I picked up a copy of the American Film Institute's top 100 American movies, and, to do my part to help close out the century, read it. Only to discover a virtual boycott of my personal favorites.
Their top five: "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," "The Godfather," "Gone with the Wind," "Lawrence of Arabia."My top five: "The Mighty Quinn," "The Sound of Music," "Chariots of Fire," "Witness," "On Golden Pond."
Admittedly, I have not seen their No. 1, primarily because to my knowledge "Citizen Kane" has never been on the "New Releases" wall at Blockbuster. Although now I will no doubt seek it out and watch it, which is how I came to see "Casablanca" two years ago, when it was named No. 1 on another top movies list.
I sat through the entire screening of "Casablanca" waiting for Humphrey Bogart to say "Play it again, Sam," and he never did. He does not, as a matter of fact, say that exact line in the movie, even though it has become a bona fide cliche.
Apparently, the American Film Institute hasn't seen my all-time favorite, either, which might explain the complete snubbing of the Denzel Washington classic, "The Mighty Quinn."
"The Mighty Quinn" takes place on an island in the Caribbean and features lush scenery, a lot of Bob Marley-type music (including a reggae remake of the Bob Dylan song that gives the movie its title), murder, revenge, a witch named Asola, beautiful women, relationship problems, counterfeit 10,000-dollar bills, terrific bad guys, a plot with a twist, mysticism, snakes, and Denzel Washington as the coolest, yes-mon police chief this side of Kingston town.
It is the epitome of a perfect movie. Five stars. A triumph!
Although I did read an interview with Denzel Washington once, and he did not place it among his own personal favorites.
I personally think "Gone With the Wind" is the most overrated movie of alltime and only retains its high perch on top 100 lists because many viewers, most of them men, don't want to admit they slept through the middle three hours.
For my money, the strangest perennial movie on the all-time lists is "Chinatown," which comes in at No. 19 on the AFI rankings despite the fact it is harder to understand than calculus. I am prepared, however, to announce that I have come to the conclusion that the setting is Los Angeles. Probably.
Then again, it may be me who is out of step. The only movie in my top five even making it in the top 100 is "The Sound of Music," and it only slid in at No. 55.
Some of my favorite movies didn't score the top 100, including such comedy classics as "The Three Amigos," "Dumb & Dumber," "So I Married an Ax Murderer," "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," "Naked Gun" and the second or third best sports movie of all time, "Major League" (behind only "Chariots of Fire" and maybe "Hoosiers"), where ballplayers actually act like ballplayers.
The scariest movie I ever saw, "Wait Until Dark," is not on the top 100 list, and neither is the best newspaper movie ever made, "Absence of Malice," where Wilford Brimley stole the show.
Among my favorite movie moments:
Best comeback: To Princess Leia's "I love you" at the end of "The Empire Strikes Back," an about-to-be-frozen Han Solo (Harrison Ford) says: "I know."
All-time coolest scene: Steve McQueen jumping the fence with his motorcycle in "The Great Escape."
Most moving dialogue: Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and the late Robert Shaw showing off their scars in the bottom of the boat in "Jaws."
Best fadeout music (tie): Willie Nelson singing "Hands on the Wheel" as Robert Redford hitchhikes out of St. George, Utah, in "The Electric Horseman" and Aaron Neville singing "Ave Maria" as the sun sets on a cross high in the Andes in "Alive."
There, now I've given you something to disagree with.