Favortie movies are like favorite songs. You have to be in the mood to
I already mentioned my favorite film in terms of what had the greatest impact
on me as a film-maker.
So staying within the spirit of this post, my Number 1 movie based on my mood would
Comedy: "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". I know it's dated but I find the wretched
excess of this film very funny. Also just to see so many comedians and
character actors crammed into the widescreen frame still makes me laugh.
Completely different compositions than contemporary movies where most
key players are centered. So if I want to laugh this would be the one for me.
History: Well certainly my Number 1 historical epic would be "Lawrence of Arabia".
The history is questionable but I think Lean captured the spirit of the
individual. In fact I knew very little about Middle East history until I saw
this film. Ideally it should be screened in 70mm. Second best would be
a 35mm Technicolor print. It looks 'okay' on the superbit DVD but some day
it should look spectacular on blu ray if they master it from the restored 65mm
negative. So for some cinematic history (as a point of depature and for
additional research since the movie isn't historically accurate) this would be
Religious Epic: "Ben Hur". I have no religious convictions but if I wanted to pick the
best spiritual adventure along these lines this would be the one. Great epic
filmmaking. In those days when they spent a fortune it all went on
screen with incredible sets, crowds and action sequences. Not into
some movie star's pocket.
Espionage: When I'm in the mood for a spy thriller, my top choice is very personal.
I think "Diamonds are Forever" is my Number 1 secret agent thriller.
It's the first one I saw and it left an impression on me. Great score and
one of the last of the 'classic' Technicolor movies shot by Ted Moore.
Musical: If I'm in the mood for a musical I'd have to pick "The Music Man". It's very
stagey rather than cinematic but the cast seems to be having a great time
and both music and Technicolor are spectacular. It's what made Technicolor
Roadshow: Since I grew up with "Roadshow" films, my Number 1 favorite along these
lines would be Mike Todd's "Around the World in 80 Days". Breathtaking
visuals, bug eyed lenses, impressive stereo surround sound and lots of
cameos made this tops in this category.
Thriller: "Jaws". The only movie I saw five times on it's first release. Certainly the
the director's best film in my judgment and he's moved away from this style
of film-making over the years. Perhaps the best 'work for hire' auteurist
effort of all time.
3-D I love 3-D movies but I'll have to say "Kiss Me Kate" was the best of them
(better than "House of Wax" and my own "Run for Cover") because it works
great as a flat film too. Very clever in that the dimensional effects did not
distract from the story and the Cole Porter score was his zenith. But if you
get the chance to see it in 3-D it's very effective. Most other 3-D movies
only worked in 3-D.
Camp: I get in the mood for campy outrageous, off the wall, off kilter films now and
then. I would have to say my Number 1 favorite is Paul Morrisey's "Blood for
Dracula" released in the US as "Andy Warhol's Dracula". Probably the most
depraved picture I've ever seen. Hillarious but also with some quirky social
commentary. More than it seems on first viewing unlike the more notorious
"Rocky Horror Picture Show" which I found over-rated.
Horror: My top two favorites would be "Carrie" and my own recent feature, "What
Really Frightens You" since the former influenced the latter. So dual Number
1s. For black and white horror my Number 1 would be "Psycho". All three
are character driven horror flicks which is what I believe is as important as
the level of gore.
Gimmick Movie: There have been lots of gimmick films over the years (barf bag,
odorama etc.) but the best one I ever saw was "The Tingler" in
Percepto. This crazy William Castle film is not only camp but I was
on the edge of my seat throughout the screening waiting for the
seat vibrators to turn on. I rigged some chairs with hand vibrators
on the back when I screen the film for audiences on my DLP. Always
gets a laugh. I saw the film at the Film Forum "Gimmickorama" festival
and it was one of my most memorable moviegoing experiences. I had
tears in my eyes from laughing so hard when the seats started to
tingle after Vincent Price announced "The Tingler is on the loose in the
theater". This would be my Number 1 Gimmick film.
Western: "The Wild Bunch". I saw it more times in theaters than any other Western.
I've studied the editing on a frame by frame basis. A really nasty and
sadisdical film and Pekinpah has you feeling empathy for killer which
was truly unique. So this is my Number 1 Western. When I'm full of
rage, this is the movie that helps me to channel it.