Now we’re into the films that start with “The”, so I’m leaving that word off.
Addams Family: An excellent representation of Charles Addams original cartoon series. There aren’t any flaws. The plot is sound, the acting top-notch, and the direction fluid. It fits from beginning to end. The sequel, Addams Family Values, is not as good because the script is contrived. They made some further attempts after the untimely death of Raul Julia but they were not so good either. He really knew how to play Gomez!
African Queen: Full of flaws and no one cares. A tour de force of Hepburn and Bogart that shows two actors can carry an entire movie if they’re good enough. You can’t help but like it.
Fifth Element: Possibly the only good film Bruce Willis ever made, certainly the best. Mistakes? Who can tell? The scenes and dialog zip along and carry you with them. It has all the elements (pun not intended) of a great movie; action, romance, and comedy balanced together. Hmm. Maybe I should come up with two more elements? How about suspense and … settings? Cinematography? Scenery? Whatever, it has it all. The only real let down is the paradox of Ruby Rod character; supposed to be sexy to women but acts like a camp stereotype. Bit of a letdown there. The talent of the bit-part players makes up for it. Some of them have almost no lines and still manage to take the stage with what they’ve got.
Good, Bad, and Ugly: Okay, you see what I did there. Anyway, this is a film so bad you can’t help but like it. It drags on, has too much interwoven and recursive plot elements, and generally would be trash due to horrendously awful directing and writing. What saves is is three great actors making their characters people you don’t want to miss. Eli Wallach steals the film, Lee Van Cleef shows again he is always under-rated, and Clint Eastwood only manages third place – that’s how good they are.
Incredibles: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The behind-the-scenes look at how this film was made will make you so; it’s a wonder they managed to produce anything, never mind what will undoubtedly be an animation classic. The plot is fantastic, the CGI some of the best (cartoon without being silly about it), and the performances of both the voice actors and animators is superb. I love the 1960s styling and MCM decor along with the almost recognizable cars; it is this attention to the small, seemingly insignificant details that make it perfect. Brad Bird is to be congratulated. I doubt he will ever do anything better (have not seen the sequel and don’t want to for fear of disappointment).
Italian Job (1969): Screw the remake, it should never have been attempted. This is the original and it will always be best. What’s not to like? A group of bad guys steeling gold and staving off another group of bad guys. Michael Caine shines and none of his co-stars lag far behind him. Benny Hill’s character seems superfluous and evidently added for some easy jokes, and I feel sorry for Harry Baird (Big William) as the fault is hung on him at the end. Not fair. Nor am I entirely happy with the ending, but I suppose they were either morally obliged – or planning a sequel. Whatever. Watch it.
Lion In Winter: Oh dear, someone did not like Henry II and his family did they? No matter; as historically incorrect and inept as it is it’s a fun watch. Everyone is no good and out to prove it as hard as they can. Peter O’Toole, Katherine Hepburn … who else do you need after that? I guess this is a ‘home movie’ for me because of being about some of my ancestors. Fun to watch.
Man Who Would Be King: Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Christopher Plummer, and story by Rudyard Kippling. Well that covers it. This is the adventure film, folks; everything else is a pale imitation.
Music Man: Forget all the other versions of it, this is perfection. Silly, fun, visually spectacular, and sung at its best. Rapid-fire repertoire and even sight gags for the hard-of-humour crowd. A special note to the very young Monique Vermont who has the unenviable task of singing a part duet with the fantastic Shirley Jones; something no child should have to try.
Phantom of the Opera: The Andrew Lloyd-Weber musical, that is. Here is an opportunity to do such great things. Pity it has some killing flaws. Okay, we can forgive the second-rate voices; they are good enough. Meg, played by Jennifer Ellison, actually sings better than Christine (Emmy Rossum). On the whole they all do fine, but for some reason certain lines that should be sung are spoken. Worse, some lines are changed for no good reason. There is a plot re-arrangement that works, and some plot elements that do not. And then there are the effects. Problem #1 is the lack of a disfigured phantom with 3/4 face mask. Why? It’s not like the actor would have to endure the full makeup for the whole shoot; only for the reveal scenes. Vanity, perhaps? Problem #2 is over-use of the fantastic colour vs. B&W effect (the midway scene doesn’t work). Problem #3 the changed words and unsung lines. Problem #4 deleted segments in favour of unnecessary additions. It could have been utterly fantastic but they did these handful of mistakes which grate across the nerves. Maybe turn the sound off and watch it while listening to a recording of the stage play.
Princess Bride: If you do not know this is a classic you have either been living under a rock for forty years or have no functioning brain cells. There are no flaws. None.
Ten Commandments (1956): Oh, gawds. The story is loosely based on The Bible, but there’s a lot of assumption going on. Visually spectacular, you might want to watch it with the sound off. The writing is … can’t think of any nice way of putting it. No good. Like a bad play performed by amateur hams. Direction shows Mr. DeMille was already dying. The sets and costumes are wonderful, and about as historically accurate as a politician’s account of how he came to be in that motel room with the hooker. Yule Brenner gets best actor nod here, followed by Cedric Hardwicke and then Edward G. Robinson. The others are doing high school drama club performances, and it’s a shame because most of them are capable of much better.
Time Machine (1960): They remade this. I guess they were desperate. Not a great movie but an amusing watch which has led to numerous ‘in jokes’ for sci-fi everywhere. H.G. Wells and Jules Verne invented Steam Punk, by the way.
Wizard of Oz: This is a love/hate movie. Not and either/or, but both together. It has its moments for sure. But don’t expect it to be fantastic in any way. Even the colour scenery isn’t that grand, and some of it is … lacking in sensible explanation in the context.
White Christmas: You see what I did? Right from ‘the Wizard of Oz’ to ‘White Christmas’ in one leap. Anyway, this is another one full of plot holes but who cares? It’s about the songs and the dancing. The story line could have been done better, but you’ve got four pretty good performers to watch almost always and some good gags as well. Nice Christmas tradition even if your tradition isn’t Christmas.
That’s not all, Folks!
But it is the highlights of my movie collection at the moment. There will be more as I get them, and maybe if enough new ones pile up I’ll do this again. For now I’m thinking of making an attack on some of the horrible things I’ve seen. But perhaps I don’t want to remember them.