based on a true story where  a hundred men break out of a German POW camp.  Richard Attenborough plays Roger Bartlett the leader of the group or X as he is known.  Oddly, the real life man based on Bartlett was a South African named Roger Bushell who joined the British RAF and was captured.  The true story had no motorcycles or planes in it and there weren’t any American POW’S in the camp.  However, the picture needed to be sold and James Garner and Steve McQueen were two of the hottest actors going at the time.  McQueen insisted on the motorcycle because he loved to ride bikes.  He did all of his own stunts except for the big jump.   Three managed to escape, 50 were shot and the others were returned to camp.  It’s definitely action packed.  I can never get enough of Steve McQueen’s motorcycle chase.  A classic movie.  And if you hear that thumping sound, that’s McQueen throwing his baseball against the cooler wall, where he spends a large majority of the movie, until that Motorcycle chase.

12  THE IMITATION GAME:

the-imitation-game There is nothing better than a really good movie about a topic, I have read a little bit about.  The Imitation game is one of those movies.  During World War 2, the German’s had a secret code, called the Enigma code, that the British spent years trying to crack.  It wasn’t until Alan Turing(Benedict Cumberbatch) came along that they were able to do it.  Once the code was broken, it gave the allies a great deal of information on all German operations, which we thwarted to win the war.  It’s a fantastic movie, with Cumberbatch giving one of his best peformances.  Keira Knightly is also quite good as the one female in a group of male mathematicians.

11:  BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID:

butch-and-sundance “You think you got enough dynamite there Butch.”  It’s one of my favorite lines and also one of my favorite scenes.  It’s the real life tale of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who robbed banks and trains with their gang, called the Hole In The Wall Gang.  It follows their story after they leave the Gang and branch out on their own.  Newman and Redford work magic in this movie as they did in another movie coming up later.  A classic among classics.  So beloved, ABC decided to try a television series called Alias Smith and Jones, loosely based on it. Unfortunately that show didn’t last in the hearts of TV viewers like this movie has.

10: THE ARTIST:

the-artist For years I complained that Hollywood was getting stale and that television has far more interesting work.  I had even steered away from movies, simply because I could never find anything that hadn’t been remade, or wasn’t  a sequel.  Then Hollywood gave me hope.  A little gem and a bold idea.  It was time to go back to the silent movies.  It was time for The Artist.  A movie, that oddly takes an old silent actor with a washed up career and creates a hero out of him, just as the talkies were emerging.  There is nothing bad about this movie.  It’s completely shot in black and white and the acting is prime.  There’s even a little dog in it, but I won’t give him away, because he’s kind of important to the story.  If you haven’t seen this movie, it is a must and definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in years.

9:  THE GREEN MILE:

the-green-mileThis was the other movie I introduced to my friend Mike and he’s still watching it.  In fact I think he’s watching it now.  I think it might have something to do with that little mouse Mr. Bojangles.  Once again we have a Stephen King movie, and one that will live on for years.  If a movie has an animal in it that you care about, you can be sure the movie is going to be good.  Mr. Bojangles is definitely one of those little rodents you love.  It’s not all about the rodent, but he’s a large part of it.  It’s the story of a Death Row Prison in the South and a new black prisoner John Coffey(Clarke Duncan, a very gifted actor that we unfortunately lost.) has been brought to what is known as the Green Mile.  He’s been accused of a murder he didn’t commit and what we soon discover about John Coffey is that he is a kind gentleman with supernatural powers.  Powers that can heal, or as he says, “I can take the pain away.”  The story revolves around those powers and getting to the bottom of his story and who really committed the murder. Tom Hanks gives one of his best performances.

8:  DO THE RIGHT THING:

do-the-right-thingSpike Lee is an important Director.  He talks about race through his movies.  In 1989, he decided to bring a conversation about race to the American public with Do The Right Thing.  A movie that is bold, daring and highly explosive.  A movie I have seen four or five times now and it still resonates.  A movie that should be watched just as much today as in any other time in our history.  One of my favorite scenes is the debate Mookie has with Danny Aielo’s boss about Italian celebrities and black celebrities.  John Turturro is intense in this scene.  My favorite character is Radio  Raheem.

7:  THE STING:

the-stingThe first time I came into contact with the Sting was not in a movie theater, it was the Scott Joplin soundtrack.  Listening to it made me want to see the movie. Three years later, coming home from England on a Polish Steamer I finally did and it became one of my all time favorite movies. Robert Redford plays Hooker, a young street con who is learning from the master Luther.(Ossie Davis) Hooker and his mentor Luther pull off the best con of all by stealing money from a mob bag guy.  It’s Luther’s final job and he decides to retire and insists Hooker should move on to the big time. Hooker is reluctant, he thinks of Luther as a father figure and balks at the idea.  However, when the Mob discover Luther was one of the two guys behind the con, they murder him. Hooker has no choice he is forced to head to Chicago to work with the biggest con artist in the game, Henry Gondorf(Paul Newman).  So the two work to bring down Doyle Lonergan(Robert Shaw), the man who killed Luther, with something called the wire and it works to perfection.  The great thing about this movie is Lonergan has no idea he’s being had and throughout this movie, we have no idea whose in on the con and who isn’t.  My favorite scene is the Poker scene.  Newman eats up the furniture in this scene and has a whole lot of fun at the expense of Lonergan.

