Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 31, 2015

Are We There Yet?

People who like movies have a favorite. People who love movies couldn’t possibly choose.

– Nicole Yatsonsky

Summer brings the heat, and this 2015 version, while starting slow and giving false hope for more mildness and moisture, decided to return to its miserable triple-digit roots. Thus, unless you enjoy sweat and hot discomfort, you might try the darkness of a cool theater, even though, according to the BBC, a really great American film hasn’t been made in over four decades.

I’m talking about the recent BBC Culture poll of the greatest US movies, of which “Godfather II” is the most recent from 1974. The oldest in the top ten was number one, “Citizen Kane,” in 1941, followed by “Casablanca,” made in 1942, which came in at number nine. I only counted six from the 21st century, none of them being one I would have picked from the last 15 years though, like both “Kill Bill’s,” “Wall-E,” “No Country for Old Men, “or “Sideways.”

Probably the biggest surprise on the list was “Gone With the Wind,” barely making it in at number 97.

So I wondered, what does the BBC consider to be the top 100 British movies?

There are none in the 21st century. Apparently they just think the old films are better, and I agree. Perhaps a discussion on why that is another time, but mostly it has to do with subjectivity, that thing that pretty well makes all lists worthless anyway. But I do have a few favorites from the British film list, starting with “Chariots of Fire”(I started training for the Olympics the night I saw this. Training tailed off considerably two days later); “Life of Brian” (Great philosophy with a heavy dose of sarcasm. The singing of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” at the end put everything into perspective);“The Killing Fields” (Nonstop tension. I needed a double shot of anything after I left this one.);“Dr. No” (The first Bond movie that introduced us to a long line of psychotic vixens, starting with Honey Ryder, who said, “I put a black widow spider underneath his mosquito net ... a female, they’re the worst. It took him a whole week to die.”); and “Goldfinger”(A guy named Odd Job with a lethal Frisbee derby, and a gold painted naked lady. What more could a ten-year-old like me want from a movie?). Also on the list is one of my all-time favorites from anywhere, “Goodbye Mr. Chips” (1939).

On the Brit’s U.S. list, I disagree often. Notable exclusions are “Grapes of Wrath” (a great film from the novel by our greatest writer), “The Maltese Falcon,” “A Christmas Carol” (1951 version), “Shane” (there are quite a few westerns on the list, but “Rio Bravo” and not “Shane,” please), “Shawshank Redemption,” “Rear Window,” and “Animal House” (Dear God, any cred you guys might have had is totally wiped out with this omission). They also left out “The Deer Hunter!” I checked three times to make sure.

There is also not one Coen Brother’s movie – no “Fargo,” “Raising Arizona,” or, as mentioned, “No Country for Old Men.”

I also would have moved “Night of the Hunter” up much higher than 92. And “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” should always be in or near the top ten.

But that’s just me. As I said, it’s all subjective, but with some of these omissions, you’ve got to wonder if the BBC had even assigned anyone to this project before they realized they had a deadline approaching.

Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at jedwards@dailydata.com.