6:     THE DEPARTED:

the-departedScorese has never come out and admitted it, but essentially this is the Whitey Bulger and the John Connolly story.  It doesn’t matter though because it’s the most intense movie, I’ve ever seen.  There is a scene, where Matt Damon’s character is on to Leo DiCaprio’s and he calls him on his cell phone.  When the cell phone rings, Leo jumps and so did I.  When it rings again, Leo can’t figure out whether to pick it up and I kept screaming for  him not to.  Every performance in this movie is spectacular.  Nicholson is toxic, wound up and sicker than ever.  Leo has always been a good talent, but here, he came of age.  This is Leo’s best movie.  Matt Damon, is a real son of a bitch and Mark Wahlberg is a big pain in the ass.  Oh and Alec Baldwin, well, he’s just typical Alec Baldwin. Another favorite scene is when Leo sets up a meet with Nicholson and his henchmen, essentially Steve Flemmie(Bulgers right hand man played Ray Winstead) and the two are having a casual conversation about music and Nicholson, pulls out the chopped hand of someone he killed. They way Nicholson does this, is pure genius, it’s like he’s wiping his face with a napkin.  It’s just a wild scene and speaks to how much of a genius Nicholson is.

5:  GOODFELLAS:

good-fellasI remember the first time I saw Ray Liotta was in a soap opera called Another World, little did I know that he would become as big as he is now.  This movie made him a star.  What can you say?  A true classic about the mob and how Henry Hill turned rat.   Joe Pesci is nuts, I mean really nuts.  The Clown scene and the scene where he shoots SpiderI(A young Michael Imperioli) are just plain crazy.  It’s powerful, realistic and tense throughout.  I’ve seen this movie countless times and I’ll probably see it countless more times. It has everything in it, great acting, fantastic writing and great music.  In fact the soundtrack is phenomenal.

4:  THE GODFATHER PART 2:

godfather-2This might be a hint as to what may or may not be coming up.  This is an interesting movie in so many ways.  First,  it’s one of the only sequel to be nominated and win an academy award.   Second it’s essentially two movies in one.  First you have the present time with Michael Corrleone and then you have the past where we meet Vito Correleone(De Niro) and how his story began.  Both could be separate movies on their own, but intertwining them like Coppola did makes it work.  It’s just as much of a classic as the original.  There are so many interesting characters in this movie that you can’t count them on one hand.  I just have to say that one actor other than Pacino stands out and three of his movies are on this list.  John Cazel(The Deerhunter, this one and The Conversation.)this guy could act and as Fredo he is magnificent.

3: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL:

life-is-beautifulIt’s not often that you would say that a movie about the Holocaust is heartwarming and poignant at the same time, but that’s what Life Is Beautiful is all about.  The Holocaust is a hard subject to talk about or watch, and don’t get me wrong, this movie doesn’t shy away from those moments at all. I have seen countless tales and this one is by far my favorite.  The story shows you  how a family deals with their time in a concentration camp.  Roberto Benigni plays Guido a Jewish Librarian.  A man who is happy and full of life.  He manages to meet the girl of his dreams, settle down and have a son.  However, when it is discovered that he is Jewish, his family is arrested and taken off to a concentration camp.  His son and wife terrified.  However, Guido has a plan to keep his son from fearing the worst, he decides to make him laugh with games and humor inside a concentration camp.   The ending is of course tragic, but it also ends with hope and that’s hard to say about most movies dealing with the Holocaust.  Benigni’s act of putting his safety first and keeping his son laughing is the most selfless act a father can do for his son.  He was brilliant and won best actor the year this movie came out.  A masterpiece that I had to own it.

 

2:  BRAVEHEART:

braveheart Many years ago, I was looking for something to read, not just anything, but something with a history theme.  I went to the library and found this awesome book about the history of the English Monarchy. While reading the history of Edward of Longshanks, I came upon the war with the Scots.  The story starts with the  rebellion of a man named William Wallace.  I was confused, I was expecting Robert The Bruce to be the head of the rebellion(Which he was, later) I had no idea who this Wallace guy was.  I’d never heard of him and couldn’t understand why.  I searched for more on him and couldn’t find anything important.  Then one day I am watching television and this trailer for this Mel Gibson movie came on.  I watched it,  intrigued.  This was about the man I was reading about.   When Braveheart came out, I was the first in line to see this epic masterpiece.  Oh and it is a masterpiece.  Sure Hollywood took liberties with the movie, but it still is an epic tale, of love, revenge, betrayal and “Freedom!”  There are many wonderful moments within the movie and the cast of characters that Wallace leads are colorful and vibrant.  My Favorite is Stephen, played by David O’Hara, (Also in The Departed.) the Irishman, who comes to fight and to die for Wallace, because as he says “Ireland is mine.”

1: THE GODFATHER:

the-godfather I almost made Braveheart the number one, but the more I thought about it  the more I realize that the Godfather is true cinema.  It’s as if you’re watching a Greek tragedy, or as Francis Ford Coppola put it, a tragic Italian Opera.  The Italian Opera is an important theme in the end of all three of Coppola’s Godfather movies.  Brando is at his best.  Pacino arrives and takes over the screen.  Caan, plays a wild older brother ready to take down his rivals at any cost.  Robert Duvall, the often overlooked adopted son, who gives legal council is the cooler head and underplayed beautifully.  It’s a movie that will live on forever in the annals of cinema.  It came out over forty years ago and I think forty years from now movie goers will still be watching it.  A movie that will never go away from my mind. It is the number one movie on my list of all time.